If I get in trouble so be it. I’m sure I won’t. The fact is Black Christian churches have failed it’s people and a young mind needs to address it. Why not I? The reason for the failure of the Black Christian Church has many different facets. There is no one stop solution to the problem because this failure has permeated so many different areas for such a long time it is deeply embedded in our everyday lives. The issues are a web of interrelated problems that effect and feed one another and it’s almost sickening to see that it has gotten to this point….I’ll just get to it.
Currently Black churches are failing to engage the intellect or spirituality of the Black mind. Yes, authentic Blackness naturally embodies an unmatched spirituality that is so rich, people from all walks envy us when they see it. Blackness is the essence of what spirituality is but uncultivated within the churches it has been reduced to stagnation. Sadly, most Black Christian leaders are not concerned with its member’s spiritual elevation as much as they’re concerned with being seen or the business of the institution. Have you asked yourself why the need for 2 or 3 churches on every block in our neighborhoods? Why do some churches bust out credit card machines during offering time? Why does it feel like you’ve entered an auction block when they call for tithes and offering? Why can you envision your pastor as a “sho nuff” pimp prior to his being “saved”? Probably because he was…. and probably still is as a second income.
Now before I go further I’ll say that I am not referring to all of clergy, lay members or churches. I have met and engaged people who are spiritual and understand the power of having a real relationship with Our Creator. The truth is the overwhelming majority of Black people have no idea what spirituality even looks like and have not been under the proper leadership to know how to attain it. There is a large population of Black people who are emotionally, spiritually, and financially illiterate. There are congregations of Black people who do not know their tithes pay for their pastor and first lady to pick up his illegitimate children in his 760i BMW. The vast majority of Black congregations don’t see themselves as hoes, but ask a prostitute if she sees herself as a hoe or a business woman and I’m sure she would pick the latter. Regardless of how you make your money, most people wouldn’t willingly attribute a negative connotation to themselves unless they were mentally conditioned to. Enter the pimp….
Church is a multimillion dollar industry. It’s a no brainier for a logical thinker to see how easily a former pusher, pimp, or ex-con can declare his (or her) life has changed, and with charisma and superior verbal skills “can sell water to a fish,” one can make the transition to lead the mentally deprived. It’s mind-blowing to me how Black people turn their noses up at gang members saying they’re destroying Black neighborhoods with their drugs but willing to physically confront some one for disrespecting their pastor while their pastor is destroying their minds and taking their rent money. Black folk have been blinded by “sowing seeds” that they can’t even cogitate your tithe is not a tenth of your income when you’re in a persistent survival mentality. Every penny of your household is needed when you’re behind on your bills or you can’t get a job or your rent is due. The myth of “If you don’t have enough to pay that bill sow it as a seed” is a placebo effect used to encourage one to believe their condition will change. It’s like unknowingly taking a sugar pill for your depression and you feel happier in an hour. In reality you believe you are happier and because I just charged you $60 for the bottle of “depression medication” that shit better work!
Another reason that Black churches are failing to effectively nurture Black spirituality because we do not associate historically or culturally with of Christianity. Most of Black America does not identify with the lost children of Israel. We hear the stories of Moses, Samson, Elisha, Jesus and his disciples; we can even go back to Genesis with Adam & Eve and the story of creation. Again we hear them, read them, tell our children these stories, but when it boils down to it, the people you perceive when you read The Bible look nothing like you in your mind. When you visualize the prophets, the kings, the holy men and women that are in The Bible most of the time you see white people, if not an Arab. My question to you reader is: If The Bible in which you read out of on Sunday is not culturally relevant to you then why is it the only reference you use to conduct yourself or solve problems in your Black life experience?
How is it that we can read Greek mythology and call it mythology or fairy tales, but then read The Bible and say it is actual fact or that these events actually took place without any historical to support either claim? Now, there are great stories and lessons to be learned from Biblical scripture. Stories like Samson’s physical strength but co-dependency issues, Gideon being a “mighty man of valor”, Noah and the Great Flood, Joseph being sold by his brothers and enduring much pain to then become a great leader, the list goes on. These stories have profound depth and underlying meanings that all can take note of. But so does the Maya and Inca Native Americans. Kemet has a stories that speak to the Black man and woman, as does Egyptian mythology also, the descendants of Kemet. There are spritually advanced cultures that pre-date the accounts in the Bible by thousands of years. Is it not fair to imply that The Bible mimicked these ancient cultures? Why are other cultural accounts of reality just stories to you, but Biblical accounts, who you don’t culturally identify with, are as real as the screen you’re reading this from? You reader, if you are a Black Christian need to critically ponder where you received this doctrine from and why it was given to you. What purpose did Christianity serve us when we were a spiritual people long before the Catholic Church and Christianity came to the shores of our continent? Think.
Black Christian churches also have failed to advocate for the increasing needs of a hurting people. A hot meal for the homeless is commendable, but that’s like putting an Ace bandage on an amputated appendage blown away from an IED… it won’t do much. The Black church of the past, despite the origin of it’s doctrines, was once the go to for all things Black. From information, to protection, maybe financial assistance, or community organization; all this you could find the Black Christian church’s hand in somewhere. Black people have replaced their yearning for Jesus with the desired hands of “Government Assistance” for their fixes so that the church of today is now relegated to a joke. Its turned into a social club people attend to get emotional releases and mask their contempt for the people inside them; like a sexually unfulfilled wife. Members come in and go out, numb to the very real needs of the visitors that walk in the doors. And one cannot blame the flock, for membership reflects their leadership. If the members lack discernment you can guarantee the leadership isn’t serving properly. You can also guess that the hospital they call the church has a high mortality rate, which affects the finances the pastor wants to pay his Mercedes car note, which affects moral, which affects spiritual growth of the congregation.
Black people across the world are in pain, and presenting the power of Jesus Christ without the benefit of actively implementing his teachings is worthless to the dying soul. There is power in any name when the message is clear and it’s methods are used properly. Black churches are not teaching Jesus’ message; they’re being force fed who he was which is completely different.
Message to Leadership
For a leader to effectively see the manifestation of an idea you must start with where your people are currently. Despite how great the body of your message or the hooping in hollering they fake while you’re delivering it, when they walk out those doors and enter back into their lives, Black people can’t fathom the validity of what you just said because they have to deal with the very real and current harsh reality of the Black experience, and it’s difficult to tackle this with an ill-equipped surface doctrine, or a doctrine that doesn’t speak to us culturally or historically. The church is not speaking to the times we are in. How do you pastor, conceive a 30 minute irrelevant message competing with the allure of YouTube, Real Housewives of where ever they are now, or Facebook 6 days out of the week? You have not engaged young people experiencing the “fast life” on an Ecstasy induced roller coaster ride, or their parents who are twerking and drinking with them to drown out their failures and misfortune. Single parent households have sky rocketed, unemployment in our community is well above the national “average”, and our music today might as well be featured in pornography soundtracks. What are you going to do about it? Keep feeding the same message or actively get involved?
Message to Lay Membership
Knowing who and what is the first step to changing anything and because most of us suffer from a lack of identity, start with yourselves before you point fingers externally. You may say “I know who I am…” but truth be told, you don’t. Just be real and ask yourself what influences your everyday decisions. Most likely it’s not you. Time restraints, jobs, kids, spouse, money, education; all of these dictate our decisions before we consider ourselves or God most of the time. If it’s not you calling the shots it needs to become you in conjunction with your relationship to Our Father.
After we understand and are real about who we are, then we can think of ourselves as a whole. A Black whole. If you “have it all together” and know who you are that’s cool, but you’re only as strong as the weakest link in the collective. And our people are hurting. Our people are in pain. Your brothers are literally being killed without reason, for no excuse. Of course as a human being that can’t sit well with you. You can’t expect to effect change around the world, but you can effectively change your world or circle of influence. Start within your church by injecting positive feelings in those lay members around you. Love, as Jesus loved. Serve, as Jesus served. Smile at another brother or sister just because they look like you. Recognize the God in them as it permeates through you. Start there, and I promise you not only will you feel good about you but the people around you will feel good about themselves and as a consequence, your world will change.
This principle is beyond the tangible things this world offers. Lack of money, unemployment, lack of basic needs will change as you start to change. As you change the way you think and interact with people you will build relationships that will supply your needs, like a family; when one suffers we all suffer. When one achieves we all advance. Forget about the hurts and pains and lack. Think of the relationships you can build by just greeting another Black man or woman respectfully and using the gifts God has instilled in you to empower them. It will go farther than you think.
Lastly, hold your leadership accountable, respectfully. Humans can only do what we have the knowledge and understanding to do in that moment. Once we are given more than we’re accountable to serve more. Understand your leaders aren’t to be put on pedestals because they can fall just like you can. They have issues just like you do, if not worse… If you’re under leadership that doesn’t effectively lead you don’t be afraid to walk away from it. It’s your spirituality and progress at stake. It’s useless traditions and the individualist mentality that have destroyed Black people. We are not made to be individuals. We were also made to be consistently evolving. Holding on to unneeded tradition and isolation destroys progress.
I’m sure I’ve angered some, but I pray that you critically think about how and where you worship. I believe all spirituality can be a beautiful experience regardless of what culture it originated from. We as Black people must accept our own understanding of what being spiritual is. I too am on a never ending quest to build my relationship with God and I’m finding that there is no one universal way. God just wants to love you and shower His love on you so you can shower the love He fills you with on the people around you. It’s just that simple. You just have to believe that it isn’t a sugar pill….God bless.