Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began his socially conscious ministry at 26, an age we now consider a millennial. With that in mind, the Defender sought out four millennial members of the clergy to get their take on the big issues of the day, and how those issues impact how they do ministry.
Rev. Andre Beatty, The Kingdom Culture Center shares his thoughts.
Defender: What are the challenges unique to a young minister? –
Andre Beatty: The greatest challenges, I believe, in being a young minister/pastor relate to being able to experience your youth, to live and experience life and at the same time, carry the weight of the responsibility of ministry. Being that ministry is such a serious work, many young ministers are pulled into this feeling of having to abandon their youth and their age to do the work. I was like that. I have since learned better.
Defender: What are the opportunities unique to a young minister? –
Beatty: There are many. However, I think the greatest opportunities lie in serving people and learning how to lead those you serve with integrity and with an humble approach. Ministry is the business of people. So, minsters are spiritual, and sometimes natural public servants. Young minsters have the opportunity to impact the lives of all ages regularly and should understand the magnitude of that opportunity.
Defender: How do politics and social issues (police brutality, Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, #MeToo, LGBTQ issues, healthcare access, etc) frame and/or impact your approach to ministry? –
Beatty: Everyone of these are at the forefront of our nation and are a part of the heartbeat of most of our churches. To preach a gospel absent of conversing about the social needs and issues of our congregants, discussing rights and solutions to the problems of prejudice, inequality and judgementalism is irresponsible. As an African American Pastor, BLM and police brutality should be spotlighted and a part of regular conversation. As a human being in general, immigration, #MeToo and LGBTQ must be a part of weekly care as ministries in our church. These makeup the faces we preach to every week.
Defender: What is the biggest (most important) political issue impacting the U.S. and/or members of your congregation?
Beatty: I believe the issue of respect for black life and money are of the biggest issues. When our black family members are afraid of dying in police traffic stops, we have to endure bogus 911 calls and we have 1.5 Trillion dollars in spending power in this country, but our neighborhoods are constantly being gentrified and black businesses beg for support, there are major problems. However, there are so many issues that affect us. It can be hard to narrow it down.
Defender: What are your thoughts and positions on the current president, his administration and his policies? –
Beatty: I am not a supporter of our current president nor his administration at all. I am not in agreement with his policies, his disregard of DACA and immigrants, his sexist and misogynistic views nor his lies spoken as truth.
Defender: How big or small a role does your blackness (Black history, pride and heritage) and attacks upon your blackness (white supremacy/racism) have in your approach to ministry?
Beatty:All of these makeup much of my platform. My wife and I started a non-profit The Black Dollar Movement. The intent was to encourage black entrepreneurs to start black businesses and for black consumers to direct their dollars to those creations. This teaches pride. I believe that our ancestors and predecessors intended for us to continue the fight for justice and fairness. This is the evidence of heritage. Jesus was a man of social conscious. How can we preach the gospel of Christ and then turn a blind eye to being conscious of societally? This is the difference between cliché and constructive preaching.
Defender: For Rev. Dr. MLK Jr., a young minister who became a pastor at 26, fighting for civil rights and later economic equality were big drivers of his ministry. Is there one or two political or social or cultural issues that drive your ministry?
Beatty: The drivers for The Kingdom Culture Center are Black economic/ entrepreneurial support and construction. The civil rights movement was a group of black people who knew the power of pooling their efforts and money and even withholding their money to create change. Again, 1.5 Trillion Dollars within the US is the spending power of African Americans. Think of the power we could possess to create change in our communities and cities if our dollars stayed in them longer than 6 hours. Think of the power we could see surge in our people if we encouraged them to open businesses that they knew would be supported and financially undergirded by our own. How much do you need to ask for from a government when you can supply financial freedom and certainty for your own?
Defender: How do you balance commitment to your ministry with your marriage (relationships)?
Beatty: Thankfully, my wife was a PK (preacher’s kid). She understands the grind and the call to serve people. She’s often right there to assist and serve along with me. But, more importantly, we know how to hang out. We date. We kick it. We still show PDA often. We laugh with each other. We travel. I’m not so much a preacher that I’m not her boyfriend still.
Defender: If a parent, how do you balance commitment to your ministry with parenting? –
Beatty: I balance parenting and marriage similarly. I am a dad and a husband more than I have to show the people that I am their Bishop, if that makes sense. I am their comedic partners too. I play video games, go to movies with them and show them that ministry is about how you live it to people, not how you preach it.
Defender: With society in general becoming less religious (less committed to a particular denomination; less committed to one specific church home; etc.), how does this impact your ministry?
Beatty: It can be tough! Social Media makes it easy for people to NOT commit. When they can just “catch it online” some people can become a bit inconsistent. Growing up, you had to BE there. There was no tuning in while you’re doing something else. However, one of the main reasons why some become not as committed to church is because, we are still trying to resolve modern problems with archaic approaches. We have great prayer ministry, but no counseling or therapy options for people. We are great with themes for our churches and poor with practice. If we’re going to ensure the church is maintained by the coming generation, we have to change how we present Jesus.
This article originally appeared in the Defender News Network.