Does a multiethnic church have to be intentional?
Question>> I’m about to launch an intentionally diverse church, and sometimes I get asked whether we should be intentionally diverse or just start and see whom God brings. Well, I have an answer as to why we want to seek being diverse and exemplify diversity on our leadership team. However, there are many churches that start off as Asian-American churches and seek to be diverse, yet only attract Asian-Americans. So, I was curious if you had any insight you’d like to share on this question to help me with a different perspective?
djchuang‘s reply ::
As for becoming a multi-ethnic church, there are a couple of books that most clearly lays out the ingredients for such a church: David Anderson’s book Multicultural Ministry and Mark DeYmaz’ Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church. And my web page at djchuang.com/multi has a lot of resources and articles and books that inform my thoughts about developing an intentionally diverse church.
So, in short, my answer is “yes” — it does take intentionality to become ethnically and racially diverse. It doesn’t happen by accident. If it just “naturally” happens (i.e. without intentionality), we’d see a lot more diversified church, wouldn’t we.
According to one study, more than 92% of all churches in the U.S. are segregated, with more than 80% of their membership representing a single race or ethnic group. I think that 92% is including Catholic and Protestant churches; less than 5% of evangelical churches are diverse, less than 2.5% of mainline Protestants. And, it’d be too overly simplistic to say that prayer and Bible study will diversify a church — most evangelical churches do that, and most are not diversified.
Now, what that intentionality looks like may be different from church to church, and depends on the cultural context of where the church is located.
Those are my top-of-mind thoughts. What would you add?
[update] also see (somewhat) related comment thread “Why are Asian American church leaders so obsessed with multi-ethnic church?” [@ randplaty.com] and “Is diversity a taboo subject within the church?” [@ daveingland.com]