“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”
-Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut
The month of February is Black History Month. Therefore, I have chosen to focus on leadership in all churches as this pertains to the concept of continuous learning. Learning with God has no quotas. In fact, it has been studied that in Christian leadership understanding the Bible and its supreme contents, are indeed paramount. However, leaders of churches in any community should never get too caught up with what is on the inside of buildings, so much so, that those who are outside are ignored or even forgotten.
Community learning and involvement do not just mean setting up a food pantry or clothing drive, it is broader than these common practices. Having access to significant information, affordable living, and effective resources are the rights of every citizen no matter the enclave each person belongs to. Priorities should be that every person is treated and respected as a child of God in spite of his or her current challenges. In the aspect of relevance to the spirituality of community members, it is well known that not every community member will jump on the pages where Jesus reigns. Moreover, culture and family units should similarly be taken into consideration at the time community is examined.
When ministers become aware that the churches they lead are not just houses of God but should similarly be considered community learning centers (CLCs), programs created can begin to reflect the needs of everyone from all walks of life. This gesture would be inclusive of those who enter the doors on each Sunday morning or those who can hear worship as their feet hit the sidewalk while strolling by.
A church as a CLC should:
- Create sustainable community initiatives focused on genuine kindness and acceptance.
- Offer classes designed to assist community members facing financial problems. This could look like spiritual coaching on setbacks in life, strongholds, job search, resume writing, presentable attire, and how to improve interview skills. According to Adam (2008) in the community framework, equality is a technique used to boost the strength of citizens who are lacking. In addition, I say, Christian leaders should focus community efforts on tenets. Tenets as Jesus described and displayed. Through Jesus’ many parables and examples, He offered numerous opportunities of growth for the communities He partook in. He did not just say pray to God for the answers while having a hand reaching out asking for donations. In His messages, He taught everyone how to deal with their problems, with God as the ultimate power to change things. He had the greatest CLC.
- Be adequate in offering Biblically based and doable solutions for those in its community.
- Offer participatory program development as imperative and strategic avenues to create precise courses, those in the community need.
To achieve a church driven CLC model, leaders should research to learn about other effective and strong CLCs already in place for God’s higher good. This effort may mean learning initiatives grounded in community economic relief or educational processes in the frames of equality and equity for every community member.
Some suggestions on becoming serious on learning more about community help are (a) remember learning for God is never a waste of time, (b) find reputable CLCs and request conversations with successful executive directors, and (c) invest time into this classroom by allocating an hour or two each day to grasp as much knowledge as possible.
The Apostle Paul wrote “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7
Leaders, standing on the podium reciting a complimentary Bible verse accompanied by “God will provide”, I assert, should be tweaked by deliverance more so, in the perspective of, action. No matter the community a minister or church reside, there is someone living in said community who needs a helping hand. In this time of COVID, Christian leaders, an initiative as this, is needed more so than ever.
On this Black History Month, understanding better, the importance, and producing the need of a CLC, within your church, could be what your community is waiting for. In fact, this just could be what you have been waiting for.
Adam, R. (2008). Empowerment, participation, and social work. (4th ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave McMillan