The African-American Church was once considered integral to the community. Those in the post-Civil Rights Era often don’t even think about the church. Douglas Powe, E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at St. Paul School of Theology, argues that the problem arises from the assumptions of the kind of evangelism employed during the Civil Rights Era. Then the African-American church was the gathering point for community involvement: education, rallying, strategizing and planning. Today, the church needs to address issues in a new way which involves thinking about evangelism beyond the church and into the community. This will transform the way the church does hospitality and testimony because it will change the DNA of the congregation itself. It will take time because many of the traditions of the church prevent thinking and acting missionally. There are three necessary ingredients: congregations have to decide to be vital; they have to start doing things differently; and they have to listen specifically to those in the post-Civil Rights era. That means those outside the church.
Reviewed by Brian Witwer