LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — The family is likened to a football team with the husband as the quarterback, God as the coach, and the wife as a supporting team member in an analogy used by Kentucky Pastor Joel Bowman Sr. in upholding biblical authority in the family and church.
Bowman, founder of African Americans for Biblical Authority (AABA) and pastor of Temple of Faith Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., used that analogy in explaining his belief that strengthening families by building them as God intended is key to reviving the church. He and other pastors representing about 50 predominantly black churches in Kentucky pressed the point at the conference “Restoring the Black Family, Reviving the Black Church,” held Oct. 29 at Forest Baptist Church.
“God has called men to be spiritual leaders in the home and to partner with the wife in the raising of the children,” the Southern Baptist pastor told Baptist Press, “and if the man is not taking that rightful place, there’s no wonder that there’s breakdown in the family.
“That would be tantamount to trying to have a football team and there’s no quarterback. It’s not going to be very effective at all. To push that analogy further, Jesus is the coach. He is the One that ultimately calls the shots, but on the field, the husband and the father provides leadership, and executes the plays that are given by the coach. And the wife is there to support in that regard. As we have departed from that model of the family, we’re seeing I think crime and all sorts of things to impact the family.”
AABA focuses on the African American community because most of the members of their churches are black, Bowman said, referencing the Apostle Paul’s confirmation in Romans 10 of his heart’s desire for Israel, his kindred, to be saved. The black family is not inferior to families in any other ethnicity or culture, he said.
“I think that the restoration of our communities as well as the revival within our churches depends largely upon the strength of the family,” he said. “To the extent our families are rooted in biblical principles, I think, to that extent we can see true restoration and revival.
“That’s not to discount other sociological factors,” he said. “People certainly need access to jobs, and healthcare and all of that good stuff, but I think that ultimately when it comes to restoration, revival, you have to get back to the basics.”
Hosted by Southern Baptist pastor Nathaniel Bishop Jr. and supported by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the conference featured 30-minute presentations followed by 20-minute panel discussions that included “Restoring the black family through biblical marriage,” “Effective single parenting,” “Reaching and keeping youth and young adults,” “Reviving the black church through biblical truth,” “Biblical church membership and discipline,” and “Engaging our communities without compromising convictions.”
In addition to Bowman, who founded AABA in 2015, speakers included Bible Community Fellowship Baptist Church pastor C.J. Jordan and his wife Peggy, Watson Memorial Baptist Church pastor Toussaint Adams, New Breed Church Inc. pastor T.C. Taylor, and Centennial Olivet Baptist Church pastor Wilbur S. Browning Sr., all based in Louisville.
Restoring the family and reviving the church is not an issue of personal piety alone, Bowman told BP, but is also an issue of social justice. African American families are challenged from within and from without with issues including racism, a societal redefinition of marriage and the devaluation of the father figure in American culture.
“Racism is still very alive and well, and I think the unique struggle that the African American family has, even in a Christian context, is we’re still having to deal with the vestiges of 400 years of racism in America,” he said. “And so we are dealing with enemies both from within and from without. That’s a precarious position in which the black family and the black church finds itself.”
Bowman applauded the Southern Baptist Convention for its ministry of racial reconciliation.
“Those of us who consider ourselves evangelicals … are slowly embracing the fact that the issue of racism historically in our nation is a moral issue such like abortion is, and we have to see the whole of life being valuable, whether it’s within the mother’s womb or if it is a young black male walking the street, that all of life, the whole of life is valuable from conception to the crypt,” Bowman said. “Those of us who purport to be evangelical, Bible believing Christians, we can no longer separate the issues of personal piety and social justice, as the Bible addresses all of that.”
In other actions at the conference, AABA presented pioneering academician T. Vaughn Walker with the AABA Legacy Award. Walker, who retired in May from the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has pastored since 1984 First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville. He developed both master’s and doctoral programs in black church leadership, and was the first African American in a regular professorship at a SBC-affiliated seminary.
The conference was the second annual event sponsored by AABA, which Bowman described as a fellowship of likeminded African American pastors with a high view of Scripture who promote both the family and the church standing on the Bible as their foundation.
The inaugural 2015 event, focused on Biblical Sexuality in the Black Church, drew about 400 participants.