NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Having a racially diverse church remains more dream than reality for most Protestant pastors. More than eight in ten (85 percent) say every church should strive for racial diversity, according to a survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
But few have diverse flocks.
Most (86 percent) say their congregation is predominately one racial or ethnic group.
It’s a reality that once led the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to call Sunday mornings the most segregated time of the week.
A second LifeWay Research survey – this time an online panel of 1,036 Americans – found that three quarters (78 percent) say “every church should strive for racial diversity.”
More than half (51 percent) say they would be most comfortable visiting a church where multiple ethnicities are well represented. Three quarters (73 percent) also said churches should reflect the diversity of their communities.
There are some signs the number of diverse churches in the United States is growing.
This research was done in the US, but I'm sure folks in ethnically diverse countries/regions such as Canuckia. Oz and western EuroLand can reflect on these questions and where they live. At any rate ... this research reflects how varied things are in the US, regionally, perhaps. My current and previous senior pastors are among the 13% who actually have ethnically diverse congregations. Two such pastors doesn't sound very significant, I guess, but our time in those congregations totals ~25 years. Need I say that I identify with the 51% who are comfortable in ethnically diverse congregations, whether as a visitor or a member? So the experience of the 87% of senior pastors and the feelings of the 49% of Americans are not mine. Two of my munchkins have spent significant time living in other parts of the US (they grew up in and yet reside in Silicon Valley). They have seen churches and social settings that are or are almost uni-ethnic, and they felt uncomfortable! Yes! As for my third munchkin, well she's a missionary with Youth With A Mission, so I guess she's comfortable in multi-ethnic situations (or situations in which she, ethnically, is extremely in the minority).
Is there a place for uni-ethnic or single-nationality churches? E.G., the church in which my Dad grew up (and was yet a member of when he died) had services only in German from its formation in 1912 to ~1940; it was formed by German-speaking immigrants. The church in which my munchkins grew up has separate Amharic and Spanish services, as well as wireless translation of the main service into Mandarin.