Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Church Growth From An African American Perspective: A Book Review

By: Angela Lee Price

I highly recommend the 146-page new book, Church Growth from an African American Perspective, by Donald Hilliard, Jr. available at Donald Hilliard Ministries.

After taking his congregation from 125 members to its current membership of 7,000, Bishop Donald Hilliard, pastor to Cathedral International in Perth Amboy, New Jersey shows church leaders how to grow spiritually healthy congregations. A significant focus of the book is on developing spiritual maturity as the means to church growth. Hilliard states, “Many churches are lopsided in their preaching, focusing only on a ‘prosperity’ message or a ‘faith’ message or on ‘signs and wonders.’ Balanced biblical preaching takes in the entire biblical revelation and helps promote the development of biblically balanced believers in the church.” In the section, “Measuring Church Growth,” Hilliard states, “Increases in numbers and wealth may make a church bigger, but apart from spiritual growth and relevant outreach, they do not necessarily make a church better.

Church Growth From An African American Perspective consists of two parts, "Fundamentals for a Growing Church," and "Practical Dimensions" and is comprised of the following 11 chapters:
  1. Understanding Church Growth
  2. Preparing for Growth
  3. Foundations for Healthy Church Growth
  4. Principles of Healthy Church Growth
  5. Purposeful Prayer
  6. Prophetic Preaching
  7. Powerful Worship
  8. Pertinent Ministry
  9. Practical Christian Education
  10. Growing A Church Through Multiplication
  11. The Church At Its Best

I appreciate Church Growth From an African American Perspective for a number of reasons. It is not another Rick Warren and Bill Hybels spin-off. Hilliard does not endorse a lot of non-Christian experts the way Warren does in Purpose Driven Life, nor does he use the Message Translation. Only a handful of names, other than those in the Bible, are mentioned in the book, highly respected pastor Gardner C. Taylor, and William Carey, a Baptist shoemaker for England, and one or two others. The preface is written by renown African American theologian Henry H. Mitchell. Most scriptures appear to be from the New Revised Standard translation.

I appreciate Hilliard's gentle plea throughout the book for pastors and preachers to remain committed to preaching the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and not pat scriptures and "feel good" messages. I appreciate Hillard bringing the mega church phenomenon into perspective. He encourages pastors who are stressed out by all the hype to realize that mega churches account for a small percentages of all churches nationally. Pastors with small and midsize churches will gleam insight from the Catherdal International model. Hilliard provides action steps throughout the book to help pastors and leadership work together to present a unified voice to their congregations. For the busy pastor, this book is a quick read, and well worth the investment.

Related articles by Angela Lee Price:

Noel Jones: Word of Faith Theology is Crippling the Black Church, May post
Church Growth: Is Bigger Always Better?, April Archives
Radio Responses to 50 Most influential Christians in America, March Archives
The 50 Most Influential Christians In America, February Archives
Are You Letting Yourself Down?, February Archives
Prophetic Or Pathetic, February Archives
Follow the Yellow Brick Road...to Heaven?, January Archives

Remember, it is not Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, nor New Ages that saves. Jesus saves!


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