Jamal Bryant on The African American Church’s Role in the Coronavirus Pandemic and Beyond

Jamal Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia. | Facebook/New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

I recently came across an article on Newsone.com that highlighted a furor on several social media platforms regarding whether wealthy pastors are contributing enough to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Admittedly some of the social media memes and tropes were amusing and of course some were outright mean-spirited, sophomoric and disrespectful; but that’s the complex mosaic of the social media space and if you’re in the public square at all, you have to be able to stomach the bitter and the sweet.

As I processed the article and the dialogue it generated, my personal and pastoral PTSD was kicked into overdrive recalling the pummeling my church (New Birth) and I took just a few weeks earlier when we announced that we’d formulated a partnership with a telemedicine firm and a community health clinic to provide coronavirus testing to our community.

Without bothering to do any due diligence, we were labeled as “opportunists,” “vultures,” “ungodly” and worse.

And while it is always painful to be insulted and castigated, it hurts even more when it’s the African American community leading the campaign of misinformation. Of course, New Birth and I were confident in our intent and execution of the testing initiative and fortunately, local affiliate CBS 46 cleared the issue up nicely and we’re moving forward.

Rather than get lost in trying to salve healing wounds, I believe our focus should turn to the larger question of what exactly the role of the church should be, not only in this season of a global pandemic, but as the core societal anchor of the African American community.

I’ve preached many times that 93% of what Jesus did was outside of the walls of the church as He healed, fed, evangelized and organized.

Admittedly, if you were to honestly assess the 21st century church, that dynamic has been completely flipped. Far too many churches and pastors are concerned with what happens inside of the building and not concerned or active enough with affecting the greater community, and those who need to be ministered to beyond the opulence and comfort of gleaming wood floors and the immaculate stained glass.

We indeed have a conundrum. Should the church be doing more? Yes; and if you look closely many churches are doing plenty.

I am blessed to pastor at New Birth, where we have the capacity and more importantly, an engaged, committed church family who take seriously our mandate to love, lead and live like Christ. Our goal is to be a church that does 93% or more of our ministry beyond the walls of our beautiful sanctuary.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jamal Bryant

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