Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2016

Devout believers in God are not quick to admit that they ever become weak in their faith. If you believe them, everything is always rosy and nice in their lives. Some believers are so religious that in their minds if a person is experiencing trouble, it has something to do with their lack of faith.

Religion like politics can be a potentially dangerous subject to discuss. Too often those who are newly converted believe that emancipation from their old life empowers them to become a spokesperson against those still living in sin. These new converts can become so religious and righteous that they can even determine who will go to heaven or hell. Let some of them tell it, God is always speaking to them giving his approval to all their actions, right or wrong.

Do we really take God seriously, today? As I have written before, check out the churches. The most popular spiritual song in the African-American church a few years ago was a rap type song, titled “Stomp,” by Kirk Franklin. The kids loved it and many pastors extolled the values of the music by saying essentially, any means necessary to get the kids in their church doors. From my perspective, the song was saying even God loves rap music. Did the song cause more children to believe in God? I do not think so. From my perspective, the song was merely for entertainment purposes and has not resulted in more youths attending church.

A January 2014 Huffington Post article on religion stated “the church is not dying, but in transition.” The article included research according to the Hartford Institute of Religious Research that revealed 40 percent of Americans say they go to church weekly but as it turns out less than 20 percent are actually in church. The article went on to report that 4,000 to 7,000 churches close their doors every year. In an earlier report, Southern Baptist researcher, Tom Rainier, in an article entitled, 13 Issues For churches in 2013, puts the estimate much higher. According to Pew Research, every day for the next 16 years, 10,000 baby boomers will enter retirement resulting in church conceivably being filled primarily by elderly congregants and possibly increasing the number of church closures.

Years ago, I wrote an article for the Atlanta Constitution as to why kids often turn to gangs rather than the church as a place of solace during times of crises in their lives. In interviewing juvenile offenders for the article, they stated that the gang was a place where they could feel “in” rather than “out.” The church was a place they felt isolated and unwelcomed. They did not believe that the friendly overtures from members they received while attending churches were actually genuine.

The late, Rev. C.L. Franklin, father of popular recording artist, Aretha Franklin, addressed the issue of how Christians can sometimes be the harbinger of things not godly, resulting in those not strong in their faith leaving the church. He preached that some Christians believe that when God provides them favor and not others, it is a message from God that they are better in his sight. Franklin went on to acknowledge that newly converted Christians, could in fact, create problems for the church if not properly guided.

Rachel Evans, a millennial and a blogger for CNN, stated in her blog that “If everyone is not really equally welcomed to the table at your church, stop advertising that you are open to anyone. That is not only a lie, but Millennials can see through the phony façade as clearly as an astronomer, looking through the Hubble telescope, can see the infinity of space.”

Is everyone truly welcomed at your church-God’s holy edifice? As a believer, are you in need of a spiritual makeover?

By Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

Dr. Glenn Dowell, a LaGrange native, is an author and columnist who lives in Georgia. He has been an instructor at Texas Southern University, guest speaker on major college campuses and appeared on TV programs including ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ He may be reached at