Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5 Ways the African American Church Develops Leaders

Black Church members taking part in praise and worship
Churches have always been more than a just a place for religious worship in American, particularly, in the African American community. For most African Americans, churches have historically served as an epicenter of social, cultural, and political activity.

Many of America's greatest singers, dancers, speakers, writers, politicians and community activists got their start as youths on Sunday mornings. It was on Sunday mornings in church when future singers and dancers began their careers performing in front of supportive crowds for the first time.  It was on Sunday morning when future speakers, politicians and community activists received their first opportunity to speak in front of a captive audiences either during regular Sunday morning services, Easter Sunday plays, Christmas musicals, or Pastor's Anniversary and Church Anniversary celebrations.

During the Civil Rights movement, the church played a pivotal part as a place where people in the African American community could create organizations, galvanize support and plan a course of action. Leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Ralph Bunch, Jesse Jackson, Sr., Ralph Abernathy and countless others got their start in the church and remained associated with the church through out the Civil Rights struggle and through their lives.

Entertainers such as Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Al Greene, Gladys Knight and countless other singers started in the church.

Comedians like Steve Harvey, George Wallace and Cedric the Entertainer got their inspiration and material from the African American church.

The church continues to play a vital role in the African American community. Churches serve as drug treatment centers, food panty, homeless shelter, women's shelter, childcare center and a youth center for teenagers. 

Now the church is at a crossroads. The expectations and the people attending church are rapidly changing. The question is what role will the church play in the African American community in the future? How will the church handle the ever changing culture and some of the issues that affect the African American community?

Today, the Black church continues to provide a cultural center for the community as well as develop leaders. How are leaders developed?
  • Starts with Sunday School - This is where you receive a basic understanding of the bible and Christianity. Learn various verses to help youth with memorization and how to relate the bible to real world situations.
  • Hold different leadership training positions - As youth grow in their faith and learn more about Christianity, they hold positions such as ushers, youth choir, praise and dance team or as church musicians. Youths learn at an early age how to work in a team environment, they learn people skills, communications skills and commitment. Skills they will need for higher positions in the church in the future and in the community.
  • Youths receive opportunities to speak in front of the congregation. Youths learn presentation and speaking skills.
  • Youths learn respect for adults and elders in the church which transfers into respect for authority and other people in the community.
  • Churches hold fun activities for youths. This helps youths the importance of people skills and how to relate to different people within and outside the community. 
Youths working together on the praise and worship team
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