Carlie Beard | Staff Writer
Dr. Travell Travis is mostly known for being an assistant professor of entrepreneurship and business law in the Hampton University School of Business. However, he is so much more than just an educator. He is a husband, father, attorney and now a published author.
Travis also is the minister of City of Refuge, Way of The Cross located in Richmond. As head pastor, he has firsthand experience with problems the church faces.
In his new book, Don’t Eat the Baby: The Characteristics of a Cannibalistic Church, he discusses the different traits that may cause a church to disintegrate, such as difficult parishioners, attendance retention and sexual assault.
“My hope is that the book will help pastors, church leaders, and members better identify and develop solutions to various problems in congregation that may be negatively impacting church growth and retention,” Travis said.
Each chapter covers a different animal that describes the various characteristics a cannibalistic church may possess. For example, Chapter 2 of the book examines how the lobster is similar to a cliquish church that can be standoffish toward newcomers.
“Lobsters are those that will grow, but then they’ll turn around and eat the young because they see the young as a threat to them,” Travis said on page 23.
The lobster is in comparison to older parishioners who are reluctant to accept the new parishioners into the church congregation.
He continued, “The issue with cliques in the church, however, is not the closeness of its members to each other, but a question of how long or through what hurdles must a new member endure before they become a part of this great [church] family?”
Travis hopes his book will spark conversation within churches to produce a healthier culture and environment between new and existing members.
Travis writes about animals such as the polar bear, orangutan, bullfrog and octopus to compare their natural instincts to the ways of the modern-day church.
“I believe with repentance, prayer, collaboration, and strategic thinking, we can change the nature of our churches and be the house of prayer for all people that God always intended for His church to be,” Travis said at the end of the book.
In other words, the issues churches face are not completely unfixable; change can be created with effort and consistency.
Travis was motivated to write this book because he wanted to raise awareness, provoke self-examination, facilitate healthy dialogue and provide biblical and practical solutions to the issues.
The minister recently learned other organizations have started using the book to have similar conversations about the cannibalistic classroom, the cannibalistic campus and the cannibalistic corporation.
Travis’s book is available through his church website, cityofrefugewotcc.org.