Exodus: From the African-American Church!

Zion-Zion what is the matter now? It seems like there is a dark cloud over most of our African-American churches.  There is a scripture that most Pastor’s have sort of forgot, “Woe to the Shepherd that scatters the flock!”  Here are my questions;

  1. Why are so many African-Americans leaving the tradition Black Church?
  2. Why is the exodus steadily increasing and NOT decreasing?
  3. Why are many simply turning to Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince for spiritual guidance?
  4. In your opinion, what is the mission of the Black Church?
  5. Is the mission you thought about in #4 consistent with God’s “Great Commission?”
  6. Are you a faithful worshipper?
  7. Is your attendance consistent?
  8. Do you tithe faithfully?
  9. How  do you grade your current Pastor A or F?
  10. Are you a chronic visitor?
  11. Watch this video piece:

I thought that it was interesting several years ago when I heard the late great Pastor Nathan Simmons say, “The average member of my church has been a member of at least 5 churches and most of you are under 50 years old.”  I use to think that this was a startling statistic-however not anymore.  I can only hypothesize at the reason for this. So in an effort to get more critical data, I provided an anonymous written survey to approximately 73 church goers across the continental U.S and Virgin Islands and asked them all basically three of the same questions. I will list the questions and then share the data.

  • How many churches have you been an official member of to date ?
  • Are you currently happy at your local church?
  • Do you trust and believe in your current Worship Leader/Pastor?

Response to Question #1:

1-3 Churches  25%

3-5 Churches 68%

>5 Churches 7%

Response to Question #2

Very Happy  22%

Somewhat Happy 15%

Not Really Happy 23%

Not Happy at All  40%

Response to Question #3

Definitely 10%

Somewhat 15%

Definitely Not 28%

Choose Not to Answer 37%

Background Demographics:

  • Anonymous survey
  • Ages 25-57
  • Marital Status:  Single=28%;Married=42%;Divorced=30%
  • African-American=98%
  • Denominations Declared: Baptist=24%;AME=15%;COGIC=28%;Other=33%

Now this was some interesting data. What was even more interesting is that many of the responses came from persons who had some experience in leadership or where licensed/ordained.  I am just wondering if the major denominations have strategic and or performance improvement plans.  They all have building funds, but many don’t have a strategic agenda.  This seemed puzzling to me. One Assistant Pastor was allegedly fired because he accused the Pastor of mismanagement/allocation of funds.  Another Missionary had her licensed revoked because she failed to participate in a Building Fund Rally.  This lady had just finished 10 weeks of chemotherapy and was on Short-Term Disability pay.  I could share many more of the stories received but some are so awesome that I refuse to reprint them.

Now many of you may ask what are my recommendations as a Psychiatrist, who happens to also be ordained and licensed in an African-American church. Here we go;

  • Identification of core competencies/values  for ALL Pastors.
  • Understanding Neglect and Abuse in the church, home and national conventions.
  • Mandatory and regularly scheduled Ethics Training.
  • A course on, “How to Manage a Check-Book that is NOT yours.”
  • A course on, “Killing Favoritism in your local Assembly!”
  • Training on “What Not to Say Across the Pulpit.”
  • Training on “Retention vs.Attrition of New Members.”
  • Workshop:”Understanding Who Christ Really Is.”
  • Workshop: “The Legal Implications of Sexual Harassment/Sleeping with Members.”

I believe that a symposium and or workshops on the above would be very helpful.  Will this ever happen, probably NOT. What would be interesting if the leadership of most churches would conduct exit interviews.  This would certainly help a Pastor/Mission identify some perceived vulnerabilities.  I am not a Pastor and have no desire to be one, but it would be good to see the Black Church flourish once again.

Do you have anymore ideas on this subject? Feel free to start a discussion on the blog. If you are a leader please use your alias because you will probably get into trouble if you don’t. No I am not accusing your church of Legalism! LOL

Thanks for stopping by,


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