Multiracial Church Quotes

By | April 2, 2005

Here are links to the articles along with excerpts that I thought were good:

“The white evangelicals we interviewed do not want a race problem.”
“Most white evangelicals deny the existence of any ongoing racial problem in the U.S., and many blame the media and African Americans who refuse to forget the past for any lingering racial conflict.”
“The nation’s religious congregations have long been highly racially segregated. If we define a racially mixed congregation 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.”

“Multiracial congregations can play an important role in reducing racial division and inequality and that this should be a goal of Christian people.”
“Are we looking to boil everybody down into one unrecognizable mass? Or are we trying to smother everything with one culture so that everybody is the same flavor? We need to be honest about this.

An African American at our church should get the sense that who he is as an African American believer is to be affirmed rather than subjugated. He shouldn’t feel like he needs to become Asian or white to fit in. And that’s one reason why this is so challenging, because it means we, as pastors, have to become cultural anthropologists in addition to all the other roles we fill.”

“The vision for multiethnic churches is not that people should leave behind their unique cultures, but that we should be able to come together to celebrate our diversity and to allow the blending of our differences to give birth to something new. I think there’s an incredible amount of blessing in that.”

“We also added an African American to our board and have been intentional in seeking out people of ethnicity when filling vacancies in our senior staff.”
Note: I think this is a significant point. We can’t passively sit back and expect this to happen, we must be intentional.

“I know it’s going to be hell, because the other side of having Asians and Hispanics and whites and African Americans and various ethnic groups worshiping together is sharing power in leadership. As long as you’re sitting in the pew, it’s fine. But as soon as you begin to grow and seek to use your gifts in positions of leadership and power, that’s when the real challenge of the multiracial congregation begins.”

“We can talk about this and write books about it until we’re blue in the face, but ultimately the churches have to accept the challenge. We must create a movement of multiracial churches that is so compelling that people are going to say, “We cannot ignore this.” The challenge for the church is this: Do you teach people the principles, or do you teach them to long for the reality of what God wants to see happen? Talking about it all the time can make the process methodical and taxing and burdensome. But when people are able to discover the biblical truth of multiracial churches for themselves, it becomes this contagious and liberating passion.”
“DeYmaz preaches only half the services. Early on, DeYmaz recognized that “one size fits all” doesn’t work in worship. So there is no dominant style. Seven different worship teams take turns leading Sunday services.

“If the worship style is the same from week to week, it will appeal only to a certain segment of the population, which puts up an unintended barrier,” DeYmaz says.

The leadership is deliberately multiethnic. Bimonthly a sermon is preached in Spanish. There the majority of English speakers must wait and listen for the translation (at other services, Hispanics listen with headphones for simultaneous translation). At the conclusion of the service people gather for a barbecue beef fellowship meal. The Sunday afternoon lunch, held monthly, shows that the multiethnic tapestry is natural: There are no all-white, all-black, or all-Hispanic tables. The grace is offered in Arabic (it might have easily been in Spanish or Yoruba) and not translated. “It teaches that God is bigger than America,” DeYmaz explains.”

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  • ladyofglass

    The only thing that I’d worry about here is the possibility of our churches following our governmental society in the area of “quotas”. I’d hate to see our churches becoming obsessed and getting prideful because “we have a mixed racial congregation”, or the opposite, coming down on themselves because “we aren’t a mixed congregation” (in a situation where being a mixed congregation might not be possible).

    • MBroaddus

      about quotas (that has always been a bit of a trigger for me, but i’ll try not to lose my mind).

      intentionality is different from quotas. intentionality implies “because i want to”, quotas implies “because i have to” (and this is the least i have to do in order to make it look like i’ve done something).

      the church has a long way to go before it can feel prideful about much concerning race relations.

  • gRegor

    A lot of this seems to be on a personal level, I think. Take “white” churches versus “black” churches, for example: it’s not really as if these churches were started up with the mindset of “we’re going to start a church predominantly for white/black people.” People choose where they want to go to church. I’m leary of this sort of “Christian Affirmative Action” idea.

  • MBroaddus

    i said i was shutting up, so here’s my last comment. for now.

    then there’s the issue of intentionality. a lot of pastors i talk to would love to have more multi-cultural ministries. when i ask what they’ve done to engender a more multi-cultural congregation, they say that they’ve encouraged their members to invite their neighbors.

    um, no offense, but see my “coloring up your lives” blog entry.

    people, consciously or unconsciously, gravitate to what’s comfortable. that’s my nice way of saying that left to our own devices, we stick to our own. at least here in indiana, our neighbors probably look like us. because we move to be with our own.

    when i push a little harder with these pastors, there’s no vision. in the cases of the mostly white congregations that i’ve dealt with, they have no black elders, no black staff, no black leaders, no black deacons, and aren’t nurturing any from among the few in their congregation.

    it’s about intentionality. you can’t just say “we like black people” or “hispanics welcome” and that be the extent of your outreach.

    • ladyofglass

      “in the cases of the mostly white congregations that i’ve dealt with, they have no black elders, no black staff, no black leaders, no black deacons, and aren’t nurturing any from among the few in their congregation.”

      But it begs the question–why? I’d think that the pastors would encourage their whole congregation to follow their giftings… whether those giftings led them to staff, leadership, deaconship (is that the right word?), etc. If people aren’t particularly gifted in that area, or if they chose not to act accordingly if they ARE, should a pastor try and goad someone particularly BECAUSE of their skin color? And how is THIS not racism? And again, what about Mexicans, Asians, Irish, Polish, etc.? Do we pressure certain people to become leaders, deacons, and elders, specifically and simply because they are not “caucasian”? What about in predominately black congregations? If a white person happens to come to their church, should they pressure THEM to become elders, deacons, or even pastors because they’re not the majority in the congregation? Just to attract a more diverse congregation?

      I wholeheartedly agree that our churches need to be more open-minded about different cultures. My church in particular can fall into an unfortunate “cookie-cutter” theology… we think “Our women should look like —–, our men should look like —-, they should work at these jobs and wear these kinds of clothes”. It’s not a view at all endorsed by the pastoral staff and it is a view that has been addressed in various sermons, but it’s still there. But I think that our pastoral staff in particular is focused on finding out and following in what God wants to do with our congregation, and that there hasn’t been a particular conviction about that issue at this point. I haven’t paid much attention to the “level of diversity” concerning skin-color in our congregation, but thinking back, if I am remembering correctly, we do have a fairly diverse congregation, regardless of the fact that our typical worship service includes what you might think of as a somewhat limited style. I like a lot of the songs that they play, and I’m put off by some of them. *shrug*