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Church Planting resources arranged by topic
Unique people group resources and places in need of churches
By the grace of God and the whip of circumstances, hundreds of thousands of
Africans have been brought to the doorsteps of churches in North America.
A. Where Are the Africans?
While no reliable data exists on the African population in North America, there
are significantly large numbers of Africans in every major city. Population
distribution tends toward places Africans consider to be “friendly” in terms of
job opportunities, admission to colleges, and clusters of African communities.
The old adage “birds of a feather flock together,” applies well to Africans
living in North America.
B. States and Cities With Significant African Populations
Georgia (Atlanta)Alabama (Birmingham)Texas (Dallas, Houston)North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham)New JerseyBostonCaliforniaMinnesotaPennsylvania
C. Understanding African Spirituality
Africans, in the words of John Mbiti, “are notoriously religious.” Religion is
the strongest element that exerts the greatest influence in the life of people
of African ancestry. Thus, it would be impossible to separate religion from
other aspects of life. On the whole, African spirituality:
Concerns itself with the pragmatic and immediate, rather than the
intellectual and abstract. (This is not to say that Africans are
anti-intellectual.)Is shaped by social, economic, and political experiences.Is influenced by African religious worldviews. “If you scratch an African,
you find a Christian; if you scratch a Christian, you find an animist!”Finds worship in western Christianity to be “simple and too dry.”Identifies with the message of hope.Is communicated through word pictures, parables, stories, proverbs, and
wise sayings, rather than logic -- “Showing is better than telling.” This
is not to say that Africans cannot follow logic. When it comes to worship,
solutions of abstract problems can wait. The greatest apologetic is love, not
D. Exposure to Southern Baptist Work
An evangelistic strategy must take into consideration that most Africans from
the East, Central, and Southern regions of Africa are not exposed to Baptist
work. Their view of Baptists are:
Limited because of lack of evangelistic penetration in rural Africa.
Missionary work is concentrated in urban centers (urban population is less than
10% of the total population).Distorted because the brand of Christianity brought by the missionary did
not adequately deal with questions raised by the African religious
worldview.Unfamiliar with African-American spirituality due to the
under-representation of African-Americans in global missions.
Though Africans in North America come from diverse cultures, distance from home
and shared experiences in a “foreign land” force them to new identities. These
are defined by:
Language (e.g., Swahili [East Africa], Ndebele and Shona [Central Africa],
and Zulu [southern Africa].Regional affinity due to shared experiences.Political alliances and preferential trade relations.
F. Past Challenges
No serious attempts have been made to plant churches among Africans in
North America.Not seen as distinct from African-Americans.They are seen as “pilgrims” who will soon return to their homeland.Since Africans are normally apolitical and disengaged from social systems,
their presence in local communities is not easily noticed.
G. Immigration Patterns
Migration of Africans into North America, and the United States in
particular, is at an all-time high; political and economic factors indicate
there will be more immigration in coming decades.Sudden population movements due to wars, famine, and forced migration
(refugees seeking political asylum).New INS policy on granting permanent resident visas for people from Africa
(rotary).Continued student enrollment in American colleges and universities
(especially in traditionally black colleges).
H. Makeup of Communities
40% professionals (average household income $70,000)45% college students (more than half are taking computer-related courses;
the second most popular career is nursing)15% children age 17 and under
II. Current/Future Challenges
A. Leadership – The crying need facing fledging churches and
fellowships among Africans is the need for leadership.
B. States – Only 13 of the 42 state conventions have African churches
C. Weakness – Fellowships/churches are weakened by lack of leadership
and internal rivalry (leaders competing for recognition and resources).
D. Evangelism – We must take a common-sense approach to evangelizing
Africans in the United States. Recognizing that the most effective evangelism
and church planting around the world are being done through indigenous church
leaders, we should resource emerging African leaders and encourage them to
Make full use of “natural bridges” to spread the gospel.Develop networks with existing churches/fellowships that share African
convictions.Involve African-Americans in outreach efforts.Overcome the myths surrounding African and African-American attitudes
(such as "Africans do not like African-Americans and vice-versa").
Family – the family ranks high on the scale of importance to the
African. The greatest threat facing the African family in America is the crisis
of shifting roles between husband, wife, and children.Education – Most Africans in the United States hold a Masters degree, and
many others are students.Community – Africans have their identity in “community.” Thus, they
have developed an elaborate network of friendships with those in different
states and cities. Their sense of community is mirrored in several African
proverbs and wise sayings. As the AmaNdebele would say, “umuntu
ngumuntu ngabantu” ("a human being is fully human with others and for
F. Felt Needs
English as a second language for people from French- and
Portuguese-speaking countries.In an effort to close the “digital divide,” computer literacy classes
(computer recycling and training) should be offered.Refugee resettlement – “Whose bread you eat, his song you sing.” People in
survival mode care less about truth and more about getting by. Among other
things, refugees and new immigrants need:Housing placementSocial adjustment counselingEmployment referralsAccess to health care servicesInformation on tenant rights, food handling, household budgeting, safety
issues, and other concerns.
Non-published, individual research by Richard
Lee, former employee of the North American Mission Board.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2010 North American Mission Board, SBC