The Black Church

When I think about the state of the Black church, it grieves me. Growing up in a Black church, I heard people say that the preacher wasn’t really preaching unless he was ‘hooping’. No one ever actually applauded the Word of God going forth. They applauded the antics of the pastor. The more he yelled and screamed and pranced about the stage, the more you saw the waving of hands, the yelling of “Amen, Pastor!” and the more ‘holy ghost dancing’. That was when I was in my pre-teens. Now, at 30, I can’t say much has changed; I can almost say that it’s gotten worse.

Now, not only does the above happen, but everyone is rebuking everything “in the name of Jesus”. Everything from issues with equipment, coughs, colds, check engine lights, bad drivers, and more is attributed to the devil. Sunday mornings have people running around the church like Flo-Jo, screaming, speaking in ‘tongues’, and greetings of ‘sister’ and ‘brother’ abound. But, let’s fast forward 1 or 2 days. These same people are at work with poor work ethics, involved in fornication, their mouths spew profanity like broken fire hydrants in the Summer time, and the only time you hear about Jesus is when they are upset about something. You know what adds to this? There’s no conviction of sin (1 John 3).

Why is this the common theme of the Black church? Christianese, yet no Christ? So many Blacks in the church think they are ‘in’ with God because they attend church and serve on the usher board. The Gospel is rarely preached, and when it is, Jesus’ death is shown to have been so that they can have riches, prosperity, and perfect health. We hear that ‘by His stripes, we are healed’ and we cling to it as a promise that Aunt Jackie won’t die of cancer and Paw-Paw won’t die of emphysema although now 89, he’s been smoking since he was 16. And when this promise doesn’t ‘work’, Jesus becomes an object of anger as if He let us down, though this is never what He promised in the first place.

When Truth is attempted to be shared, it’s ignored. You’re frowned upon. You’re accused of being a tool of the Enemy. You’re even told you’re ‘too serious’. But – isn’t Christ the One we are to be the most serious about? The Black church perishes in its ignorance, showing it to truly be bliss, and attendees don’t know Jesus and don’t really believe in the Gospel. Solely attending church never got anyone anywhere. It actually desensitizes us to our true need.

It’s a man centered theology. Well – it’s not even really theology because if God was truly the object of this study, lives would be changed. But they aren’t. And there’s no desire. It’s basically, “Let me get my Word”, “I hope they sing my song today!”, “I paid my tithes; I’m good”, yet Jesus isn’t grasped for. He isn’t reached for. He isn’t treasured. He isn’t loved.

This is why men like Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, and Rickie Rush thrive in the Black church. It’s everything people want to hear. It’s a feel good message, and motivational speaking at best. There is no talk of sin, wrath, holiness, judgment… The Gospel isn’t preached in its fullness. What is ‘preached’ is what makes people feel good. But, you will feel good and be on your merry way to Hell without truly knowing God, trusting in Jesus, and being forgiven of your sins, which you need to be. We all need to be.

The Gospel is not that Jesus died to make me rich and healthy. If that were true, I’d BE rich and I’d BE healthy. But this is the Gospel – Jesus came to save sinners. Who are these sinners? Every human being alive on this planet. Sin is breaking God’s law, and sinful is the state that we are born into. We are sinful. None is good, not one, and none of us on our own seek to know this Holy God who created us. Because of our sinful nature, we stand condemned before God. We need an ‘out’. We need a way to be set free from this sin. We need a way to be made right before God so that we no longer stand condemned, but forgiven and free. Enter Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, lived a perfect life – the life that we should live – yet died a gruesome death, absorbing the wrath of God. This is the death and the ending that we should all have. We should all incur God’s wrath and anger in its fullness. But Jesus was hung on a cross, and as He died on that cross, He, the perfect Son of God, absorbed the wrath of God so that for those who believe in Him by faith, there’d be no wrath left. This is good news! What is required of us? What we must do is repent of our sinfulness and wickedness and turn to Jesus. We must place all of our faith in Jesus Christ, and depend on Him for our forgiveness and our right standing before God. We cannot depend on participation in ministries, church attendance, or grandma’s faith. It’s you turning AWAY from your sin and turning TO Christ. And because Jesus lived the perfect life that we should have lived, when we place faith in Him, because He died our death, we receive His life. Isn’t that beautiful?

Satan is thriving in the Black church due to ignorance. Please trust in Jesus and be truly saved, lest you be like those in Matthew 7:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Recommended Post: Recovering the Gospel… in the Black Church


9 thoughts on “The Black Church

  1. David says:

    Truth ‘spoken’ here, Jenn. It is sad that ‘our’ culture tends to be the most churched culture in America, yet has a severe misunderstanding of the biblical gospel. I’m sure the Lord is grieved. So we, who are correctly informed and genuinely converted, must continue to faithfully proclaim the gospel and pray it lands on ears that hear and in hearts of good soil trusting the Lord will give the increase.


  2. Jay Harris says:

    You made some very strong points, many I agree with, many I dont. Number one, you pin pointing black churches (and you did generalize black churches) is very disrespectful. I understand what you are trying to convey but the delivery could have been coupled with wisdom as not to offend. Ive spoken the same words from my own mouth and have even delivered them with the same emotions and convictions. Truth is, we are both wrong to generalize the black church. I am black and I attend a predominantly white church that is full of Gods love. Truth is, I can speak to any black person in the church about the undertones of racism and they will completely agree and acknowledge the truthfulness of my claim. Regardless, we forgive and push forward. I guess what I am saying is that “white churches” have their share of crap going on just like “black churches” do. Their are plenty of black and white churches out their that are moving and functioning above the games and politics. We disrespect their efforts and more importantly the heart of God working through them when we are lose with our descriptions and claims. I would also advise you to be careful about calling out preachers because youve heard stories about them or have caught a couple services on T.V. You could be right about them, but it doesnt matter because the Bible advise us not speak bad against Preachers or anybody for that matter. You actually didnt specify anything that theyve done that is against or contrary to the word. you merely judged and assumed to know their general message based on a message or messages you happened to hear from them (TV probably shows less than 15% of their preached messages….and i am assuming this based off what is aired of my pastor just to be honest). I know your frustrated with some of things you see going on, as am I; but as a believer we should communicate it better. You will definitely get a pat on the back for your words from many who feel the same and are looking for a way to vocalize their frustation, but ask yourself if it heals or hinders. If it doesnt heal, its not worth uttering. Take that frustration and dig deeper into God for a remedy. Just my opinion. Hope you find it helpful. Didnt mean to be offensive in any way. I understand exactly how you feel. Ive been there. God bless

  3. Hakim says:

    Interesting read and a good portion of the things that you said were true. But I can’t neglect that I personally felt offended. I came to Christ at the age of nine, grew up in the Black Church and the Gospel was preached to me every Sunday. I didn’t encounter all the foolishness that people tend to highlight when speaking about the Black Church.

    I’ve had countless conversations with people who shared similar stories about their horrific experiences in the Black Church. But I’ve also encountered people who have had the same bad experiences in the other churches (non-black). It seems to me that you’re making blanket statements about the black church and that’s not fair or accurate. I just would have wished that would have acknowledged the fact that all black churches don’t have those issues and there are indeed healthy ones. They’re not as much as a minority as you may think, it’s just that their work and ministry is never highlighted.

  4. David says:


    I can agree with you that not ALL black churches are doctrinally deficient; but given the history of the black church in America, it is very, very weak in general. Sure there are pockets, maybe clusters of sound healthy black churches, but they are far outnumbered by unhealthy ones. Again, I appeal to history and the various denominations that historically were composed mostly African Americans.

    Thabiti Anyabwile wrote an excellent book on the subject titled, “The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity”. If you haven’t read it, you should consider purchasing it. I think it will provide some great insight and explain the pendulum shift we’re starting to see among the African-American contingent.

    Grace & Peace,


  5. Jenn says:

    Jay – Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. I definitely want to address your points and concerns.

    I pin pointed Black churches because I grew up in one and I also see the detriment that many of them have caused in the Black culture. It isn’t a generalization, but I will say this. I live in a part of Dallas, TX where there are literally churches on every corner and churches right by churches. I see my coworkers that go to church on Sunday mornings and are fornicating, at the club, and sinning without conviction the rest of the week. It’s a deep concern and it causes me a lot of grief. I am 30 and didn’t really hear the truth of the Gospel until I was in my 20s, and I grew up in a Black Baptist church. And while I know that all churches have their share of issues, my experience, and my heart, is with the Black church.

    And I will also say, honestly, in the South, finding a solid Black church is highly difficult, so much so that I haven’t found one. I didn’t say that there aren’t any; I just have not come across one. And while the church I attend is predominantly White, I didn’t choose it due to that reason. I chose it because they preached the Gospel and the Word of God is taught without shame and with much grace. This is what my heart longs for.

    Concerning calling out preachers, you say that the Bible advises us not to speak against preachers. Can you share this Scripture with me? The Bible discusses what elders should look like in 1 Timothy 3, and finding a man who upholds this is rare, no matter the race. The men that I named in the post are no strangers to me. I attended TD Jakes’ church and used to listen to the teachings of Creflo Dollar on many a morning, so I don’t speak ignorance. I speak from experience.

    One thing you said is that if it does not heal, it hinders, and that if it doesn’t heal, it is not worth uttering. I can’t say that I agree with this, Jay. I can share the Gospel with someone who will never respond, and it could even hinder them. We see in the Bible that some are vessels of mercy and others are vessels of wrath. If this person is a vessel of wrath, and I share the Gospel with them, yet it doesn’t ‘heal’ their sin sickness, would you say that I shared the Gospel in vain?

    Again, I do appreciate your comments and concerns. And no offense is taken at all. I do pray and seek the Lord for a remedy, and I do see how Satan has infiltrated the Black church at large (and other churches, but my focus is the Black church) and it grieves me deeply. Many people are deceived because of a lack of Gospel centered teaching, and that makes me sad. While I definitely could have chosen my words and tone with more grace and wisdom, the heart of it all is that I desire for tradition to be trumped by the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  6. Jenn says:

    Hakim – Hey there. Long time no hear. Hope all is well in Philly for you. 🙂

    I am definitely sorry that you were offended. I have to say that you were very fortunate to grow up in a Black church that taught the Gospel every Sunday. This definitely wasn’t my experience (as noted in my comment to Jay).

    Concerning making statements about the Black church, I speak about it because this is my experience. And again, I am sure that this is not the experience of all Blacks at every Black church. I know of a couple of solid Black churches up North, but here in the South, they are needles in haystacks sadly enough. And I say that with sadness and grief.

  7. Jenn says:

    David – I agree. In general, it is very weak.

    Growing up in church, not hearing the Gospel until I was about 22. That is when I began learning about doctrine, discipleship, theology proper, the Trinity, and many more articles of the Faith. You know my journey. Even after becoming a believer in Jesus at 22, it wasn’t until years later that I began to learn about many things (discipleship, accountability, Biblical theology, etc.)

    This breaks my heart. How I wish it wasn’t so 😦

    Thank you for the book recommendation. I would definitely be interested in reading it.

  8. JayC says:

    Jenn, I can feel where you’re coming from! I was raised in the Black church up until I was about 15 and then my mother took us to a predominantly white church. At the time, I could care less about church and taking anything seriously and so I drifted from chruch to church until my early-mid 20’s when I decided to live right. My eyes became open to much of the foolishness you see going on in Black chruches: we can sing, dance, and shout with the best of them but when it comes to actually learning something and applying what you have heard, we fall short in many cases. I learned more in 3 years being at the white church than I did in 15 years of hearing the same ol thing in Black churches. I don’t think for one minute that I’m bashing Black churches, because sure, White chruches have their problems as well, but I can tell a difference in the two. Since then I have become a minister and feel the need to warn my people of the some of the junk we’ve been taught all these years. But many refuse, and think I’m crazy because they feel that I’m teaching them “White Theology” or somehow I have let the White man corrupt my mind. Continue to speak out, you are not alone, you article really speaks volumes of what’s going on.

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