QOTD: Is the Black Church Alive and Well?

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Talk of the “Black Church” being dead continues to saturate contemporary discourse about African American religious life, especially during times of extreme socioeconomic crisis in America. Many speak of an age in which Black clergy were both priest and prophet, the preached Word was both uplifting and convicting, and the work of the church was the bedrock of local social justice efforts. The assertion that is often made is that the glory days of the Black Church are now over and its leaders and its work are no longer as relevant as in times past. What do you say?

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7 Comments

  1. Pat

    August 21, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I don’t think that the black church is dead, but I do think it’s becoming irrelevant. The primary reason is that the black community is changing and most churches are trying to keep outdated traditions and methods. It just seems to me that most black churches I have visited are about putting on a good show, instead of teaching and challenging its congregants. I went to one church, where the Pastor had a hype man. It’s becoming more about the preacher’s charisma, instead of a connection with God. For example, I have friends that go to Megafest every year. When they get back, we talk about it and I always ask the same question, “Did you learn anything?”, and the response is usually, “Well (some artist) was there and we had a good time”, or “God was really moving in that place” or “there was great conferences on (whatever)”, but they never can tell me if they learned anything. During my search for a church a few years back, I visited a couple of churches where I just felt sorry for the people. They put their spiritual lives in the hands of church leadership that I felt had no real concern for them. It seems to me, that most black churches are more about giving advice, than sharing the love of God. I’ve been to too many services where a Pastor can go through a whole service, preach a message, and not once open the Bible or even reference e the scriptures. It infuriates me to see churches use God as an investment strategy. And then you have these pulpit pimps (YEAH I SAID IT) who allow these politicians to use God’s church as a campaign stop. When did the black church stop being about political action, and adopted political rhetoric. What I have come to realize is that some of the most relevant black churches are the ones that don’t focus on black culture at all. The most effective black churches look at Christianity from a global perspective. They believe that you can make your community better by challenging people and changing their hearts, not just by getting them high on Sunday morning. The most effective black churches don’t preach that prosperity BS. What I have also seen is that the most effective black churches are actually starting to become a little more diverse. I go to Alfred Street Baptist church, which in a sense is a predominantly black church. But the reason my family joined is because it didn’t feel like a traditional black Baptist church. We felt a sense of community, but most importantly, after leaving service, I come away feeling like I’ve learned something. For example, a few months ago, the Pastor preached on social/environmental responsibility. Who does that??? It was just so refreshing that this Pastor understands that the black church has a much bigger responsibility to its people (and the world) than just going to church and tithing.

    • Martin

      August 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      The Black church isn’t dead but it’s in need of some resuscitation. Our needs are not as easy to identify as they were in the heyday of the Church, but they are perhaps more daunting. Spiritual awakening won’t come to Black folk from a pulpit, but through circumstance they way it did in the field. I just hope and pray that things don’t get worse before they get better.

    • mivoyce

      July 21, 2013 at 6:58 am

      excellent post!

  2. AB_ROLLA

    August 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    The Church. I remember growing up in North Carolina in a city where each Church had its own idenity. You had the small Church were mostly the same family in one way or another would worship. The big Church were upper middle and high class would worship. My brothers and I would notice how most of them were lightskin! True. And the Church in the projects. My Church. My Monday, and Sunday home away from home. We knew eachother and I mean everything….Lol. We help when someone needed help. Like most did I’m sure. But, now these mega shows of faith. If your a pastor on Television that in some way qualifies you to be an author, spokesperson, statu in the eyes of God beyond those you are suppose to guide. Now people worship the Man they see and not the word he’s there to provide. Dead? Don’t know. Weak my be a better description.

  3. Vanzell

    August 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I don’t think the black church is dead, but it and every other denomination of church needs to die. Denominations divide and that is contrary to the Word of the Most High. This is a large reason why the church has little relevance. Others have already pointed out the manifestation of the problem but the root cause needs to be addressed and that is that true worship is non-existent b/c there is a lack of true relationship with our heavenly Father, His son our Messiah and His Holy Spirit that guides us into all truth. DIE BLACK CHURCH DIE!!! and all other “kind” of churches need to die too!!!!

  4. Kwaku Nyamekye

    September 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Shabbat Peace, sisters and brothers.

    More praise for this up-full stream.

    I think a diminished role of the church, overall, ought to be expected in the present age, and not merely if one would regard New Testament prophecy. Still, according to Brother Paul, “…the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Tim. 4:1)

    As for the “Black Church,” it appears to be suffering from the same faith as every other church in this time—an increase in worldliness and a proliferation of tailored doctrine. Indeed, impersonality and spiritual barrenness seem characteristic of these trending mega churches, in contradistinction to the church’s formal mandate. The church seems no longer capable of performing that vital supportive role as an extension of the family.

    As for its relevance, a curriculum of piety and divine harmony needs no improvement, yet churches find it compelling to constantly adapt to shifting social times. Perhaps the “Black” church’s emphasis on a social agenda rather than on its spiritual role is misplaced and so contributive to its demise.

  5. Keith

    April 15, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    People need to read the bible for themselves, go to regular bible study classes, attend church services regularly, practice 10-10-80 which is tithing / saving / living expenses. Even if you belong to a particular church, there is nothing wrong with fellowship with members of other churches. We as people have to always remember that no man is perfect and never has been or never will be perfect. The only perfect man that ever walked the Earth is Jesus. We have to learn how to live our lives without being judgmental toward other people. GOD is the only person that can and will pronounce judgment on all of mankind. I am glad that I attend a church that practices all of these measures. It is a big church congregation but bible class sessions and ministry meetings are the events to make the church seem like a small church. The most important thing to remember is it is not the size of the church that matters, it is the spirit of the church.

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