rev-joaquin-willis_web.jpgLately, I’ve been fervently in prayer for Christ’s Church everywhere, wondering to myself, and now out loud: Has the Church lost its saltiness? If so, does this mean the Church has lost its seasoning? Or that its season of usefulness has passed? Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).

In Biblical times, salt was a commodity of great value. Following our emancipation in 1865, the Black Church, like salt, was of great value, too. But it seems, today, that the Black Church is losing its value in our communities.
Salt, in biblical times, was essential to life and used as a preservative for food, a purifying agent and antiseptic against corruption and decay, as seasoning for food and even used as a fertilizer for certain plants. You couldn’t live without salt; the human body still needs it to survive. Similarly, the Lord has intended for us to function as the moral preservative and agents of integrity in the world.

Christian Discipleship comes with conditions, comes at a cost and is based on commitment to Christ. The essence of our saltiness is found in our discipleship, our personal relationships, personal preferences and personal goals.

Over 58 billionaire philanthropists have followed Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates’ example by responding and taking the “Giving” pledge. It is good the rich are pledging to give or leave two-thirds of their estates to help the world’s poor.

But the doctrine of separation of church and state and the IRS Tax Code legally only allows them to give money and time. It prohibits evangelizing and teaching biblical principles or shaping Christian morals. But the Church can do that.

Increasingly, churches are using the techniques of not-for-profit organizations in fundraising; employing their customs, cultures and mores, implementing corporate organizational models.

It is no wonder many in the “X” and “Y” generations have abandoned the Church, saying the message and the ministry model just aren’t for them. And many are turning exclusively to societal non-profits in mission work, choosing to give ever-increasing tax deductions (greater than 10 percent) to these organizations.

Too many churches and denominations seemingly have lost their salt and are struggling to survive. Why?  Because, an inner focus upon church administration is blocking their view of Christ’s mission.

The good news is, upon close examination of church growth, we see other young adults increasingly attending churches that are doing great mission work, have vibrant worship services and, instead, of fundraising, are tithing. These churches are rapidly growing — and there are quite a few. We know them as mega-churches.

Most Americans believe in God, yet less than half now go to church. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1968, “African Americans have won our civil rights, but have yet to gain basic human rights.” Can somebody please pass the salt?

Author and attorney Michelle Alexander states in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “There are more African Americans under correctional control today – in prison or jail on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850.” Can somebody please pass the salt?

Girls outnumber boys on college campus by 7seven-to-one. Counting the men who have stopped looking for jobs, black male un-employment is actually over 50 percent. Foreclosures of black homes here in the Miami area and across the country is at record highs. Can somebody please pass the salt?

Divorce rates are at an all-time high. Single mothers now raise most of our children. Children are being abandoned and murdered by their parents and care-givers. Can somebody please pass the salt?

Much of the “work of the church” is now being done by outside organizations. Yes, we need all the help we can get but, in my considered opinion, there is grave danger in letting this important work get done without using biblical principles, Christian morals and ethics to get it done. If we Christians continue to fail to “pass the salt” in the marketplace, then the marketplace will continue bringing useless white powder into the church.

As “the salt of the earth,” our life is to be Christ’s life, our money to be His money. Without salty disciples, the Church becomes salt-less, unable to achieve God’s divine objects. Our usefulness to God depends on our salty spiritual distinctiveness.

My prayer is for us to be “the salt of the earth.” And, again, I ask. “Can somebody please pass the salt?”

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or e-mail