Racial Diversity In the Church and Our “Third Race”


When you bring up the topic of racial diversity in most churches, many people think to themselves, “Well, I’m not a racist, so I’m good!” But God’s goal is not simply to have us stop looking down on other races. God wants unity, not just a ceasing of hostilities. He wants the very makeup of his church to preach the gospel: that despite our racial variants we are united under one ancestor, Adam; that we had one problem, sin; and that we have one hope, salvation in Christ. He wants us to demonstrate to the world that this unity in Christ is weightier than anything that might divide us. When the Holy Spirit confronted Peter’s racism, he didn’t just command him to quit looking down on other races. He commanded Peter to embrace Cornelius, to go in and eat with him. Peter did not go from “racist” to “non-racist”; he went from “racist” to “gracist.”

Thus, if your metric for success is only “have ceased to be racist,” you haven’t fully realized the gospel’s goal. Christ is not after racial neutrality; he wants multicultural unity.

DNA of the Gospel 

Only 5.5 percent of American churches today qualify as “multicultural,” which sociologists generally define as no one race making up more than 80 percent of the congregation. Full disclosure: at the Summit Church we aren’t at the 20 percent diversity marker yet (we’re at 15 percent), but by God’s grace we are getting close. And we are tenfold farther along than we were five years ago!

Multicultural diversity is in the very DNA of the gospel, and a Spirit-filled church will naturally drift toward this diversification. We see this reflected even in how the gospel has spread through history: Christianity has roughly 20 percent of its followers in Africa, 20 percent in Asia, 20 percent in Europe, 20 percent in North America, and 20 percent in South America. Every other major religion has at least 80 percent of its followers concentrated on one continent.

Christianity, statistically speaking, has no dominant culture. It is the most diverse movement in history.

So the fact that the majority of churches in the United States are predominately one culture is an abnormality. So how can a white—or black, or Asian, or Hispanic, or Arab—church achieve multicultural diversification in its local fellowship?

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
J. D. Greear

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