One of the movies that I watched as a teenager growing up in the ‘80s was Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd’s Ghostbusters. When the city was in trouble and being taken over by evil, darkness, and despair the citizens looked for someone to rescue and deliver them from the menacing spirits that besieged the city. The cry echoed in the streets was, “Who you gonna call?” And the enthusiastic response was “Ghostbusters!”
Today, there is a resounding cry bellowing in the streets for someone to address the pain, hurt, injustice, and anxiety across America. The world around us is seeking for someone or some organization to provide answers, heal brokenness, and repair the fractures that threaten us all. When the world cries out for help, my prayer is that they will seek deliverance from Christ and His church.
While the world turns to hear the collective voices of the NFL, NASCAR, corporations, Hollywood, and others who speak out against systemic racism we need to make sure that the voice heard above them all is the church. Recently, when there was a disruption in the streets of Atlanta and the peaceful protesters were taken over by rogue looters, the mayor called the rappers to bring peace before she called the reverends. When our world cries out for the rapper over the reverend then we know we have work to do. Therefore, we must not be absent. Our voices cannot be silent. Our message must be clear, strategic, and transformative for our communities.
To answer the cry, I have led my church to ensure we embody the character and focus that Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther had when they addressed the difficulties of their day. They all lived at the same time but had different assignments to bring stability, unity, and change to their world. In my opinion, the church must personify each of these roles and every church should have them operating in their church at all times.
Ezra, as priest, provided the spiritual impact that was needed and called his people to the Scriptures, prayer, and a return to the heart of God. What will ultimately heal the wounds and fractures in our society is not just economic resources or peaceful protest but true spiritual revival that confronts the root of all problems, sin. And only Christ’s church can call the world to a spiritual awakening that will change hearts, resurrect hope, and help all to see that we can be one in Jesus. Through biblical preaching, impactful Bible study, and fellowship ministry that extends outside the four walls of the church. The Gospel can unite society like nothing else.
Nehemiah, as community restorer, rebuilt the torn down walls that surrounded the city. His job was to address the economic, political, and social disparity that existed. He united the people and focused them on projects that would result in community transformation. In our churches, the work of Nehemiah would be seen in advocating for reforms in the criminal justice system, better housing and healthcare for the underserved, economic advancement for the disenfranchised, soup kitchens, job training, recovery programs, and school improvement. Make sure that some form of these initiatives, among others, are operative in your ministry based on your community needs and resources.
Esther, the queen with access to the king, would use the access to power to speak as the prophetic voice of God for those who have no voice. Many pastors and church members are uniquely in position to use their God given influence to lobby local and state government and work with media and business leaders to ensure that legislation and the plight of marginalized people and oppressed people are heard at the highest level. This is not a democratic or republican mandate. Activism is the second characteristic of an evangelical church on the National Association of Evangelical Churches website. It states, Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts. How are you using your prophetic voice to speak to power on behalf of the powerless?
So, when we hear crying in the streets because of pain, inequality, discrimination, and fear and the masses ask “Who we gonna call?” I pray the world doesn’t look to the rapper, politician, corporation, or millionaire. May their first call be to Christ and His church.
Posted on June 15, 2020
Pastor Tyrone E. Barnette is a native of Roxboro, North Carolina. He is the senior pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. He earned a Master of Divinity at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree in Strategic Leadership from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
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