Thursday, June 18, 2015

One Black Man's Opinion on Attending Church Services

It’s the same every time.  The women outnumber the men.  The women greet other women with smiles and hugs of acknowledgement.  I give a courtesy “hello” and continue walking.  Or if the woman is a hugger/greeter, I return the church hug greeting.  As I take my seat I survey the audience again mentally noting how few men are in attendance.  Those who are fall into the category of security, ministers, or other male volunteers performing a service. 

I wonder why more men are not present?  Is it that some men do not feel comfortable with another man telling them how to run their household?  Is it that a man tires of hearing his wife talk about the pastor in glowing terms that the wife may seldom use about her spouse?  Is it just that the emotional nature of the church service does not appeal to an action based man?  I will let other men speak for themselves.  Me, I attend with my spouse.  It’s something to do with other people.   A communal worshiping of our Creator.  I figure if I can give 2 hours plus of my time attending a professional basketball game at a ridiculous price to watch grown men play with a ball, I can at least give an hour and a half in praise and listening to scriptures about our Creator.  I don’t have to give an offering.  It could be a free event if I chose to make it so.

I see the occasional male/female couple in church.  Sometimes their body language indicates at what stage their relationship is at.  If there is a gap between their place in the pew or little eye contact like two men in a restroom, the indication is they are working through a bump in their relationship.  If they are cuddled together, or the man has his arm around the lady, they are totally emotionally synchronized for the worship service.  It’s a positive to see a couple or a family in church together.

As the worship team starts singing and the worship leader exhorts the audience to actively participate, I attempt to focus on the reason why I am there.  The concept is that we are all there to praise our Creator and offer thanks in a community type event.  The worship leader exhorts us to clap, raise our hands, open our mouths, clap, and sing along.  The directions are fine, and I’m sure they serve a purpose.  But at times I really don’t want to be instructed on how I personally should worship.  We all may worship differently and at a time that fits our emotional connection with our Creator.  So most of the time I don’t follow the orders to raise my hands or sing.  I want to react and participate in the way I want to express myself when I feel and want to express myself.

After the cursory two songs designed it seems to allow time for the Pastor to arrive and get settled, then comes the message of the day.  I sometimes wonder what inspires the message of the day?  Or if there is no inspiration does the minister pull from one of his “greatest hits” sermons that have worked before?  Either way, the point seems to be that someone in the audience is reached by the message and hopefully inspired to do better.

Being in the 50 plus age bracket, most of the messages are things I have heard before.  So, I don’t get much original “wow” moments from the message of the pastor.  My thought is that at my age I know what is right and what is wrong.  Either you do right because you want to or you do wrong because you want to.  We have the ability to stop doing wrong at any time.  Ministers seem to help us remember that we have the ability to stop doing wrong and attempt to inspire us to get back onto the correct path in life.  The sermon therefore serves a purpose.  For me it is mainly a reminder.

I also believe that one reason for gathering together in church is to ensure that enough money is gathered to keep the church functioning.  But with the internet age upon us, and the age of video and streaming, it would seem that actually physically being in a church to worship and collect funds is not a requirement.  Who says you can’t  “have church” from your living room with the family gathered around you?  We can always give money electronically to a church.  Even now in my church some give electronically rather than writing a check or depositing money in an envelope on Sunday.

Church services do seem to allow women to emotionally vent and release.  The songs allow many women to release the emotions that have built up over a course of time.  Tears flow, tissues are passed to them and the women may even shout out to release the emotions they are feeling.  Not to say that the few men who attend never express themselves emotionally.  I often wonder what the women are going through in their lives that results in this emotional release.

What would a church service be if the attendees were all men?  Well, I’ve been to all male group sessions at churches.  There is little releasing of emotion at these sessions.  It’s basically a factual sharing by men of what they think and maybe why.

I read my bible on my own.  That is my way of staying connected with the principles of Jesus Christ and our Creator.  In terms of knowledge gained, I really don’t get much out of the sermons I have heard in church.  They are a regurgitation of what I’ve heard before.  So for me I’m looking for something new and revealing that I haven’t heard before.  Otherwise I don’t need someone to repeat something that I can read on my own.   That is where I am at in my life’s journey.  For me turning on my computer, or a television to connect to a church service would be fine.  I used to assist with intake of new members into the church.  That is the point in the service where the pastor offers people the chance to give their lives to Christ or to join the church.  At that point having someone physically available to connect with you is important.  But, if conditions ever exist where people cannot get out of their homes to go to a church building, the internet age can suffice as a medium to connect people to a community church service.

For me the church service is a community event that is just one option of communicating with our Creator.  If it works for you that is great.  But for me it doesn’t provide any advantage that would come from reading my bible, or watching a service on television or streamed on my computer.  It is our actions that indicate our relationship to our Creator.  I’d rather perform actions during the week that show my relationship.  The Sunday or even midweek services don’t provide me with any inspiration that I already don’t have.  But, if you need to be in church, then continue to be there.

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