“T4G Debrief: Where Were All the African Americans?” by Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Another insightful article:

A couple days ago, David Murray posted a second reflection on T4G where he asked, “Where were all the African Americans?” Murray expressed some timidity raising the question for fear of saying something offensive or incorrect. We’ve all had enough hand-slapping when it comes to reaching into the “race” and ethnicity cookie jar. I appreciate the courage to press into the issue. As far as I’m concerned (and who am I to offer an opinion?), it’s okay to ask the question, even though something feels “off” with the question.

For anyone interested, here are my quick responses:

1. Murray guesses that African Americans made up about 1-2 percent of the crowd. That might be correct. But here’s the question for me: What percentage of the Reformed Christian world do African Americans comprise? I’d think we’re not much more than 1-2 percent–tops! The Reformed world is small and the African-American Reformed even smaller. Perhaps this is what seems “off” about the post to me. On a percentage basis, I wouldn’t be all that concerned even though I’d love all my kinsmen according to the flesh to adopt this robust, God-exalting, and biblical theological world and life view.

2. Murray mentions that the Man Up! conference was happening at the same time and might have attracted some who otherwise would have attended. That might be true. I know a couple guys who opted for Man Up! over T4G. And I think they made the correct decision. Here’s why. Man Up! represents an important movement with more application to the African-American community and more popular appeal among young African Americans than does T4G. Don’t forget that T4G is unashamedly a pastors’ conference. Though many are welcome to come, the conference has always had as its aim to primarily address and encourage pastors and aspiring pastors in their role. If you’re a young African American Man Up! likely seems more relevant and important a theme and topic. Would I rather they attend a conference with one panel on complementarianism and no specific reference to African-American applications or attend an entire conference contextualized on the theme of manhood for African Americans? No brainer. The fact that some might choose a unique conference like Man Up! is no indication that we’re not together.

3. R.C. Sproul and John MacArther are probably the T4G speakers that Reformed African Americans most often identify with.
Sproul and MacArthur are the human means the Lord used to introduce many of us to Reformed theology. Just check the appendix of Tony Carter’s Glory Road for an indication of their influence. In retrospect, I’m guessing Sproul’s and MacArthur’s inability to be with us must have weakened interest among some African Americans (and not just African Americans). I’ve already written about how I personally missed them. I’m guessing I’m not so weird that I’m alone in that. We were without the two Christian radio ministry leaders that many African Americans would know. There’s far less familiarity with the rest of us as speakers. . . .[Continue reading here]