Preparing To Minister in a Multiracial World
By George Yancy
Our social world is changing rapidly. One of the most important ways it is changing is through the increasing racial diversity we are experiencing. Not only are non-Europeans becoming a larger percentage of the population in the United States, but racial groups are also interacting more openly than in the past. Yet, our churches have generally created ministries designed to reach only certain racial groups. Thus, our congregations have remained quite racially homogeneous and, to our shame, are less racially integrated than our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that our congregations will remain culturally relevant if we are limited to monoracial2 atmospheres. In a society that is becoming more racially diverse, old models of targeting homogeneous racial groups will not be effective. We must learn how to reach new racial groups moving into our formerly homogeneous communities. Many churches will need to transition from being one predominate racial group into a church that includes people of several different races. This is a difficult and scary task for many church leaders today.
I have worked with a research team3 to learn more about what it takes to transform a monoracial congregation into a multiracial one. In our research, we defined a multiracial church as a church where no racial group makes up more than 80 percent of church attendees. By this definition, less than 8 percent of all congregations are multiracial. Furthermore, only 5 percent of all Protestant churches are multiracial. In 2005, the Assemblies of God had 421 churches that had no single majority of races. This constituted 3.4 percent of AG churches. This data begs the question of how are we going to minister to a multiracial society if our churches reflect the racial segregation of our hostile past?
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