Telling the Story: Evangelism in Black Churches

by James O. Stallings. Judson Press, 1988.

James O. Stallings’ main is to help African-Americans recover their “unique” Christian story, and in that recovery, he hopes the community will be encouraged to tell its story into the future. Stallings believes “the story will be examined for its meaning—its worldview. The tradition will be questioned for its contemporary significance for ministry, especially evangelism.” In retelling the Christian story from the black perspective, Stallings presents several theological ideas. For example, African-Americans historically embraced Christianity within their own cultural norms and context. This appropriation of Christianity was “traditioned” orally as a distinctive witness, demonstrating both human and divine creativity. Throughout the text, Stallings identifies and explains pertinent ideas such as 1) the importance of story and the difficulties in telling it from the black perspective; 2) the issues of racism and diversity, noting the problems that both have caused; and 3) the importance of relationships and their foundation to the Christian faith. Because the book highlights six issues facing congregations attempting to be more evangelistic and provides a process for readers to rediscover their own faith stories, both clergy and laity will find great value in these pages.