An Open Letter To The Black Church

Image: B.Hallowell

*Editor’s Note: We believe that this article, written by Ryan C. Mack* is fitting in honour of Black History Month. Effective education and economic empowerment have been described by some as the last Civil Rights frontiers.


We need you to step up!

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey in the year of 2008 calculated the average annual contribution of Black households to religious organizations was $683.  With well over 9 million Black households in America, that means well over $6 billion in 2008 was contributed to Black churches across the country. What is done with this money and are the churches doing all they can to make sure this money is fruitful?

Some time ago I spoke with over 80 pastors in the NYC area to discuss how they can more effectively use their church as an empowerment vehicle these are just a few of my findings:

  • Pastors who couldn’t even tell you what their phone bill was for the past 3 months, let alone give a good record of the uses of the tithes and offerings they accumulate weekly.
  • Churches that remain boarded up 6 days per week only to open on Sunday for a 2 hour service then close again while a perfectly good space goes unutilized by the community throughout the week.
  • Pastors so concerned about not losing membership to “competitors” they refused to partner with other churches in the community on any projects.

Yes, I have A LOT of complaints about the Black church as I am sure many people do. There are a few scattered measures of success of churches that have done well in creating pockets of empowerment within their community such as Allen AME in Queens, NY; Abyssinian in Harlem, NY; Hartford Baptist Memorial in Detroit, MI; and more.

Financial stewardship is not for the benefit of oneself, but it is for the benefit of putting oneself in a stronger position which will enable one to be a stronger blessing to other people. I have compiled a list of tips for the Black church to follow.

  • Drop the flashy imagery –The material things you purchase sends a message to public whether you like it or not.
  • Partner with other churches – Churches that refuse to partner with other churches are going directly against the word of God.
  • Build your network of professionals/experts and pay them – Right within your membership and/or community you have many talented professionals who are providing the services you need to purchase to make your church more efficient.
  • Set up an effective investment strategy – It could be time to make some people mad by cutting costs.

In the Black community, which has been hardest hit by this economy, we are in need of TANGIBLE solutions!

Black church…WE NEED YOU! 


Ryan C. Mack is the President of Optimum Capital Management and CEO of The Optimum Institute for Economic Empowerment (  He is also the author of Living in the Village and a frequent guest contributor on CNN and has appeared on FOX Business.
You can find the complete version of Open Letter To The Black Church at


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