Q&A with Bianca Robinson Howard

Q&A with Bianca Robinson Howard


Reverend Bianca Robinson Howard

Children & Youth Pastor


Bianca has a degree in broadcast journalism from Valdosta State University, an MDiv from Howard University School of Divinity and ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). She is currently an associate pastor and the full-time children and youth pastor at Zion Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia. Bianca also has served as a chaplain for Emory University Hospital, a blogger and mentor for Baptist Women in Ministry, a staff member for the Academy of Preachers and a representative for the PTS Alumni Association Executive Council. Her missions experience has taken her to India, throughout Africa, Costa Rica and Europe. She is in the process of authoring her first book, addressing the fundamentals of a successful children & youth ministry in the black church setting.

Q: What are practical, realistic approaches for households to organize their days and interactions in a way that prioritizes shared spiritual moments and everyday liturgies? 01

The environment doesn’t have to be perfect. Take small moments to do small things: eating together, reading scripture, sharing, praying in the car, showing random acts of kindness. That is spiritual practice: being intentional in those moments that are already in our routines.

My husband and I began a routine back in our engagement where, every Thursday, we sat down for a devotion and prayer, and we would talk about our budget. That started as our habit going into the wedding, and we still meet on Thursday nights for prayer and devotion. I know we’re in a hustle-and-bustle society, but I hope that this will carry on when our kids are here, that we take that time as a family, even if it’s once a week.

In my experience, you can definitely see the difference when the heads of household, whether it’s both parents or a single mom or dad, are taking the lead. It is very clear in children, youth and family ministry. You see the ones who make sure their kids are there on Sundays. Nowadays, not a lot of kids carry Bibles; well, I see a couple 7- and 8-year-olds who bring their Bibles every week. That says something. Something’s happening at home, where their mom is like, “Grab your Bible.” I’ve commended them for that—or just for the fact that the child even has a Bible! When parents are starting that process early, the kids will follow.

Q: How can the Church help moms and dads share the crucial responsibilities of faith formation? 02

Whether it’s the dad or the mom, if somebody is taking that spiritual lead, I think it will still help the child, despite what is going on and how their household is structured. I’m in a predominantly African American church within an African American community, and we have more single moms. They still bring their family to church. They’re still making spirituality a priority, and you see the difference in the kids.

One thing we do is try to put men in front of our boys to help them in Bible study, Sunday school classes or youth groups, so they can have a role model. They have somebody they feel like they can talk to. I know our pastor has been a huge advocate of focusing on men in our church. It started with his intentionality, and it began to change the landscape of the church. We got more men volunteering. We also have mentoring groups. That’s something we really push with men, but for the women and girls as well, if they need a little bit of extra support. Moms can’t do everything.

Q: How can church leaders be more considerate of the needs in their congregation and create multi-generational, multi-household connections? 03

If you wonder why people don’t show up at church all the time, try to find out exactly what is going on with them, don’t just assume and pass judgment. Give them a call. In our church, the deacons are connected by letters of the alphabet to our families. For example, there is a deacon that’s in charge of checking in with the families whose last name starts with an H. We also have a lot of people who like to give to kids who can’t go to camp, maybe empty nesters with a little extra money who can reach out to help another family do something.

It starts with recognizing the blind spots, being aware of the plight of society right now and what reality is. I know that’s one thing I have to do: Have that extra grace and pray, “Lord, open my eyes to what is going on in my congregation, so I can be more sensitive and more understanding.” It’s getting out of that bubble of our own lives.

Q: How can households also get out of their bubbles, intentionally cultivating an environment of diversity in their homes and routines? 04

Again, it starts with the adults and trickles down to the kids. I think sometimes we hide from these conversations because we’re afraid of going that deep with kids. But, actually, it’s probably the best time to talk about it, because they don’t really have that fear of the other.

What are guardians and caregivers exposing children to outside of their own environment? In a white family, are they teaching kids about black history, going to black history museums or watching shows that have all black casts? Same with black households. Are they looking to try to learn about a different culture? It’s important to stay open, or to be welcoming if somebody brings a white friend to church. If the kids are learning something related to race in school, maybe ask them, “Hey, what are you learning about that?” If you have friends of another race, make them welcome in your home. Sometimes the fear of the different or unknown keeps us in our pockets, and we’ve got to get out and get to know each other and celebrate one another.

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