Black Church Multicultural Emerging Leaders encouraged, equipped at luncheon

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – African American church planter Daryl Jones reminded emerging leaders of the case of Venus Williams, who in her early years was favored to dominate tennis. But her expected fame fell instead to her younger sister Serena.

Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic and systemic autoimmune disease, slowed Venus’ game, confusing her immune system and causing her body to mistakenly attack itself.

“Internally, her body was identifying her organs and internal parts as opponents,” Jones said, comparing the disease to churches fighting against one another while attempting to spread the gospel. “As disease and her antibodies would form, her body would start fighting itself,” and adversely impact her entire body and athletic performance.

Jones, who in 2016 founded his pastorate The Rock Fellowship Church in Miami, cautioned the pastors not to attack themselves by attacking the Church.

“We can tend to fall into the place where we forget who we are and what we are as the Church,” Jones cautioned. “It’s becoming more popular where people from the inside are making jokes and comments publicly … criticizing and bashing the Bride of Christ to appease the culture.”

The church is vitally important and the leadership of the church belongs to Jesus, he said, referencing the seven churches in Revelation 1-3.

“We’re not just some institution in the culture trying to make the culture better,” Jones said. “We’re here because we are putting Christ on display. (We are) His gathered body.”

Jones was among several African American leaders and others who addressed dozens of emerging leaders at a June 11 luncheon during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting.

Charles Grant, SBC Executive Committee (EC) associate vice president for convention advancement and relations, convened the group based on feedback from several key Black church emerging leaders, he told Baptist Press.

The group is intended to provide community, enabling emerging leaders to connect during the annual meeting; offer exploration, hosting a place for leaders to discuss key topics and issues with entity leaders; speed multiplication, providing resources to help leaders expand ministries and equip others; spur momentum, equipping and encouraging leaders to make progress in church ministry and convention support; and encourage cooperation by engaging leaders in SBC life, thereby edifying churches, advancing the kingdom, and enabling them to serve in the administration of the convention.

Grant expressed appreciation for the “leaders and their commitment to partnership, edification of one another, and concentration on making disciples and fulfilling Christ’s mission.”

Jeff Iorg, SBC EC president and CEO, greeted the emerging leaders and welcomed them to the mission of the Southern Baptists.

“This key theme — mission, mission, mission — is what we’re really about. We come together with all kinds of diversity and difficulty and challenges and difficult perspectives,” he said, “but at the core, at the center and the heart of what we’re doing is the mission of the gospel and getting that gospel to as many people as possible and as rapidly as possible.”

Iorg’s book, “The Character of Leadership,” was among several resources the EC and other entities gave the leaders. Hard copies of the guidebook, “Navigating the SBC,” were provided, in addition to online resources available at sbc.net.

Greg Perkins, president of the National African American Fellowship of more than 4,000 congregations, shared insights into the SBC in a Q&A with Chip Luter, senior associate pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, and son of former SBC President Fred Luter. Perkins pastors The View Church in Menifee, California. 

Others addressing the pastors were Mark Croston, national director of Black Church Ministries for Lifeway Christian Resources; J.J. Washington, national director of personal evangelism for the North American Mission Board (NAMB); Jordan McGowen, an investment adviser with GuideStone Financial Resources; Quintell Hill, African American church mobilization strategist with the International Mission Board (IMB); David Wyant, IMB director of talent acquisition; and Jason Thomas, a former IMB African American mobilizer. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ senior writer.)

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