Crisis in the Village Chapter One: Churches” A Crisis of Mission A Critique Presented to Dr. Joseph L. Jones Johnson C. Smith University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for LS 235 Malcolm-Ryan Brown June 11th, 2010 Robert M. Franklin in his adoring and avid book Crisis in the Village presents in first- person advice and constructive criticism as he identifies issues within the African- American church. Black churches face a “mission crisis” as they struggle to serve their upwardly mobile and/or established middle class “paying customers” alongside the poorest of the poor.
Dr. Franklin wrote this controversial book with great cholarship as a means to awakening the state of Black American; however the question of the missions of the black church have been discussed, debated, and denied by theologians for years. Summary Robert M. Franklin states that the purpose of his book is not simply to state facts, but to raise an urgent set of questions whose answers will put our feet in motion to solve the crisis. In chapter two “A Crisis of Mission” Franklin sets the stage for his readers for what the crisis is in the church.
The Reverend Henry Lyons became the president of the largest denomination in the Untied States of America. Although the disgrace Lyons served a modest-sized congregation rather than a mega church, his drive for personal wealth accumulation as president of the National Baptist Convention symbolized a new threat to the integrity of black clergy culture. A serious student of any discipline would appreciate Dr. Franklin’s keen scholarship in his writings. Case in point is when Franklin shares with his readers what everyone should know about black churches.
According to Franklin there are at least fifteen facts that we should know about the black church which are too exhausted to write in a paper of this format. Franklin in a brief synopsis of the aforementioned fifteen facts basically states that the black church traditionally has been the only real institution in the black neighborhood. The black church grew primarily out of the Africans experience on American soil. The early church for most blacks was nothing more than a place where one had an opportunity to express their emotions.
The black church was the creation of a black people whose daily existence was an encounter with the became home base for civil disobedience and revolution that has left an indelible impact on the pages of American history. Moving from the origins of the black church Franklin begins to discuss some of what he sees as opposition to the black church to what he calls the prosperity movement. Biblical scholar Michael Joseph Brown observes, “We live in a society that evaluates success on the basis of numbers.
Many denominations and congregations have adopted a corporate mindset. I liken it to fast food industry where the numbers have adopted a corporate mindset. I liken it to the fast food industry where the number of patrons served is the measure of success. In more cynical moments, I expect to be driving down the street one day and ass a church sign that reads: ‘Over 2,000 Members Served. ” Congregation sizes, income, number of services are possible by-products of ministerial excellence.
They do not constitute excellence in themselves. ” After the discussion of the prosperity gospel movement Franklin continues with a heading Calling and Recommissioning Jesse. Older black pastors and pioneers of the black church should not be so critical on young clergyman. Young black preachers make mistakes and many of them need a Jesse Jackson to navigate them through the misery of ministry. One of the more interesting topics in chapter two is Resolving Gender Issues.
Franklin eloquently says that it would be wonderful if black churches would use these years of a new century to embrace the presence of women in ministry. Churches that are not prepared to leap from status quo of nonordination to the ideal of equal opportunity and rights should consider a number of developmental, incremental steps toward the end of fulfilling God’s desire for God’s “sons and daughters to prophesy. ” Women must have discovered hearing aids. More of them have heard and answered the call of God to preach.
Women have done great things in the church. Few black men attend church, so women must take their places and because women are so committed to getting the Job done, black men quickly become Jealous and accuse them not only of being committed to ministry, but also the senior minister. Assessment Dr. Franklin has tried to focus a spotlight on a few spicy morsels in an effort stimulate the black church to search o her own soul for other disease germs. By pinpointing the problems, the black church may see her possibilities.
By overcoming the last pains of persecution, the black church may grow her full potential. By revealing the pposition and obstacles, the black church may seize the opportunity of becoming a force to be reckoned with in our society. America was born with a grotesque, cancerous disease called slavery. This disease lingers to this day in many forms and subtle variations. The plantation mentality is still with us. Sometimes it masquerades as democracy and free enterprise, but the effect is the same on the spirits of the poor and oppressed.
When black men moved indoors to work in industry and business, they found themselves imprisoned behind the walls of institutional racism. Nothing really had changed. Those who headed the system went to church. They were self- appointed Christians worshipping in their white church, serving the best interest in as inherently happy, basketball bouncing boys, dumb, lazy, and basically content with their lot in life Many whites are convinced that black people, commonly referred to as “they’ would never have become concerned about civil rights in the first place had the communists not stirred them up.
Black clergyman who became involved in the cause are considered by many whites and other blacks to be agitators who have left their calling to meddle in matters clearly outside the will of God. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had all of the college degrees, including a Ph. D, but he kept the same kind of style and culture orientations that his father and grandfather had a clergyman. Dr.
King’s power did not arise from his education in white schools, but despite his education, because he stood solidly in the tradition of his “black fathers,” holding on to the best of our African heritage, culling the best of white heritage, and fusing them to develop what we know as the black pulpit. We have understood the power struggle that went on in the black church. Whoever was head of the church in the black ommunity was head of its powerful social institution. Out of this situation came much hypocrisy, much fighting for power, and perhaps the same issues and not crisis.
James Baldwin sums it up when, referring to his boyhood preaching, he says: Being in the pulpit was like being in theatre. I was behind the scenes and knew how the illusion was worked. I knew the other ministers and knew the quality of their lives. And I don’t mean to suggest by this the “Elmer Gantry’ sort of hypocrisy concerning sensuality; it was a deeper, deadlier, and more subtle hypocrisy then, that nd a little honest sensuality, or a lot, would have been like water in an extremely bitter desert.
I knew how to work on a congregation until the last dime was surrendered- it was not very hard to do- and I knew where the money for “the Lord’s work” went. I knew, though I did not wish to know it, that I had no respect for the people with whom I worked. James Baldwin growing up in the church most of his life, his reaction was very much the same, because he knew the hypocrisy, he knew the games that were played, he knew that for a great number of black people the church as Just an escape from reality and that the preacher knew this and played on their fears and superstitions.
When he accepted Jesus, and gave him his life at that moment, Jesus took up residence in him. For the first time Baldwin had a sense of purpose, he had a sense that he belonged to God of heaven and earth, he sensed that God’s Word was and is true. Jesus Christ was now in him and his sins were forgiven, not the sins that he committed as a black man, but the sin that was his as a human being, to be born in the human race without the life of God. Baldwin didn’t egate His blackness in order to be a Christian, but rather, he was committed to Jesus Christ.
Knowing who he was, what he was, and what his position was because of Jesus Christ changes his reason for being involved in the black revolution. Because of his relationship with Jesus Christ, he was not involved in the black revolution simply because he wanted to replace an existing system. He was involved in it because there are areas in the system that are diametrically opposed to the kingdom of God, and that which is opposed to the kingdom of God, he must oppose as God’s son. So he nows who he is, he is a black man in whom Jesus Christ was living.
A black man with his two feet planted on earth that had the privilege of having the God of heaven and earth living in him. A black man committed to the black revolution, not to negate the principles of the Kingdom of God. He was not interested in overthrowing white society any more than he was interested in allowing white society to overthrow black society. He was interested in overthrowing injustice. He was interested in dealing with inequality. He was interested in settling wrongs, right because those are the rinciples of the kingdom of God.
To solve the crisis in the church we must all be involved in the struggle for Justice, whether it concerns a white man or a black man. If a black man’s rights are being denied, we must be committed to his fght because it is a matter of the kingdom of God. If a white man’s rights are being denied, we must stand against his black brother in order to rectify that wrong because it is a matter of the kingdom of God. The true gospel of Jesus Christ solves the crisis in village. We must be bold, courageous, and concerned about the state of the black church.
We must be bold nough to hold our pastors and leadership accountable, boldness that makes it possible for us to look at a black brother in the face and tell him he has no right to beat his wife, no right to drink up his salary, no right to be filled with bitterness and frustration when there is deliverance for him. We must have courage to stand against the tragic traps of tradition that have taken the “blackness” out of the black church. We must be concerned about the crisis in our village. Jesus Christ said He has come “to proclaim release to the captives… to set a liberty those who are oppressed” ENDNOTES