I’ve tried to stay away from calling the many churches in the “hood” worthless establishments. I’ve attempted to give select preachers passes on their inabilities to galvanize communities in which they’ve set up shop. I’ve wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, mainly because I’m a man of God, and outta respect for other so-called men of God, I’ve given them a pass. But no more!
What I’m about to say isn’t something that I’ve just thought of. Heck no, these works of words have been bouncing around my brain for years. And now I’ve decided to express how I feel only after having one of my regularly scheduled discussions with the youth in the hood–and having them acknowledge their hatred for churches, pastors, and the fake people who attend “hood” congregations.
I recently met with about five to seven young boys and girls I unofficially mentor. We talked about several issues like their parents, their siblings, school, and their futures. Their outlook was not surprising, because I know dozens like them and they’ve expressed their feelings many times before. But the idea of God came up only after I mentioned that God has blessed me after detailing my heroic journey. One young dude asked me “how do I know that God was responsible for my success?” He asked: “Why did God make you go through the things that you described as your trials and tribulations?”
I tried to explain in clear and concise terms that having “faith” in someone other than yourself is vital to trying to find your purpose and direction in life. And that person for me was God. Interesting enough, is that most of the young folks have no such “faith.” They said that the church has ignored and excluded them. One person even mentioned that he asked the pastor of this church in his hood to let him pick up trash or cut the grass for a few dollars, and the pastor actually screamed at him to “go get a real job!”
The young hustler then stated that he walked past the church a few days later and Hispanics were cutting the grass. He expressed that he felt pissed, but it was typical of how people, even in his family, treat him. The interesting thing is that his family members are in “hood” churches each week. Therefore, the group also asked me how can church people be so mean and hateful to young folks like them? It’s evident that they have not done all the right things in their lives but are working extremely hard to make good. And I can vouch for that!
One young dude told me that his mother goes to that same church every Sunday where he asked to cut the grass. She even attends Bible Study weekly. He angrily expressed that they have not had lights on in their apartment for over two months. He told me that his mom asked the pastor’s assistant (PA) several times to help them with the light bill. Each time the PA said God will work it out. So of course, this is what contributes to these young people’s disbelief in believing that God is a blessing because “hood” churches show them absolutely no love!
I know all “hood” preachers are not like these examples. But for these half-dozen lil homies, in their minds, all preachers are irrelevant. A few of them actually go to church most weekends with their families because they’re forced. But the whole time, they’re just picking the preacher apart and highlighting all their flaws.
As I travel the hoods of Chicago and see the many churches, I’m now wondering like these young people–where is the love? Because you can’t be of sound body and mind and not be a preacher who doesn’t walk the blocks searching for souls to save while also asking how can the church be of service to the many young people, in particular, who have no clue what goes on within the walls of congregations throughout the hood.
To them, “hood” churches may as well be prisons: places that they wanna avoid because they see nothing good coming from these sanctuaries. Especially when as one of the mentees stated, “How can God let my family live without lights when my mother gives most of her money to help keep the church lights on?”
I also wanna know, “hood” churches, where is the love? How can pastors forsake these young people and not try and bring them into their homes of worship? How can pastors not give these young people “faith” that “hood” churches are there to help them find their way out of the wilderness?
I want these youth to believe that a better life awaits them, but they have to believe that they’re worthy. I need for “hood” churches to open their doors and let young people in! I need for “hood” churches to show some love!
Carl D. West is the CEO/Publisher of TBTNews and founder of the TRUTH 4 Literacy Foundation, Leadership Luncheon, Legend and Pioneer Awards, all powered by Midwest Gap Enterprise.