Do minorities who join predominately white churches (PWC) make a sacrifice? Is it a sacrifice non-minorities don’t acknowledge and have never faced before? If they make a sacrifice, is it worth it? I received a screenshot of this tweet from my brother in Christ, and he sent it in hopes of understanding. He wanted to know the questions posed above. When I read the tweet my automatic response was, “Yes.” However, I knew he wanted more than a simple answer. As I thought more and more about the tweet I concluded why it is a sacrifice. What do we sacrifice?
We sacrifice parts of worship for learning.
I remember one of my most significant encounters with a different style of worship was at the Baptist Student Union (BSU) at Delta State University (Go Okra!). They started worship with prayer, which is a normal Christian practice, so I was okay at this point, besides being one of the few minorities in the room. However, they started the music with songs I was unfamiliar with and in a style I was not ready for. I came from a traditional African-American church (AAC) and I assumed most worship services were similar to that. It never dawned on me, that the BSU would worship differently, so when most people were worshipping, I was learning.
This is the struggle of minorities who join a PWC, we have to learn what others have grown up knowing about church culture. For example, I remember several times where I just observed the expressions of worship. In AAC when a person is inspired by the song they stand up, but in PWC if a person is inspired by the song they sit down. There are differences in how people respond to the preaching of the word; in AAC they verbally respond, but in PWC they clap. Because of these differences, minorities who join predominately white churches struggle with how to worship and spend a great deal of time learning.
We sacrifice culture.
Christianity has become a part of African-American culture. Many influential movements unique to the African- American culture started in the church such as the civil rights movement. I learned so much from AAC when I was younger. I learned about what it was like to have nothing but Jesus as they shared stories about being treated unfairly by oppressors. It helped me develop a theology of suffering and perseverance. I learned about black history in the church because the church would give the youth opportunities to participate in a Black History program. I learned how the world perceives black young males, and I learn about the statistic of black males in prison. In AAC, I learned songs that could not be understood outside of the hardships that African-Americans faced. Furthermore, when we join PWC, most of the time we sacrifice worshiping with our families on a regular basis. Minorities who join PWC have to learn a new church culture, new spiritual vocabulary and become acclimated to a new environment.
We sacrifice being in the majority
When minorities join PWC they sacrifice being a part of the majority. Minorities who join a PWC officially become the local scholar of the church on racial affairs. The position comes with being singled out in groups, being stared at when the word racism is mentioned, and if you are an African-American when the word slavery comes up have your comments ready. I was appointed a representative of African-Americans by my friends in college who were white. I was randomly asked what I call “black questions”, which are questions that people ask to attempt to understand some cultural differences. We sacrifice the ability to sit in a small group and not feel like an outcast, for a season.
Is it worth it?
The short answer is “Yes.” I attended a predominately white college and I was involved in a predominately white ministry. In college, I moved my membership to a predominately white denomination. I have visited several worship services where I was the only minority in the room. I attend a seminary where most people do not look like me. In addition, if you look at my wedding pictures you will notice that my wife is a tad bit on the lighter side. Furthermore, I have been in more than my fair share of situations where I have been the minority in the room. It is easy to put yourself in situations where you are always among the majority and it is comfortable. Minorities who join white churches do make a sacrifice, but in my opinion, it is worth it.
To Be Continued…………………………………………..WHY IS IT WORTH IT?