Let’s Talk Religion: Are black church services too long?

Let’s Talk Religion: Are black church services too long?
August 08
02:00 2019

Weeks ago, I wrote an article about why the younger generation is not attending church the same way previous generations did. I went back and read that article and what others had to say, but I think one thing was left out.

I touched on several topics in that article, but the one thing I forgot to mention was time. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers with this article, but let’s just be honest – some of the services at black churches are just plain too long.

We have all seen comics making jokes about going to a black church and how long the service is. Yes, it mostly is satirical humor, although there is some truth inside many of those jokes.

As the religion reporter for The Chronicle, I have had the opportunity to visit many churches of different religious beliefs and denominations. Through my position, I have observed church services that last under an hour and some just over an hour. Those church services give you everything a black church does, in a third of the time.

From the services I have been to, black church services can last from two to three hours. That is not a bad thing to some, but for someone who works multiple jobs such as myself, and I am sure I am not the only one, time is money. I work 52 Sundays per year, so spending up to three hours in church can mean I don’t finish my work duties or meet my deadlines, which can lead to me being fired.

I know I am not the only person who deals with this dilemma. I think this is another reason some people in the younger generation have not come to the black church the same way we did in the past.  

It is a shame that people must sacrifice going to their places of worship because of job responsibilities. It is just the world we live in nowadays. We all know that the minimum wage needs to be raised drastically, but until then, this is what we have to live with.

As far as the church is concerned, I feel some things can be streamlined to cut the time of some of the services. I have seen a lot of down time that can be cut or moved to the beginning of the service to shorten the service.

Through conversations with other people, the topic of pastors preaching too long has been brought up. I don’t totally agree with that sentiment, but sometimes that does happen. I have been to a service where a pastor was speaking for 45 minutes. That is a long time for anyone to stay in their seat after being in a service for two hours already.

As a youth, I attended a Catholic school for a time and routinely went to church services. The Catholic church services last for about 50 minutes or so.  They sing, take offering, pray, give communion and include a sermon from the priest. Leaving those services, I never felt like I didn’t get what I came for, which was to praise the Lord in his house.

If the black church wants to appeal more to the younger generation, they must change with the times. Some black churches have realized this and have adjusted how they do things. Those churches have seen an influx of young people to mesh with the older generation that has maintained the church for decades. My hope is that more churches change with the times, so more people can be brought to the Lord.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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