By Victor Ochieng
When it comes to numbers in the Black Church, African-American men aren’t doing well, and something should be done to bring them back to the sanctuary. In fact, in almost all churches, women outnumber men and have made enormous strides when it comes to decision-making and financial contributions.
Why are Black men not in the church? Could something be missing in the churches that are keeping them away?
That’s what Jomo Kenyatta Johnson, a Black Lives Matter activist and pastor thinks. He believes the Black church isn’t talking about things that speak to the hearts of Black men.
That’s why he’s made a decision to start a new church aimed at addressing the challenges that Black Americans are facing, an area he believes mainstream American Christianity has spectacularly failed to tackle.
“Most evangelical churches won’t speak on political issues because they are tax-exempt or will cause division,” Jomo Kenyatta Johnson said last week.
“Churches that don’t speak on Black suffering will not attract Black men that want to address Black suffering. We want to address Black suffering so we can point to the truth on how the suffering can be alleviated.”
The church seeks to reach out to as many African American men who feel their interests aren’t taken care of by mainstream churches. And because the new church doesn’t want to be gagged in any way, Johnson revealed that they’re not going to take advantage of the tax-exempt status churches enjoy, as that limits the issues they can address at the pulpit.
“We want to detach the greed that is often associated with American Christianity,” said Johnson. “[And] we will not be tax exempt. We will speak directly on political issues that affect lives.”
This new initiative means so much to Johnson that he said he’d opt out of his position as the Black Lives Matter leader of the Savannah, Georgia, chapter. He also wants to ensure that he starts the church as an independent and totally unaffiliated entity that decides its own direction.
Johnson previously pastored Open Air Church, doing so between 2010 and 2014. He graduated from Westminster Seminary in that very year.
When he was brought to task to explain the gains that Black men and the Black family, in general, would accrue by joining his church, he said, “The first would be self-identity [and] for them to realize how valuable they are to God, that they don’t have to conform to American Christianity, that we can be unapologetically black and spiritual at the same time.”
The church is expected to hold its first service in February 2018 at a venue in Montgomery, Alabama.