Let The Church Say... What?
One of the things that has puzzled me for years is how devastated and broken many Black communities are although there are a huge number of local churches across America. People seem to be more broken and lost than ever. I’ve wondered why there were churches where so many people who claim to be changed and transformed had no effect on the community around them.
I’d like to emphasize that this is not a sweeping criticism of all Black churches, so don’t come for me! In fact, there are many places of worship where members are doing their part in a variety of ways to glorify God’s kingdom. This is facts.
Unfortunately, we can’t deny the fact that some pastors have been out here trying it lately. In fact, doing the absolute most. Between Bishop Whitehead, T.D. Jakes, Kim Burrell, Juanita Bynum, and the “buy me a Movado watch" preacher, it’s easy to see how Black church goers are hurt, confused, and feel disrespected. It’s also easy to understand why some Black people have chosen to stay away from the church altogether.
Maybe we’re just too sensitive. Maybe we just don’t want to get with the program. Well, I don’t believe either of those things. I think people are tired of being judged, criticized, and beaten down with foolishness. I think that people expect something different when the doors of the church are open, but they get the same thing they see anywhere else.
The Black church is the most powerful organization, since the freedom of slavery. The Black church has been more than a house of worship, but has provided substantial benefits for the community. Yet, there is a disconnect in the Black churches with the men and women.
Black men have begun to think of the Black preacher as an entrepreneur; a walking billboard for “prosperity” who uses the church to hustle and make money. Unfortunately, many Black pastors are indeed hustlers. Somewhere the role of the Black church has gotten confused, and many Black churches are more concerned with their weekly income.
And then there’s the Black women in the church who have always been the glue. If anything needs to get accomplished, the women will organize and make it happen. Black women are also tithing and supporting the church more than any other group, but always the most criticized.
Since the pandemic, people have been having church online. Even with churches reopening their doors, people have chosen to stay on the couch and pay tithes through the church’s Cash App. It's safer and you don't have to worry about being emotionally abused or judged.
I grew up in the Baptist church. My mama on my left and nana on the right. Somewhere between the scripture being read and the sermon, nana would reach into her purse and hand me a piece of Freedent gum (Spearmint, of course). And it would make us all laugh. Nana was active in the church - always giving speeches and reading poems. She was on every committee and auxiliary there was, and so were all the other women in the church. If it wasn't for their movement - physical and financial - the church wouldn't be what it was.
As an adult, the Church of God in Christ is where I would witness hurt and experience it myself. Hurt as in rules and traditions; hurt as in people thinking they are God; hurt as in people caring more about what you're wearing; hurt as in judging people. I never doubted God and what he was doing in my life. But there were times I felt that the four walls of the church wanted me to be someone that I wasn't.
Everybody has the opportunity and right to be loved by God. Guess what? Beyonce’s Renaissance album is not going to change that. I just don’t believe that God is the entity we’ve made him out to be. We’ve taken away the love and replaced it with fear and intimidation. We've made God a social media hashtag; a selling point; a gig; a lesson taught but don't really want to learn. Yes, you can understand that hell is real. But you don’t need to feel like you’re in hell sitting in church on Sunday morning.
Pastors are supposed to guide us towards salvation, and there are those that do. God bless them. Then there are those that twist God’s word, lie, call us names, disrespect us, expect expensive gifts in the name of prosperity, and are the ultimate hypocrites. The guidance turns into judgment. And the judgment turns into people leaving the church.
As my Nana would say: You have to know God for yourself.