Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where do White people go?

I feel like my church experience is somewhat unique, but to be honest, I have no real information to back that up. It's just not your typical story of life-long attender at the same church/raised in the church and left/never been a day in my life. Long story short, I was raised in a Black, Southern Baptist church while attending a White, Southern Baptist School (you'd be surprised at how different they are) until high school. I was a deacon's kid who, after finishing college and moving back to my home town, left the church I was raised in and changed to what I initially thought was a non-denominational church that was predominately White (turns out it's Evangelical).

Well, the last few messages have had a distinct emphasis on staying connected. I can say with almost 100% certainty that in my 20+ years at my old church and visiting other Black churches, I've never heard that spoken on. Even hearing my pastor mention it seemed odd at first, but I'm starting to get it.

It's funny how many things we take for granted because of our backgrounds and life situations. Being Black and a fringe member of the Facebook generation, the idea of being's something I'd have to fight to achieve.

I remember when I first started attending Cross Community Church and would go on vacation or trips, only to return to people not knowing where I'd been. The idea of letting people know where I was was completely foreign to my old church, I had five generations of my family attending, along with multiple classmates, friends and neighbors. If I sneezed, SOMEBODY knew I was catching a cold. I didn't realize it at the time, but that's very much particular to non-transient populations...which, in this case, means Black Americans. We have tended to stay in the same cities/geographical locations for generations, attending the same churches and schools as our parents, living lives very much focused around one community. I never had to make time to spend with people from church because they sat next to me in class, were coaches on the football team, worked at the grocery store and passed out awards to the annual neighborhood house decorating competitions.

So when someone mentions staying connected, I've found it's something I have to make an effort to do now, and I imagine that's what most of the churches population has to do too. My mother attended another predominately White church for a while and was left with the same surprise at how proactive they had to be in staying in contact with their members.

It seems obvious looking back at it's crazy how different churches can be because of cultural influences. Problems and traits that are daily companions in Black churches aren't even a blip on the radar in White and vice versa. One of the assistant pastors at the church who spent time in China once hinted at how different churches can become when developed through different cultural filters. It's really got me curious.

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