Gender & Identity, Life

I couldn’t stand black churches growing up

You always had the one person who sang out of turn during a service, off key, and everyone whooping "take your time!" and in my mind I keep asking "but, why?"

Consider this as a stage of growing pains in my spiritual growth.

My dad is Baptist and my mom is Nondenominational. So, growing up, my siblings and I have been to a lot of different types of churches. Something about attending predominantly black Baptist churches rubbed me the wrong way.

I enjoyed vacation Bible school, I enjoyed the music, some of the ministers I definitely enjoyed, because they appeared more genuine and succinct than others in their sermons. However, there were some things I didn’t enjoy.

The length of the service, mostly due to the pastor repeating himself for the hundredth time, or one or two more songs playing because “the Spirit is moving us.” Okay, why is that a reason for service to go on longer than usual?

[bctt tweet=”Okay, why is that a reason for service to go on longer than usual?.” username=”wearethetempest”]

You always had the one person who sang out of turn during a service, often off key, and everyone whooping “take your time!” and in my mind I keep asking “but, why?”

I especially didn’t appreciate some of the more gossipy circles at church; “Oooh, child, did you see her dress? Looking like a floozy.” “You know she’s pregnant again, still not married? Not my child.” It was interesting how I found this more so in black churches than white churches.

[bctt tweet=”When I was younger, I feared of being loud.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Nevertheless, come high school, college-ish, things changed my perspective. It doesn’t help that our surroundings encourage us to follow a specific status quo by staying quiet or not expressing a form of vibrancy. When I was younger, I feared of being loud. The beauty of black churches are their openness and how they’re not afraid to be loud or sing off key. They’re not doing it for themselves. Okay, well, maybe a little bit, in the sense of how it’s the only time during they week they can be out of the box, but mostly, it’s for God and no one else. God is a bit out of the box, so it makes sense.

[bctt tweet=”The beauty of black churches are their openness and how they’re not afraid to be loud or sing off key. They’re not doing it for themselves.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Moreover, having to hear people ask me why I would believe in a religion who has a history in people abusing its text to condone slavery, I have been able to respond with the fact that African Americans have taken Christianity on their own cultural terms, and that’s more empowering than people think. It has inspired great people such as Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. And Gospel music has been able to reach so many people in its inclusiveness.

Last year on June 17th, 2015, nine black people were shot by a white man in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. A white man who was welcomed to their service with open arms, and yet he did that to them. The negativity of the majority of the status quo who hold a lot of power, entered their safe place, and it broke my heart. What broke my heart even more was how few white churches were willing to talk about it, or do something about it.

[bctt tweet=”What broke my heart even more was how few white churches were willing to talk about it, or do something about it.” username=”wearethetempest”]

However, instead of expressing frustration and hatred towards the gunmen. The families affected by his hatred said that they forgive him. No riot erupted from them, nothing like that. If that’s not a reflection of what Christianity is supposed to look like, man. If that’s not a reflection of breaking the status quo, or not fulfilling others’ expectations…

I can deal with service running overtime, and old ladies singing out of turn, if it means seeing what God is supposed to look like.