Why I'm Not Going Back to THAT Church...

A few disclaimers...

One, it's a SHAME that my first full post on my churchin' activities is going to be negative. It really is.

Two, I hate when people use random acts that happen in churches they've never been to as their excuse for why they don't go. Er'body ain't into church, but to act like you're not into church or by some extension Christianity because some screw up like Bishop Eddie Long got accused of abusing boys is RIDICULOUS. So this post is by no means that. This post is a little talk about how there's a way to do everything and it's using the setting of a church I recently attended and is why I'm not going back to THAT church; not why I'm not going back to church. I church, so I'll be back in one on Sunday.

We good? Aight then, let's go.

One of my most major beefs with the black church is the uber traditionalist ways. That's for some people, and that's fine, but there's so much done in the black church because of tradition that is not biblical. Now, I'll be honest and say that my issues with the traditions are less with that they're non-biblical and more that they feel self-serving, arduous and pointless.

I say all that to set the stage for the following statement: It's already a lot to get me to go to a traditional church, so when I do, let's don't give me reasons to further be disappointed and irritated.

This past Sunday, I attended church with my mom because I've missed a few weeks and I know she likes for me to go with her when I'm in town. From the word go, even though there was really nothing initially amiss/different from what I usually experience there, I wasn't feeling it. The pastor, who is a good friend of my mom's, made the unusual ask that the choir sit down in the congregation so he could see everyone. This church isn't big, it's two aisles of about 8 pews on either side. Not big.

This particular preacher is well-versed in the Bible. He knows his stuff. More than that, he's passionate, which is a good thing. He really wants to serve God and he wants to expose people to Christ. It's awesome... in theory.

His passion tends to display itself in a very whiney, y'all suck, lecture manner. That is to say his sermons tend to end by lecturing his small congregation on all their many shortcomings. I'm not above that. Sometimes we need people to get real with us and say "Yo, you messin up, b..." but EVERY SUNDAY?

This past sunday, the thing that set him off was so miniscule that his being set off pissed me off so bad that I considered walking out. My mom's relationship with him is what saved him.

He was upset that so many people (and remember, this is a SMALL church) weren't reading along in their Bibles.

That's it.

He was mad that not absolutely everyone in the congregation bothered to follow along in their Bibles.

In 2011, churches are posting twitter feeds up behind pastors, putting up the verses being read, encouraging people to use their mobile devices to access a Bible -- church is going high-tech in 2011 and for a myriad of reasons. For one, the idea is to attract more young people, for two going high-tech suggests a willingness to expand and meet our society where it is. Within that, I see also a recognition that there's an easy way to reach people you might not otherwise reach.

So here we are, faced with a few people who aren't reading/following along in their Bibles during the sermon and the first reaction is to lecture. That didn't sit right in my spirit. Have we addressed some of the possible seed issues? Maybe the folks who weren't following along don't have Bibles. There are none in the pews. Maybe these folks can't read. That's still an unfortunate reality in 2011. Maybe these folks don't know the books well enough and feel overwhelmed by trying to flip back and forth. And then maybe they don't care. Maybe they just show up for the look of it. But until the issue has been determined, who are you to stand up in a powerful spot -- behind the pulpit -- and yell at them?

I was so disappointed. God and I had to have a chat. I needed to calm down on that Sunday afternoon. This isn't the first time something like this has happened and so what I thought was a fluke is apparently a regular occurence. When I walked out of the door, however, I didn't even pause as I thought to myself, "won't be stepping back in here..."

Please don't mistake what I'm saying. Anger, and forthrightness and in your faceness has a place in the church. Jesus went all up and through the temple overturning tables and yelling and being very angry because folks were in there acting up and being disrespectful. Jesus was no meek and mild mannered man, and Christianity isn't a meek and mild type of situation. It's not his anger that bothers me -- it's the what are you doing about it question that goes unanswered that's bothering me. Church is where people come for help and it seems our churches are doing that less and less...

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