What the Church can Learn From Barack Obama

If you follow me on any social media platform, there is no secret that I love President Barack Obama. While many will assume it’s because of his race, my love and adoration for him go much deeper than the tone of his skin. His confidence, leadership capabilities and his amazing gift of public speaking have drawn me and millions of others all across the world.

While I don’t agree with everything President Obama has done throughout his presidency, if you don’t acknowledge the greatness and the inspiration he gave to millions and millions, then you are just a hater (maybe racist depending upon your reasonings). He was able to provide millions with affordable health care, decrease unemployment and so many other accomplishments, but for me, his greatest accomplishment was how grounded he remained, how he honored and respected his family, how he was able to maintain his cool while being disrespected, simply because of his race, and still maintain a sincere hope that one day America will be able to come together as one, united, regardless of race, creed, religion, ethnicity, economic and educational backgrounds.

His faith that something greater has the power to unite a divided country should be led by, in my opinion, Christians, and the Church. Throughout our gatherings during the week, we read and hear stories about how one man, came to earth and changed it for the better. We learn how one man was able to bring everyone together, from Jews, Gentiles, for all over, (the uttermost parts of the earth), to believe in something greater than them. We are taught that but see something different. Our churches are not united yet we preach unity. Our churches are one of the most segregated places on earth, yet shame on those who disrespect people for the differences. We are taught to believe in someone who died for our sins, who forgives us daily, who loves us regardless, yet we barely speak to one another, we barely show up for one one another, and the moment we disagree with one another we walk away in separation.

**This post will not focus on any policies and decisions. It will highlight the man who holds the title of the most powerful and influential leader in this world. Here are 2 attributes that he does well and areas in which the Church can improve on.***

Embracing Change

“It’s not the strongest that will survive, nor the most intelligent. It’s the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin. In order to be an effective and efficient leader one must be able to adapt. The world around us is constantly moving, growing, and improving in all areas. We no longer have to send payments in the mail thanks to the technology and accessibility of the internet. We no longer have to warm up an oven to heat up leftovers thanks to the invention of the internet. We embrace change around us in the outside world, but gawk in disgust when change is proposed or carried inside the Church. When the worship leader plays a song that is deemed of having too fast of tempo, he or she is met with great resistance and made to feel as if a sin is committed, as if Jesus doesn’t appreciate a good “eight count”, drums and someone on bass. Meanwhile, the older generations who argue against it grew up on music that “changed the world”, music that didn’t sound like what their parents grew up on. When a young adult enters the church and uses a cell phone, he or she is met with ridicule and chastisement, not realizing that he or she could be posting how they feel about being in church, as if a tweet or a Facebook page can’t help save someone’s soul. More on younger generations to come.

I have witnessed churches remove the pulpit and create a stage for choir members, praise team members, musicians, speakers, etc., to have all on the same platform and height-level, with stage lights and LED lights, fog, screens and pure excitement, and those churches receive “side eyes” and quiet whispers from those who are afraid to change. Meanwhile, these churches are reaching people. They are saving souls and the rest… same members, no excitement and no change. When will we take a cue from the world? Blasphemy, I know. But when will we take a look around us and realize it’s time to maybe step up our games and welcome our churches into 2017. I’m not saying we need to go out and spend hundreds of thousands adding lights and a stage, but what’s wrong with accepting new ideas from someone who loves God, who loves the church and just want to make worship a more exciting experience?

President Obama ran his entire 2008 presidential campaign based on “Change You Can Believe In” and he demonstrated it in every capacity he could. What message is the message of the church and does its actions align with that message? The answer is no and it’s time to do more action and less talking.
Belief in a younger generation

Something about the Church and the younger generation makes people on both ends cringe. Terrible considering the old were once the younger generation. Being a young adult in the Church has to be one of the most awkward places to be. Why? Because there is no place for us, and if there is a place, we have no voice. If we are offered a voice, we are ignored and bashed for using it. Believe it or not, Jesus embraced everyone, *gasp*, from the babies to the elderly to the young, He included everyone so it is baffling to me, how pastors, leaders. elders, etc. are quick to sit a young person down, because they don’t agree with the methods in which the message is being delivered, but they do agree with the message. (Of course, the methods in which I argue are not methods that are against the Bible, simply against church dogma). We are sending the energy that the Church is above Jesus and knows who to reach people better than Him, (a topic for another day). At the end of the day people, especially younger generations, want to be heard, want to be embraced and want to have a place inside of this world, including the Church. Enter Barack Obama.

How was President Obama able to connect with a younger generation? He met them where they are. He embraced technology by utilizing social media and allowing people to sign up for alerts through text messages. By doing this, he and his team had instant access to the people who ended up shaping the 2008 election. He talked to us, listened and embraced us. Simple. No presidential candidate ever gave us the access that Obama did and it worked. No presidential candidate has done it better than him since his initial campaign.

He gave us a voice, he gave us hope, and he inspired us to go chase our wildest dreams. He didn’t talk down to us, he lifted us up. In return, we donated to his campaign, we encouraged everyone to register to vote, we voted for him and we celebrated with him. How does this apply to the Church? Maybe if the Church embraced us and made us feel as if we are family, then we would be more excited and willing to show up. If we mattered to you all the time, more than we matter during offering time, maybe we wouldn’t hesitate giving more. If we were allowed a platform where we could be us without judgment or bashing, then maybe we would be willing to be present.

I’m grateful for the legacy, the hard work, and the drive to do better that Barack Obama has left us with. As he prepares to exit the white house and a new administration enters, I will leave you with this. One administration used their platform to promote change, to speak hope and set out to change the world, the other administration uses their platform to bash, condemn and embarrass others as a way to execute power. Which administration truly reflects how the Church uses its large platform to reach people? If the answer is the latter, then how the latter administration will be viewed and remembered, is exactly how the Church will be viewed and will continue to be viewed unless we change our ways.barack obama

Your sister in abundance,

Tempestt S. Smith

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