Ed Stetzer Interview: African-American Millennials and the Church

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Late in April, Wheaton College is hosting their inaugural Mission & Ministry Conference. The theme is “Emerging Adults: Formation for Mission.” There is still time to register.

One of the plenary speakers is the Founder of Black Millennial Café, Brianna Parker. She spoke with Ed Stetzer, who writes for The Exchange blog at Christianity Today about her upcoming presentation at Wheaton’s Mission & Ministry Conference as well as her perspective on the challenges facing the church in ministering to emerging adults, giving particular focus to the African-American community.

Parker expresses a great deal of enthusiasm concerning Millennials and Gen Zers, believing that emerging generations bring energy, curiosity, passion, and an entrepreneurial spirit to the life of faith. She sees potential and possibility for younger cohorts in the Christian fellowship, and wants to encourage leaders to nurture and equip upcoming generations for service and ministry.

Concerning challenges and concerns faced by African-American Millennials, Parker says, “The pressing questions shaping African-American millennial faith and relationship to the church are issues of injustice. It is unacceptable to watch or subscribe to a faith that continues to marginalize African Americans, ignore our plight, and preach equality with no repentance or plan for repair and equity.” Parker encourages church leaders to speak out and when they do, to lead beyond the “sermonic moment.” Action is needed.

Parker also helps churches examine existing structures and see if they are hindering themselves from connecting with emerging generations. She leads churches in examining what they say and what they do to uncover mixed messages. While a church may say, “younger people are encouraged to lead here,” they may only place older generations in positions of leadership and responsibility. That’s inconsistent, and can be incredibly discouraging for younger generations.

Parker’s research and advocacy meet a particular need. She is diligent in helping the community of faith not only to understand the needs of emerging generations, but to pay specific attention to the needs of African Americans. You can learn more about the Black Millennial Cafe here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Parker is right to argue that there should be a great deal of excitement about emerging generations. They are part of the body of Christ and have gifts and graces to offer the whole church. Learning how to empower and equip leaders is a steep challenge, and we need solid resources for developing this aspect of ministry. One resource is Marv Nelson’s Unleash: Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders, which you can find in the Burlap Shop.

Do you know of other excellent resources? Leave a comment below.