Normally, I have a lot to say but honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with this topic.
First of all, let me start by stating that this title is a complete oxymoron for so many reasons. Primarily, If churches are in competition with each other, it defeats the purpose of being a church altogether.
Secondly, I can understand that churches operate all around the world and therefore the demographics of the church can be somewhat racially skewed. However, what I fail to comprehend is that in countries and regions where there is a strong multicultural community, we have created, justified and tolerated churches that are separated by race. No matter what angle I look at this, it makes absolutely no sense to me.
You guys know I’m from South East London originally. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrap. When I was younger, I went to a C of E church where my family and I were the only Black people. It reflected our geographic location too – at school, work etc., we were always the minority in these places and I thought nothing of it. But as I grew up, more Africans immigrated to our area and before I knew it, White faces became very few and far between. By my teenage years, I ended up at a church with a heaving Nigerian population because it was indicative of who lived in the area. I get that. It was representative.
Same with when I moved to Nottingham… I taught at a school in an area with a large mixed-race community; people there were used to mixing. And it didn’t stop at the church walls – the congregation was incredibly diverse and reflective of the community. This was my first taste of a multicultural church.
And then I moved to Abu Dhabi. Here, my church is full of people from different parts of the world; I think every continent is represented. It’s here that I first acknowledged that my identity as a Christian had been founded with a much greater cultural influence than I had once thought. The way I pray, worship, communicate in church is very British – with an African twist – and different to my South African, Indian and Filipino counterparts out here (to name a few).
But as different as we are, we all find common ground in the gospel of Jesus.
So how come, when it comes to some aspects of church, we can be so divided? It’s very apparent to me that the Jim Crow laws of America have massively influenced – and I’ll go as far as to say dictated – the way the rest of us do church around the world.
Our music, in particular, is so segregated that even YouTube has separated them in their playlists.
While we’re on the topic, can someone please explain to me why The Elevation Collective exists? Why do Black artists need to do ‘gospel covers’ of Christian music? Who’s idea was this? Please shed some light in the comments.
‘Separate but equal’ has no place in the church.
When did Christian music become so black and white? Literally. I know I’m not alone in noticing that ‘white churches’ sing ‘white music’ and ‘black churches’ sing ‘black music’ generally. I haven’t used capital letters at the beginning of these words because I don’t believe they deserve them, if you’re wondering…
If we are not singing each other’s music in church, we have to admit that it’s because we are allowing our cultural identities and human phenomenons to alter the way we practise our faith. We absolutely should not feel that we cannot sing songs in church that have been created by people who are from a different culture to us. After all, we are kingdom citizens first, human beings second and our ethnicities/heritage/race come after that.
‘Cultural Appropriation’ has absolutely no place in the church.
I know we’re living in a society where we’re all very aware of who we are, where we’ve come from, where we’re headed. Many of us have become more politically correct; we try not to step on each others toes or cause offence. I’m not naive to the origins of the separations within the American church but we cannot allow the atrocities of humankind to prevent us from the beauty of unity within the church.
The church is a place where everyone should feel welcome. And personally, it’s amazing to see people who hail from completely opposite walks of life come together on the basis of loving Jesus. I think the best kinds of churches are those that make room for and embrace the cultural/political/financial etc. differences of their congregations. Unapologetically.
Whatever our background, we are totally loved and totally accepted by God.
If God can do that for us, surely we can do, at the very least, the same with our music.
Tell me what you think in the comment section below, lovelies! Toodles x