It’s Sunday, so it’s only right that I talk about church. I grew up in the church and I will credit it for providing me with constructive, positive and meaningful experiences which kept me (somewhat) grounded during my adolescent years. I can’t say my moral compass was always pointing towards Heaven during my teenage years. I will say, though, that spending a significant amount of time each week with other young people who devoted their free time to uplifting the house of God through Bible and prayer services, praise dancing, choir, outreach services, etc., pretty much kept me from getting toooo crazy. Most of my memories about my earlier days in church are positive ones, minus the occasional drama and those days I just didn’t feel like rolling out of bed for choir practice or to serve on the Usher Board.
Nonetheless, it’s one thing to grow up in the church because that’s what is considered a part of the family structure and culture. It’s another thing to become a free-thinking, knowledge-seeking, independent adult who make’s his or her decisions based on preference and personal experience. That being said, I am no longer an active member of my home church — or any other. And I don’t plan to be. Obviously, living in a different state makes regular activity at a home church challenging but it’s not just that. It’s so much more than that.
At least once a month, I get drama-filled updates from various people in my hometown (family, close friends, church members) about what is going on at our church and other churches in the community that we have had regular fellowship with throughout the years. Not a month goes by that there is not some story on-line, on T.V. or on the radio about some pastor or clergy member who has embezzled money, touched an adolescent boy’s pee-pee or cheated on his wife with more than 10 women in the church between the ages of 17 and 70. After all, variety is the spice of life.
And to be quite frank, I am fucking blown. I am tired of it. I am sickened by the way people in this country, and this world, use religion and the church for its own sick devices. I am disappointed at how the black community has let the church disintegrate into a cesspool of shame. I’m not feeling it.
There was a time in the black community where the church was a place kids could come get help with homework, the hungry could come get a hearty meal, and a family who had fallen on hard times could get a little extra dough to pay a bill, tuition, etc. Once upon a time, the money for “sick and shut-ins” was abundant because everyone gave freely. And the money actually went to sick and elderly parishioners — Thanksgiving baskets, flower arrangements and supplements to meager Social Security checks.
Now? Ha! People roll up in pretty decent cars, wearing pretty decent outfits but have the audacity to put change in the offering basket instead of bills. People brag, brag and brag some more to anyone who will listen about everything they have going on, yet won’t offer their money, services or expertise to uplift their brothers and sisters. Hypocrisy at its best.
And the worship leaders? They are supposed to model themselves after Christ so that we all can follow the Earthly example he set. However, the humble life Christ led must have gotten lost in translation somewhere. With people like Creflo Dollar and Bishop T.D. Jakes rolling around in Bentleys and depleting entire towns of their water supplies so that their churches can have waterfalls in the lobby, a la M.C. Hammer, I am left to wonder if the church leadership is actually using the Bible as a blueprint or simply as a relic.
Now, I am not downing any of these people. I am not hating on Creflo Dollar. I wouldn’t mind having a Bentley. And T.D. Jakes writes articles in Essence and publishes books that anyone, religious or not, can relate to and enjoy. I know there are still some churches, in the United States and abroad, who have the best interest of God’s people in mind and have not lost sight of what is important. From personal experience, I also know it only takes a few bad apples to spoil a good church family’s reputation.
This is, however, why congregations must actively participate in the choosing of church leadership. As 2 Timothy 2:15 says, church leadership should be required to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” in order to preside over churchgoers spiritual well-being. After all, if the head is corrupt, how can the body stand?
And I realize that church leaders are only human, so don’t even give me that excuse. If you are not going to walk the walk, don’t step up for the position. Just sit in the pulpit with all the other gossip mongers, adulterers and all-purpose hypocrites. I’m not passing judgment. I know I have some stuff with me, too, but at least I don’t look my nose down on others just because my name is on the “Platinum Donor’s List.” You’re supposed to come to church to pray, meditate and fellowship with others who are like-minded in wanting to serve God by living a good life full of charity, love and kindness — not to worry about what everyone is wearing, what they’re doing and who they’re screwing.
That all being said, I’m fed up. If I want people to judge what I’m wearing, who I walked through the door with and how much money I have to offer, I will take my sanctified ass to the club. Life is hard enough without people playing with God and making a mockery of an institution that is supposed to be a haven away from the ills and evils of the world. Nope. I will keep God in my heart, on my mind and in my life without all of the “laying hands on,” so-called speaking in tongues and people running laps around the sanctuary in Jesus’s name. Amen.