Pridefully Reformed?

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Comments (32)
  1. Marlowe says:

    Any suggestions for African American Pastors on sermon audio? Our family has been truly blessed by Voddie Baucham through the site. Hoping to find more like him – sound theology, familiar style, intellectual, but not lacking in passion for the Lord. If you really want to make my day – dig up that one in a million sermon that captures the sound of waving paper fans and the organist cracking her knuckles, getting ready for the preacher to bring it on home!

  2. Joshua Waulk says:

    For a myriad of reasons, RAAN has become one of my favorite sites. The thoughtfulness of this post is an example of why. May God continue to use this resource to spread a passion for His glory among all people.

  3. Ashley Brown says:

    Since I grew up in a white neighborhood I’m used to being the only black one among a ton of white people. But the hardest challenge is not having black role models. I want to see black married couples, black children, and black leaders. Seeing them help me be able to envision myself being in one of those positions in the future.

  4. Jason Evans says:

    I can relate to this article in many ways. I was actually introduced to the reformed theology through an African American pastor. However it was while attending Dallas Theological Seminary that I got a grasp on reformed theology. I too read the books of Grudem, Piper, and the works of Calvin. Being reformed has led me to embrace the black church tighter. I love being able to float between both worlds and dialog in both circles. The challenge often for me comes in the white circles. At times I feel there is a need to prove to them, not to myself, that I am well able to minister and serve. Yet even then that has open up doors for me to explain the Christian African American experience and what we bring to the table. Ultimately some of my friends view me as a double anomaly, I am reformed and I am called to missions. How does that happen? Only God!

  5. Tia Joy says:

    So sad I am just now discovering this! I truly identify with your story (even down to growing up in VA Beach – smile). I just had this discussion about double consciousness with a fellow believer, and I do agree that it is often the paradigm for many black believers moving towards reformed theology. And most definitely, recognizing my Cross-centered citizenship ahead of my race or community has been essential towards my humility and pure understanding of the character of God. I’m really blessed to now be a member of a pretty diverse and sensitive reformed church, so we bring these issues to light during service, in small group, and genuinely in our community service. We keep each other accountable and grounded, which is such a blessing. Again, I think you hit the nail on the head with your essay. Blessings to you for sharing, challenging, and encouraging us. Will definitely keep you in prayer!

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thanks for your comments, sister! I am glad that the church you are a part of is sensitive to these issues. Thank you for the encouragement and prayers, Tia!

  6. Joseph Stringfellow says:

    Cyril! Brother I can’ tell you how encouraged I am by your post. I’ve only been able to watch your journey from the outskirts, but my heart leaps over your growth in Christ. We’re walking with you brother, absolutely, relentlessly, and prayerfully. Blessings!

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Joe! It is good to hear from you, brother! Man, thank you for the encouragement and prayers. I hope all is well with you and Jamie!

  7. Ezra J. Washington says:

    So many shared experiences! I have been a Minister of Music at a non-denominational/reformed church for about 10 years now. Sometimes I used to feel ill-equipped to even minister to most blacks because I saw/see myself more as a “double-agent” than an actual black person. It’s silly but Gods Word and Truth are more than enough to lead us all and yet we stay divided. The thing is, if we’re not standing on the Word, we are standing on our own. I feel you brother. This article is timely and encouraging. Thanks for writing.

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Hey Ezra thanks for your thoughts, brother! I can relate in the area of feeling ill-equipped to minister to a certain group of people, even those with which we identify. I believe that it is helpful to be identify with those to whom we minister. But you are right; at the end of the day, the gospel is the power of God for salvation. We trust in the power of God’s Word!

  8. Brian B. says:

    I agree with Chris, this article speaks to about 90% of my experience at a reformed seminary. I am the only African American at my seminary. I grew up in the black Pentecostal church. And it is a long story but somehow I became a Presbyterian and I am now at one of their seminaries. I am reformed but I do struggle with differences between the black church I grew up with and the predominately white experience I am getting at seminary. However, I agree with the article in that we should keep our identity because the black church has something to offer to the world. I was nervous to preach in my homiletics class because I did not think my class would like my black style of preaching (black preaching tends to be more scrappy, direct, or prophet like). However, all of my white peers loved my preaching including the professor. People actually spoke back to me and said “Amen!” Basically, they loved hearing my reformed theology in a black preaching style. Reformed seminaries are use to sermons that sound more like lectures and pleasant thoughts. But they were highly intrigued by an educated, passionate, black style of preaching. So this is one thing the black community offers the reformed circles– we add soul or passion to our preaching.

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thanks for your comments, brother! Your experience in your homiletics class is encouraging! It is good to know that different preaching styles and traditions are valued within reformed seminaries. I am currently a seminary student as well. I am in my first semester, so I have not taken any homiletics courses yet. I am looking forward to how God continues to shape me as a preacher in light of my initial homiletical training in the black church. I pray God continues to shape you as well. Keep preaching, brother!

  9. Gerre Adams says:

    Another comment well question..would you all say it is wrong to leave a predominately white reformed church and seek out a more diverse reformed church or predominately black reformed church?

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Hey Gerre thanks for your question! What would be your motives?

  10. Gerre Adams says:

    Great read!Glory to God for you sharing your experiences as I was beginning to think I was the only one going through this transformation.Coming from a prosperity church and seeing your brothers and sisters still underneath that teaching..it leads me not to “pity” them anymore but more so pray and lovingly tellingly them what the word of God says .Unfortunately,most have responded negatively and have evenaccused me of being a extremist but no..the word says we ought to test everything in light of scripture..

  11. Kellus Hill says:

    I definitely can relate to this article heavily, thanks for taking the time to write this out. My family has now been a part of a church that would fit the description of being reformed and white. I never have felt uncomfortable or out of place, partially because the Holy Spirit is without question guiding this local body.

    As far as the efforts to foster tangible diversity, their arms are wide open but a lot of my black family and friends remain in a standoff stance. Sure the worship is different, the website is devoid of black faces on the leadership page, the teaching is not as emotionally charged as many are accustomed to…but I found that unadulterated truth was my appetite.

    I was actually encouraged the most when sitting down with the pastor for lunch one day. We talked family, sports, vocation…and race. THe thing was, it was forced by neither and discussed in a way that featured not a ounce of awkwardness. He mentioned his friendship with black pastors, church members, and refusal to put anyone in a “token” elder role.

    All in all, my wife and I have grown tremendously in the few years we’ve been attending, praising the Lord the whole time. We just pray that one day our friends and family will put away their preferences for at least one visit to see how the Lord works in a slightly different context.

    Great work here Cyril, keep writing!

  12. Ronald Eugene Christmas Sr says:

    Cyril, Great Article…. I’m humbled and, by the grace of God, I truly believe you’re going to be ok….. I should’ve been getting books from you!

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thank you for the prayers and encouragement Rev. Christmas. Love you too!

  13. Kelvin Tarver says:

    Great article, highlighting a few sinful tendencies “we” face going and coming. Great observations and well articulated. What I have found, and continue to find, is that my journey is far from over. When I first began enjoying the rich teachings of the reformed traditions, I was content to just listen to them on the radio. But as time moved on, it became necessary to find a church that would more fully nurture these teachings as I understood them. The intellectual component was great, stimulating my desire to know more about the God of all grace. But my confusion/frustration came in wondering why, with such wonderful truths, would my new found brothers and sisters offer such seemingly pitiful praise. I shamefully thought if my Pentecostal brothers and sisters had these rich teachings of the reformed tradition they’d be shouting the place down. On the other hand, when in none reformed circles, my heart was equally saddened when those with great passion and fervor for praise did so having eaten very little of substance. Both extremes can be bastions of self delusion and neither offer immunity to sin. Both can be excellent places to hide what is really going on.

    Somewhere around my 7th year, I was able to worship with a church that had a great worship leader, from the black tradition, and a pastor/teacher from the reformed tradition who was white. Each had honed the their particular skill set/gift over the years in their respective traditions and sacrificially yielded such to the gospel, despite their own tradition. In that setting, I found that God has for more in mind than we could ever imagine. Rich teaching and rich fellowship and rich praise and worship with diversity in culture and class is an amazing taste of heaven! But even in that we have much growth ahead. A taste of heaven is not, of course, heaven. The fruit yielded so far, after 15yrs, for me is that I better understand that we are all but mere men. Strengths? Yes. Weakness? Yes. Each of us? Yes. As we lock arms, and let iron sharpen iron, perhaps our children will have no first hand knowledge of the challenges you’ve written about

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thank you for your observations and insights, Kelvin! Since reading through the Psalms recently, I have actually been meditating on the relationship between sound doctrine and expressive and hearty praise in the life of both a local church and the individual believer. I have found that as I continue to seek God and learn more about Him I am more motivated to praise and dance for Him in joyful and expressive ways, both in the worship gathering and in a room where it is just God and I. Sound doctrine should lead to joyful praise and worship!

      That’s an amazing experience. I hope that different worship strengths, if you will, associated with certain cultures and denominations would cease to be contained within those cultures and denominations. I hope that we would be open to learning from each other and yielding our gifts and cultural flavors to Christ’s lorship and purposes

  14. Riley says:

    Insightful thoughts, Cyril. I revel in the unity that we have in Christ which transcends cultural and racial boundaries. Any predominantly white church should be happy to have you. At the same time, I wonder if much good could be done by men who have become Reformed staying in the predominantly black churches and making an impact there. Something to ponder.

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thank you for the thoughts and encouragement, Riley! The idea of the reformed black person’s responsibility to his or her race and the black church is definitely something that is worth pondering, given that there are relatively few reformed black believers. I myself, given my experiences and passions, have a strong desire to help fuel reformation among African-Americans. That’s why I am grateful for networks like RAAN.

      1. Riley says:

        Don’t get me wrong. I selfishly would love you have you and others at OUR church. But it’s exciting to think about the possibilities of black men of God like yourself working for Reformation in the black churches, or, if you find yourself unwelcome among them, to plant churches. I might do it, if I could!

  15. Matthew Murphy says:

    I am “proud” (?) of my boy Cyril. Great post sir. It was fun watching you go through the process that the Lord took you through. Love you man, we’ll miss you in C’ville.

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Pastor Matt! I am grateful for the ways God used you as a friend and a mentor. Miss and love you too, big bro!

  16. Joe Goosby says:

    My reformed church experience has definitely been positive for me and my family. The church we belong to is “Reforming”, and the ethnicity reflects the city that we live in. I have gone to different churches and conferences where I have been the only black person but I haven’t had any negative experiences. I am more self conscience of my appearance because I have full sleeve tattoos but so far it hasn’t seemed to affect my fellowship within the reformed community even though I thought it would. Thank you for your article.

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Joe! I am glad that you have not had any negative experiences and that you have had fellowship within the reformed community. My experience within the reformed church was amazing as well. The greatest struggles that I faced in regards to racial and cultural differences were within myself and with my own pride. Christ had to change my heart much more than he had to change my environment.

  17. M. Hodges says:

    Good post Cyril! I can relate to your experience brother. I have the joy of serving on staff at a church that has reformed leanings and is predominately white in membership. The LORD has used this season of my life to show me own blind spots and to be used by him to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. It is amazing how God can use anything thing and any experience to conform us into his image. Good word DOC keep posting!

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, brother! I am encouraged that God is using similar experiences to challenge and grow others. Praise God for His desire to continually and compassionately use and teach His children

  18. Chris Hendricks says:

    So this is about 90% my experience having recently crossed over to the mainly white reformed world. Everybody has been super friendly so far and the church has aims at being multi-ethnic from day 1. All though I have crossed over my wife has not, so we have a divided home right now on Sunday… trying to reconcile that and making sure my family understands the gospel fully are my default priorities at this time…

    1. Cyril Chavis, Jr. says:

      Thanks for the comment, brother! That is great that the church has been friendly and that they aim at being multi-ethnic; the church I transitioned into was the same. Having a divided home on Sunday’s can be a challenging situation, brother. I pray that the Spirit gives your family wisdom, strength, patience, and eyes for the Lord’s glory in the midst of your transition. Amen.

    2. Riley says:

      She should really be following your lead on this decision, as her spiritual head. Brother to brother.

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