How important has the institution of the church been for African-Americans?
The African American church came into existence in the 19th century. It has played a major role in addressing the needs of the African American society. The church has a long legacy of fighting against mistreatment, neglect, and oppression. This has transformed it into a very important instrument among the African American society (Trader-Leigh 1).
The African American church is an important institution in crisis management. It has grown into a faith-based international community. This community is responsible for providing emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of its members. The needs may be both domestic and international (Trader-Leigh 3).
The African American denominations have disaster management units that are very effective in handling calamities. The members of this religion are trained to use the church in seeking solutions to various challenges facing them in life. The major pillar in this case is prayer. It is therefore a key social instrument in the African American community (Trader-Leigh 3). The widowed women, orphans, elderly, and the poor are taken care of by the church.
The African American church is the voice of the African American society. The church still plays an important role in the fight against social injustices in America. It plays a pivotal role in appraising racial segregation and inequality. This has been achieved through social action against all forms of injustices (Trader-Leigh 3). The African American’s most notable civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King were church ministers. The church used biblical explanations in their fight against vices such as racism and social neglect.
The church also acts as a bridge between the African Americans and the whites. This bridge brings them together by encouraging social integration (Trader-Leigh 3). The church is an instrument that fosters peaceful coexistence between the African Americans and the communities around them. The ministers in the church encourage love for neighbors and treatment of each other with utmost respect (Trader-Leigh 4).
The church is recognized in the fight against crime among the African American youth. Several studies conducted on the role of the church as a correctional facility in the community revealed that the presence of a strong church in the African American community helped to minimize instances of crime (Johnson 7).
The church has a positive influence on the general development of the youth into useful members of society. Moreover, it offers spiritual guidance that ensures good morals are maintained by the youth. Upright morals ensure that the young people not engage in abuse of harmful drugs. The church in this case plays a central role as an agency of social control among the African American community (Johnson 7).
The church has acted as a unifying tool among the African Americans for many years apart from the church’s function in the fight against social injustices (Trader-Leigh 4). It has helped most notable African American politicians in achieving their ambition by preaching unity and brotherhood. These churches are socially conservative and as result, most of its members are often encouraged to vote for the Democrats during elections. The church is therefore an influential tool in the politics of the African Americans (Trader-Leigh 4).
The church also acts as a major way through which vital information is passed from one point to another. It has an extremely important duty in the African American society. Apart from providing the much needed spiritual guidance, communication on social matters such as health, policies and poverty are addressed by the church. The description of the African American traditions is founded within the church (Trader-Leigh 4). Most of the traditions that are withheld by the community are based on the church’s foundations and principles.
Social significance of the mega church
A mega church has more than 2000 members who attend the service. In the United States, there are more than 1000 different types of protestant mega churches (Aleksic, par 2). Although this phenomenon originated from the United States, it has spread to several parts of the world. These churches have become quite significant in the United States in the past one decade.
Mega churches have always been against partisan politics. They always reiterate that their main purpose is to target the souls of the American people (Aleksic par. 30). Most of these churches do not participate in politics. Therefore, they promote their principles using several classes of accountability and instructions to the members.
The mega churches are therefore beyond the ordinary churches. They have been perceived to be a way of life for its members. They also exhibit distinct programmatic ministries, organizations, and relationship among its members. Most of these churches are exclusively modern bearing in mind that their fashion is based on attracting modern societies (Aleksic par. 33). They embrace dress codes of the contemporary society.
The churches are distinct from the other churches by the large numbers of people who attend their services (Aleksic par. 4). They also have several services that are relatively flexible and therefore allow maximum attendance. They use larger numbers and flexibility in attracting more members. Hence, these churches are well established and act as a beacon of hope for members.
The mega churches encourage weekly church attendance by the members. They act as one of the major ways that a sense of community building is developed (Aleksic par. 35). Close ties within members develop through meetings such as Bible study groups.
This encourages accountability among each other. These churches are also major sources of guidance and counseling. The leaders encourage confession of moral and behavioral lapses, sharing and confronting difficulties in life. This helps in managing several psychological issues among members.
These churches target the current young generations with the aim of imparting positive moral values without necessarily affecting their lifestyles and individual choices (Aleksic par. 38). The presence of worship groups specifically meant for the youth is a typical example of how the mega churches work with the youthful generation.
These churches perform various other functions for the youth apart from the spiritual guidance. The presence of schools, campuses, and hospitals that are designed to work under the principles of these churches assist in influencing the social lives of the youth (Aleksic par. 40).
The social roles of these churches were uplifted by the Bush’s administration that encouraged the use of the church in the provision of social services to communities (Aleksic par. 41). There are several drug and alcohol recovery centers managed by the mega churches. As such, these churches are instrumental in reducing instances of crime, abortion, drug abuse, and rape.
Mega churches have vast resources in terms of finance and workforce. This has resulted into increased level of activities in terms of their daily operations (Aleksic, par 42). The dedicated members are united and quite effective in mobilizing specific functions. They are currently redefining the society of the American people. As much as they avoid participating in politics, their influence in the social lives of Americans is so strong that they are felt as a form of political movement.
Aleksic, Darinka. The Megachurch as a Social Space: A Case Study of Exurban Enclave Development. 2007. Web.
Johnson, Byron. The role of African American Churches in Reducing Crime among the Black. Pennsylvania: Baylor university press, 2008. Print.
Trader-Leigh, karyn. Understanding the Roles of African American churches and the Clergy in Community Crisis Response. Washington, DC: health policy institute, 2008. Print.
The Role of African American Churches