All Churches Should Be Multiracial

While I’ve been a proponent for multiracial churches for years at this website and during my time in the pastoral profession, it’s not the same as getting a cover story in Christianity Today. Or having a book published (granted, excellently researched, from a sociological perspective). Their current web strategy is to post select articles online for a limited period of time, after the print edition has rolled out. I happen to have a print edition of the magazine at hand (and I would scan it into PDF format for you to see, but I don’t want to create ill will.)

So, in a few weeks, stay tuned for the following, in the April 2005 edition of Christianity Today Magazine: All Churches Should Be Multiracial: The biblical case. An Excerpt from United by Faith by Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, and Karen Chai Kim. And, Harder than Anyone Can Imagine: Four working pastors – Latino, Asian, black, and white – respond to the bracing thesis of United by Faith. The pastoral voices are Noel Castellanos (Latino Leadership Foundation), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), Soong-Chan Rah (Cambridge Community Fellowship Church), and Frank Reid (Bethel AME Church). Also sidebar, Big Dream in Little Rock: what multiracial church looks like in the town formerly infamous for segregation, featuring Mosaic Church, led by Mark & Linda DeYmaz.

Some compelling excerpts:

  • If we define a racially mixed congreatin as one in which no one racial group is 80 percent or more of the congregation, just 7.5 percent of the more than 300,000 religious congregations in the United States are racially mixed. For Christian congregations, which form more than 90 percent of congregations in the United States, the share that is racially mixed drops to 5.5 percent. Of this small percentage, approximately half of the congregations are mixed only temporarily, during the time they are in transition from one group to another. [that is, less than 3% of Christian congregations are racially mixed 80% pro rata]
  • Soong-Chan Rah: If we were to hear of any other institution in the United States that had those kinds of statistics, we would be outraged. If less than 6 percent of universities or government institutions were integrated, we would say there is something seriously wrong.
  • Bill Hybels: A true biblically functioning community must include being multiethnic. My heart beats so fast for that vision today.

[updated 3/31/05] CT cover story posted online, and sidebars too. Also see October 2000 CT article, Color-Blinded: Why 11 o’clock Sunday morning is still a mostly segregated hour. An excerpt from Divided by Faith. By Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith.

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10 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    What about in a predominately Asian college campus fellowship setting? How do we go about pursuing multiethnic?

  2. FYI. This post is featured at SmartChristian. Andy

  3. Bob Brown says:

    Coming from Jacksonville, FL (USA) where the schools were sued by the NAACP for more than 30 years in order to be better integrated I am uncomfortable with the idea of necessary quotas.
    The quota system hurt Jacksonville because the schools were originally attended by the people who lived nearby, to mix them properly it was necessary for kids to spend an extra 30 – 40 minutes traveling down the highway. Instead of going to the school across the road they went to the one across town.

    If people feel comfortable somwhere they are going to go there. Sometimes race is mixed with heritage and heritage influences a lot of our choices of community (which is what we find in a healthy church).
    Would it be necessary for us to focus evangelistic efforts only on people of other races until our stats improve?

  4. I responded to John’s comment above here

  5. Rob says:

    To respond to Mr. Brown:

    I’n not sure this idea can be compared to achieving a quota. I liken it to churches offering multiple “worship” services to appeal to all audiences. It’s the same thing.

    While the authors want churches to fall below the 80% rule (80% of church attendees comprised of one race, culture, or ethnicity), I think the motivation is that Christians are unified by their oneness in Christ. Why is it then that we do not fellowship together and learn from one another?

    I really doubt that Christ wants us “comfortable” in church anyway, does He?

    I’m excited about this because recently my church (predominantly Causacian, including me) hired an African American senior pastor. It appears to me that he wants to follow this model and I look forward to this ride…

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