The American church has “zero credibility” when it comes the “greatest issues of our time” relating to race, class, and culture as pews across America remain mostly segregated on Sunday mornings, says multiethnic church movement leader and author Mark DeYmaz.
DeYmaz, the founder of Mosaic Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and co-founder of Mosaix Global Network which bonds ministries pursuing multiethnic church planting, growth and development, is issuing a dire warning.
Speaking last month before journalists at a conference in Oklahoma City, DeYmaz stressed that churches in the United States must be “disruptive” in order to break free from the racial segregation that exists exponentially more within their congregations than in the neighborhoods they serve.
But instead of being disruptive, he argues that the Church has been “disrupted.”
As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that the most segregated hour in Christian America is the 11 o’clock hour on Sunday mornings, the most recent data available from 2012 show that around 88 percent of American congregations fail to have less than 80 percent of their members come from the same race or ethnicity.
“So from the research, they saw that churches are 10 times more segregated than the neighborhoods they are in,” DeYmaz told The Christian Post in a sit-down interview after his remarks at the Evangelical Press Association’s 2019 Christian Media Convention in Oklahoma City.
“We have zero credibility now because we have these systemically segregated churches filled with tons of people,” he elaborated. “They can’t connect to the local communities that are changing around them. And it’s undermined our credibility and our witness.”
As for DeYmaz, 57, he planted Mosaic Church in 2001 with the express purpose of it being a multiethnic, multicultural church where whites, blacks, Hispanics and people from any other race feel comfortable worshiping.
Although DeYmaz is now known as one of the most influential leaders in the American multiethnic church movement, the former college baseball standout didn’t start feeling the call to plant a multiethnic church until his latter days as a youth pastor at a megachurch in Little Rock.
The only people of color were janitors
“[T]he only people of color in our church [at the time] were janitors. And that began to bother me. But I didn’t know why that bothered me,” DeYmaz told CP. “That was the first time I noticed something’s not right about this picture. In a town that was roughly 42 percent African-American and a church of 5,000 people, the only black people are essentially your janitors.”
DeYmaz, who grew up Catholic before being introduced to evangelicalism in college, said that realization caused him to mine for himself a theology based on the nature of the New Testament Church.
“It was in fact: [the New Testament Church was] multiethnic, economically diverse with Jews and Gentiles, men and women, rich and poor, walking, working, worshiping God together,” DeYmaz elaborated. “I hadn’t been taught that in seminary. Typically, we’re not. We were taught that the homogeneous unit principle is the way to plant grow and develop a church.”
The pastor, who went to Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, recalled a conversation he had with his African-American barber in early 2001 that really sparked his desire to launch his own church.
Prior to that, he figured that his trajectory as a popular youth pastor would just naturally lead to him getting a job as a lead pastor of an already existing large church.
“She’d been cutting my hair for eight years or so there. And one day I just asked her, I said, ‘Precious, do you think there’s a need in Little Rock for a church where blacks and whites can go to church together?’” DeYmaz recalled, adding that the barber agreed with the need and began telling him about her upbringing in the American south.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith