The Failure of the Black Church – Part I
By Heru Ammen

In the commentary entitled “A Solution for Socio-Economic Impotence,” we outlined the problems that our people are facing within our urban communities and the cultural and social dynamics that continue to exacerbate these issues. In short, a combination of capital disinvestment and black flight are two of the primary factors that have caused the degradation and destruction of urban communities. Another important factor that has precipitated the destruction of urban communities is the fact that many of the individuals, groups, and organizations that exist within our communities do not contribute anything to and for the communities that they supposedly serve. Front and center in their neglect and disdain for urban communities is the black church.

The black church is the worst culprit of what I term purveyors of conscious neglect. This institution, which should be standing in the gap for its poor and disenfranchised constituents represents the worst exploiter of the poor and disenfranchised that has ever existed in the African American community. Its raw embrace of individualism and materialism is couched in a feel good message of salvation and prosperity. Unfortunately the message of salvation and prosperity that the black church promotes seems to only apply to a few of its select clergy and members. That’s apparent in the fact that most of its members have yet to achieve anything close to the prosperity that is supposedly free and only requires the initiates unquestioned belief and faith in the Christian God and consistent tithing to their particular house of worship.


When I first read this commentary I was angry.  I immediately began composing a rebuttal comment and then Michelle and I examined his critique.  I do not like the dirty laundry but there needs to be a conversation about when we are going to clean up.  Opulence, prosperity, lavish gifts of gold and Bentley’s have replaced the message that Jesus came and identified with the poor, disinherited, left out, left behind, under paid, overworked urban dwellers of his day.

When pastors do ministry without accountability moral and ethical borders are no longer boundaries. There is no discipline in the church among the members because there is no discipline in the clergy among other clergy.  When moral and ethical boundaries are breeched pastors must embrace the brother or sister and provide a path for reconciliation but also a period of correction that includes humble, repentant reflection.

I am still upset but the reason has shifted. Leaders within the Black Church must stand up and value the ministry of the gospel above pop culture social norms. You do not need a Bentley to preach God’s Word.  You do not need a Lear Jet to disciple men and women into fully mature believers in Jesus Christ.  Bling Bling does not attract people to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Black churches in predominately white denominations should not get comfortable.  We have a lot of work to do to embrace urban ministry and have a major impact.

I do not think this will be one of my more popular articles but ………………