No Church In The Wild is a series where the Talented 6 members will discuss faith, religion and the church from our perspectives. We will examine the relationship millennials have with God drawing from our upbringings, beliefs and experiences. Some will defend, some may accuse but we hope all posts spark conversation. You can view Part 1 by Ron Simpson here. Now, here’s Part 2.
I can still hear my mother opening my bedroom door and saying, “William! Time to get up and get ready for church.” She always spoke in a quiet but firm tone on Sunday morning- the kind of tone you knew to heed and take seriously because she meant every word. Waking up early on Sunday morning was a pain, but it least it meant Mom was making French toast and sausage- an upgrade from the bowl of cereal and Pop-Tart I was subjected to on school days. Walking out of my room still half-asleep, I could hear the crackling sound of our clock-radio in the kitchen. As always, it was 1490 WJMO on the dial tune, with various choir selections serenading our morning breakfast. The broadcast would feature the most prominent pastors in the city preaching the word to their congregation- Reverend Marvin McMickle of Antioch and Dr. Otis Moss of Olivet, to name a few. As I ate at the breakfast table, I prepared myself for the next few hours of my precious Sunday; Sunday school, 11:00 am service and hoping I’d be back home in time to catch the Browns game.
In a previous post, I touched on what kind of impact the Baptist Church had on me growing up. Being raised by my mother, grandmother and aunt primarily through my formative years led me to being involved in plenty of church activities. Christmas/Easter plays and speeches, junior usher board, Sunday school, vacation bible school and youth group were a few of the things I participated in. But as I got older, I participated less and less, and my attendance at church service dwindled. Once I went to college, I was no longer mandated to join my mother for service, save for Christmas and Easter Sunday services to save a little face. What a joy it became to sleep in on Sunday morning for a change! I recently saw a woman from my church at the grocery store, and she couldn’t believe how much of a man I’d grown up to be. “William?! When was the last time I’ve seen you, it’s been a while!” When she asked when the last time I had been back to our old church, I simply replied “It’s been a while.” I have my reasons for skipping out on Sunday service, so indulge me if you will.
I got tired of “church folk”
If you grew up like me, you know who I’m referring to. And it isn’t the little old lady who sits on the same side of the same pew in the same row every Sunday with the big flowery hat. It also isn’t the other little old lady who’s on the usher board and has all dominion and power over which pew people sit in. I’m talking about the church folk who consider themselves holier than thou, just because they have the whole Bible memorized front to back. Or those who continuously pass judgment as if God himself blessed them with a robe and gavel. Even though their presence only represents a portion of the entire congregation, a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch. Church folk won’t listen to Chance The Rapper’s “Blessings” just because a few songs prior he mentioned “dread-head niggas in the lobby.” Church folk refuse to adapt their thinking and beliefs to an ever-changing world and I can’t get jiggy with that. I’m cool on church folk.
Less religious, more spiritual
As a millennial I’m inclined to question everything, God included. When I was in 6th grade, I remember asking my Sunday school teacher if my Jewish best friend was going to go to hell because he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He told me he was, because even though we believed in the same God, it wasn’t enough. That’s bothered me ever since, and left me wondering why religion in general has so many rules. It’s like its intended purpose isn’t just to create believers, but also to divide them and scare them into only believing in what is being preached. This is why I’ve chosen to develop my spiritual beliefs rather than my religious ones. While I have not abandoned my Christian values and beliefs, I believe more in the inner spirit that lives within a person. I believe that God has given us all a purpose and that we can look to Him in times of struggle and strife; however, it’s up to us to carry out His plan for us. If He plants the potential for greatness inside of us, it’s up to us to realize that potential and carry it to fruition. To me, it’s a two-way street; put into the world what you want to receive, and God will do the rest.
I wrote this post for anyone who feels the same way, or has had a similar experience with “church folk” or religion in general. I thank God for all I’ve learned growing up in the church; it’s made me the man I am today. But I want everyone to know that if you’re curious about anything you’ve heard in a sermon or learned in a lesson, to ask questions and get clarification. Don’t let “church folk” tell you to sit back and be quiet. Engage the leaders and hold them accountable for what they are speaking on. But do it in a respectful manner, because “church folk” will flick you upside the head without hesitation.
In closing, I’ll quote the words of Kid Cudi and King Chip; “I’m just what you made, God.”