Article by Ed Stetzer. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.
When you say, “majority culture church” where I live, that means predominantly white—a majority white/Anglo/Caucasian cultural context. In that context, many churches are (rightly) trying to be more multicultural.
A multiethnic church is, usually, the best expression (and picture) of the kingdom of God and that vision of “every tongue, tribe, and nation” in the Book of Revelation. The multiethnic church matters.
Actaully, I will join over a thousand other people at the Mosaix Multiethnic Church conference in Dallas later this year. And, we’ve already announced an academic parntershp cohort with the Mosaix team.
In other words, we believe in the multiethnic church.
What about the minority church? Should the historic black church, the Hmong language church, and the Latino congregation all pursue that multiethnic expression of church?
In this article, ‘majority churches’ refer to American churches that are primarily white, as Caucasians make up the cultural majority in America. Minority churches are those whose population is primarily made up of people of non-white backgrounds.
So, if my church has to diversify, how come the black church does not?
Well, it may. And it is great if it does. But we also have to consider why it exists.
I once had an African American church leader say to me, “The only place I get to be myself is when I’m at my African American church on Sunday. I’ve got to put up with you white people all week. Leave me alone on Sunday.” Now, this leader and I are good friends, and he was (mostly) joking with me, but the deeper question at the core of his words struck me: How do we encourage and develop churches that look like a diverse heaven without depriving anyone of a true sense of community?
Majority / minority dynamics
Because whites are the majority culture, I worry that sometimes when primarily white churches say that they want to be more multiethnic, we actually mean that we want minorities to attend our white church so it feels more diverse. But there can be something dangerous about that generally good idea.
When we remove people from their own community— the places from which their leaders come, where they are affirmed for who they are—we remove them from a true sense of community, which is a disservice to everyone involved.