I sat down this afternoon to flip through a magazine. Of all the magazines that I have here in my house, this particular one is a bit of an oddity. I usually read home and fashion magazines, but this one happened to be sent to my husband. About a month ago, my husband received his first issue of Ebony magazine. To truly understand how off the mark this was, you have to know that my husband and I are about the whitest people you will ever meet. After we stopped laughing about this, we gathered that through his online purchases at Christmas-time, he somewhere unknowingly subscribed to the magazine. I have heard of this happening to other people.
Today, I thought that I would just give it a little look, out of curiosity. I had hoped to find something of interest, most likely something to do with fashion or decorating. To my surprise, I came across an article that caught my interest, so I began to read it. The article was titled, “Shifting Faith” by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs. She was taking a look at the shift away from traditional church. I know that this was aimed at pointing out “a growing number of people shifting the way they exhibit faith by worshipping outside of church, switching from a traditional denomination to one less common for Black folks or flat-out deciding to become “spiritual” and not “Christian” to accommodate a more modern lifestyle.”(quoted from the article) The number of nondenominational churches has been growing. In the 1990s, the number of Christians who identified themselves as nondenominational was fewer than 200,000. As of 2008, more than 8 million Americans now consider themselves as such.
She pointed out many reasons for the split:
*Dislike of church politics
*Disengagement from old-school traditions
*The church is no longer the sole social gathering place and political organization that it once was.
*People want to worship God on their own time and in their own ways. God is not “just a Sunday thing.”
She went on to explain, the effect that this is having on the African-American community, the lack of strong churches coinciding with the lack of strong community. As we learned from Martin Luther, a shift away from the traditional church makes sense. People will begin to know God on their own and this will lead to an acceptance of new ways of worship.
I know that I have missed my fair share of Sunday services. I also know that when I am not focused on God, my life seems to fall apart. When I am centered in my faith and living the life that He has planned out for me, it is a heck of a lot smoother. Not always a dance in the tulips, but easier to navigate. I have often wondered if going to church every Sunday is a deal breaker. Can I be fully centered and focused on Him and not have a church home? Let me reassure my friends who are reading this and have started to worry about me, I’m not planning on boycotting church anytime soon. I just know that there are those who believe that the only path to righteousness is through church. Or, is it really as simple as “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20. If you pray on your own, gather with other believers to do bible studies, surround yourself with a community of like-minded people, and serve others. Do you need to go to church?
Throughout time, brave people stepped outside of the norm and made changes and reformed. What they had been doing was not working. God’s word was not getting to those who needed to hear it most. Throughout the history, there were courageous men and women who bucked the system. It wasn’t easy and many times they started out alone on their path or died for their faith. Who’s to say that as people pull away from the traditions of old and are forming new relationships with God, that this will not be able to touch others who before were considered untouchable.
*Important information: I quoted and cited specific parts of Adrienne Samuels Gibbs' article. I tried to mention every time that I did this. So, I hope that I did not miss anything.