2008-11-16

Six Flags Over Jesus and Social Status In The Church

Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.
-John 7:24

OK I have told you I am faithless, a lot of people assumed I was mad at the church, when in reality I explained my rationale for my belief system or lack thereof. Now it is my time to talk about what irks me about the people in the religion I grew up in, which was Christianity.

The black church tends to be very class and status conscious. You put on your Sunday best. There is a whole market dedicated to black women hat and suits for the church. You can't wear hats and suits like this anywhere else, except maybe a wedding or some other formal event:







I actually remember at my great grandmother's funeral, which was in a church, my husband looked in shock and horror at my great aunt's fashion choice. He referred to her hat as a Jiffy Pop hat, and to this day he refers to her as Jiffy Pop. She knows this and thinks it is funny. She loves my husband, in her eyes he can do no wrong, even when he is making fun of her. As per usual I digress.

I guess it is important to realize that I grew up in country churches, the majority of my church life. We knew people with "weekend" cars, they drove their clunker to work, but the Lincoln and Cadillac were for weekend driving, and weekend driving usually meant a drive into church, Then people would get out of their cars in the best suits money could buy, so that they could to the usual pew and do the catwalk down the main isle of the church. Church was a place to see and be seen. If you came into church wearing anything less than stellar, folks would talk about you. The concept of coming to church in jeans and khakis up until the 1990s, was a "white church" thing, and even now in some churches if you do that, you are going to get talked about. Now my questions are these: Why are people so concerned about what people wear to worship in church? Why can't you wear casual clothing to worship? I know to some it is disrespectful for people to come into church "too casual", but to me, I don't think God strikes you down because you failed to wear a $200 suit to church? Why can't you drive your 1997 Tercel up into the church parking lot? Does God care what kind of car you drive to church? More importantly do you feel it is fair to wear a hat that obstructs the view of your fellow church members?

I guess another beef I have is mega churches. You know the Potter's House, Lakewood Church. Here in the Dallas area we have Prestonwood Baptist Church. I affectionately call it Six Flags Over Jesus. That church is HUGE. Not as big as the Potter's House or Lakewood Church, but it is huge in it's own right. It was the first church I ever knew that had an ATM in the lobby. It also has a restaurant, gym, and bookstore. That completely blew me away. They also have multiple campuses. A lot of churches do that now. They have north, south, east, and west locations so they are convenience. Like chain stores, churches are sprawling every where like Wal Mart. What happened to the small independent churches of yester year? Why do churches feel so corporate now? Can a small church survive. Imagine if every member of that mega church is tithing 10% of their income to their church, what kind of salaries are the ministers and the staff getting? Are they receiving inflated salaries like the CEOs of major corporations, or do they deserve these salaries that afford them multiple homes and luxury cars? If Jesus were alive today, would he be like Creflo Dollar?

Is status important? Do people go to church to associate and hob nob with religious celebrities and ministers; or do they truly go to learn and worship? Does how you dress or the car you drive influence your relationship with God?