African American Ministries strives to minister to African Americans and others in fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ by raising up and training leaders in the African American church body.
“We want to be a resource for churches looking to reach their communities and give them the tools and techniques they need to reach their people with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Oza Jones, director of African American Ministries, said. “My dream for African American churches is that every church does everything they can for the community. I want them to be a pillar for their community. I want to see African American churches not just built up in numbers, but built up spiritually.”
In order to best meet the needs of churches, Jones and his team provide resources, consultations and trainings. One of those trainings, the African American Leadership Workshop, took place virtually March 5-6.
The theme of the conference, Rebuild, was focused on equipping church leaders “rebuilding” from the hardships of 2020 and looking ahead to 2021.
“As the church we have to learn to avoid the shipwreck,” said Director of African American Ministries Oza Jones. “And so that’s what we’re gonna do in this Rebuild conference. We’re going to guide our churches’ ships through the storms.”
Speakers concentrated on five “ships” churches might need to guide through the storms of 2021: worship, discipleship, partnership, viewership and relationship. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Delbert A. Mack, Sr., pastor of Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church in Beaumont.
In his address, Mack preached from Nehemiah, reminding conference participants that he too faced the challenges of rebuilding when he returned to Jerusalem. But with God, he said, all things are possible.
“When you depend upon God you can set your sights higher. When you depend upon God your expectations can become greater. When you depend upon God you not only have physical resources, but you also have invisible resources. When you depend upon God you have the greatest power that there is standing by your side,” said Dr. Mack.
Relationships in evangelism
Carlos Francis, Texas Baptists Associate Evangelism lead and African American specialist, spoke on the importance of relationships in evangelism during his session. He explained that relational evangelism is based on two things, loving the Great Commission and living the Great Commandment.
“It’s the idea that if we are learning and living the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, then we’re being obedient to what God has commissioned and commanded us to do,” he explained.
Francis encouraged attendees to live lives that lead people towards Jesus and to respond to God’s calling to share the Gospel, something that all Christians are called to do.
Discipleship in a digital environment
Ralph Emerson, associate director of the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, spoke about discipleship, especially in a digital environment. He acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic forced many churches to pause in-person services, Bible studies and ministries as they dealt with health and safety issues, and he encouraged conference attendees to view digital discipleship as a strong way to reach people, instead of as a weaker substitute for in-person practices.
“Digital discipleship is not different discipleship,” he said. “There is a change in the methodology but not in the ministry.”
He encouraged churches to leverage digital communications channels, reaching out to people via phone, social media or messaging apps and cultivating relationships through Zoom meetings, Facebook Lives and phone calls. Emerson also suggested churches make resources available online, such as podcasts and digital uploads. He reminded churches that digital discipleship has the potential to reach people far beyond the physical church’s neighborhood, and that it is an important tool to utilize in an increasingly digital world.
Jones hopes that this conference and others like it, as well as the many resources Texas Baptists offers, will empower and equip African American churches across the state to grow and make an impact in their communities.
“My hope is that churches can come to Texas Baptists and get tools and resources to take back home to their church, so they can do what they need to do in their place of worship and their community,” Jones said. “It’s about building, bridging and branching. That means building up the church, bridging gaps in communities, generations, between other churches, and branching out to be able to help whoever needs help.”
For more information, go to txb.org/aam.