"Iron Sharpens Iron": Views of the Church Congregation from the Unheard Voices of Religious African American Men


religion, race, congregation, African American, representation


African American male congregants have been frequently underrepresented in religious-based research. Therefore, this study examines the impact and perceptions of the church congregation for highly religiously involved African American men. Interviews with 35 African American men from 11 states were conducted. The mean age of the sample was 56 years, with an age range between 45 and 76. Narrative data were analyzed using a qualitative methodology of grounded theory and Numeric Content Analysis. The following three themes were identified: (1) the congregation supports and helps, (2) it is good to give and receive, and (3) where there are people, there are problems. Narratives are offered to illustrate each of these themes. While the shared emotional, spiritual, and monetary support from church members can positively contribute to the well-being of highly religious African American men, these men may also be negatively impacted by church interactions stemming from personality differences, expectations, and racial dissimilarity in the church.

Original Publication Citation

*Skipper, A., Marks, L., & Chaney, C. (2017). “Iron sharpens iron”: Views of the church congregation from the unheard voices of religious African-American men. Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men, 6, 77-98.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor