I Love The Culture Of The Black Church

In the past, I have attented a non-denominational church and a pentacostal church.  I now attend a Black Baptist church which is Bible based and focused on social justice.  I would like to declare right now that I totally love the culture within the black church!  Yeah I said it!  The Black church is such a beautiful place! 

Fellowship within the black church is a magnificent thing!  I love when people of other races come to visit and worship in my church.   At first, some of them seem unsure, but as they watch how we celebrate God,  they relax and worship as well!   In the Black church we have the time of acknowledging those who have visited us.  At this time we try to overwhelm the visitors with love and joy, and judging by the smiles I see on their faces, we are succeeding.   We make a point to welcome all visitors and encourage them to return to worship with us again.

Education in the Black church is highly prized.  We focus on teaching our children to love and honor God and to respect themselves as African youth, and to get along with each other no matter race or nationality.   We create scholarships to help fund the children’s higher education.  We teach children and teens about ministry, and have children in the church’s broadcast ministry,  dance ministry, video ministry and a host of others.  The Black church has always held college education in high esteem and we encourage our high school grads to go on the college.  While the children are still in high school we facilitate their preparation for college through different educational affiliations and by having worshops for in advanced math, science, english, and other subjects.  In the Black church we understand in a practical way that the children are our future.

Right now, I’m reading a book called “What We Love About The Black Church” .  This book was written byDr. William H. Crouch , who is the president of Georgetown College.  He’ s a friend of my pastor and he is committed to creating diversity in his college.  He has worked hard, forging the way, actively seeking and bringing young black women, and black men especially to his college.  A co writer along with him is Dr. Joel C. Gregory, a gifted preacher and teacher, who went through a divorce and was shunned by his Southern Baptist convention.  He thought he wouldn’t preach again until the grace of God reached to him through an invitation by a black preacher to speak at his convention.  From there he was able to rebuild his preaching ministry, though he has decided not to pastor a church. 

 

I have chosen to highlight two white men who have extensive ties to the black church.  It’s very interesting to hear somewhat of an outsider’s perspective on the black church.  I can’t call these two men true outsiders because they are great friends to my church in particular and to many black churches in general.  These two men are examples of what it means to be reconciled.  They both are fighters for social justice and have done much to help facilitate that in the black church.   They both have stood in the pulpits of many, many black churches and have delivered God’s Word with power and  conviction!  Dr. Gregory’s preaching style is powerful and he has a gift for crafting wonderful analogies to “explain” God in a way that makes Him more present and alive!  Dr. Joel knows how to break it down so you can “see” God!

 

Pastor Joel Gregory preaching

There is so much fullness in the black church!  So much comes from the church–from leadership, to helps, to encouragement, to economic development to training, to housing to education and so much more.  The black church touches on all the areas that we as black people are faced with.  I am so grateful for all those who labor unceasingly in the black church.  They do so much to make life better for so many.  Unfortunately, there are those people, who aren’t able to focus on all the good that the black church is doing in the black community, but instead choose to isolate those failures of the black church, and use that to try to tear down the church while building up their own careers in this climate of overt hatred of black people. 

 

What is so sad and wicked is that these people are black!   It never ceases to amaze me–these black people who go behind and beg crumbs from those who hate them–by writing negative articles about their own people, and their own traditions.  How do they think those oppresors are viewing them?  As utter fools, that’s how.  And those black sellouts are OK with that.  First it was that guy who falsely proclaimed that the black church is dead.  Now it’s that woman who says that the black church is black women’s problem!   In a different part of the world these people would be pulled out of hiding,  dragged somewhere and silenced. 

What these people utterly FAIL to understand is that the entire world is sinful, not just black people!  They, themselves are most sinful, because they sell themselves out for money!   What these people who have no understanding of true grace don’t get is that God is merciful!  No matter what we have done, if we repent, we can be made whole again.  Like the Prodigal son, the ring will be placed on our finger, the robe placed on our back and the sandals on our feet!   God’s mercy and grace towards us is GREAT.  It’s beyond our capacity to comprehend it, and beyond many Christians’ capacity to accept it.  What’s more, they certainly can’t share that grace with others through forgiveness and love, the paramount things that Jesus requires of us!

 

 The Black Church is a powerful church!  In spite of all the dirt that is being said about it, in spite of all that is blamed on it, in spite of those who wickedly mock the black church and it’s culture, in spite of weak, immature Christians who blame the black church for their pain-expecting not to have to suffer, in spite of all that comes against the black church, in spite of all those who are trying to destroy it, the Black Church Lives!  It lives in power!  It lives because it places its hand in the hand of God!   And though many people–black people even–who see the culture of the black church as something to be ashamed of,  I STILL love the culture of the black church!  I love that we whoop when we preach, I love that we wear large hats, I love that we dress up, I love that we get slain in the spirit, and I especially love that we are tolerant of others. 

It’s not about the culture, it’s about worshipping God!  God created us with our cultural styles–our way of relating to each other and the world.  Other people worship Him in a different style than we do, and that’s OK too!  Yet we as black people are mocked.   Above all, I most proud of the way black people are able to forgive.  We are the most accepting people that I know of!   I’m thankful that it was the black church that extended a hand of reconciliation and mercy to the white pastor Joel H. Gregory when he was shunned by his own fellow Christians.  That’s exactly what Jesus wants.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. Let us preface this reply with the following we love afrospear but we also like to generate different perspectives for the sake of learning, growth and the open minded. The blog below shows how us as Africans adopting european religions on their terms and not praising our own religions equals domestic abuse of our women by us men.

    Please read this blog titled – “Nigeria – Jesus and Uppercuts! Round One Right Now!” – and let us know your thoughts.

    http://nubiannewsnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/nigeria-jesus-and-uppercuts-round-one-right-now/

    1. Anna Renee says:

      The thing about it all is that Christ Jesus is blamed for the evil that men do “IN HIS NAME”!!! This concept is very difficult for people to grasp, because of the way Europeans have claimed Christ as their own whipping boy, used to justify all manner of evil!! For many, Christ has become synonymous with European culture, which he is NOT! God is not European culture! This is the great lie that has been perpetrated all of humanity!!! Another lie among infinite lies!

      People who beat their wives aren’t representing Jesus Christ’s teachings. They may CLAIM they are, but a quick read of the New Testament Bible will dispel that myth.

      “Christianity” is not an European religion. Many Europeans were and still are pagans and worshipped all manner of things–trees, the moon, the stars, the ocean, the devil. “Christianity” is having faith in Christ Jesus and believing in Him and what He has done for us. Christ is for WHOSOEVER WILL! Anyone. No matter what your race, your creed, your color, your past issues, your present issues, your past deeds, your present deeds!!! His Love and Forgiveness is for THE WHOLE WORLD who comes to Him and Humble themselves! And Europeans can and do believe in Christ, and not just with their mouths, but with their actions, as Christ requires. “Christianity” was USED by the evil Europeans to justify their evil. The way that Islam is used by some to justify their evil. This is what greedy humans tend to do.

      Jesus Himself said this:
      Matthew 7:21-29 (NRSV)
      “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the
      kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

      “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and
      the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell–and great was its fall!”

      Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their SCRIBES

  2. Thanks for understanding!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Of course!! Thanks for your honesty.

  3. Lin says:

    Methinks you hit upon the MAIN appeal here, Anna: Fellowship.

    Fellowship, the whole concept of this is in itself is a beautiful thing. At its best, the Black Church embraces the spirit, and in some remarkable way, uplifts it.

    The sound of the choir can levitate whatever weighs heavy on your heart. In times of trouble, or in morning, it can and does make a world of difference.

    Should you lose a loved one, suddenly people come from near and far to comfort you, sit with you, feed you, hold you up. It’s a wonderful thing.

    No church, just like no religion is ever perfect or w/out the flaws and tedious ways of humanity, yet, when it’s good, when all the elements come together, and people keep GOD first… then there’s nothing else quite like it… because it is a tried and true SOUL-SOOTHER!

    Snatch JOY!

    One.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      That’s it, brother! When it all comes together and people keep GOD first!

      Thank the Lord that He forgives when we slip up, if we are repentent, because we humans aren’t perfect.

  4. I love all your messages. They always contain lots of useful information and they are written with passion, intelligence and feeling.

    I must admit now that I’m older I’m not big on organized religion. My parents were not church goers, however they did require I attend when I was young and they allowed me to make my own decisions regarding religion and faith once I got older. I suppose Mom & Dad wanted me to have a good spiritual foundation. We always had a Bible in the house, my Mom had us say Grace before meals and our bedtime prayers.

    In my 20s, 30s & early 40s I was more religious but then I began to see the cracks and hypocrisy in the church. I still went but my enthusiasm began to wane. I’m old enough to have lived through various Christian incarnations; Jesus Freaks, Name It & Claim It, plus all the televangelist scandals of the 1980s. If Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle He won’t be coming back anytime soon.

    Since I’ve passed the half century mark, I’m more or less a skeptic, freethinker and an agnostic. Went back to my parents way of thinking. However I still read the Bible, pray and attend the Baptist Church across the street when my work schedule permits. To be honest my churchgoing is more social than spiritual. The gift of Faith left me years ago. Most preachers, pastors and ministers, especially the ones on the Word Network just espouse Religious propaganda. More extremists.

    After living through losing many family members to death and having my own personal health scare I crafted my own belief system that fits me. I don’t exclude the wisdom of other faiths. I find my Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist friends might be closer to God than I’ll ever be. Once I stopped trying to fit into the mold of what a Christian Woman should be I’m more comfortable with myself and at peace with my decision. I believe in God not the church.

    BTW I’m on my to church now and hopefully thunder and lightening won’t split the building wide open! LOL!! Enjoy your Sunday!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks so much Deborah! I’ve come across many who have given up on “organized religion”, such as it is.
      When I look at TV and see some of these hate filled people who speak “in the name of Jesus” I can understand why.

      I think that many people believe that church folks are supposed to be like saints, doing no wrong–ever! When we see that people are human, even church folks who claim they’re better, we become confused and disgusted.

      You said, “The gift of Faith left me years ago. Most preachers, pastors and ministers, especially the ones on the Word Network just espouse Religious propaganda. More extremists”. I tend to agree about The Word Network. There are a few good ministries, tho.

      But I don’t judge the whole church by what those who aren’t doing the right thing! It wouldn’t be fair! This seems to be the issue for so many people! We ought not judge the goodness of God by those who are doing the wrong thing in His name! Your faith is in Christ, not the people of God! Christ never told us to trust in the people, because they will always get things wrong!!
      He did tell us to forgive them, though! Which is extremely hard to do!

      You also said “I believe in God not the church.” This is what we are called to do. Some get it wrong and expect us to worship “The Church”, instead of God! But God did create the church for us to learn how to deal with each other! To put into practice truly loving each other with agape love-sacrificing love. We have to be among others to fellowship and put these things into practice. And in doing these very hard things like forgiving betrayal, backbiting and other human frailties, we learn about our strengths, which we could never have learned otherwise!

      A while back, I stopped going to church but I’m so glad that I returned. I know I’ll see people being people and making all kinds of errors, but I struggle through. I know I’ll make the same errors too!

      God Bless You for wrestling with your faith! Don’t let it rest in people, but in God! There’s alot to prove that He Is!

  5. Jason says:

    Anna, this post was powerful and I agree totally. I and my wife attend First Baptist Church of Glenarden (In Maryland) and I am blessed to be apart of such a wonderful spiritual family.

    I am taking the walk courageously, faithfully and prayerfully. I have a lot of work to do but I am commited and Christ is the bridge.

    This is what I told a young lady recently that was skeptical about continuing to worship at her church:

    I think a religion can be as good or as bad as its practitioners.

    Having said that. Humans are not perfect. Nor are their ideas, institutions or politics. Perfection is a quality of God alone.

    Where there is a large assembly of people you are bound to have some problems and confusion, but there is a lesson to be learned. We should show obedience even when things aren’t going the way we would like them to. And just because we are saved doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be lows in life. Stand strong in obedience and continue to pray and God will lead the way.

    Inspirational post Anna!

    Bless

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Blessings, Jason! Thanks for the encouragement.
      It is a great blessing to be a part of the church of God! To be a part of the family of worshippers. To be able to fellowship with other like minded Christians!
      As human beings, we KNOW that we will have issues, and failings, but what’s more important is how I respond if I have done wrong. It’s also important how you respond to me if I have done wrong!!!

      We have to be courageous in our walk and humble as well because it’s too easy to deceive our own self!!!
      When one leaves the church because of what other people are doing wrong, one deceives himself into believing that he is above reproach. It can happen to any one of us–a fall. We have to be merciful, not separatist when we see others fall. Because we want the same mercy.

      I’m not talking about a church where all kinds of wrong is going on, and is stubbornly entrenched, because that may not be God’s church.

      My favorite “bring me back down to earth” scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust the Lord and lean not to my own understanding (paraphrase)
      God Bless!

  6. Mark says:

    I guess I am the heretic in here…

    The big problem is ‘The Church’. There is so much blood on the hands of the major montheistic religions as well as contradictions in their scriptures that makes accepting them next to impossible for me to do.

    I won’t try to convince anyone NOT to belief, but I do resent when faith is supposed to carry me where logic ends… faith precisely in what?

    The peace and the calm that it brings over some of the faithful is admirable. But the senselessness that can be demonstrated by someone’s mistaken interpretation tends to make me wonder if it isn’t the WHAT that is the problem with belief along with the HOW the belief is interpreted.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Hey there brother Mark! You know I welcome your perspective, and want you to continue to feel free to speak your mind!

      There’s a ton of blood on their hands, child molestation, slavery, oppression, modern day tea party hatred, old time hatred, the list goes on and on. I don’t dare try to minimize that horrible fact. It’s truth and it confronts us.

      But also (and this is seldom spoken of) there is life and growth and helps and development on the hands of the “church” too! When it comes to things like this, human nature tends to focus on the negative and ignore the positive. The Mother Teresa stories, so to speak.
      These stories aren’t repeated throughout history much.

      Logic is a gift of God to us. Logic is limited, and there are fallacies in logic. For example, it was argued back in the day that black people were unintelligent based on genetics or nature itself. Based on our not having access to education when we were enslaved, it seemed logical for those “scientists” to determine that we were inferior naturally, rather than to determine that it was a lack of education that made blacks seem ignorant. I said SEEM. Their logic was flawed. As you state, there is an “end” to logic.

      But faith is a belief not based in logic. It’s illogical. It’s outside of logic, generally speaking. For the believer, we believe in God’s omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. God has given us logic and free will. We can CHOOSE to believe Him . He doesn’t force us to believe Him by having programmed us to only be able to believe Him. So He’s gifted us. A great gift that we have a hard time conceptualizing.

      We can choose what to believe in. To have faith in. God requires us to have faith in Him in order to spiritually access Him. Faith in God is a blind belief! Many people are not ready to believe blindly, because they believe that their 5 senses define all matter, and unless they can perceive with their senses, they simply don’t believe. But We all have some form of belief, if even it’s belief in the non-existence of God!
      I’m rambling, so I’ll stop for now. 🙂

  7. Ann Brock says:

    Anna thanks for a wonderful and well written piece…This piece have totally capture my feeling regarding the “Black Church.” Anna I too belong to an old black baptist church and love it.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Hi Ann! Thanks so much! I totally love my particular Black Baptist Church, and I totally love the black church, period!
      People love to point out the “dead” things about the black church, and about all churches really, but I want to highlight the vital, living, moving, having its being in God black church!!
      Even when we do wrong things, when we let greed overcome us, when we let tradition overwhelm us, when we let a separist mentality overwhelm us, even if we let heresy overwhelm us, we HAVE A FORGIVING GOD! We have the bolder saints who will lovingly put us back in line–that’s what they should do!!!
      Even pastor Carl Pearson can be surrounded and put back in place by those who are bold enough and knowledgeable enough of doctrine to do so!! Well maybe not. One has to be willing.

      I intend to do more posts like this, but I’ll focus on particular aspects of the black church. Like on our tradition of venerating our elders. We in the black church go all out in terms of holding our elders in the highest esteem. We look to their wisdom and life experience! We marvel at their testimony of how they got through hard times!!

  8. asabagna says:

    WOW! The post, comments and your replies are inspiring. You not only demonstrate intelligence but more importantly, spiritual wisdom!

    Stay blessed and keep blessing us with your knowledge and wisdom my sister!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks Brother Asa! 😀

  9. Reggie says:

    The reason that I think that you’re so successful at writing this blog Anna Renee is because you’re so passionate about the subject matter.

    Earlier today some friends and I ended up in a long discussion about the accusations made about Eddie Long in Atlanta. Although we’re all innocent until proven guilty, it seems that there are forever accusations of some sort of molestation surrounding the church. Of course, these allegations don’t have to be true and maybe I’m wrong; but it seems to me that something like this is forever happening around men that are supposed to be about the business of their God.

    I’m sure that we all realize that there are no perfect men, only perfect intentions; but why do you think that these types of men are forever associated with the church?!? And what do you think it’s going to take to change this perception?!?

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks so much Brother Reggie!
      Im just hearing about the accusations against the “Bishop”. Not surprised, but trying not to be smug about it.

      You said, “But it seems to me that something like this is forever happening around men that are supposed to be about the business of their God.”

      Not seem, but actually IS forever happening!! It’s very difficult for us to keep seeing this mess happen in our churches. I keep holding on to the fact that there are GOOD pastors laboring in their churches, not getting fame and not needing it. GOD sees them and that’s good enough for them.

      Maybe it’s a blessing that these slithering snakes are being outed in the media. Jesus loudly outed the Pharisees in the Bible days, and called them hypocrites, vipers, and dropped a lot of woe on them!!

      Matt 23:1-5 “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but DO NOT DO according to their works; for THEY SAY, AND DO NOT DO. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.”

      Matt 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”

      Another scripture to rest on is Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
      If we who are “good” do our best to do what is good, then we can overwhelm evil. We then can let God take revenge on those who consistantly do what is wrong.

      I hope this is not true about Bishop Long. If it is, then I pray that he repents, steps down from pastoring and goes somewhere and sit under someone who can reinstruct him in the basics of Christian leadership.

    2. Anna Renee says:

      You know, if this thing is true, and Bishop Eddie Long repents of it, God will actually forgive him?
      That’s amazing. For me (let me be real) I would want Eddie to suffer some. In the way that I would choose. Im just saying. I feel he deserves pain for the way he overtly manipulates the masses of black youth that come to his church. Its obvious every time I watch him. (I got my EYE on him, yes I do)
      I’ve been sitting on a number of posts that I have started about him. It may be a moot point to even finish them and publish them now.
      I can’t stand how he wears his clothes, flex his muscles in the pulpit, put down the people from the pulpit, and the top thing I hate is how he got that hair going on!! Went and got that Rogaine stuff happening! Why? For what reason, Eddie?

      But despite MY anger and dislike for Eddie Long, based on what I see and conclude from watching him on TV, God knows ALL about him! All I know is what he shows us on TV. God knows it, if he’s been molesting boys or whatever. AND God would actually receive Eddie Long with open loving arms IF Eddie repents from it all. (if its true)
      Personally I may shun Eddie. Thank the Lord that he gives us second and third chances and that Eddie Long doesn’t have to depend on ME for his forgiveness.

      I’m just being real. Not trying to be facetious. I don’t like the brother.

  10. Jason says:

    Hey Val, I tagged you as one of my favorite blogs in a meme that originated at the Electronic Village Blog, which is a place that celebrates the work of Black Bloggers.

    For some reason my posts haven’t been updating to my reader’s blog lists, so you have to visit my blog to read what I wrote about you. Your blog is one of my favorites Anna, keep educating the people!

    Uhuru

  11. Jason says:

    Sorry about that Anna. I typed Val instead of your name in the opening line.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      NO problemo! And thanks for the love!!!
      It all comes full circle already!!

  12. Solomon says:

    There are too many people that put these preachers like the Bishop up on a pedestal. Then when the man does something stupid like getting all caught up in some mess accused of molesting underage boys the church gets thrown into turmoil. All these folks have been worshiping the pastor rather than putting their faith in God and believing that God sent his only son Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.

    And the tough part for me to watch is how many of these folks still follow the pastor with this ‘blind’ faith. It is like even if the allegations against the Bishop prove to be true they will still believe in him and believe in anything that the Bishop tells them.

    I believe many people go to church just to be seen. They want to ‘fit in’ with the rest of the people in their town and attending the local black church is the best way they think they can obtain, and keep, a good reputation.

    But anyone who has read the Word knows it is not about anything but following the teachings of Jesus and praying to God in good times as well as bad.

    Loved the post and all the commenters here!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      It’s only human nature to be attracted to someone with charisma. And to fall in line with his/her teachings if they seem to edify the person. But I don’t believe that those same people who do that should be mocked as stupid, or whatever those mockers are now saying, when they still feel emotionally attached to that fallen pastor.
      What those people need is an example of God’s power, and maybe this thing with Bishop Long is that. I don’t know, maybe being an ex-Eddie Long follower is the testimony that God has for those particular people. We all have one–some more difficult than others.
      But what we don’t need is to try to use these “Eddie Long” type situations to crush the black church the way some do.
      I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to fit in with people of a good reputation and fellowship and receive the favor of being a part of the black church. There are many groups who do this very thing, and no one sees it as wrong.
      BUT, at the same time, as you said, we should be following Jesus and praying to God at all times! The fellowship shouldn’t be the only reason that we meet. But even with following Jesus teachings, we have to fellowship in order to put His teachings into practice because His main teaching was to Love each other and be one!
      The church, including the black church, is the place where human people are, with all of our failings. It is in this place that God has put us. He wasn’t wrong. He wants us to learn tolerance, forgiveness, empathy, sympathy, and unconditional love. People who leave the church miss out on this important lesson.

      1. Jane says:

        I tripped upon this blog and it’s hitting on my current struggle with choosing a church body to become part of. I feel lost after all my searching, feeling like church is some façade. I am a born again Christian but the older I get the more I see done in the name of Jesus and it’s getting me hot around the collar. I want to go out and split some heads of Pastors who manipulate their flock. I know if I keep searching I will find my home and maybe its Gods mercy on me and my desire for the truth that I am having to weed out the tares. It’s just crazy but I believe Jesus is alive and well in churches. Pray I end up where I am supposed to be. You are an encouragement!

  13. I love the culture of the Black church also! Where else could we find a character like that predator the notorious Bishop Eddie Long? Like it or not, I break it down in this article as well as the cartoon at the end! Enjoy!

    Lance Scurv

    https://www.lancescurv.com/the-pastor-eddie-long-freakshow-legitimate-sex-scandal-or-an-opportunistic-money-shakedown/

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