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…

Who we tag in our Facebook notes is indicative of who we allow to be in the intricate parts of our lives.

9 07 2010


Who we tag in our Facebook notes is indicative of who we allow to be in the intricate parts of our lives.

They are the ones who matter to us.

It’s true.

“In this note” on the right-hand column tells a story. It signals who we trust.

Facebook, a tool so vital to our ministries as social beings, can also be a tool of social commentary.

Our little world is reflected in our need to express ourselves, in our note. And our world is a little too small for God. Those in our notes are the people who we let in our thoughts, our jokes, our musings, our passion and pain. They are those close to us and our dreams. They’re kind of a big deal. They’re kind of like us.

Which sometimes disappoints the Gospel.

We love to share our thoughts with our own.

We don’t expand our circle of friendships and close confidants but allow them to remain black and white. Literally.

My black friends write notes to their black family, friends and acquaintances. My white friends write notes to their white family, friends, and acquaintances. We’re rarely intentional about being with people unlike us. We’re not even aware that Facebook names a dangerous trend of homogeneity.

But the Gospel that Jesus walked was not just Jewish. It was Jewish-Gentile, Gentile-Jewish. Jesus’ Gospel looked for people out of the ordinary to be with and share deep secrets of the Kingdom with. Jesus’ Gospel sought out people who did not belong with Him, with them, with God and introduced them into the family. Jesus’ Gospel quite easily accepted new blood. It did not do coffee with new blood and forget about them until they showed up in front of it.

We forget each other until we stumble upon each other once again.

We remember that black, white, Asian, Indian, and every other people exist when chance allows us to meet. We don’t plan to meet. We don’t search desperately for our meeting so that we can redeem each other by being together outside of chance.

Chance determines our being together. But chance isn’t our Gospel.

To those whose notes are mixed, amen.

To those whose notes are not, there is something being communicated about the Gospel lifestyle we are called out to live. We’re failing but there’s hope for reversal. All we must do is take the Gospel to heart and in turn perhaps our hearts will soften, open and expand…like a flower blooming in Spring.

Or a Facebook note list.

%d bloggers like this: