Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Reality

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PeteSinCA
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Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Reality

Postby PeteSinCA » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:34 am

Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Reality
LifewayResearch.com
2014/01/17
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.

Experiences? Thoughts?
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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Lonewolf » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:57 pm

The current congregation that I attend is composed of Black and Hispanic members. There are two church buildings in which services in English and Spanish are given. Bilingual members like my wife and myself can enjoy either service, however my wife prefers the study and service in Spanish, all the while she loves the singing and enthusiasm of our Black brothers and sisters. I do too, but I enjoy the study more in the English language than in Spanish. The congregation that I used to attend in Long Beach was composed mainly of White folks with a sprinkling of Hispanics, and I was real fine with that congregation also. To be honest about it, I do feel the most comfortable among my own ethnic group, but that's because we share a lot more with each other in terms of upbringing and cultural values, but I do find that there is a certain particular difference in the spiritual general thinking between the ethnic groups that can not simply be bridged by congregating together.
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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Philip » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:38 am

My church is intentionally encouraging of bringing people of diverse backgrounds and races into fellowship with Christ. We are majority white but there are minorities of all kinds represented amongst the elders, church staff, praise team, serving in many other capacities, and in those attending. We also strongly support ministry and evangelical opportunities for reaching internationals (we are in a major college town). There are also quite a few interracial marriages within our body. It's really cool and amazing. Yes, I agree that we all tend to identify better with those of our own culture and background. But race is human kinds' beauty from the very paintbox of God. How boring if we were all white, black, or any color. If everyone was just like me, well, that's rather boring, in comparision. We all tend to like a wide variety of music, food, entertainment, sports - so why are people so hung up on differences in cultural backgrounds and race. As for prejudice, it's merely a HUMAN race problem, inherit in ALL races. In Christ we can overcome our sin-nature's racial thinking to God's great glory, and to our far richer human experience. The Church in the eternal Heaven will have members of every human tribe. Think about that!

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Furstentum Liechtenstein » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:53 pm

I don't understand why ethnic diversity in a church is being presented as desireable, or ''good'' in some way. Could someone explain why?

My own feelings on this parallel Lonewolf's,

Lonewolf wrote:To be honest about it, I do feel the most comfortable among my own ethnic group, but that's because we share a lot more with each other in terms of upbringing and cultural values, but I do find that there is a certain particular difference in the spiritual general thinking between the ethnic groups that can not simply be bridged by congregating together.


FL :D
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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Philip » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:50 pm

I don't understand why ethnic diversity in a church is being presented as desireable, or ''good'' in some way. Could someone explain why?

My own feelings on this parallel Lonewolf's,

Lonewolf wrote:
To be honest about it, I do feel the most comfortable among my own ethnic group, but that's because we share a lot more with each other in terms of upbringing and cultural values, but I do find that there is a certain particular difference in the spiritual general thinking between the ethnic groups that can not simply be bridged by congregating together.


FL


I find that mature Christians, whatever their race, tend to think very much alike concerning spiritual issues. The sad fact is the diverse racial multitude that will joyously worship Christ together in heart and mind in Heaven are very much divided here on earth. And what I've learned is shared values in Christ greatly minimize and make mostly irrelevant differences that by far pale in contrast to our mutual values and sensibilities as Christians. To see a church of diverse races come together as one in love and purpose against the backdrop of separation, distrust and division that is more typical across society is an amazing and beautiful thing to see - and it's a great witness to the world of the uniting and healing power of Christ.

Usually, people who always interpret so many issues and problems through the lens of race are the ones most racist. I've seen this human infection in every race. I grew up with a father who had a lot of race-based prejudices, that he slowly moved away from. I myself was a minority for five years during desegregation. I was beaten and constantly threatened by black kids who had been raised to despise and often hate white people. I saw white racists attack blacks - one even bringing a gun to school to threaten blacks. Racism is one of the devil's favorite tools! And so when the church transcends race, it's a testimony to The Lord's power in our lives and His work in His Church. Any Christian savoring the Church's segregation on earth will likely be radically transformed by the understandings gained in Heaven, where racial diversity will be part of God's glory.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby melanie » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:59 pm

Phillip, I couldn't agree more. Well said and spot on.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Furstentum Liechtenstein » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:19 am

An excellent answer, philip...very good!

Even so, I prefer a church where there is an emphasis on serious exposition of the Word. Churches where emotional demonstrations (crying, waving arms, yelling AMEN! and JEEESUS! etc.) are plentiful may be more colorful (pun intended) but also more irritating...to me, at least.

FL :D
Hold everything lightly. If you don't, it will hurt when God pries your fingers loose as He takes it from you. -Corrie Ten Boom

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If they had a social gospel in the days of the prodigal son, somebody would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he never would have gone home.

+ + +

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Philip » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:10 am

An excellent answer, philip...very good!

Even so, I prefer a church where there is an emphasis on serious exposition of the Word. Churches where emotional demonstrations (crying, waving arms, yelling AMEN! and JEEESUS! etc.) are plentiful may be more colorful (pun intended) but also more irritating...to me, at least.

FL


Get that man to a proper Episcopalian service, pronto!

Yes, FL, emotion-based worship, as opposed to that of sincere substance and true worship, is something I am extremely wary of. I see it as being superficial and emotional for show and a mere release of emotion - often in search of an evermore "authentic experience." And so those continuously led by experience and feelings very much worry me. Such feelings-led people try to FEEL their way to truth, and that the more emotional an experience is, the more authentic it seems to them. And then I read Scripture and see no such example, and in fact, see warnings against such practices. And that's certainly not to say we don't ever emotionally respond to God in our gratefulness. But many attempt to conjure up supposed truths of God through emotion. And yet, culturally, some simply are far more expressive to spiritual understandings that are both real AND yet are expressed more emotionally. I myself am not comfortable with such a "style," as people can easily misinterpret emotion for truth -a very real danger. And maybe, culturally, I'm just very much European in my outward expressions of my inward state. Not superior, just the way I happen to be wired.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Furstentum Liechtenstein » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:58 pm

Philip wrote:Yes, FL, emotion-based worship, as opposed to that of sincere substance and true worship, is something I am extremely wary of.


I'm glad to hear that. As I was driving to work this morning and thinking of this thread, I understood the importance of the pastor in setting the tone of worship. The first church I wandered into after coming to Christ was one that had the sign ''Fundamentalist Baptist'' outside. The pastor was a white man, an American expatriate, a graduate from Bob Jones University. The congregation was a mix of whites, Haitians, Latinos and a sprinkling of Indians (From India). The services were orderly and the teaching was excellent. I also visited an all-Latino church but never went back after the service. The people were sickly-sweet friendly (from my POV) and this annoyed me. The most memorable church I've ever attended was an all-black church. The minute the pastor walked on-stage (and it was a stage) I knew we were in for a show because he was dressed in a crimson-red suit. A show is exactly what we got!

So...the pastor is the key...and the Master he serves.

FL :D
Hold everything lightly. If you don't, it will hurt when God pries your fingers loose as He takes it from you. -Corrie Ten Boom

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Philip » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:30 pm

FL, I grew up going to a very good and large downtown Baptist Church. It was enthusiastic in worship (this was in the '60s), if rather urbanly subdued, with only an occasional "amen!" to be heard. Fine people, good teaching. One day a lady who worked with my dad invited us to her church's revival. We should have known something was up when we saw a mountain of amplifiers that would have made Hendrix happy. Best description of it was "Pentacostal Holy Roller Full Gospel!" From the get-go it was a circus and freak show all rolled into one. The music was COUNTRIFIED and ear-bleeding LOUD. People were jumping up and down and hollering, crying and every emotion in between. And one guy sitting beside my dad ran up and kissed the pastor on his bald head. My dad was freaked out, clearly worried the guy would soon be kissing HIM. I think my mom was actually scared - it was totally out of her experience and comfort zone. She whispered to my dad that we should all "discretely leave, one at a time." But the "discrete" instruction apparently wasn't understood, as all five of us kids and my parents stood up to leave, all at the very same moment - with all eyes on us. We waited in the car for my dad's friend. It was like something out of a Felini film. I don't think the pastor followed a sermon outline as much as some kind of bizarre script. The show of shows, it was. Funny memory. I was about 14.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby melanie » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:35 pm

Furstentum Liechtenstein wrote:An excellent answer, philip...very good!

Even so, I prefer a church where there is an emphasis on serious exposition of the Word. Churches where emotional demonstrations (crying, waving arms, yelling AMEN! and JEEESUS! etc.) are plentiful may be more colorful (pun intended) but also more irritating...to me, at least.

FL :D


These type of churches make me feel more uncomfortable than any kind of ethnic diversity ever could! I find them extremely bizarre and odd. What manifests within these churches is so foreign to what I know and understand of God and the Holy Spirit.
I attended a number of different churches of The Assemblies of God with my Nan when she was alive. They were all the same. I went to a revival with her and there were hundreds of people acting very peculiar. This was in country Victoria, they were country, middle class, white folks.
The phenomenon of 'Holy Spirit' laughing is interesting to say the least. This is a very small congregation but I have seen this occur on a much larger scale and it is even more disturbing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IMQeoLn8os

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Philip » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:49 pm

This is a very small congregation but I have seen this occur on a much larger scale and it is even more disturbing.


I fear some of this laughing worship is demonically inspired. It's certainly not from the Spirit of God.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby melanie » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:57 pm

Philip wrote:FL, I grew up going to a very good and large downtown Baptist Church. It was enthusiastic in worship (this was in the '60s), if rather urbanly subdued, with only an occasional "amen!" to be heard. Fine people, good teaching. One day a lady who worked with my dad invited us to her church's revival. We should have known something was up when we saw a mountain of amplifiers that would have made Hendrix happy. Best description of it was "Pentacostal Holy Roller Full Gospel!" From the get-go it was a circus and freak show all rolled into one. The music was COUNTRIFIED and ear-bleeding LOUD. People were jumping up and down and hollering, crying and every emotion in between. And one guy sitting beside my dad ran up and kissed the pastor on his bald head. My dad was freaked out, clearly worried the guy would soon be kissing HIM. I think my mom was actually scared - it was totally out of her experience and comfort zone. She whispered to my dad that we should all "discretely leave, one at a time." But the "discrete" instruction apparently wasn't understood, as all five of us kids and my parents stood up to leave, all at the very same moment - with all eyes on us. We waited in the car for my dad's friend. It was like something out of a Felini film. I don't think the pastor followed a sermon outline as much as some kind of bizarre script. The show of shows, it was. Funny memory. I was about 14.


I have attended these type of churches and it is quite the experience. I was as a child and I remember being quite disturbed and thinking they were completely bonkers but I was also bemused, how could you not be with all the carry on.
When my husband and I were engaged and 19 we moved to Sydney and next to the apartment building was a church, we decided to go one Sunday morning not knowing anything about the church. My husband had not been brought up in a Christian household and had only attended church once or twice when he was very small with his grandmother. We sit down and the pastor starts yelling and screaming and becoming very very enthusiastic, my husband kept shooting me looks as if to say "what on earth is going on" then the lady next to him jumped up and started yelling out in tongues, my poor hubby nearly jumped out of his seat too and into my lap to get away from her, he looked genuinely quite frightened. He's kicking my foot, eyes wide as owls, mouthing to me 'what is she doing' then it was like a domino effect , people starting jumping up all over the place, yelling out in tongues, it was chaos. Husbands whispering to me, I don't understand, what are they doing, why are the babbling like that? I was a little amused by it all, I could see him freaking out and totally shocked. Everyone's going nuts, the pastors screaming, the music pumping, there's about 20 people all yelling over the top of each other in tongues and there is my scared little fiancé lol. As soon as it finished and we walked out of the door he said to me 'I am never going back there again, that was scary'. Needless to say we never went back, but found a small baptist church, with very small numbers and most of them aged over 60 but they were lovely and normal.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby melanie » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:06 pm

Philip wrote:
This is a very small congregation but I have seen this occur on a much larger scale and it is even more disturbing.


I fear some of this laughing worship is demonically inspired. It's certainly not from the Spirit of God.


I agree, I think it is demonically inspired also. It's sad. People getting deceived within the church, but I guess satan likes to strike where it hurts most and does the most damage.

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Re: Research: Racial Diversity at Church More Dream Than Rea

Postby Lonewolf » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:35 pm

I guess we're always going to have racial or cultural differences in any congregation., it goes back to the first century Christians in Jerusalem, the Hebrew Jews and the Greek Jews, and then soon after the Gentiles became a factor in the congregations.
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