Black History Is Family History

Image courtesy of Faithlife Media

When you open a book about Church history, what do you expect to find in its pages?

Are you expecting to learn about the history of the creeds and the Great Schism? How about the Reformation and the Puritan emigration to North America?

But do you also expect to explore the growth of the African American Church in the face of slavery and its evils? Or how the Negro spirituals shaped—and continues to shape—worship music? What about the ways the Civil Rights movement implored the Church to see the value and dignity God gives each human and reckon with the sins of Christian slaveowners?

We must remember that Christian history—God’s kingdom—isn’t a Western invention, but an institution founded by God in the Middle East that spread throughout the entire world. 

Furthermore, Scripture has many names to describe the Church, including: 

  • God’s kingdom (Rev 1:6)
  • God’s people (1 Pet 2:10)
  • God’s children (1 John 3:2)
  • God’s family (Mark 3:34–35)

The implication is simple: Church history is family history. 

Our family history tells us where we came from, and if we’re wise, it can help us learn from our ancestors. Just as the people of Israel needed reminders of who they were and where they came from (see the feasts, as one of many examples), so we need to know the stories of our predecessors in the faith—whether their stories leave us joyful, mourning, or longing for justice. 

As such, we’re taking the month of February to remember black history and honor our family—African American men and women who have used their voices to build up the body of Christ. 

If you’re thinking, “One month isn’t enough,” then we want you to know this: we agree with you. We can’t possibly cover the myriad ways that the African American Church has served global Christianity in one month, and yet, we’re going to make it a focus this month—and we aren’t ending when February does. 

Will you join us?

Recommended reading:

black history month

Written by
Jennifer Grisham

Jennifer Grisham is a writer for Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software and other tools for churches. She previously served as director of administration at a church and managing editor and administrator for a ministry to worship leaders. Her work has been published by The Gospel Coalition, The Gospel Project, and Doxology & Theology, to name a few.

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Written by Jennifer Grisham