Redefining the pulpit

Rev. David A. Bullock

Pastor David Bullock, an outspoken activist throughout the city of Detroit, — and Oxygen’s Preachers of Detroit star — sat down with me and talked about curbing crime in the city and his vision for a new Church.

“Pastors have to be willing to expand the platform of the pulpit beside preaching and use that platform to do other things.”

The 37-year-old pastor of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church said that crime has a number of different roots and the biggest, the “destruction of manufacturing.”  He said the closure of automotive plants in the 80s had a crippling effect on the Black community.

“Studies show that when they’re jobs readily available and they’re low-to-no skills required you don’t have gang activity, you don’t have violent crimes occurring, because people are working,” said the Morehouse College graduate.

Bullock said that because they’re aren’t 600,000 manufacturing jobs readily available in Michigan, a city faced with a distressed public school system and a law-enforcement community that protect and serve in only centralized areas are reasons why crime has escalated.

When asked if the church was to blame for why crime persists in our communities, the TV personality said families and churches do have an important role in curbing crime, but ultimately the responsibility falls on police.

“What are the police supposed to do?” Bullock asks. “I know they protect property, but they’re supposed to protect people. We don’t have enough cops on the streets; it starts right there. The church has failed to raise that point.”

Bullock said the solution to curbing crime is creating a new economy by first tackling our educational system.  He said the economy is tied to educating the Black community. Bullock said, in the past, the culture of the Black community was that you graduated high school and went to work for an automotive plant.

Bullock said the Black Church, also must have a more active approach in educating and empowering our community.

“The Black Church has a perverted theology. It has a pie-in-the-sky, by-and-by, I don’t need to be educated, Jesus will fix it mentality,” said Bullock.  “I don’t think we think through, on how what we believ, keeps us behind.”

Bullock said the Church reinforces the message that if you’re going to be blessed regardless, then you don’t need any skills; you could just have a prayer line and pray for a blessing.

Bullock said changing this way of thinking requires change in the Church.

“A new theology requires a new church and a new believer requires conversion, and that’s a part of my life’s work,” said Bullock. “That’s why people don’t understand me. That’s why they think I’m a politician.”

Bullock says some of his challenges in helping to spread this message are that other Christians feel he’s not a preacher but a politician. He said he’s been called a heretic, not spiritual and didn’t believe in God. But Bullock is working to be different than the traditional Black Church.

“I’m not Bishop Paul Morton; I’m not T.D. Jakes.  Everybody thinks success is like big mega churches. I don’t want to be T.D. Jakes,” said Bullock.  “You don’t have to have 30,000 members to have influence. You can make a movie, have a TV network, or control media.”

This is why Bullock said he created the Change Agent Consortium a few years ago.  He said it’s a non-profit that does public policy. He defines it as a national coalition of faith, labor, civil rights and the active citizens.

Bullock said his focus is building the kinds of programs that train and empower people by “creating a space where people can actually develop skills in a spiritual culture that will work for them before they die and go to heaven, that’s my model.”

Bullock said these changes can happen when pastors redefine the pulpit.

“Pastors have to be willing to expand the platform of the pulpit beside preaching and use that platform to do other things,” said Bullock.

Contact Jason Flowers at jflowers@michronicle.com or at (313) 963-5522.

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