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The Challenge


African American leaders and more than forty African American senior pastors who are currently in our cohorts report four significant challenges they are facing in their contexts.

  1. We need to update the patterns and practices of ministries in churches to better connect with emerging adults today.
  2. We are facing many shifts in our contexts and demographics that our churches need to better engage.
  3. Many of our churches need to improve our structures and team ministry approaches so our leadership pipelines for future leaders are better developed.
  4. We need to update evangelism models and approaches in our churches to make them more effective for those we are trying to reach.

Pastors in our cohorts share that their traditional practices of conversion, including altar calls, membership drives, and other campaigns targeted at the unchurched have proven less effective in recent times. In addition, “soul winning” training is not equipping congregation members to “evangelize” others in a way that takes adequate account of the changes in culture and receptivity of people that are being reached. Changes in communication style and patterns need to be explored and developed.

African American pastors who are participating in cohorts say these issues are intensifying, and that was before the COVID-19 crisis which has disproportionately impacted many of their communities. They believe if black pastors are unable to develop the solutions needed to face these adaptive challenges, the long-term viability and influence of many African American congregations will be at risk.

“African American churches nationally are facing new challenges. We need culturally adapted methods and approaches for community engagement and evangelism and strengthened strategies and structures for leadership development. I could not be more enthusiastic about the partnership with Wheaton College to work toward these goals.”

— Rev. Dr. Michael L. Henderson

“In these changing and challenging times, the Church needs wise strategies for ministry and mission. The African American Church Evangelism Institute is uniquely poised for this moment, and I am excited to serve this unique partnership helping African American churches and leaders to reach emerging generations with the hope of the Gospel. “

— Pastor James T. Meeks

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