I miss the black church.
But I don’t miss the drama.
I miss the black singing, Spring revivals, choir rehearsals, conventions, and youth meetings.
But again, I don’t miss the drama.
I miss when the anointing would be so high you could barely get through the announcements. Members shouting, drums beating, tambourines beating against the palm of your hands and the organ at its highest volume.
But I don’t miss being in church every single day of the week or staying in Church on Sunday mornings until 2PM either and having to be back there again for Sunday night service.
I miss being a kid and hearing the church van outside my home beeping the horn on Wednesday nights for mid-week church service or on Thursday night for youth meetings. Getting on the van and knowing instantly what another kids family had for dinner because the smell was all over their clothes.
But I don’t miss having to dress up every single Sunday with stockings (that’s what we call panty hose) and heels and such.
I come from the Church of God of Apostolic (COGA), born and raised, so this is what I’ve always been use to. My grandfather was a Bishop. My father is an Elder. My aunts and uncles and cousins are ministers, deacons, and singers. I’m a preachers kid also known as a “PK” and I’ve always been proud of that. Word on the streets is that preachers kids are the worse. I disagree whole-heartedly with that statement. I mean, yes, my first kiss was at church but I spent most of my childhood there. Where else would it take place?
I’ve always told people I’ve had a good balanced upbringing. My dad’s side of the family is very religious while my mothers side….um….to a certain extent but not so much. So I have always been comfortable with both sides and could fit in anywhere.
I say all of this because I now go to a non-denominational church where there’s a white pastor and more white than black members but I do see some of “MY” people in there. I like it, but I don’t necessarily love it. I haven’t heard an organ, seen a church fan with the Martin Luther King, Jr. on the back or a prayer cloth for when you fall out under the anointing and you don’t want anyone seeing what’s under the ladies skirts! However, the preaching is why I stay. The sermons are short and sweet, relatable, comical, and it’s not all wrapped around being blessed with the a car. It’s real life teaching and at some point that’s what we all need in life. I can walk out of church knowing what the preacher has preached about and perhaps that’s the main reason for going to church. But there is something about black people and music that just clicks. So I do miss the singing aspect of the black church. The right song can break you all the way down and have you laying at the altar by the cross.
But Saints, do we really need a song after every announcement, speaker, and offering? We have scripture, prayer, praise and worship, offering, announcements, choir, and then two more A and B selections before we even get to the preaching in most black churches. Y’all preachers like to be long-winded too. That’s when I have to politely get up with my index finger midway in the air and tip-toe on out.
It’s no secret that in every city you go to you can find a church on any corner. One may ask, why don’t you just find another church? Well, here is where the problem lies. I don’t church hop. No ma’am, no sir. My city is small. If it doesn’t feel right to me I’m not going. There are some places where I refuse to go and some people who I refuse to mingle and act fake with. I just do not care to do that at church. Church to me is a place of refuge. A place of worship and solidarity.
I left the church I grew up in as a child because it was basically a family church. Sometimes too much of a good thing is not always good. As I’ve stated before, I’m not going to church for the drama. Plus, after going to my new church and realizing that all the “extra” is not needed to worship God or to hear His voice, I often feel like some of the churches do a little too much. But how do I balance the two?
Because if I’m honest, I do miss parts of the black church.
Have you ever been to a black church when they’re selling dinners right afterwards? You know, to help that building fund that hasn’t increased in 25 years? #Sideeye Why are black churches still paying on the building fund anyway? I mean the white church down the road has three different locations up and running, with a televised show, podcast, and 3 services on Sunday morning! Anyway, you can smell that hot dog chili rising through the vents distracting your attention as you sit in the pews at the black church. The devil is a liar!!!! Can the church say Amen?
But I don’t miss the 30 minutes it took to take offering. Or the begging. That is the worst.
To go a little further, I remember visiting my grandmother’s church as a little girl with her. She is Baptist. Although it is a black church I remember it being similar to the church I now go to; as we were in and out. Church started at 11 AM we were out no later than 12:30 PM. I thought I had hit the jackpot. It was then when I realized how different the denominations were within the church.
I also remember going on Church crusades as a kid and almost fighting another girl from another church. Then I remember going on church trips in college with a friends church and sneaking off to my boyfriends room in the middle of the night and then someone had the NERVE to tell on me! –You really can’t take jealous folk anywhere!
Church has always been then center of my life. No matter where I was, or what age. I attended church in college (not every Sunday) but I went. I sung on the gospel choir in college and even visited some churches where I knew I had no business in there. This particular church had CULT written all over it. My spirit was cringing and the look upon my face was nothing but priceless.
I’ve had my share of services to know when something is missing or just isn’t right. I’ve also been to enough church services to know that sometimes I just need that “old time religion” in my life.
Today, church has changed a lot from when I was a child growing up. With cell phones and bibles on iPads my ADHD runs rapid in church. I couldn’t tell you the last time I took a bible to church and that is almost shameful. Apparently the demand for live streaming of Sunday services has increased as more and more churches are operating in that ministry. To me, this makes it easier for folk to stay home and watch the live service instead of actually getting up to go to church. Back in the 80’s and 90’s religion played a deeper impact within the church whereas today, for the most part, I believe people have stepped away from “Religion” and has focused more on “Relationship.” At least I hope this is the case. I, personally, do not miss the crazy systems that religion creates or that people create. Like for instance, if you were pregnant out-of-wedlock you couldn’t sing in the choir? I thought church was essentially for the sinners?
To sum it up, I wish I could take bits and pieces from the different churches and put them together like a puzzle in order to achieve my balance. I realize that this is life and as life continues we must all learn how to adapt and be open for change. As an adult I also realize that my relationship with God is much more important than religion within “Church.” So this is what I’m focusing on now. I’m focusing on my relationship with God and not necessarily my experience. Besides, Faith is a journey, not an experience. I will always understand, accept, and love the Lord with all my heart even if I’m not in church every Sunday and even if church is not how it use to be.
Anyone else grow up in Church? Has your experience changed from when you were a child to adulthood? I’d like to hear your memories on what you miss the most or how church has been for you over the years.