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Black Pastors Should Stop Running Churches on CPT- Colored People’s Time

Updated on March 11, 2020

CPT is real

Within the African American community, there is a saying that someone operates on CPT, which stands for colored people's time, This refers to those who run business, churches, or host events that never begin or end when they are supposed to. Here is what the Urban Dictionary has to say regarding the matter:
“The usually correct stereotype that African-Americans are incapable of punctuality, and are chronically tardy in both arriving at and beginning events and functions.” Yes it really happens.

Please keep in mind that everyone, no matter what nationality can have an off day, and many African American business owners do operate in excellence. Doctors' offices often run behind schedule no matter what the physician ethnicity. Mechanics of all races don’t always have your vehicle ready when they tell you they will. This hub addresses what I, myself and others have witnessed and know that in too many arena’s CPT is true, especially in the church. This is not an indictment on my race, but a situation of if the shoe fits wear it and let the chips fall where they may. I always say it’s not that I should not tell my stories, but I never should have had these stories to tell.

Be mindful of other people's time

Back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s I enjoyed listening to Bishop Clarence McClendon on TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network. On several occasions as his time was running out, he would ask if he could have just a few more minutes. Twice the theme music began to play and the program ended without the television viewing audience hearing the end of his message. When my family heard him preach at a Full Gospel convention in 2000, we joked that he would go over time and ask for a few more minutes and he did not disappoint. My oldest son and I looked at each other and just shook our heads. As the Bishop continued speaking, many in the New Orleans Superdome began walking out. He went on so long that my family left too.

If someone advertised that their business establishment opens at 8:00 AM then the employees should be there ready to open the doors at 8 on the dot, I’ve arrived at certain places to find the workers were just getting there and needed 10 extra minutes to set things up which is not professional. Pastors should not abuse their privilege and take advantage of those who take the time to hear them teach or preach. If Bible study or prayer meeting is scheduled for 6;00-7:00 PM then that should be the standard. Life happens and there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve been in congregations where services went overtime because the presence of the Lord was strong and the congregants chose to linger. There is a difference, however, between basking in His glory and listening to humans run on in their own strength.

I have attended church meetings for the member, church leaders and preachers where those who came on time had to sit and wait up to 45 minutes before the facilitator showed up. I cannot count the number of times that an hour gathering was promised and attendees had to sit for two hours or more. I once heard a pastor say it was immature and wrong to walk out before the benediction of a church service, but people often have pressing issues and don’t have an extra hour to give away in a day. I’ve heard more than one pastor say how folk will sit for hours at sports events but will not remain in church services. They try to guilt you into believing that if you don’t spend a lot of time in the building that you are disappointing the Creator.

Authority should not be abused

A service or meeting should not, however, continue past the allotted time just because the speaker loves the sound of his or her own voice. Pastors today go on and on about how church members pull on them and say they are experiencing burnout. Those who complain should also take into consideration that the people in the seats have families, jobs, and other responsibilities. It’s really a shame when people head to church and are already planning what time they will leave because the service went into overtime for no valid reason.

Pastors are human and yes there can be legitimate delays at times, but some preachers are simply drunk with their own power. I was once a member of a church where the pastor routinely was 10 to 49 minutes late for the weekday prayer service that began at noon. There were times when church leaders gathered for meetings on Saturday mornings or Tuesday nights and he would not arrive until much later. One Saturday he was on time for a leadership gathering at 10:00 AM and actually began right on schedule. A few leaders trickled in after 10 and he became irate and shut the meeting down at 10:10 and sent everyone home.

Colored People Time Should Not Exist

I’ve been in funerals where preacher were asked to stay within a 2-minute time frame when giving remarks about the deceased and once they get the microphone they rudely went on and on. Just recently someone told me that a church meeting they attended went over by an hour and they were late for a previous engagement. I asked this individual why he did not simply excuse himself and leave. He shook his head and said “ CPT” you know how it is when black preachers have the floor.” Yes, I know how it is and it should not be that way. Those in charge should respect the time of everyone in attendance and do unto others as they would have others do unto them. There should be no such thing as “CPT” within the black community.

Colored people’s time certainly should not be a running joke, but it is. I recall visiting a church once where a musician was so late that the service had been in effect for close to an hour when he arrived. We had to sit an additional 15 minutes and wait as he set up his instruments and checked the sound system. African Americans should not expect nor become used to establishments opening late, closing early or not opening at all on a scheduled business day. They especially should not be made to feel guilty when preachers run overtime.

Don''t be fake

I once attended a church where the pastor preached for exactly one hour because his services were recorded for video and audiotapes. Church members knew and accepted this and were OK with service letting out at 1:10 to 1:20 PM. One week the wife of the pastor's best friend spoke and at 1:15 she had barely gotten started. Her voice came across as irritating and so found I was almost falling asleep. I’m asking God to forgive me and went to get some water and stretch my legs. I was surprised to see eight or nine other people in the restroom area, discussing how this woman was putting them to sleep and they were feeling bad until they saw others who felt the same way.

We all went back into the sanctuary where the preachers in the pulpit were smiling at the speaker and nodding their heads in agreement as if she was an eloquent speaker giving words of wisdom when others agreed she was boring. I thought of the song by Alexander O’Neal entitled “Fake’. There was nothing wrong with those of us in the audience who were getting restless but those on the pulpit definitely had issues for pretending they were enjoying this extra long speech where the anointing was nowhere to be found.. The church service was not over until 2:30 and I vowed never again to be made to feel guilty by someone who does not value my time.

Flow with His spirit

Church people do not like long winded boring messsges and they do not value their time being wasted. These are reading that many will not attend services at certain churches. Yes, I know these issues may be in non-black congregations as well, but since I grew up in and came through and out of the African American church experience, my target audience is black folk. CPT transcends denominations as I have experienced in Baptist, Full Gospel and Word of Faith denominations. Pastors, yes you are in charge but when you cannot conduct a meeting or a church service within the time constraints you have announced or been allotted, please know this gives you a negative reputation. A good rule of thumb is something a former pastor of mine told his preachers. “ When the presence of God lifts up then you stop and don’t continue in your flesh.”

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      14 months ago from The Caribbean

      Cheryl, you're calling our the real issues. I sat and listened to a pastor preach the same sermon three times, presumable because he was expected to preach long. Each time, he made the same points with different illustrations. I agree with your final statement.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      14 months ago from Roanoke

      Yes it happens here a lot

    • OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile image


      14 months ago from NIGERIA

      I used to tell my people here that it is foolish people's time. It is usually frustrating, I however did not know that such happens over there too, I have all along been thinking it is only in Africa that this is happening.

      Most times such meetings show carnal nature of the speakers than the spiritual nature.

      A pastor said years back that good sermon should not exceed 35-45 minutes and anything above that usually turns to another thing, except in few cases and usually rare.

      God is a time conscious God, he created everything to time.

      Good work ma,


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