If your initial response to this blog title is : "What?" Then we're probably on the same page. But let me explain this interesting phenomenon.
I remember walking in to a UPCI General Conference and hearing about Black Evangelism for the first time. I almost choked. Then I was indignant. And then I fell over laughing. It's like racism wrapped up in a package of shiny good intentions. But the unsaid assumption is - if you're Black, you're not like the rest of us - us being the White majority.
Evidently Black people require different tactics of evangelism and forms of understanding and relating to Christianity than do say, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Caucasians, Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders and any mixture of the above. Because evidently, even if you live in the same city with a Black person (which would be why you'd be sharing the Message with them right?), they probably won't understand you and thus need a whole separate division of evangelism. It seems that being raised in the same areas, attending the same schools, engaging in the same pop culture and being otherwise intertwined, there are some inherent differences that must be addressed. In fact, we need to attend seminars and create divisions so that we can understand you and reach you better.
Because clearly Jesus was White, had blue eyes, no beard and spoke King James English. And even though a lot of Black people have been in the United States far longer than some of the recent White immigrants, White people still don't understand Black people because of their skin color. Because the skin color equals some radically different American subculture that I have trouble communicating with. I think it has to do with those baggy jeans and that rap music. Who understands all that shouting? Maybe we should take a class from Eminem so as to better understand how to communicate effectively. Or from all those suburban White kids who jump on iTunes and download the most recent albums and drive the sales for the Rap/Hip-Hop scene and have made it a hugely profitable enterprise. Maybe they'll be able to translate the Gospel for us.
Wait. Isn't Pentecostal/Apostolic culture largely defined by the loud preaching and call and response type of worship? A style that came from the African American community? As a matter of fact, Black Gospel has become synonymous with Apo/Penny culture - I've even heard people say that it's just more anointed than that Contemporary/Charismatic music. As a matter of fact, purchase any UPCI Bible College album and there will be a recycled version of at least one Black Gospel song. Maybe Mark Yandris, Kevin Howrd and Aaron Sheilds could host workshops, not on music, but instead on how to effectively use Black Gospel music as a means of effective evangelism. But let's not get off on another tangent.
I have a question, do Black people need a White evangelism course in order to be able to share Jesus with them? I mean, I understand language barriers and the need for specialized training for different cultures. But Black evangelism? Seriously? Maybe we should expand this idea to evangelize different economic classes as well? We could have a Upper Class Evangelism department, an Upper Middle Class, Middle Class, Lower MIddle, Low, and Poverty. Because I'm sure we can't truly understand and communicate with each other because we all aren't exactly the same. Makes you wonder how those mixed race couples ever managed to communicate effectively enough to get down the aisle and say "I do."
I would posit that Black Evangelism comes from a deep seated form of racism that promotes the idea of "other" and says that White is normal and anything other than that is not. Highlighting someone's skin color for evangelism is unhelpful, it marginalizes and is oppressive - to the point of prohibiting evangelism.
Should organizations that are made up of largely Black constituents have a White Evangelism division or do you just expect them to know how to have a conversation with a White person. Because that's really what it boils down to. Sharing the Gospel is simply a conversation with another human being. Our humanity connects us. Jesus died for a humankind. And unless we cannot communicate, I do not understand the need for a specialized division to highlight the fact that our skin colors differ. Because my Savior's skin was probably dark brown and in spite of that, I've managed to get the point without too much of a problem.
In an ironic twist, I've had the Gospel Mix on my iTunes shuffling as I typed this. I understood everything almost perfectly.