Practice What You Preach   

Princess Fentress has a mother who was a missionary and father who was a preacher.  


For centuries, religious studies have dissected the Bible in an effort to understand the literature written thousands of years ago. No matter the religious belief, the Bible lays the groundwork for how humans, especially those who believe in Jesus Christ, should live their lives. Over time, the Bible has been used as a tool of warfare for the church. Its text serves as a communing piece for churchgoers. However, many are not living the doctrine outlined in the holy book and it is shaping the way worshippers are perceived and received.  


Man is not perfect nor was he intended to be once sin entered the world. Perfection aside, the Bible is a blueprint for humanity and followers of Christ. While this is the ideology behind the Bible and its contents, some parishioners have begun to stray from its teachings and in turn have created an atmosphere of mistrust and distance. Alternatively, the church can be a place where individuals can find the love of humanity and begin to build a spiritual walk with a Higher Power. 


“I came up in church. My mom was a leader in church so I was at church every day,” said Princess Fentress, whose mother was a missionary and father was a preacher. “I grew up in a spiritual church and I’ve seen a lot of healing, I’ve seen a lot of deliverances.” 


The Word teaches believers to love each other, not judge and live a life of righteousness. However, saints have been less than accepting of those who seek a deeper relationship with Christ. Losing sight of the vision, some parishioners, or ‘church folks,’ have a reputation of exclusion and have led a charge that eliminates newcomers from finding the light of faith.  


“A lot of people are not living what they’re preaching about. I think it’s two things; either they’re judgmental or they’re not living what they’re talking about. I always say you can always tell when a person is living what they’re talking about because there’s no space between what they say, do and believe,” said Fentress. “I feel like those are the two things: they’re not living what they’re talking about, they don’t believe in what they’re talking about and they’re judgmental.” 


‘Church hurt’ is a phrase that has been coined to explain the pain inflicted on an individual from religious institutions. Stemming from a myriad of circumstances, church hurt remains one of the main catalysts that deter those who seek a relationship with the Higher Power.  


“A lot of people say church hurt is not real but it is real. I have my own personal experience, I called it a trauma,” said Fentress.  


To walk the walk, many who have been on the receiving end of church hurt believe you also have to talk the talk. Carrying behaviors of the world into the sacred house of worship leads churchgoers to find themselves at a crossroads between what is spiritually accurate and acceptable and what is exclusionary.  


“I find a lot of people, some people, are not practicing what they’re preaching because they have not been transformed in their mind. They have a relationship with the building of the church but not a relationship with Christ and then also a lot of people hide behind the church,” said Fentress. 


Millennials continue to be one of the most progressive age groups. Taking life by the horns, this demographic has begun to create their own lane across many sectors of life, including religion. Either building new houses of worship or delving back into ancient practices, millennials are reclaiming their faith as many believe the church has left no place for them.  


“A lot of millennials are leaving church, it’s not that they want to leave church in the sense of structure, more so you’re talking about healing – well, let me see someone get healed. You’re talking about deliverance, let me see you cast the devil out. You talk about a renewed mind, but let me see you be transformed,” said Fentress. “Show me what you’re talking about. I think a lot of millennials are turning to other things and leaving the church because they want to have an authentic experience.” 


The pandemic pushed for change across every aspect of life, but for some, true change has not reached religious institutions. As millennials challenge elders to walk in their faith through shows of transparency, they also continue to push for true efforts of inclusion to help grow their own walk.  


“What we just went through with the pandemic should have shown the church that what y’all were doing was not working,” said Fentress. “We want to see some demonstrations and that’s what millennials are looking for — demonstration and authentic experiences. Those come from having true leaders who are living what they’re talking about.” 



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