By Kevin A. Brown
I would have to confess that I, too, have had my doubts about the church. People in the church have hurt me. I have wrestled with the church not being real or authentic. I have even found myself saying that the church does not practice what it preaches; however, I have to admit that I still love the church, and it is my hope that the church will take back its rightful place in our communities. The church or churches in our communities have the resources to do for us what the government has failed to do. The church has always been the institution that has brought our community together. I have dreamed that there would come a time during which the church and its leaders would put ego, pride, doctrine and denomination aside. Rather than duplicating services, pool their resources together and as a result help more people in the process. You may say that, yes, that is just a dream, but I know that dreams can spark a movement.
Howard Thurman stated, “[Jesus] knew that the goals of religion as he understood them could never be worked out within the then-established order. Deep from within that order he projected a dream, the logic of which would give to all the needful security.” How can any church that preaches Jesus not project a dream? How can any church or leader sit silently as the gap between the have and the have not’s widen, watch a justice system that is broken, watch the homeless remain homeless and the poor struggle to provide the basic necessities for their families?
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is lifted up each year as a preacher who dreamed of an America where his children would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. However, King later said that dream had become a nightmare, and he realized the hopes he had for his children would never happen in his day. King understood that the only way we would move forward as a community was to eventually wake up from the dream and move to action. This was the case for his book titled Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? King not only gives us a proposal for abolishing poverty, but King believed that changes in education, employment, economic rights and housing would help all people live the so-called “American Dream.” King not only gave us a dream, he gave us a blueprint, and we should consider becoming the architects to bring that dream to reality.
Church, Where Are You? was a call to action to churches and leaders not socially aware or socially involved in their communities. I realize there are churches that are making a difference both spiritually and socially. I also realize there are pastors who are in the trenches allowing their voices to be heard. I applaud these churches and pastors for their efforts. One example would be Friendship West Baptist Church of Dallas, TX under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Fredrick D. Haynes III who has a vision of being a Christian community within the community that transforms the community. Pastor Haynes, one of the most prophetic voices of the 21st-century in what was deemed “2015 Vision Night,” projected a dream of how Friendship West would be a church that would creatively make disciples while on the cutting edge, thus making a difference both spiritually and socially. Because Pastor Haynes dares to dream, the average age member of Friendship West is thirty-five and under. They are a generation of new ideas and new energy, searching for a church that they feel is real and authentic. They are looking for a church that practices what it preaches, reaches up and out to the community, and stands for justice for all.
There is hope because there are churches and leaders who are projecting dreams and visions that have made, are making, and will make a difference. I realize the church is the place where we go to encounter God, and it helps us to be in the world; however, I believe it should also be a space where we project dreams that will empower the community.
K.A. Brown is a graduate student. He was born in Mississippi and now resides in Dallas, TX. His mission is to restore community and to be a voice for the voiceless. He loves to engage in issues of social justice and serve those in need. K.A. Brown can be found on Twitter @kevinbrown1911 and on Instagram @kevinbrown1911.