becoming a multiracial church, part 1

The recent Christianity Today cover story, All Churches Should Be Multiracial, has generated fairly little buzz in the blogosphere: just 12 links at Technorati, 8 at Blogpulse at the time of this post. Found longer discussions over at’s diversity community.

While bloggers (allegedly) set the agenda for thought leadership, they (we) may not set the agenda for most local churches. The pastors (or the board of elders and/or deacons, depending on church governance) does that.

It’s just plain hard work. With church life being hard enough work as it is, with overworked staff and volunteers, plenty of other issues to consume time and energy and resources, there seems to be a learned helplessness that prevents more churches from aspiring to this ideal. The magazine’s editors and almost anyone you talk to can say that it’s the right thing to do, and it’d be great to see happen. But nothing happens by accident. (well, a few things do, but most accomplishments don’t. That’s one thing I’m learning by charting out my lifeline)

Becoming a multiracial church takes intentionality. Intentionality is not forcing something on people, it’s not meeting quotas. One idea I heard that can make it happen most quickly is for the pastor to divorce and marry someone of a different race. Yes, very facitious.

It is awareness of the social dynamics underneath the culture of the people who gather in a church: how they relate to their peers, and particularly those who are racially different, and how that shows up on stage in the worship service production, and how leaders are mentored, groomed, and selected, make all the difference. And leadership is to know how that works, and to introduce changes over time that came change that culture. A little redundant, but that’s what leadership is — changing culture.

My initial thoughts were previous posted here.

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5 Responses

  1. As long as we think multiculturalism is merely multiracialism, it will not go very far beyond numbers, quotas and statistics. We must take it one step further, I believe.

  2. Thanks for putting some feet on that snake. That is, making it palpable, tangible, something we can better understand. I think, too often, the idea of multiculturalism stays just that – an idea. We really lack the practical know how as to how to make it a reality. I think your contributions and the work of others are helping us realize that it can be a reality. We just need to be intentional and deliberate about it.

  3. Jeff says:

    “A little redundant, but that?s what leadership is ? changing culture.” I’m not sure that’s the essense of spiritual leadership….changing culture that is. Awareness of culture is critical, and the engaging of culture is even more important than that. To limit leadership to changing culture is a narrow view, in my opinion.

    Now, if a church has it’s head in the sand and is not doing an effective job of being Christ to those in the city/area it serves, then there is a problem….and a change in internal church culture should become reality. This is really done, however, by concentrating first and foremost on the transformation/discipleship process, with an emphasis on the diversity of those in the kingdom and community. A true, comprehensive understanding of this spiritual journey SHOULD lead one to an understanding and desire to reach out to those around them, the more diverse the better.