Apr

20

2012

Thabiti Anyabwile|12:46 pm CT

T4G Debrief: Where Were All the African Americans?

A couple days ago, David Murray posted a second reflection on T4G where he asked, “Where were all the African Americans?” Murray expressed some timidity raising the question for fear of saying something offensive or incorrect. We’ve all had enough hand-slapping when it comes to reaching into the “race” and ethnicity cookie jar.  I appreciate the courage to press into the issue.  As far as I’m concerned (and who am I to offer an opinion?), it’s okay to ask the question, even though something feels “off” with the question.

For anyone interested, here are my quick responses:

1. Murray guesses that African Americans made up about 1-2 percent of the crowd.  That might be correct.  But here’s the question for me: What percentage of the Reformed Christian world do African Americans comprise?  I’d think we’re not much more than 1-2 percent–tops!  The Reformed world is small and the African-American Reformed even smaller.  Perhaps this is what seems “off” about the post to me.  On a percentage basis, I wouldn’t be all that concerned even though I’d love all my kinsmen according to the flesh to adopt this robust, God-exalting, and biblical theological world and life view.

2.  Murray mentions that the Man Up! conference was happening at the same time and might have attracted some who otherwise would have attended.  That might be true.  I know a couple guys who opted for Man Up! over T4G.  And I think they made the correct decision.  Here’s why.  Man Up! represents an important movement with more application to the African-American community and more popular appeal among young African Americans than does T4G.  Don’t forget that T4G is unashamedly a pastors’ conference.  Though many are welcome to come, the conference has always had as its aim to primarily address and encourage pastors and aspiring pastors in their role.  If you’re a young African American Man Up! likely seems more relevant and important a theme and topic.  Would I rather they attend a conference with one panel on complementarianism and no specific reference to African-American applications or attend an entire conference contextualized on the theme of manhood for African Americans?  No brainer.  The fact that some might choose a unique conference like Man Up! is no indication that we’re not together.

3.  R.C. Sproul and John MacArther are probably the T4G speakers that Reformed African Americans most often identify with.  Sproul and MacArthur are the human means the Lord used to introduce many of us to Reformed theology.  Just check the appendix of Tony Carter’s Glory Road for an indication of their influence.  In retrospect, I’m guessing Sproul’s and MacArthur’s inability to be with us must have weakened interest among some African Americans (and not just African Americans).  I’ve already written about how I personally missed them.  I’m guessing I’m not so weird that I’m alone in that.  We were without the two Christian radio ministry leaders that many African Americans would know.  There’s far less familiarity with the rest of us as speakers.

4.  My impression is that in absolute numbers the attendance of African Americans seemed stable.  I can’t say I noticed a big drop off over the years.  There weren’t a ton in 2006, 2008, or 2010.  However, the venues and the audiences were smaller in each of those gatherings.  In social psychological terms, what we might have here is a case of “the visibility hypothesis” at work.  The visibility hypothesis is simply the notion that the smaller a group is in the general population the more noticeable they are and the more attention they attract.  The attendance grew over the years, the absolute numbers of African Americans remained relatively constant, and so the visibility went up for some.

5.  The speaker rostrum at T4G, unlike most other conferences, is built on friendships.  I noticed in the comments of Murray’s post that some speculated that a more diverse representation of speakers might help attendance.  It might.  But speaking invitations aren’t “managed” that way.  At the heart of the conference are four friends with like passion for the gospel.  Over the years, they’ve invited 3-5 other friends to participate with them.  Everything that happens with the conference–from speaking invitations to meals with the speakers to retreats before and after–is aimed at deepening friendship.  That’s not to say any of the men lack close friendships with people of other ethnic backgrounds.  They all have many.  It’s simply to say, as far as I’m aware, though everyone would like to see greater diversity, such diversity is not the main strategy for organizing the conference and speakers.  The main goal or strategy is to rally around the Good News.  Would we ultimately have it any other way?

In all of this, one thing seems abundantly clear to me: The greatest ability to strengthen and diversify friendship in the gospel probably comes not from the speaker panel’s ethnic make-up but from whether or not we attenders intentionally invite and reach out in our own circles of influence.  We could ask ourselves: How many African Americans (Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc.) did I invite to come to the conference (any conference) this year?  If we didn’t invite anyone not like us, then at best we have the same blind spots or limitations we assume conference organizers to have.  One result of past conferences is that we’d regularly hear from people that they came alone the first time and committed to bringing others the next time (usually staff or elders or young guys from the congregation).  I think that’s great.  Maybe we should modify that commitment just a little to ask: What brother from a different mother has the Lord placed in my sphere of influence to invite the next time?

Maybe that makes things a little more diverse?  Maybe it helps our friendships?  Maybe not.  Either way, we still have the gospel of our Lord and the Lord offered in the gospel.

43 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this insightful and enlightening response, Thabiti. Especially appreciated the challenge in your second last paragraph.

  2. Good thoughts, and the second-to-last paragraph is a terrific takeaway for positive application.

    Those sorts of questions (as asked in the post you discuss) always make my brain itch. Is there a quota? I think similarly to you, when I see complaints about the percentage of blacks in (say) the GOP. Show me hordes of black voters being deliberately turned away by the GOP, and there’s something to talk about. Otherwise?

    Similarly here. What solution (other than yours) wouldn’t be itself patronizing or tokenizing? Who’s stopping blacks from attending? If someone is, there’s a problem needing addressing… but I’d be stunned unconscious to learn that anyone was. Otherwise, what’s the proposal? A breakout on “Spike Lee and the Gospel”?

    Hm… actually, now that I mention it…

    • The myopia of this particular response deeply troubles me. I’m praying that my thoughts make sense as I respond to your blatant majority-blinded perspective.

      Do you see that to simply say, “what’s stopping minorities from coming?” IS the problem? It’s a majority question that fails to consider what it’s like to be a minority. It’s easy to say there’s nothing stopping them from coming when you’re the majority, Dan, when most attenders look like you, when the furthest you have to stretch out of your cultural comfort zone is which hymns you’ll sing.

      In a historical vacuum, your question might have some weight, but given all that has separated blacks and whites, majority from minority, for you to simply think that it’s a matter of minorities not wanting to come is ignorant at best. While certainly not endorsing a tokenism of any sorts, there needs to be intentional and hospitable invitations opening up seats at the table for minorities to join the conversation. Unless the majority makes that effort as part of living out the Gospel of reconciliation, you, as a majority, will continue to think that you run the place, and we minorities can come as long as we become like you.

      Your comparison with a political party is deeply flawed. I think you’ve lost something when you liken blacks not joining the GOP to blacks not attending T4G…

      As a reformed, Gospel-driven, Korean-American pastor, it’s exactly this kind of sentiment that has given me a distaste for T4G as an event. While I respect the speakers and have been blessed in the past, the ethos of T4G seems to reinforce the “minority-majority”, “normative-other” dichotomy. It’s troubling that even in responding to Thabiti’s well-written response, you’ve demonstrated exactly why I stay away (Spike Lee and the Gospel? Really???).

      There’s also the challenges of cost, marketing, and a whole bunch of other factors. For someone in the majority to say (and I certainly don’t attribute Dan’s comment as indicative of the conference leadership), “you can come if you want, no one’s stopping you” isn’t the Gospel I love. I hope you don’t do evangelism that way.

  3. I, for one don’t care about the racial make-up of any Christian gathering and did’t see Dr. Murray’s concern as being an “elephant in the room.” With all due respect to Dr. Murray, I highly doubt anyone, with perhaps the exception of Dr. Murray, experienced any awkwardness or uneasiness because of a lack of ethnic diversity among the crowd. If anyone could charge T4G with the sin of racism with the slightest hope of making it stick (and they could not), then we might justly consider the said elephant in said room. But that simply isn’t the case.

    Do we desire ethnic diversity within our churches and the Reformed movement? Certainly! But like ‘numbers’ in our churches, this is the by-product of a faithful gospel ministry and never something we should make a goal in and of itself. Becoming preoccupied with the number of Blacks, Hispanics, or Asians we have on any given Sunday or at a conference is a distraction from the chief measure of success – faithfulness to Christ and his Gospel, and love for the one’s he has purchased with his blood. All of which I see beautifully exemplified in the lives and ministries of the men at T4G.

    • Thabiti Anyabwile

      Bro. Sheffield,

      Thanks for joining the conversation, bro! Just to be clear: I don’t think Dr. Murray was alleging any racism against anyone or expressing any racist sentiment himself. In fact, I think he was pretty concerned to avoid anyone injecting that note into what he thought was an otherwise needful discussion.

      I agree with the heart of what you’ve written here–unity in the gospel of our Lord. I just didn’t want anyone to mistakenly think Murray had made any allegations of racism.

      Grace and peace,
      T-

      • Thanks for your goodwill, Thabiti. You’re right, I’m not accusing anyone of racism – not the speakers, not the organizers, not the conferees, not my African American brothers/sisters, not anyone. I was asking why the seemingly imbalanced representation and if/what can we do to change things.

        Your explanations/comments have helped me to begin to understand the why, and you’ve also given me/us a challenge that if taken up should help to change things for the future. You’ve certainly convicted me.

        Although there are no physical barriers preventing attendance, there are historical and cultural obstacles that are not going to be removed/reduced without prayerful intentionality. And I’ve got to start with myself.

        • Prayerful intentionality…I wholeheartedly agree.

        • The internet needs more people who can engage and interact with each other with the grace that David and Thabiti have shown here.
          (I’m included in the party of people who far too readily writes online in a way that doesn’t bring glory to God in the tone and content used)

  4. Hey man, I appreciate this post. But to be honest I think we just need to do a better job at having more gospel centered African American speakers and Hispanic speakers (they are missing too) who love Jesus and are sound theologically. If you want to become more diverse than have a lot more diverse speakers.

    Also, I think you should have collaborated with the Man Up conference (if possible) so that it would have been really diverse (plus pretty cool) to have both venues together.

    Love you guys and appreciate you guys. Keep preaching the gospel and serving the Jesus’ church!

    Anthony

  5. [...] T4G Debrief: Where Were All the African Americans? – Pure Church … A couple days ago, David Murray posted a second reflection on T4G where he asked, “Where were all the African Americans?” Murray expressed some timidity raising the question for fear of saying something offensive or … [...]

  6. Thanks Thabiti for your insight. Very helpful brother!

    p.s. I was very edified by your sermon at T4G

    • Thabiti Anyabwile

      Thank you, brother. To God be the glory! Praying your day is filled with the peace and joy of Christ,
      T-

  7. Thank you for this post. Wasn’t able to make it to T4G, but followed along closely on twitter and have watched the messages online. I think what is at the heart of this discussion is an uncomfortable realization at our deepest level: all of us are racist. What I mean by that is that we are all predispositioned towards sin, and in our hearts we fail to love our neighbor on a daily basis. I don’t believe that anyone actively sought to set T4G apart from racial minorities, but like you said, this was simply a result of the nature of T4G and the state of the African American community as a whole. To me though, it comes back to not whether we are simply inviting minorities to come, but are we engaging them with the gospel on a daily basis and living in their communities? Do we love them? Can we honestly call them our neighbor? I’m confident that T4G will not be made more diversified by a more “colorful” panel of speakers, but by greater individual dependence on the Grace of God. We need to love Jesus more.
    Thank you so much for your ministry and faithfulness to the Gospel! God bless!
    Miles

  8. I know that this was an awkward question for Bro. David to raise – but it was a great one, especially coming from the perspective of a fellow “light skinned” brother (like myself). If nothing else, it at least lets us know that he was CONCERNED about that (which is great, since so many aren’t concerned in the slightest about the obvious divisions within the church), and it sets a fantastic example for the rest of us that we should all consider this same question – at least occasionally – wherever the body of Christ is said to be represented.

    We become so used to the body of Christ looking just like ourselves, and are sometimes shocked when it looks different. It’s good to be reminded that the gospel reaches across all lines of racial and social distinction, and to remember that we need to be just as concerned about the spiritual (and theological) well-being of our brothers and sisters from other racial backgrounds as we are about those who look like us.

    So, David, thank you so much for at least “noticing” this, regardless of whether or not there’s really anything to be worried about in that regard (Bro. Thabiti doesn’t seem to think that there is – which is great to hear.). You have reminded all of us that this is an important question to ask, and I only hope that we’ll all be challenged and inspired to share your concern as we continue to live as members of the body of Christ.

    Thabiti, as always you have blessed us with some tremendously helpful insights, and have demonstrated a deep love and respect for all of your brothers in Christ. Your answers here are very encouraging (at least in regard to the T4G gatherings), and I personally think your closing suggestion (to consider intentionally inviting a friend of a different race to attend T4G with us next time) is a fantastic one, and believe it could go a long way toward helping us improve the racial diversity and sweeten the fellowship at future T4G events. You bless us consistently with your wisdom and love, and I, for one, am very thankful! May the Lord prompt our hearts often to think, pray, and serve in ways that give clear evidence of our love for people of every race.

  9. Where were the Hispanics? anyone?

  10. Right here! In sunny SoCal. I have yet to have the chance to go to T4G and yet it is something that my church leaders have gone to several times and I have heard most of all the major speakers at other similar conferences (Shepherd’s Conference, Ligonier Events, Desiring God conferences and the like). I consider myself a Reformed Dispensationalist (yes we do exist). I also happen to be Hispanic (Mexican-American). For the last two T4G conferences my wife and I had just recently had one of our two sons (Ben & Max) so it wasn’t a real possibility for me to go.

    As for why Hispanics (and Minorities in general) are not well-represented in these type of conferences I would offer that it has more to do with historical and geographical reasons. Most religious Hispanics are Roman Catholic (by tradition) and if they are evangelical then it most likely was from a local ministry that ministered in Hispanic neighborhoods. Personally speaking, my father first committed his life to Christ under the ministry of Pastor Alex Montoya (a professor at The Master’s Seminary). For lack of a better analogy he is the “John MacArthur” of the Hispanic world (in Southern California). Going farther back you have the Azusa Street Revival at the turn of the 20th century which was a Penecostal Movement from which many denominations like The Assemblies of God were born that were comprised of mostly minority-based ministries (Blacks and Hispanics). Jumping forward to the 1960′s and 70′s there was the Jesus Movement (under Chuck Smith) that influenced Southern Californian Hippies (like Greg Laurie) and spawned a number of churches in many Hispanic neighborhoods in both Orange County and Los Angeles County in SoCal. While my brief analysis is very regional and simply a small sample of the larger context I do think it illustrates the point that movements tend to be regional.

    And so still today most of the Evangelical Hispanics are not part of the Reformed tradition because the theology of these various movements (while Evangelical) were largely Armenian, Pentecostal, Wesleyan, and a spattering of other traditions that had ministries in Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods.

    Now obviously, God used all of these varying circumstances for His own purposes but I am only speaking from a human perspective. So I think that just as in the case of most widely-held religious beliefs they can be at least observed or described from these historical explanations. But from a divine perspective it does seem that God has rekindled a call to the Biblical preaching of His Word where the Reformed Church has had a strong and rich history of faithfulness. And I pray that God would indeed raise up for Martin Luther’s of every race to spread the Glory and majesty of who the Lord Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will do in the coming ages where there will be one people; the people of God who will forever sing his praises! Or for the “Supremacy of Christ in all things everywhere” as a well-known preacher might say. =)

    • *****Correction*****
      I certainly did not intend to misrepresent our Armenian brothers in Christ but I meant to say “Arminian,” in the above post; the theological kind. =)

  11. thanks Justin

    From the Hispanic Reformed Covenantal (we also exist) I appreciate the fact that im finding small reformed groups in the U.S. but also in Dominican Republic (Por su Causa, Piper and Mahaney have frequented their version of Reformed Conferences) In Mexico with much smaller but growing groups among which we can name Gerald Nyenhuis (Westminster Tradition Presbyterian), we also have Chuy Olivarez whose planted numerous churches in Mexico and U.S. ( Casa de Oracion) feeds off much of Macarthur but is afraid to call himself a calvinist. Some fear of Calvinism in Latin America. But the Gospel is being Preached. Much of the recent reformed Gospel being spread is through some sermon videos by Paul Washer made in Peru that are in Spanish, him speaking no translation. The Doctrine of Man by Washer in Peru has made quite a stir in the hispanic christian circles. I praise the Lord that the Gospel is Spreading, but i have a feeling that if there is gonna be future hispanic reformed expositors, they might not arise from the U.S. but from either Dominican Republic or latin america. All to the Praise of the Glory of God. May the Lord show his grace in raising such a generation, even if not in U.S. soil.

    Solo Deo Gloria
    Jonathan Martinez

  12. My church has more black attendees than the population in the area in which I live. It’s in North America but not “America”, so I guess they wouldn’t qualify as “African Americans”, though if they’d shown up at T4G I’d guess that David Murray would have classified them that way.

    Outside church, of the “Africans” that I know, most aren’t Christian nor are they black (think North Africa). The North African population is currently quite underrepresented in the Church. If this was in “America” these friends of mine still wouldn’t be “African Americans” – and may face harassment if they mention being both African and American in the same sentence.

    Can we please get rid of this term already.

    • Thabiti Anyabwile

      And what would you prefer?

      • For ethnic groups the US Census seems to list the group as “Black, African Am., or Negro” on it’s forms due to various subsets of the population group self-identifying as various descriptions.

        African American is simply an inaccurate descriptor (as previously noted) which would seem to exclude it. (Since if memory serves correct you’re based out of the Cayman Islands these days the same criticisms would also apply in your area as do in mine).

        The challenge with the other terms the US Census forms include is that some people are likely to be offended whatever you use. However there does seem to be a common descriptor in use. Census Canada uses “black”, the CIA’s World Factbook also uses “black”, the UK’s census uses (several variants of) “black”, and once you get outside the data collection even the US Census Bureau seems to switch to prefer the term “black” (see, e.g., the link itself, or the first descriptor used).

        • Thabiti Anyabwile

          Hi Dave,

          The use of the various terms in the Census probably has more to do with the fact that African Americans of different generations have been known and even favored different labels. Most everyone would regard those as synonymous labels for the same people. Negro belonging to a pre 60s era, Black from the 60s to 80s-ish, and African American 80s to present.

          I don’t think I can agree with you that “African American” is an inaccurate descriptor. First, it’s a matter of self-determination that a people define and label themselves in keeping with their identity, history, descent, etc. “African American” helpfully designates a people of African descent with American citizenry (not unlike “Irish American” or “German American” for example). And because of the particular historical factors involved, most African Americans cannot be more specific than “African” when describing their descent. Few would be able to make definitive claims to a particular ethnic or national group on the continent of Africa because of slavery’s intentional attack against ethnic identity and retention of Africanisms.

          Second, “African American” is not confusing with other groups from Africa who immigrate to the U.S. I can’t think of a single person immigrating from an African country who would identify themselves as African American. With the advantage and blessing of knowing their national and ethnic ancestry, most choose to identify by their nationality (i.e., Nigerian) and/or ethnic group (i.e., Ibo). In fact, some might even feel mildly insulted to be called “African American” because of negative stereotypes. (Perhaps another time I’ll have to tell you how I discovered that nearly at the price of a dust-up at a gas station)

          “Black” doesn’t work (though many don’t mind it) because (a) it doesn’t connect with a more particular ancestry and (b) it doesn’t distinguish between various ethnic and national identities. “Black” could describe the skin color of an African American, Jamaican, Brit, and a Xhosa, for example. But those are very different identities and cultures. If we really want to know something about the people described and avoid broad generalizations (stereotypes), then we need descriptors closer to the ethnic and national identities, imo. And, again, the most respectful approach is to simply let folks self-identify as an expression of a healthy self-determination.

          I didn’t understand your reference to Cayman. If you came to my church, a good 60% of the folks there would be “Black” by U.S. definitions. Yet, no one mistakes the fact that I’m an African American. Opening my mouth to release this accent almost pegs me right away. But among the “Black” people at my church, there must be about 20 nationalities and even more ethnicities! “Black” simply obscures all of that distinctiveness. And if you talk with anyone here, they much prefer (with a sense of pride) their national labels (Bajan, Jamaican, Trinidadian, etc).

          For my part, African American is an accurate and suitable description.

          T-

          • The average “African American” is at least 25% European, many upwards of 50% or more(light skined, redbones, etc), not to mention native ancestry..in light of the fact we are a mufti-racial dare I say “mulatto” people does “African American” accurately describe us? Is self identifying as “African American a sub-conscience way to deny the genetics we share with a group of people some of us consider our oppressors?

          • Also how do we view the term “African American” in light of the “one drop rule” how much African genetics do you need to be a African American? Is someone half black and half other American American? If that same “mixed” person has a child by a non-African American is that child African American?

            • Thabiti Anyabwile

              Hi CL,

              Yeah, the entire approach to “race” as genetics or biology is fallacious. Your examples helpfully expose that. If we’re thinking about this strictly in terms of genetics, then we’re climbing out on a skinny limb that won’t hold the weight. Of course, this would not be true only of African Americans but the entire human race whose ancestry goes back to our first parents, Adam and Eve.

              It’s fairly certain, at least in my reading of the history and culture, that “African American” provides (a) a positive identification with African origin, (b) a positive self-identification over and against oppressive stereotypes and the like, and (c) association with a country we helped build and contribute to.

              The one-drop rule is one of those foolish social and pseudo-genetic constructs for deciding on someone’s “race.” The unfortunate reality is that the rule is still in effect even if it’s not argued for. Case in point: Barack Obama. White mom, African dad, but he’s “African American.” There’s a level at which it all reduces to an absurdity. And, yet, we dare not overlook the importance of group identity, shared history and values, and so on.

              I’m all for better definitions and labels. Just wish there were some. Longing for the New Creation,

              T-

      • Note that “African American” could work as a cultural descriptor – just not an ethnic one as it seems to have been used here. That would seem to avoid most of the problems outlined above.

  13. I didn’t understand your reference to Cayman. If you came to my church, a good 60% of the folks there would be “Black” by U.S. definitions. Yet, no one mistakes the fact that I’m an African American. Opening my mouth to release this accent almost pegs me right away. But among the “Black” people at my church, there must be about 20 nationalities and even more ethnicities! “Black” simply obscures all of that distinctiveness. And if you talk with anyone here, they much prefer (with a sense of pride) their national labels (Bajan, Jamaican, Trinidadian, etc).

    The highlighted bit is key – i.e. it means that you have to open your mouth / engage with the person for this to become apparent. You can visually examine a large room of people and estimate a percentage of black people (or white people, etc.) in the room which is what David Murray appeared to be doing in his post. You’d have a much harder time guessing how many Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Mexicans, Dutch, Italians, Japanese, Chinese, etc. there are – in that sense I think I both agree and disagree with you.

    Murray was using “black” and “African American” interchangeably in his post – they’re not. I suppose that you could use the number of “blacks” as an upper bound on the number of “African Americans” though.

    • Thabiti Anyabwile

      Hmm…. Yeah, I think context matters a great deal. I think assuming “Black” = “African American” in the T4G context makes more sense than assuming “Black” = “African American” in the Caribbean context, where the diversity of black-skinned people is much greater and the allegiance to nationality much stronger across the various peoples. Which is why I think unless you’re simply referring to skin color the better labels will consistently be ethnic/national or whatever people choose for themselves.
      T-

  14. [...] T4G De-brief: Where were all the African Americans? Thabiti Anyabwile with a helpful response to my question. Worth reading some of the comments on Thabiti’s post too. [...]

  15. I’m praying God will raise up a Spanish-speaking “John MacArthur” for the LATINO/HISPANIC community; hopefully here in Miami (which is practically Latin America’s capital city) or somewhere in South America (hopefully Peru). Amen.

    • Yes, I’ve listened to Henry Tolopilo before. He is good.

      I just downloaded a couple of sermons from Chuy Olivares and Alex Montoya (gracias a tus referencias y las de nuestro hermano de este blog Jonathan Martinez) to see if I start listening to them religiously as I do with John MacArthur.

      IMHO, when it comes to getting “fed”, there is only one thing better than listening to biblical and expository preaching: reading the Word.

      Un abrazo fuerte desde Miami.

  16. This sentence really is the take away for T4G and for every day of our week.

    “The greatest ability to strengthen and diversify friendship in the gospel probably comes not from the speaker panel’s ethnic make-up but from whether or not we attenders intentionally invite and reach out in our own circles of influence.”

    Thank you!

    • Crystal Godfrey

      Jeremiah,

      I am a single, Africab-American female and I attended T4G (and The Gospel Coalition last year) for the exact reason of the “sentence” you quoted – someone reached out to me and asked me to go. My Sunday School teacher and his wife (who are white) invited me to go. Their son, Trevin Wax, was going to be there moderating one of the panels and since I had known this young man since he was a teenager, I thought that it would be cool to see this and to hear great preaching of the gospel from the speakers. As to the reformed faith, I was introduced to it several years ago by a black pastor – Rickey Armstrong. There are still some things I struggle with regarding the reformed faith, but the more I study God’s word, the more God reveals the truthfulness of that doctrine to me. God has used T4G to strengthen my walk with HIm and I am truly excited to see what God has in store for my life. If God wills it, I will definitely be attending TGC and T4G more in the future.

    • Thanks for sharing some of your story and how it links with T4G. Praise God for how he uses His people, His pastors, and conferences such as these to strengthen and bring together His people as one in Christ.

  17. Heather McMillan

    I was a minority of sorts at T4G this year, as an unmarried female. Yet I was welcomed and benefited greatly from the teaching. As to the question of racial minorities, here are just a few of my observations. While I was there I met a young, black Haitian American from Brooklyn who was a seminarian at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I asked him about his story and how he ended up at SBTS. He said his father pastored a church of predominantly Haitian-Americans in Brooklyn and it was he, the father, that encouraged his son to attend SBTS. And that was why he was there. As to hispanic minorities, while I was at T4G I had the unique blessing of getting to spend time with a pastor from Venezuela who was also at the conference. He is like a brother to me. Long story short: He is one of the teaching elders at a church in Venezuela that my parents planted over 12 years ago and is now flourishing in their absence. This pastor also previously took part in the internship program at CHBC and was invited back to the U.S. specifically to attend T4G. He was greatly encouraged and is fully committed to continuing to train and equip godly leaders at his church back in Venezuela with solid, bible-centered teaching.

    I mention these experiences and observations just to point out a couple things: people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds ARE welcome at T4G. And I absolutely agree with Pastor Anyabwile that the seemingly under representation of so-called minorities is most likely do to the fact that there is such a smaller percentage that agree with reformed theology versus the greater number of “whites”. HOWEVER, that is a trend that can and I believe, will, reverse itself, as solid gospel teaching such as that at T4G is influencing people of many different backgrounds all over the world. But it will take time, prayerful intentionality (as mentioned before), and continued friendships and partnerships in the gospel across cultural and racial backgrounds. And this is God’s work, to His glory, as He is setting aside remnants from every tribe, nation and tongue to praise Him and spend eternity in His presence.

  18. [...] 2. Murray mentions that the Man Up! conference was happening at the same time and might have attracted some who otherwise would have attended. That might be true. I know a couple guys who opted for Man Up! over T4G. And I think they made the correct decision. Here’s why. Man Up! represents an important movement with more application to the African-American community and more popular appeal among young African Americans than does T4G. Don’t forget that T4G is unashamedly a pastors’ conference. Though many are welcome to come, the conference has always had as its aim to primarily address and encourage pastors and aspiring pastors in their role. If you’re a young African American Man Up! likely seems more relevant and important a theme and topic. Would I rather they attend a conference with one panel on complementarianism and no specific reference to African-American applications or attend an entire conference contextualized on the theme of manhood for African Americans? No brainer. The fact that some might choose a unique conference like Man Up! is no indication that we’re not together. 3. R.C. Sproul and John MacArther are probably the T4G speakers that Reformed African Americans most often identify with. Sproul and MacArthur are the human means the Lord used to introduce many of us to Reformed theology. Just check the appendix of Tony Carter’s Glory Road for an indication of their influence. In retrospect, I’m guessing Sproul’s and MacArthur’s inability to be with us must have weakened interest among some African Americans (and not just African Americans). I’ve already written about how I personally missed them. I’m guessing I’m not so weird that I’m alone in that. We were without the two Christian radio ministry leaders that many African Americans would know. There’s far less familiarity with the rest of us as speakers. . . .[Continue reading here] [...]

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