Joseph N. Evans, Ph.D., our senior pastor since June 2001, departs Mt. Carmel on Dec. 31 to serve as dean of the Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta. The Mt. Carmel Light asked Pastor Evans for a few parting thoughts, in the form of “Three Things…” Here are his responses.
Three things you want people to appreciate about your Mt. Carmel pastorate.
Pastor: I really cannot imagine what people will appreciate. I suppose that is something that I will leave to the historians and especially to the Lord. Ultimately, God will prove a preacher’s pastorate and God’s spirit will cause people to reflect upon and remember the merits of a particular ministry, including my own. In my view, I did not achieve what I had hoped to do, but I jumped in with both feet and gave it my best effort. As pastor, however, I visited Mt. Carmel’s sick family members indiscriminately, those who were active and inactive members and some who were not church members but were and are members of Mt. Carmel’s families. I baptized your family members. I performed your marriage ceremonies and I buried your dead. I endured your misunderstandings and misguided, unmitigated emotions from hurting people.
A pastor is called to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). If the people take hold of these things, they are able to discern God’s vision for a local congregation.
Three things you’d like your successor to know about pastoring Mt. Carmel.
Pastor: All pastors are different; all pastorates bring different dynamics to the work. Mt. Carmel’s pastoral work is complex for many reasons and it will take sheep to make this church attractive to the coming generations. Still, there are sheep in this flock; these are people who follow leadership. The key to successful ministry is to have more disciples (sheep) than other kinds of species or as Jesus says, and I paraphrase, more sheep than goats or wolves. What this means is an all-out church growth, blitz campaign needs to occur. The strategic outcome is that we make persons into disciples of our Lord Jesus. This is the only way to develop a healthy church: It takes people who are nurtured in discipleship, people who are impassioned with the urgency of now, which means we help people to become wholly followers of Jesus. This is best achieved by deliberate and fervent prayer. Without developing a massive targeted prayer ministry, churches will soon flounder into materialism, pride, and eventually oblivion. Lastly, if people do not know the power of understanding basic tenets of scripture, they will take the wrong side of spiritual movements. Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit help us discern the movement of God in our time and space. A shepherd must risk his own life for the sheep and know who the disciples are of the Lord Jesus. Because of demonic powers that work against the church of Jesus of Nazareth, to be a shepherd is dangerous. Still, the shepherd is responsible for the nurturing growth and welfare of the flock. I suggest a cursive reading of Matthew 25:3146 and John 10. These are clear examples of discipleship. I urge all of us to read these from time to time.
Three things you’ll miss about Washington, D.C.?
Pastor: Our home is in Washington, D.C. So I guess we will not so much leave the city. Instead, by disciple’s faith and communion with the Holy Spirit, we are compelled to move in and out of the city—this city that we have come to know. Ministry is broad and thus it’s sort of like moving among the candle sticks… “And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” (Revelation 1:12-13). The town, however, has changed over the last decades; I suppose that everything changes. Our city yearns for religious leaders who courageously define the challenges that most of our communities face, and these courageous leaders must endeavor to develop a strategic plan and implement the plan in order to slow down the economic onslaught against common people. But this requires negotiators and leaders who understand how
civic orders work; how government, commerce and politics work. These kinds of leaders must seek justice above all else and compassion on those who work together to bring about democracy for Washington’s citizens. It requires protests, boycotts, and other kinds of savvy, such as leverage of assets. Black folks must fight for democracy, not against each other, but for our human rights such as fair housing, advanced education, adequate income, and against insulting mass incarceration rates that disproportionately impact black males, and increasingly black females. In sum, we need pastoral leadership that understands these basic challenges, and builds organized coalitions to call out economic racism. This is an obvious scourge that is taking place all over the country’s urban centers. Still, we count it a blessing to live in this incredible city.
Three things you like about your new job/town.
Pastor: I have no opinion about Atlanta. The job is challenging, if not overwhelming. Like all things black, we are working from behind, and we are forced to make brick without straw. But there is a window there to train and equip 21st century preachers and clergy to form ministries that demand economic and wealth equalities. This means creating non-profit organizations that address aforementioned challenges (housing, education,
jobs, and mass incarceration), and forge ministry partnerships with other people of African descent and color spread in the global diaspora, places like the Caribbean and the continent of Africa. Preachers and pastors of the next generation must embrace globalism and explain its advantages for black people. We cannot solve our economic woes without a global plan and implementation of that plan.
Three things Mt. Carmel should be looking for in a new pastor.
Pastor: I suppose a man who has a generous spirit. If he does not have a philanthropic spirit, he will not be possessed with a vision and the people will suffer behind low-minded people. The pastor must understand people’s nature and a sure way to do so is to lead people to give above their comfort zones. Also a generous spirit reveals a pastor’s value system. Pastors give sacrificially to congregations and they know that some will not appreciate or acknowledge their giftedness and their willingness to give. In fact, some will take advantage of that giving spirit—some who are emotionally aware and some who are gravely unware. However that cannot prevent the generous spirit. In a practical way, a generous spirit attracts like-minded persons. That is, a philanthropic spirit is a kind of “form over function thing.” When people on the outside such as business persons or other philanthropists witness a genuine Christ-like spirit, they give to the person who possesses the vision. Today congregations that are located in socially and racially gentrified communities need consultation from church growth experts. These are smart people who understand current church growth trends and internal congregational dynamics.
For Mt. Carmel, a novice cannot fulfill this call. A pastor must lead people or that person cannot fulfill this charge. A person who is not called, gifted, and anointed cannot fulfill this call; there are too many spiritual strongholds that will destroy a person who is not called to this charge…God bless you, and I love you.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
901 Third Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001