I believe the phrase is “life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon”—and if that’s the case, then what would you call Sunday service at a black church?
A triathlon? Maybe the Tour de France?
As anyone who’s had the misfortune of enduring a Sunday sermon from their friendly neighborhood black-ass pastor knows, that sanctified life is not for the weak. It’s a grueling endurance test of gratuitous scripture, gospel renditions of “Back That Azz Up,” incessant hunger pains, and a bathroom break or twenty-seven. It’s altar call after altar call—and bring plenty of cash because that collection plate might boomerang back around after the choir director’s bad-ass kids get baptized.
It’s an adventure. It’s a reality show. It’s the black church.
And in what will fail to come as a surprise to anyone who can name every New Edition member, a new study reveals that sermons at black Protestant churches are up to four times longer than those heard at white Catholic ones.
Cue shock and awe.
From the Guardian:
Sermons delivered in black Protestant churches in the US are nearly four times longer than sermons in Catholic churches, and evangelicals are the church-goers most likely to hear about sin, punishment and redemption, according to a new analysis.
Congregations in many historically black Protestant churches are listening to their pastors for nearly an hour. Priests in Catholic churches give sermons with a median length of less than a quarter of an hour.
Nearly an hour sounds insanely inaccurate, but I’ll let them continue with some of the other disparities they uncovered among Catholic, mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant and historically black Protestant traditions.
A computer analysis of the sermons’ content found that the word “Jesus” was used in 99% in all four traditions. The most commonly used words were simple, broadly applicable terms, such as “people,” “come,” “know,” “life,” and “like”.
But some words and phrases were used more frequently in the sermons of some traditions. Congregations at historically black Protestant churches were eight times more likely than others to hear a phrase including the word “hallelujah”.
And “tithes.” They forgot the word “tithes.”
Again, none of this is exactly breaking news but it gives you the perfect excuse to laugh in your co-worker’s face the next time they complain about church hymns and having to suffer through mass.