Diversity. People stress the need for diversity in schools, in towns, and in almost every walk of life. People want to be culturally sensitive. Yet, diversity extends even more than we originally believe. Within every culture, there are sub-cultures. Within every religion, there are sub cultures. I have found this to be true while staying in the Dominican Republic. I have the opportunity to attend church four nights out of the week with my family. My family is Pentecostal Christian.
Most of my childhood was spent in Baptist church, skirts and dresses were almost mandatory for women and girls. Everything was very structured and traditional. Every week, everything was exactly the same. Generally, one attended church twice a week. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a Baptist church. Yet, all of those things that I grew up with have become a truth or a norm in my life. I had not even realized it.
Attending a Pentecostal church that is all in Spanish has been like jumping from the warm beach into a tank full of almost frozen water. It has been a wake up experience. The church is so full of movement that one could possibly become sea sick. Not one person within the church can sing on pitch. Imagine my horror! The speakers boomed. People scream into the microphones in Spanish. It felt like a nightmare. Then, it became even worse because people seemed to lose control of their bodies and sporadically dance. As quickly as their jerky movement began, suddenly they would become a straight as a board and then fall to the ground. Other people scurried to cushion their fall. With all this motion about me, I struggled to find where God was in this church.
My first experience in a Pentecostal church was obviously not the best experience. It did not help the fact that I had no idea what was going on because I could not get past the language barrier. Of course, with time, I have changed my expectations for church and the sporadic dancing does not bother me quite as much anymore. I also have become okay with the idea that there are different cultures within the Christian religion. That is perfectly okay. Of course, I’ll probably still keep to the side line of things.