3 Rules To Remember When Visiting A Black Church
Whether you are a “Seasoned Saint”, a new church member, or are thinking about visiting a Black church, there are a few things you MUST remember during your visit.
Aside from being loving and kind, there are unwritten rules and unspoken truths that are recognized by black church folk across the country, that are NEVER spoken. But, we need to make sure new members are prepared. And today and today only, this brief instructional guide will be provided for the low price of FREE99.
Rule #1: Reserved Seats
Yes, there are reserved seats with NO Reserved Seats signs. Do Not be fooled or offended, in the black church, there are entire rows that are reserved for folk that are not you.
Why? I’m glad you asked.
Listen, depending on your level of Churchiness, you might not understand this situation. Most people might assume that if you want a good seat, you must arrive extra early! And to some extent, that is true. The earlier you arrive, the less likely you are to have a seat where you have to squint to see the pastor’s face. However, even though you get there before the pastor, you just can’t go sit in the front row.
Typically, church officers sit in the front of the church. So, the stewards and the deacons (the pastor’s cabinet) sit in the pews near the front. Depending on the set up of the church, associate pastors and preachers, sit in the front. Also, stewardess or those assigned to prepare the Lord’s table for communion, sit in the front and if other churches are like our church, it’s about 20 of them on any given Sunday. And lastly, if the pastor is married, the Pastor’s spouse sits in the front.
Most believe that the pastor’s spouse is in the front so he or she can support the pastor. But, the truth is, the pastor and their spouses share secret non-verbal cues throughout the service, which can range from a nod to indicate that all announcements were covered, to the raising of the right eyebrow to indicate that the solost’s mic needs to be turned down...or muted!
So, please follow the seating instructions from the ushers. They will ensure that you have a good seat and an enjoyable worship experience.
Rule #2: The Usher Board
Speaking of Ushers... The Usher Board in most black churches are one of thee most vital ministries in the church. While they greet you at the door with a warm smile and embrace, do NOT be fooled. Ushers are trained and skilled men and women of God. They know Jesus AND they know karate.
They are the police force or, actually the secret service of the church. They protect and They serve. And their oath is written in the BIBLE. They swear to be doorkeepers in the house of the LORD than to serve in the tents of the wicked, and they take that oath VERY seriously.
So, while they are warm and cuddly looking, if you step out of line, or even THINK of stepping out of line, they will be standing 1.5 inches away from you, with a partial smile and a body stance that says “Try me fool”.
This is very important. In every church, there is ONE usher that you never want to encounter. This is the usher that trains all the other ushers. They are usually from the south somewhere and their name is usually like Bert or Etha or Louise. If it’s a male, they have two names like Bobby Joe or Willie Bob. They are usually older, and if you ask about them, they’ve been an usher for at least 50 years.
Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT cross this Head Usher. Let’s just say, I knew a boy who was slapped so hard for chewing gum, he still has a permanent dent in the back of his head 30 years later!
Rule #3: “Who Made The Potato Salad?”
This might be the most important: NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, provide an out loud verbal answer to the question “Who made the potato salad?”
There are some people who’s food is so good, we know the recipe had to have originated on the West Coast of Africa, survived the middle passage, traveled on the Underground Railroad, survived Jim Crow, and it still continues to bless the palate of church folk from Sunday to Sunday.
BUT, there are some recipes that were copied from those Facebook videos; you know the ones....where the folk NEVER use salt and pepper. And sometimes, these recipes end up on the church buffet table.
You might be thinking, “Well if it’s nasty, why put it out in the first place?” That’s because the rule is, you can NEVER say it’s nasty. Instead, the Kitchen Committee just puts it out, and folk know to avoid it. Sis. Sookie must never know that her potato salad tastes like crayola crayons.
So, what do you do? I’m so glad you asked. Most times, we know that the ceramic bowl with the red flowers belongs to Sis. Sookie, so we just skip it in the lineup. But sometimes, she uses a different bowl. So the question becomes, “Who made the potato salad?”
If you hear this question, you can respond with the following.
If you know for a fact that it’s NOT Sis. Sookie’s potato salad, and it’s the good kind that Sis. Carolyn makes, then you NOD and SMILE. That’s it. JUST NOD AND SMILE.
BUT.....if you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sis. Sookie made that potato salad, because you overhead her saying she added raisins, you do the following: Put your head down and avoid eye contact! Under NO circumstances do you respond with a name. Under NO circumstances do you frown up your face. Head down, avoid eye contact, and change the subject.
While this looks and sounds strange to non church folk, understand that this rule can make or break the entire church, so resist the urge to yell out “Are those raisins?”. Remember: Head down. Avoid eye contact. Change the subject.
So, there you have it. These are probably the three MOST important rules to remember when visiting a Black Church. Now that you have those down, you must understand that there are a few Church Urban Legends that only church folk know!
Now Let the church say AMEN!