Welcome to my work! My latest book of columns, "Race, Faith and Politics Today," has won honors for Best Non-Fiction Book from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists and Best Book on Religion (Eastern/Western) in the national eLit Awards. I also presented the volume in session at 2016's Church of God in Christ Holy Convocation in St. Louis. See my COGIC news page.
My column, "Keeping Faith," also won an award in 2017 for best reporting from the Evangelical Press Association, the USA's largest group of born-again news outlets. This follows two honors for best newspaper series and one for best copy editing from the National Association of Black Journalists (along with a couple for best magazine single-topic series for my work in The Whole Truth, the official COGIC magazine).
Previously, the column took an honor for best use of the Bible in secular media from the longstanding and greatly respected Amy Foundation. The piece also has won awards for best standing column from the Evangelical Press Association, finishing alongside Christianity Today; religion reporting from the Religion News Association, the world's largest organization of journalists covering faith; and three straight yearly awards for general column writing given by the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists plus another for coverage of issues of concern to minorities.
"Race, Faith and Politics Today," the aforementioned book compiling my columns on spirituality now out from Berean Publishing, is distributed by Ingram and available through Shopify and PayPal (as well as from several major Web portals and select bookstores). The book has Bible study and college course teaching guides available.
My latest book is good for those interested in a born-again lens on civic issues, America's racial divide, our increasingly secular culture, and a host of other trends & issues involving faith. You'll also find in it thoughts on Christian living, a practical take on theology and even the way of salvation if you'd like to pass it along to people curious about Christianity. You have the chance to read excerpts from the book and a recent interview with me about it.
I invite you to look around this website as it also has a blog on faith, Twitter feed, biographical informationand more. You may email me at email@example.com.
I love to hear from readers, so feel free to keep in touch. I welcome you to stay up with my work, too, through this site and other venues.
Millennials love to talk about community but usually mean media-based groups or dysfunctional institutions (e.g., colleges).
New Testament community is less about a physical place such as a church building and much more about connecting those who love God to him and each other wherever they are.
Christ says his followers will do greater works than his because he goes to his Father. This is because the Holy Spirit indwells all believers and unites them for evangelism, discipleship and service.
The Old Testament covenant community was literal and physical, dominated by temple worship, priestly teaching, and sacrifices for sin. Virtually all members were Hebrews.
Congregations come together for corporate worship in ornate cathedrals, one-room clapboard houses, and even park shelters to praise God and learn about him. "Every tribe and tongue" is represented (Revelation 7:9).
The Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., column author; click on the photo to learn more about him.
Enter the query, “What is community these days?” into Google Search, and you’ll find these are the top results: “Call of Duty” Community These Days, “FoxyGirlPlaying” Gotta Love League Community, Steam Community: The GMod Community, “What’s Going on in the MusicBrainz Community These Days,” and so forth. Every one of the 11 video and/or text links on the first page returning is about a video game or Web-based group.
Millennials are big on “community” but usually have very little idea of what it means. One who wrote a story for me as her editor used the term approximately 15 times in a 400-word story, but only a couple were proper references.
She and others are hearing lots about community in American colleges and universities today. “Higher Education and Its Communities: Interconnectedness, Interdependencies and a Research Agenda” is a journal article cited 540 times in other scholarly works over the past decade. However, such schools may be some of the worst examples of community, as student evaluations are anonymous, confrontation is almost never direct, and it’s every man/woman/cisgender for his/her/ze self in trying to find as many aspects of “life together” with which to be offended.
Moving to more positive models, Old Testament community was defined by ethical justice, moral righteousness and God’s presence among his Chosen People (Exodus 19:5-6). It championed personal holiness (Leviticus 19:2). “The postexilic prophets called for the practice of genuine community, rather than oppressing the poor and excluding outsiders; the people of God must reach out to the excluded and serve the needy,” scholar Gordon Johnston says in the book “Foundations of Spiritual Formation.” However, the Hebrews did not listen to these calls and ended up losing the land God had so miraculously given them. The Lord then went silent on inspired Scripture for 400 years until Matthew and the rest of the Gospels.
Spiritual formation in the Old Testament generally was an outward affair since the Holy Spirit came upon people but did not reside in them as would be in the New Testament after Pentecost. Wisdom came from Scripture and temple teaching. Accountability was reckoned through the system of sacrifices and edicts in the Torah. Sharpening rough edges came from prophets and high priests. There was a physical, literal Kingdom of God: Israel.
In the New Testament, God applies the concept of community in similar ways to the previous covenant but on a larger scale. As “edah” in Hebrew (“community, company, assembly”) was used for the full assembly of covenant people in the Old Testament, so “koinonia” in Greek says it in the New, meaning “community … participation, sharing … gift.”
Community in the current covenant is not primarily composed of a racial or ethnic group but all those worshiping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). The “ekklesia,” the Greek meaning “the called-out” who form the “church,” is a worldwide body of believers who do not inhabit a physical principality but the spiritual Kingdom of God. The Bible defines the subjects of this domain as those with saving faith in Christ. This erases the distinction between Jews and Gentiles who accept Christ and ushers in the broader covenant community the Lord always had in mind, those of “every tribe and tongue” (Revelation 7:9).
Because the Kingdom of God now is invisibly within us rather than physically outside, we tend to think of our identity in Christ as individual rather than corporate. However, Hebrews 10:24-25 convicts us: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day (of Judgment) approaching.”
Not only are churches cancelling evening services and other gatherings left and right in opposition to this teaching of Paul, there often is precious little personal contact between and among believers in a particular church other than, "Hello? How are you?" at greeting time. Many who desire more seem to envision Christian spiritual formation mostly along the lines of accountability. (“Did you commit thus-and-such sin this week? How is your thought life? Did you just lie to me twice?”)
The Great Apostle here shows us relationships must not be just that but more. We are to encourage one another and spur each other on to greater heights and deeper depths in the Lord. That is very hard to do if all we know about our fellow church members is two or three of their names.
The Holy Spirit convicts us personally of sin and helps guide our paths individually, but we also need these aspects of the Christian walk in corporate form as we live out the life of the church. For example, when we’re alone, the gift of leadership doesn’t do much. When we’re together, it’s invaluable.
Our relationships within church should hold us accountable, but we’re not going to be permanently sinless till heaven. Therefore, they also need to challenge us to exercise the ministries and abilities that God has given us and provide the support and assistance we must have emotionally and physically to do so and otherwise go through life.
We can teach ourselves, to an extent, by praying and reading Scripture, but again, there is another level to spiritual formation in community. As a pastor, I enjoy hearing others preach at times in order to expand my thinking and open new vistas. I may go to an associate's class or meeting to stay fresh in the Spirit. Every Christian likewise must ensure his or her personal spiritual growth even as he or she moves forward a church's programmatic agenda. Small groups, close friendships and willingness to listen can be crucial to this individual mandate.
This kind of community and spiritual formation are what I think Jesus envisions when he says, “He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father” (John 14:12). We have his Spirit in the Holy Ghost, so we will do his works. But we also have hundreds of thousands, even millions, of churches all over Creation where we should be joining with each other to do greater works than the little band of 12 faithful (including Jesus, excluding Judas). We must recall and believe one can “chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight” (Deuteronomy 32:30).
About the author: The Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., has an earned doctorate and taught both journalism and religious studies in universities, winning three honors for scholarly research on the intersection of faith and media. He's won 25 awards for professional media writing and production in a career stretching back to the 1980s and covering every mass medium. For 20 years, he's worked in public relations and marketing with outstanding results in placing articles, generating click-throughs, growing social-platform accounts, and more. Ordained in 2003, he's an elder in the predominantly black Church of God in Christ and has served congregations and denominations in numerous positions of pastoral, administrative and educational leadership. See below on this page and click here for more on Huckins.
Media Helping People, Ministries Glorifying Christ