I can’t figure out the Black Church.

27 07 2010

I can’t figure out the Black Church.

I love it sometimes, but I hate what it represents a lot of the time.

It’s almost as if the Black Church needs the emotionalism of the church to jolt them out of their depressed and hopeless state. And maybe that’s the point.

Conservative churches can learn a lesson about this. Sure, the black church seems like a container of emotionalism, but at least it’s a container. There’s community in the passion. There’s togetherness in the high energy. There are people there. In the place of pain and greeting each other when, somehow, the Holy Spirit shows up and manages to pull people out of the utter depths of despair.


It can’t be an individual event but is a communal testimony of God’s power. Tears testify to God’s mercy. Screams and yelling explain how God has been present even during the dark times. Shouting and dancing interpret hearts that have had enough, and re-discovered the God who is more than enough.

I wrestle with the Black Church. Every single day. I am split on a lot of things. I’m also disappointed with a lot of things, because ritual, tradition, and stubbornness have hurt me and people I’ve grown to love. But I’m torn because it also makes a lot of people happy.

So how can I process the Black Church?

Should I conclude that it’s for some and not for others? I think that would be too easy. I don’t want to affirm separatism, but I want to acknowledge community. But I guess if community is formed in the crucible of separatism, then something has to give.

Churches are supposed to form together in crucibles, not apart.

This message is for predominantly white churches as it is for predominantly black churches. It’s just for the church. We need to be careful who we cater to.

We shouldn’t even be catering. Catering implies hierarchy and that’s not supposed to exist in Christ.

I think.

Or maybe I feel this way because I’m a first generation (or 1.5 generation) American African Christian, homeless in many a church home…



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