Clare Williams, apologist and founder of Get Real shares her thoughts about reaching young people in the black community
October’s Black History Month may be over, but these important topics must continue to be addressed. With many young black people leaving the Church or not engaging with Christianity in the first place, what are some of the ways we can re-evangelise black youth?
1/ Read widely
One thing I’ve discovered about young people in general, regardless of ethnicity, is they want to see that if you’re gonna tell them about God, then do you know what the alternatives are? And can you explain them articulately?
That really demonstrates intellectual credibility and humility - as a Christian, I believe X, these are views out there and this is maybe what I can even affirm in one of two of those views, but this is the reason why I land where I do. There’s so much thought available now for young people to access on social media etc. If you’re a very narrow minded person, you’re not going to regain that credibility. It’s the charitable thing to do to know different perspectives, but also to be certain in your position. So, read widely.
2/ Listen and learn
This is linked to the first point - in your reading, in your listening, don’t just listen to your favourite person. Sometimes I listen to things that make me squirm, that make me have to go back to the cross. Because I might not necessarily agree with it or I have to really check my heart. Is it becoming callous towards certain perspectives?
Don’t just assume you are always right. There are some things I don’t know and sometimes maybe the person or the situation God brings to teach us, we might not like the teacher, but maybe we need to learn something.
Get access to exclusive bonus content & updates: register & sign up to the Premier Unbelievable? newsletter!
3/ Plug into ministries doing this work
For example, the Jude 3 project with Lisa Fields, who are doing some great work in America. They have podcasts, video conferences and a movie called ‘Unspoken’.
Social media is really thriving as well. So, connect with people doing this thinking like Dr. Vince Bantu, a Christian academic working on African Christianty.
Read ‘Urban Apologetics’ edited by Dr Eric Mason and Pastor Jerome Gay Junior’s book ‘The Whitewashing of Christianity’.
4/ Understand that Gen Z are justice conscious
Regardless of ethnicity, young people today are justice conscious. And if they get a hint of anything that is going to cause harm or erasure to a certain group of people, Christianity included, they will walk away from it.
Say to them: “The fact that you’re angry about X, Y, Z…the correct response to injustice is a form of anger, because it’s born out of love to want to see the situation corrected. This is the right response, so on what worldview does your solution make the most sense?”
5/ Create community
Create forums for young people to ask their questions. Food is always good - eating out or in your home. Theme park trips, clubs, other activities. Young people have gone through the pandemic and I’ve seen a huge change in some young people pre to post pandemic. So, just socialising, creating spaces where they can socialise and then being able to introduce these gospel conversations.
You are not solely responsible for sharing your faith. You can only go where God asked you to go and leads you to go. You might have a conversation with someone where you think it went down like a lead balloon, but you don’t know what God is doing. So, always believe the best about people you engage with. But also always believe the best about what God is doing, regardless of whether you see them come to faith or not.
Equip yourself. Make sure you have your spiritual disciplines down - reading your Bible, praying, being part of a church community. But also, take the temperature of a generation. What are the questions they are asking? And be prepared to give an answer. It might not be the answer philosopher William Lane Craig would give, but if you have thought about it, I think that’s one of the things people like to see. So you could say: “I’ve actually struggled with this question myself and I’m still working it through. However, here’s a few perspectives.”
So, prepare yourself. Yes, the Holy Spirit can give us divine wisdom spontaneously, but preparing is also really crucial for this work of sharing our faith.
This is taken from a longer interview Ruth Jackson did with Clare Williams on Unapologetic. You can hear the podcast series here.