Reviving the Black Church

Jarvis Williams | November 20, 2015

Whenever I (Curtis) read a work on the black church, I immediately become protective of my ecclesiological tradition. This didn’t happen, though, as I read Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book Reviving the Black Church: A Call to Reclaim a Sacred Institution. As a participant-observer of the black church tradition, he understands the real problems it faces. Even with pointed concerns and criticisms Anyabwile—TGC Council member and pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C.—writes as one who loves the bride of Christ. 

Anyabwile argues that there’s a better way forward for the black church than what’s historically been the case. For him, this better way forward borrows from the wisdom of “earlier faithful Christians” and is outlined for us in God’s Word. 

Basic Structure

Reviving the Black Church has three major sections with 13 chapters. In section 1 Anyabwile provides a historical survey of the role of Scripture in black churches, a theological defense of the importance of biblical preaching, and an exploration of the importance of worship according to Scripture (15–82). These pages express the need to make the Bible the centerpiece of every aspect of black church life—from the prayers to the preaching and teaching to the congregational worship. 

Section 2 covers leadership in the black church, which is often imbalanced with too much power residing in one pastor (97–114). Anyabwile also contends the black church has…

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