Several years ago apologist Carl Ellis wrote of a scenario in which Islam would be the dominant religion inner-city America. While this assertion could have been and for the most part was ignored then, its reality is becoming more and more likely. The number of adherents to various forms of Islam continues to grow at the very same time when inner-city neighborhood churches are declining. This situation presents us with the very real possibility of a significant change in the religious realities of the African-American community within the next few years.

Imagine a time when Black neighborhoods in a typical large city are populated by dozens if not hundreds of mosques filled with thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of young Black people who have adopted Islam. Imagine a time when the Black Christian church is reduced to a few (3 to 5) mega churches on the edges of those neighborhoods. Impossible you say? The Black churchís history is too deep, our witness to strong, our numbers to high and our attraction too irresistible. If thatís your line of thinking, youíd best think again. In my city of Philadelphia weíre seeing the change right before our eyes. In more and more places young Black men and women are finding identity, dignity, purpose and security by donning the religion and religious garb of Islam. Our neighborhood churches arenít thriving and while they still draw a crowd, most of those who attend are well past retirement age.

Unfortunately (or should I say providentially) the emergence and attraction of Islam is occurring at the same time that much of the Black Christian church is busily and eagerly embracing the most destructive forms of deviant and blasphemous theology. As we pursue wealth, power, fame, comfort and convenience (all in Jesus name of course) those who convert to Islam scoff (rightly so) at the ĎChristiansí who are so preoccupied with the trinkets of the dominant culture while being so out of touch with their own children and grandchildren who have turned their backs on the old time religion. While the Black church continues to stand in front of our magnificent edifices as monuments to Godís blessing, our neighborhoods continue their slow inevitable decline while Islam picks up the pieces of the broken lives weíve left behind.

Donít get me wrong however. Though this is a time of alarm and concern, it is not a call to panic. God will maintain His witness to His creation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The nations will indeed continue to stream to the mountain of God for forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, justification and true, vibrant life in Jesus Christ. God has not fallen off the throne and will most definitely call all those He has chosen to Himself. The Spirit will blow wherever He wishes, giving life to the spiritually dead, empowering people to declare the gospel to them, and bringing them to faith in our Lord and Savior. (see 2nd Thes. 2:13-14.)

So while this is not a call to panic it is a call to action. The neighborhood church is going the way of the VCR. (yeah I was going to say 8-track, but this is the 21st century. Pretty soon, those old, historic stone and brick buildings which once rang with the praises of the saints of old will house a new group of worshipers who sing a different song. God has providentially put us in this time at this place to advance the gospel of the kingdom found in His one and unique Son Jesus Christ. The vehicle God has placed to expand that rule and proclaim that life-giving gospel is the church. It would therefore be a monumental and fatal mistake for us to forsake and abandon the church in our effort to Ďbe relevantí to this timeís emergent generation.

I believe the time is now for us to seek, pray and work toward re-establishing the neighborhood church. These churches must be reformed (yes the dreaded R word). Iím convinced that this is the time for the Black reformed community to coalesce into a movement that impacts our communities with sound, solid, Biblical theology. Please understand, I do not mean to ignore or exclude any other groups. However, like the apostle Paul I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart for my people. It breaks my heart to see one group of my people throwing their money and lives away on witch doctors masquerading as preachers, another group drowning in a flood of foolish pleasure and gratuitous violence and yet another group deceived into following Islam in their search for a measure of dignity, identity and destiny.

God has not called us to Himself, revealed the blessings of the doctrines of grace for us to just sit around point out the obvious flaws and sins of others. While pointing out error has its place, our movement cannot stop there. Nor has God called us to retreat from our people and start Reformed refugee camps. I believe we must engage our people in the cities and suburbs with churches that reflect and embody the true faith once delivered to the saints. Such churches must feature sound theology, doxology, ecclesiology, sociology and missiology. It is my sincere conviction that only churches with a strong, accurate, robust theology will be able to truly disciple our people, proclaim a grace filled gospel, promote a kingdom driven agenda and stem the tide of converts to Islam.

The time is at hand! As our brother Sherrard Burns said at the recent Glendale Baptist Churches Pastorís conference, (the recordings of which are a MUST MUST have) itís time to man up and show up. We cannot allow our communities to slide into theological and spiritual chaos and destruction. We serve the same God who used a small group of mainly uneducated, working class peasants to turn the world upside down. We serve the God who worked through an obscure German monk to return the light of the gospel to the church in the face of overwhelming papal power and darkness. We serve the God who kept all His promises to bring His salvation to the very ends of the earth through His Son Jesus Christ. As His servants we long to see the glory of God cover the landscape of our cities as the waters cover the sea. His kingdom come and will be done, amen!

To Him Who Loves Us...