Having a racially diverse church remains more dream than reality for most Protestant pastors. More than eight in 10 (85 percent) say every church should strive for racial diversity, according to a survey from 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 Martin Luther King Jr. to call Sunday mornings the most segregated time of the week.
Today, diverse churches remain rare, says Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, partly because of human nature.
“Everybody wants diversity,” Stetzer said. “But many don’t want to be around people who are different.”
The research study also found 91 percent say “churches should reflect the racial diversity in their community,” and 79 percent believe their congregations look similar to the people in their neighborhood.
But Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic Church, a multiethnic church in central Arkansas, is skeptical.
DeYmaz, who also helped found the Mosaix network of multiethnic churches, said pastors aren’t always aware of how diverse their communities have become.
“Pastors would do well to look into the diversity of nearby public schools and gauge this against the diversity of their church to really understand their context,” he said. “They might, too, spend one hour sitting at the front of the nearby Walmart or other local grocery to see if in fact their church reflects the community.”
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows America is becoming increasingly diverse.
About 17 percent of Americans identify as Hispanic. African Americans make up 13 percent of the population, followed by Asian Americans (5 percent), and 1 percent Native American or Native Alaskan. Another 2.4 percent identify with more than one racial group.
Non-Hispanic whites make up 63 percent of the population. That number drops to about 49 percent for children under 5 years old, according to a recent report from the Associated Press.
DeYmaz sees the widespread support for the idea of diversity in the LifeWay Research poll as a good sign.
“We have gained tremendous ground over the past 10 years or so,” DeYmaz said.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press