At the turn of the century (2000), just 7.5% of churches throughout the United States had at least 20% diversity in their attending membership. Six years later, that percentage remained unchanged.
By 2012, however, the percentage of churches having at least twenty percent diversity in their attending membership nearly doubled: from 7.5% to 13.7% generally, and to 14.4% more specifically in Protestant Evangelical churches. In addition, churches of 1,000 or more were five times more likely to have such diversity by 2012 than they were in 2000. According to sociologist, Dr. Michael Emerson, co-author of Divided by Faith
, the change in percentages from 2006 to 2012 represented “seismic statistical shift in a very short time.”
As you know, Mosaix has long championed a goal to see 20% diversity in 20% of churches by the year 2020. Yet from all that I’ve seen and felt since our 2nd National Conference in 2013, I now believe the 20% threshold will be crossed in 2018 when new statistics are reported and analyzed later in the year; that is, two years earlier than the goal for which we have worked and hoped to achieve!
If and when this happens (no matter the year), the Multi-ethnic Church Movement will emerge from a pioneer stage and enter into an early adopter stage.
In general, you might think of it this way:
Notice that each stage is half the length of the other as biblical understanding, demographic shifts, social conflict, declining attendance, economic uncertainty, technological innovation and more, have and will continue to contribute to the acceleration of the Movement.
In time, then, the Movement will be established and mainstreamed as homogenous churches become increasingly marginalized in a society that suspects segregation, values diversity, and today judges us not by the size of attendance on Sunday morning or, otherwise, mere good words, but by the breadth of our influence and good works in the community (Matthew 5:16; I Corinthians 9:20-22; 13:1).
Beyond Diversity: Corporate Sanctification
Recently I visited with a young, African-American pastor who, together with his wife, is planting a multiethnic church in the heart of Louisiana. Having launched the work in January 2016, they had come to our church seeking personal encouragement, relational connection and practical resources for the road ahead.
Among other things, he spoke well of his denomination in terms of its support to date, and of the need to help his people develop cross-cultural relationships. He asked how he might help his worship pastor overcome some of the most basic challenges of bringing diverse people together as one body before the throne of God. I was impressed by his intentionality and the initial diversity he has been able to attract, both to his core team and his membership.
On this point, however, something he mentioned caught my attention.
“Today, some pastors throw around the term ‘multiethnic’ in describing their churches, like spackle on a wall, hoping it sticks,” he said. “But then you visit their churches. Maybe there’s some diversity in the pews, but not in the pulpit or other responsible positions of authority. The structure remains unchanged: predominantly white or black, one way or another.”
There’s no question that he’s right: There are churches like this that exist and remain seemingly content with the status quo; and, likewise, pastors who are all-too-quick to claim their congregation is multiethnic for the sake of expediency.
For other churches, however, this is only a reflection of where they are in the moment and not at all where they intend to be in the future. Thus, some can be too quick to judge or criticize—even with the best of intentions—without taking into account how far a particular church may have come, or otherwise unaware of whether it has specific plans to soon diversify its senior leadership in order to effect structural change.
In any case, we should recognize that no church has arrived in this regard. Rather, like individuals, a local church, collectively, should be pursuing sanctification.
Think about it.
When pastors and theologians speak of sanctification they typically have the individual in mind. Rarely is the concept of sanctification, however, applied to the collective body. This is a mistake. For as with individuals, the Bible clearly reveals when and where the church will be perfected:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10).
In other words, if unity and diversity are perfected in the eternal church, we should be ever pursuing its perfection in the local church, as well. This involves more than mere diversity in the pews. It has to do with senior leadership and structural change, as well. Therefore, churches claiming to be “multiethnic” or “multicultural” should recognize that the faces of leadership speak louder than the terms used on a church website. Indeed, wherever diverse leaders are not empowered, the terms don’t stick.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect that any local church is now or will ever be perfected in this life where unity and diversity are concerned. Rather, at any given moment, each falls somewhere along the line of a continuum. On one end of the continuum, there are immature churches filled with people and leaders who want nothing to do with anyone that’s not like them. On the other end is like heaven, where diverse believers walk, work and worship God together as one body, as the eternal bride of Christ.
In its understanding, embrace and pursuit of corporate sanctification, where is your church at the moment?
As pastors, we not only have a responsibility to lead individuals toward sanctification, but entire churches in that direction, as well. Toward that end, consider the following four questions as you plan to move the church forward:
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
- What do we believe biblically about becoming a church for all people?
- What do we understand philosophically about how to go about it?
- What can we do practically to become a church that better reflects the community?
- What next steps will we take in pursuit of the dream, and when?
We’ve completely revamped our approach to coaching to help accelerate your learning and achieve measurable progress in a much shorter amount of time. Whether you’re planting, transitioning an existing church, or seeking to revitalize a congregation in decline, choose either a 30-day or 90-day intensive.
Click here for more specific details!
JOIN A LEADERSHIP COHORT
Cohorts now forming for 2018! Register below to participate in a free informational call.
Leadership Cohorts are equivalent to a one year doctoral (D.Min.) course: a guided training through which you will be immersed in the why, what, and how of multi-ethnic local church ministry or, assuming you’re are leading such a church, to help you establish associated non-profit (CDCs) and for-profit (LLCs) works to advance community transformation and create multiple streams of income (beyond tithes and offerings) to ensure long-term financial sustainability.
Join us for a free 30-minute Zoom call and informational meeting (click a link below to register via email).
• Tuesday, January 9
at 11AM EST / 10AM CST
• Wednesday, January 10
at 3PM EST / 2PM CST
• Thursday, January 11
at 5PM EST / 4PM CST
Through the ten-month cohort, you will:
-> Meet 7 times online with Mark DeYmaz and other veteran multiethnic church and/or disruptive leaders for online discussion and instruction;
-> Participate in 2 Learning Labs at select churches throughout the United States;
-> Read and study 2 books with a view toward practical implementation;
-> Be visited 1 time in your city by Mark DeYmaz and other cohort leaders;
-> Determine and attain measurable goals to advance the vision within your own ministry context.
ATTEND A REGIONAL CONFERENCE
2017 was Mosaix' biggest year to date for regional conferences and attendance…
• United by Faith Conference: Little Rock, April 2017 (300)
• Embrace Conference: Jackson, MS – June (400)
• One New Humanity Conference: Cincinnati, OH – October (250)
• Multicultural Worship Leaders Conference (w/MWLN): Columbia, MD – November (100)
…and we’re picking up where we left off in 2018!
Join us for one of the following three events in the New Year prior to Easter!
-> TECHNICOLOR CONFERENCE: Atlanta, GA (February 15-16)
Mosaix' Regional with Russell Moore, Mark DeYmaz, Oneya Okuwobi, Daniel Im, and more!
-> EXPONENTIAL EAST: Orlando, FL (February 26-March 1)
Mosaix' Pre-conference Equipping Lab and Main Conference Workshops feature Santes Beatty, Alex Mandes, Tommy Kyllonen, Oneya Okuwobi, and more!
PARTICIPATE IN A LEARNING LAB
@ Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas: Little Rock, AR (March 10-12)
Perfect for entire staff teams!