My Church Experiences.

The Church world is strange. There’s something for everyone. If you like a lot of theatrics, there’s a place for you. If you like your services more solemn, there’s a place for you. If you like a place with no nonsense where they serve it straight up and in your face, they have a place for you. Do you like it conservative? Come over here. Do you like it progressive? Go that way. Do you like your church predominantly Black, White, or a mixture of cultures?

There’s also so many layers to what’s actually going on inside during a church service. Some people are there to really be closer to God. Others have ambitions of climbing the ranks. Some people seem to be there only to cause discord. There are those who just seem to know everybody’s business. There’s the scandals and accusations: “Pastor let so and so do this but told so and so they couldn’t”.

I’ve heard many a horror story in my time as a believer but I’ve also had a few experiences of my own and I’d like to share them with you in this post:

The Principal’s Office

Around the time that I was 19yrs old, my mom was attending this church called Bread of Life with Pastor Angel Suarez and his family. This was a small congregation. There were less than 20 members at the most including the Pastor and his family of 5 .

This Pastor was one of those who had a chip on his shoulder. He was somewhat taller than anyone else there and stalky. Which could be intimidating and I believe he used that. He would shout and pound the pulpit with his fist as he preached. I remember him telling us about his father’s church and how it was destroyed from within. I think that fear of it happening to his church made him the way he was.

He was very strict. It got to the point where we couldn’t even talk about anything other than God when we were within the four walls. If he had a problem with you, he would wait till after his sermon and announce that he’d like to see so and so in his office.

A hush would come over the congregation and everyone knew what that meant. Everyone went through it including me. He would overstep his boundaries, sticking his nose in peoples’ personal business where it didn’t belong. Because of that, you wold hear shouting and yelling for a period of time with people walking out of his office sobbing some. Not only did it happen to the women but even grown men were subjecting themselves to this.

He was condescending. He was a bully in a suit. He was also petty. It wasn’t until after we left that church that we found out we were left out of certain functions. We had no idea others would be invited out to eat with the Pastor and his family. The Pastor’s wife had a problem with my mom just because my mom never invited her to our home. That’s probably why we were weren’t invited out with them. It was petty stuff like that.

I had a run-in with him.

If you read my story, you know that I was pretty devout to my faith and had a good handle on the Word. Well, one morning during the service, they had the typical time of testimony. I was feeling it. I was on a spiritual high that day and felt inspired to speak. I went to the front of the congregation and asked for the mic. I got up there and basically just encouraged everyone else to “keep the faith”. No one had a problem with it but guess who did?

He basically tried to shut me down in front of anyone but I wasn’t having it. I gave it right back to him. After it was over, I just got up and left. I don’t think I ever went back.

Sometime after that, the Church fell apart. I heard that his car caught on fire and he was calling old members up to apologize how he treated them like it was some kind of sign from God that he needed to get his act together. The church would’ve grown larger if he didn’t spend so much time and energy pushing people away.

The Showboat

Back in 2010 I believe, I was attending a Church called New Beginnings with Pastor Cecil T. Washington. This Pastor was a popular singer in his hayday. Think of The Temptations and he fits into that era of music. From what I understand, he’s still involved in ministry to this day.

I don’t think he liked me after a while. I kinda gravitated towards his wife because she had severe pain issues that kept her from participating in the worship ministry. I believed heavily in the power of healing and always prayed for her whenever I saw her. I don’t know if he took it as me trying to get a little too close to her or what.

I remember sitting with him and a few others and he went on talking about healing saying that he “believed in a more holistic approach”. Now, I suspect that he didn’t actually believe in supernatural healings.

There was one incident where his wife invited me out to eat with them after service and he was kinda reluctant to let me come with but I went at her request. This was the same Pastor that would tell me they weren’t having Bible study on days that they really did.

I had gotten baptized there as well. He even tried to avoid doing it!

Just like at the other church I mentioned, one morning I was on a spiritual high and I was loudly praising God in the congregation. People around me were feeling it and some were crying. No one had a problem with it but guess who did? He didn’t make a scene but kinda had a very soft rebuke for me indirectly.

I remember thinking, ‘how is it you have a problem with me praising God aloud but just last week some other regularly attending member decided he wanted to take time a just praise his wife in front of everyone and you didn’t have a problem with it’?

I guess I wasn’t part of the in-crowd enough to be so bold or maybe I wasn’t the praise-on-cue type of worshiper.

I’m not like you guys.

I had stopped going to that after a while. I ran into of the the members on the street one day this lady said something like:

‘It doesn’t feel good being out in the cold, does it’?

I kinda smiled because I know how church people think. They think that if you’re not in Church, you’re out living in sin. I think I said something simple like, ‘God doesn’t live at Church’. That meant that just because I wasn’t in church, didn’t mean that I wasn’t walking with God still.

Some time later, the Pastor called and asked if he could meet with me. So, let him come over to my place. We talked for a little while and eventually he asked if I was going to come back. They were Baptist and I wasn’t. They were churchy and I just didn’t fit that mold. I knew what I believed and there was no reason to keep going if I knew some of my beliefs didn’t align with theirs. Ultimately, I told him: “I don’t want to be assimilated”.

I never saw him again after that. I never had a chance to wear that suit he bought me either.

While I was attending this Messianic congregation in town, I had a few interesting experiences that I’ll share:

Passover for profit.

During the Passover seder, the children play a game of hiding the afikoman. When the kid finds it, they get some kind of prize. So, many of us from different tables gave the kids money.

Well, if you’ve ever been a regular at a fellowship, you’ll notice that there’s always that one kid who is constantly misbehaving. It just so happened that little boy ended up playing the game with our table and as I said, we gave out money.

Messing up a good thing.

That Sabbath after Passover during announcements, the Rabbi decides that the game will no longer happen because some parents got jealous that their kid(s) didn’t get as much money as others did.

I know the people at my table gave that bad little boy a nice chunk of money because I at least know how much I gave. They probably didn’t think it was fair that he got some much even though he was so bad.

It was disappointing when I heard how those parents reacted. I couldn’t imagine people showing partiality between kids. I thought we were simply blessing them indiscriminately.

I guess it shows that jealousy and envy can find their way into any place whether its on holy ground or not.

Pew punches pulpit.

There was another situation at that congregation that was also disappointing. The Rabbi got into an argument with a deacon in the middle of the service!

The Rabbi must’ve said something that rubbed the deacon the wrong way. I was there and heard the whole thing but I don’t remember exactly what was said that started it. It was along the lines of the deacon feeling like he got singled out as the rabbi was addressing a situation.

I remember all of us present there just sitting as quiet spectators. The spat lasted a good 2 minutes or so.

Of course, I’m no stranger to seeing people lose it at church. It just demonstrates that you can claim to be so filled with the Spirit and have whatever title, and still have friction and contentions with people who are as heavenly minded or at least appear to be.

That’s because no matter how much you claim to be a new creature in Christ, you are still as flawed as those who don’t believe.

The rabid Rabbi

I ended having a run-in with the Rabbi in front of the whole congregation. I don’t remember what the sermon was about it I guess it warranted my question. I said:

“What’s the proof that you have the Spirit of God living in you?”

He must’ve took it personal but I was asking in general towards to whole assembly; not just him. He raised his voice and went on a little rant. I was as calm as could be and gave my responses to what he said. At the end I referenced a verse and said:

“I just agree with Paul when he said that when he comes to visit said congregation, he’ll know them by their power and just by their words.”

He said nothing after that and I quietly went back to my seat. While he was trying to argue with me, a couple of the other deacons spoke up as if the Rabbi needed defenders. I shut them down gracefully. I had no intention of starting trouble. To me, the question was harmless.

When the service was over, different people came to where I was sitting and started questioning me on the bible but I knew my stuff. Like, I really really knew my bible well and knew how to defend my positions without involving emotions.

When that was over, one of the other deacons walked away saying I should be careful how I spoke. He said it in a reproving manner and not as a threat. I just smiled and nodded.

But honestly, sometimes its not what a person says, there’s times where you ought to be mindful of how you hear.

The prophet wannabe.

I think I was about 25yrs old. There’s was this church that was catercorner to the home I was living at. There was a fellowship there for the longest and then another came in it’s place. It was predominantly black with a few other ethnicities. I decided that sense it was new and right by me, I should try it out.

All I remember is from that day was some of the other younger guys talking with me. We made small talk and I told them how I had kids but wasn’t with the mother.

One of the guys believed in the gifts of the Spirit as I did also. For some reason, he thought he had the gift of Prophecy and went on to say how he saw my kids’ mom and I were going to get married in that church and how he saw her dressed in a white wedding gown.

He obviously didn’t know my kids’ mom. Even I knew it was over for us and nothing was going to change that. Not even an act of God! I believed in the gift of prophecy but that boy was full of himself.

Speedy Gonz-gospel.

This particular experience was probably the weirdest.

I used to listen to a radio station with Calvalry Chapel ministers such as Chuck Smith and Raul Ries. The preaching was easy, digestible, and “safe”. They weren’t very heavy at all. I liked them even though I preferred my preaching weighty.

I went online to see if I could find a Calvalry Chapel near me and did. I remember being happy to go and hopeful find some quality members to talk to. But that’s not what I got.

I arrived early and few people were there at the time. Normally, you would be greeted left and right but that didn’t happen. Maybe only one or two people welcomed me.

I remember getting settled and seeing a sign that distinctly said it was prayer time from such and such till….So I kneel at my seat for prayer until the time was over. But I was like, “am I the only one who sees the sign or does no one bother with it”. Because all I heard was more people coming in and chattin’ it up. It gave me a sense that there really wasn’t order there.

The darkness.

Eventually, the pastor emerges from wherever and its now time for the worship service. Tell me why the lights go dim. Like, it was dark! Not pitch black but goddamn it was dim. If they were going for the intimate experience, they were doing too much. It was just weird.

Ooookkkaaayyyyy……..

We finally got the sermon. But before he began, the Pastor makes it a point to tell us that he preaches fast for whatever reason. It sounded like he was making excuses for something like he was nervous or unprepared.

Now, there’s preachers that are slow and there’s some that go at a natural pace. This guy was something else. He was going fast! It was ridiculous like, what are we doing here, really? I think he was done in 15min or less.

Anyone who has a reverence and respect for the Word would’ve been offended. It was just disrespectful and inconsiderate on so many levels. I never saw anything like it.

What about you?

Do you have any crazy church stories you’d like to share? I’m sure you’ve heard worse than what I’ve told. Hell, I’ve heard worse.

Let me hear from you. You can leave your comments with me. Be sure to subscribe and share. Thanks, everyone!

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