Sunday, April 13, 2008

No Black Men In Church..I Wonder Why? by Akindele Akinyemi


I love practicing spirituality to the fullest as a Christian man. But I will be very honest with you. Wherein the world are the Black men in the church?

First, I spoke out about where are the lack of Black men in the classroom and in the field of education. Now, I am asking this question...where are the Black men in the church?

I visited Second Ebenezer Church with Bishop-Elect Edgar Vann. The service was electric and powerful. While I enjoyed the service overall I had to keep asking where are the Black men in church. We are always the minority in the Black church.

All Black men are NOT dead or in jail. So where are we at on Sundays?

Black men who I have discussed this issue with feel disconnected from the church. Why? Because you will find thousands of Black men who now file into coffee shops or bowling alleys or baseball stadiums on Sundays instead of heading to church, or who lose themselves in the haze of mowing the lawn or waxing their cars. Many Black men feel that the collective of Black churches of the Christian faith, regardless of denomination -- lost its meaning, its relevance. It seems to have no discernible message for what ails the 21st-century Black man.

While 75% of the Black church are females the number of Black men in churches has dropped to approximately 25 percent. The church's finger seems farthest from the pulse of those Black men who seem to be most lost and drifting in a destructive sea of fatalism and pathology, with no immediate sign of the shore or of search and rescue crews. Without the church, most of those men are doomed. But it seems clear to me that the church does not -- will not -- seek us Black men out, or perhaps even mourn our disappearance from the pews.

For me personally, the Black church is in a struggle for its collective soul. The more and more women that joins the church the less men that want to be involved in it.

On the flip side, we see Black men begin drawn to Islam because many Black men see Islam as strong, masculine and in touch with African roots whereas they see Christianity as weak, feminine and Euro-centered. Two distinct strains of Islam—that which sees jihad as a spiritual battle against the evil within individuals, and that which sees it as a physical, literal battle against unbelievers—have stronger masculine messages than today’s Christianity and also have a solid male presence to show for it.

Many Black men feel that the loss of the church's heart and soul: the mission to seek and to save lost souls through the power of the Gospel and a risen savior has fallen through the cracks. As the homicide toll in Black neighborhoods has swelled, I've wondered why churches or pastors have seldom taken a stand or ventured beyond the doors of their sanctuaries to bring healing and hope to the community -- whether to stem the tide of violence and drugs, or to help cure poverty and homelessness or any number of issues that envelop ailing black communities.

Some people believe there is a domino effect at hand: the Black church is failing Black men, Black men are failing the Black community, and the Black community is failing the Black family.

I personally attend church, however I can understand why Black men are turned off by church nowadays. Many have reached a point in my life where they do not want church, but want God and you don't see God in church nowadays. Church in this present time is just a business and the pastors are CEO's they have people catering to their every whim, they work 3 days a week all of their expenses are covered by the church, in addition to a hefty salary.

Many Black men feel that the whole church cater to Black women. From fashion, to sermons to the Black women having more respect for their pastor than their husbands we need to understand there's no accountability within the church. Therefore the pastor has liberty to have his way, most of the time the boards are made up of family members.

With such a large percentage of Black men incarcerated, and a large portion of men dying by the hand of those incarcerated men, it’s obvious that Black men have dropped out of the lives of these men. Black men have dropped out of the virtue of getting marriage, running a stable of women seems to be better. Black folks marry at a rate of 42%, while Hispanics and whites married at a rate of 59% and 61% respectively. But when Black folks do marry, we divorce or drop out, at a rate of almost 50%; again higher than most other ethic groups.

In my opinion, churches can and should be doing a much better job of “building the kingdom of God.” The number one thing that the Black church can do is build schools. Everything else is secondary. If the Black church does not do this significantly, then my prediction is that they will be abandoned to the mainstream or to nothing at all.The church should be using the facility to establish after-school and adult education programs. The churches should be using more of their tithes to erect senior citizen housing, community centers, and homeless and domestic violence shelters. I have always advocated churches establishing coalitions to solve the ills that our people suffer from. I’ve always believed that church leaders rely too heavily on elected officials to do for us what we can do for ourselves. And it appears that too many brothers rely on too many church leaders to do what brothers can also do.

It is a fact that historically for the Black male, the church was a place where he was free to be who he wanted, after the end of slavery and the oppression of Blacks from white when the Blacks where able to worship freely and establish their own churches, Black men found satisfaction in church because basically that was the only place they had agency, it was the only place they had a voice and could be respected.

Contemporary Christianity has lost this masculine sense of a struggle against the forces within oneself, having been watered down to passionate feelings and emotional ecstasies that men find difficult to identify with. Since the congregation are mostly women the clergy, even though they have been men until very recently, have adapted their message to women. Men and women have different characteristics in our culture and have had for centuries. Women are more conciliatory; they try to maintain bonds; they try to avoid conflict—and all these feminine tendencies have affected both the way churches operate and what is taught in them.

Reversing the exodus of men --- especially young men --- from Christianity will take a cultural shift on the part of church pastors, who can not only preach but put the Gospel to work solving the social problems plaguing their communities. You have to meet people where they are, on the street, in the public schools and the prisons. You can't carry on business as usual when we're dealing with unusual circumstances in our community.

Author Dr. Jawanzaa Kunjufu stated that if a child gets saved, 4 percent of the family will follow. If a mother gets saved, 17 percent of the family will follow, but if a man gets saved, 93 percent of the family will follow.

"When you save a man, you save a family," Kunjufu said.

Churches that emphasize self-help and personal economic development tend to draw and retain Black men in greater numbers. Progress should not be measured in Sunday attendance, but in relationships fostered and lives changed.

I have faith that our churches like Second Ebenezer and many others will continue to grow as long as they reach out to our brothers.

0 comments: