Historically, the Black Church has served as a powerful political, social, and spiritual institution. Unfortunately, too many postmodern Black churches are becoming fundamentally immaterial. This is an especially sad reality when one considers how central the work of Black churches was to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The purpose of this piece is to offer 5 reasons why many Black churches have basically lost their relevancy.
1. Money. Too many Black preachers place more focus on filling the offering plates than on responding to the comprehensive needs of the members of their congregations. Instead of engendering a potent economic agenda offering serious solutions for their congregants, many Black preachers are more concerned with how they can fatten their wallets and ameliorate their personal dwellings and automobiles. Although some people in the faith community are governed by a false consciousness that preachers aren’t capable of being venal people, this type of thought is divorced from reality. Even with Bishop Eddie Long being publicly proven to be a corrupt man, some in the faith community still don’t believe that some preachers are corruptible. Many Black churches are being dominated by the profit-motive, and their pastors are viewing the congregants as commodities. The absence of economic uplift in numerous Black church members has contributed significantly to the waning of these churches’ importance.
2. Envy. In many Black churches, envy is such a prevailing force that it not only threatens the effectiveness of the churches, but also will lead to their untimely demises. Numerous Black preachers are unwilling to address envy within their churches because they’re afraid of losing church members, which, of course, leads to decreases in dollars in the offering plates. Although you’ll have countless people tell you that they’re Christians in these churches, so many of them will be the first people to try to bring you down. Too many people Black churchgoers aren’t committed to solidarity; they’re more committed to finding ways to attack one of their fellow members simply because he or she has something they desire. Much of the extant envy in the Black Church emerges from deep racial self-loathing. Black preachers, therefore, need to address self-esteem problems and racial self-hatred. Envious people don’t want to face their funk—they attempt to deodorize and sanitize their funk. Beware of those envious snakes who destroy you behind your back.
3. Fragmentary Teaching and Preaching. Too many Black churches cherry-pick the sins they discuss. Countless Black churches have an incessant focus on homosexuality, but they refuse to address the unsettling number of aborted Black babies, the alarming divorce rate in the Black community, and many other sins that will upset the greater majority of the members. To avoid infuriating the majority of the church members, many Black preachers pick phenomena that will incense only a minority of their congregants. When teaching about a specific sin, it’s vital for churches to link that sin to the sin nature and offer hope, redemption, and salvation to those who have and/or are committing the discussed sin. Overly focusing on a specific sin alienates people, and it causes church members to lose sight of the larger number of sins they’re committing and/or need to devote more concern to examining.
4. Lack of Community Involvement. Many Black churches are simply not involved enough in the communities in which they are situated for people to see why the churches even matter. Quality and consistent community service was one of the hallmarks of the Black Church during the Civil Rights Movement, but numerous Black churches aren’t giving any time to community service, or they’re devoting an insignificant amount of time to community service. An effective church stays active in the lives of the people in its service area.
5. Lack of a Social Justice Agenda. The Black Church, as a whole, must return to advocating for social justice as it did during the Civil Rights Movement. Too many Black churches have been silent about senseless murders of Black people (e.g. Trayvon Martin), high Black unemployment, Black male academic underachievement, and etc.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison
- The Black Church and the Incessant Focus on Homosexuality (revolutionarypaideia.com)
- The Black Church’s Impact on Politics (blackchristiannews.com)
- What’s wrong with the Black Church (theanonymousbloke.wordpress.com)
- The Apostasy of the Black Church (americanthinker.com)
- Why the Black Church Needs to Stop Conforming to Politics and Get Focused on Missions in America and Around the World (blackchristiannews.com)
- Huge growth of black majority churches in London (christiantoday.com)
- The State of the Black Church Part I (praisecharlotte.com)
- Is homophobia in the black church leading to depression in the LGBT community? (thegrio.com)