DIVERSITY & About 1 in 5 American congregants attends a racially mixed place of worship, Baylor University study finds. #ReMIXbook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Since Mark DeYmaz and I wrote our book about how homogeneous congregations can transition to churches of living color (book is called ReMIX from Abingdon Press) there has been an increase in multicultural churches.

remix cover

This latest research from my friend and colleague Dr. Kevin Daughtery at Baylor University, indicates that almost 20% of churches are transitioning to multicultural congregations.

Learn about this exciting new trend in the article below and then pick up a copy of ReMIX: Transitioning your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press) to find out how almost any church can do it.

Multiracial Congregations Have Nearly Doubled, But They Still Lag Behind the Makeup of Neighborhoods

By Terry Goodrich, Baylor Univ. communications, 6/20/18

The percentage of multiracial congregations in the United States nearly doubled from 1998 to 2012, with about one in five American congregants attending a place of worship that is racially mixed, according to a Baylor University study.

While Catholic churches remain more likely to be multiracial — about one in four — a growing number of Protestant churches are multiracial, the study found. The percentage of Protestant churches that are multiracial tripled, from 4 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.

In addition, more African-Americans are in the pulpits and pews of U.S. multiracial churches than in the past, according to the study.

Multiracial congregations are places of worship in which less than 80 percent of participants are of the same race or ethnicity.

“Congregations are looking more like their neighborhoods racially and ethnically, but they still lag behind,” said lead author Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “The average congregation was eight times less diverse racially than its neighborhood in 1998 and four times less diverse in 2012.”

“More congregations seem to be growing more attentive to the changing demographics outside their doors, and as U.S. society continues to diversify by race and ethnicity, congregations’ ability to adapt to those changes will grow in importance,” said co-author Michael O. Emerson, Ph.D., provost of North Park University in Chicago.

For the study, Dougherty and Emerson analyzed data from the National Congregations Study, a nationally representative survey conducted in 1998, 2006-2007 and 2012, with a cumulative sample of 4,071 congregations. The study by Dougherty and Emerson — “The Changing Complexion of American Congregations” — is published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

The study found that:

  • One-third of U.S. congregations were composed entirely of one race in 2012, down from nearly half of U.S. congregations in 1998.
  • Multiracial congregations constituted 12 percent of all U.S. congregations in 2012, up from 6 percent in 1998.
  • The percentage of Americans worshipping in multiracial congregations climbed to 18 percent in 2012, up from 13 percent in 1998.
  • Mainline Protestant and Evangelical Protestant churches have become more common in the count of multiracial congregations, but Catholic churches continue to show higher percentages of multiracial congregations. One in four Catholic churches was multiracial in 2012.
  • While whites are the head ministers in more than two-thirds (70 percent) of multiracial congregations, the percentage of those led by black clergy has risen to 17 percent, up from fewer than 5 percent in 1998.
  • Blacks have replaced Latinos as the most likely group to worship with whites. In the typical multiracial congregation, the percentage of black members rose to nearly a quarter in 2012, up from 16 percent in 1998. Meanwhile, Latinos in multiracial congregations dropped from 22 percent in 1998 to 13 percent in 2012.
  • The percentage of immigrants in multiracial congregations decreased from over 5 percent in 1998 to under 3 percent in 2012.

Read more at … https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=199850

CHURCH HISTORY & ARDA creates helpful and graphic-based online timeline of Race/Ethnicity & Religion in No. America

Commentary by Prof. B.: It is easy to be put off by the complex and intertwined history of diversity in America. Recognizing this, the Association for Religion Data Archives (ARDA) has created an online and interactive “timeline” here: http://www.thearda.com/timeline/tlTheme1.asp (screen shot below).

Easy to navigate, quick to read with reliable research, this should be your first stop to understand and explain the complex history of diversity in the No. American Church.

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SOCIO-ECONOMICS & Research shows churches have grown weakest in communities that need them most: poor & working-class

Commentary by Professor B. In my books I advocate that growing and healthy churches will participate in the “3Rs of reconciliation” as put forth by John Perkins:

  • R-1 Reconciliation both spiritual and physical,
  • R-2 Relocation and as Robert Putnam points out in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,”
  • R-3 Redistribution of wealth should be on the agenda of healthy churches.

See my chapters/articles/interviews on this:

Still, I have grown tired and cynical at watching churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new sound and lighting systems to approximate a rock concert and “attract” a crowd when similar churches just a few miles away are struggling to stay open in lower social economic communities.

This article from The Washington Post highlights the research by Robert Putman which should be a warning to growing and healthy churches that Jesus admonition still holds today: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much…” Luke 12:48.

Why so many empty church pews? Here’s what money, sex, divorce and TV are doing to American religion

By W. Bradford Wilcox, The Washington Post, 3/26/15.

One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose — in a word, hope — that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.

The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.

Courtesy of Robert Putnam, "Our Kids."
Courtesy of Robert Putnam, “Our Kids.”

In “Our Kids,” Putnam assigns much of the blame for the unraveling of America’s religious, communal and familial fabric to shift from an industrial to an information economy. The 1970s saw declines in employment for less-educated men, divergent incomes for college-educated and less-educated men, and a “breathtaking increase in inequality” — all of which left college-educated families and their communities with more financial resources, and poor and working-class communities with fewer resources. The figure below, taken from Nicholas Eberstadt’s essay on men’s employment, shows that work dropped precipitously for men in the 1970s.

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(Courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor)

A key reason that working-class men are now less likely to attend church is that they cannot access the kind of stable, good-paying jobs that sustain a “decent” lifestyle and stable, married family life — two key ingredients associated with churchgoing in America.

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/03/26/why-so-many-empty-church-pews-heres-what-money-sex-divorce-and-tv-are-doing-to-american-religion

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

BLACK BONHOEFFER & How the Black Church in America helped convert Bonhoeffer from his racist roots

Commentary by Prof. B:  The following is an powerful excerpt from Reggie Williams’ powerful book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus (Baylor Univ. Press., 2014). I hosted Dr. Williams when he visited IWU and was still conducting research on Bonheoffer.  He found prior to the time Bonhoeffer spent in NYC among the Black community, that he considered himself a theologian … but in hindsight not converted (in a similar fashion as did John Wesley).

The following excerpts (quoted at the bottom of the first page and top of the second) show how villainous Nazi ideology had crept into Bonhoeffer’s thinking prior to his experiences in African American churches. Soon after, Bonhoeffer would be converted in a Harlem, African American church. The African American community impacted this theologian so deeply (my students are encouraged to read the book to understand more) that Bonhoeffer became a brilliant and sensitive theologian who gave us among others, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community and The Cost of Discipleship . To better understand how Christians can reconcile in a polarized world, read Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus and then Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community and The Cost of Discipleship . You will find the call to reconciliation is difficult, but a cost Bonhoeffer reminds us that maturing Christians are prepared to bear.

Black Bonheoffer 1

Black Bonheoffer 2.jpg

Black Bonheoffer 3.jpgRead more at … Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance.

MULTIETHNIC & “It’s… impossible to grow a multiethnic church without having multiethnic leadership in place first”

“(Bob) Whitesel agrees that diverse leadership is a crucial point,

‘Oftentimes, the dominant culture will have a tendency to try and run a multicultural church,’ he said. ‘We teach in this book about shared leadership. It’s almost impossible to grow a multiethnic church without having multiethnic leadership in place first. You have to include these people and their voices in the decision-making process before you make structural change’.”

From “Move to multiethnicity is not easy, but worth it” by Emily Snell, United Methodist Interpreter Magazine (n.d.), retrieved from http://www.interpretermagazine.org/topics/move-to-multiethnicity-is-not-easy-but-worth-it

MULTIETHNIC & Move to multiethnicity is not easy, but worth it #UMCIntrepreterMagazine

“Three congregations share learnings”
By Emily Snell

“If heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the church?”The work of Mark DeYmaz inspired the Rev. In-Yong Lee to challenge her congregants to think about this question.Lee is pastor of Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her church has been striving to become a more multiethnic congregation.

In the early stages of its renewed emphasis on diversity, Lee said Cokesbury hosted small groups, which intentionally met outside of the church building, to discuss The Multi-Ethnic Christian Life Primer (Mosaix) by DeYmaz, who is a pastor, author and leader on multiethnic ministry.

This was important in “challenging our preconceived notions about race and pushing us to the higher level of cross-cultural competence,” Lee said.

Change consultants often cite Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church in Cleveland as an example of a successful multicultural body. The Rev. Chip Freed said the church views its multiethnicity as “a faithful commitment to the great commission, to go and make disciples of all nations, not just some nations.

“We’re really serious about reaching non-church people. Non-church people live in diverse environments. It’s only church people who live in segregated environments.”

For Freed, the church’s multiethnic identity is about “presenting a credible witness to the gospel.”

“If we want to be relevant, if we want to connect with a growing new generation of people, we need to commit to this, or people will write us off as irrelevant,” he said.

In 2011, the Rev. DeAndre Johnson began serving as pastor of music and worship at Westbury United Methodist Church in Houston — another congregation focused on reaching diverse people.

As Westbury saw its neighborhood demographics change, Johnson said, the congregation began asking, “How do we let our multicultural identity shape everything about us?”

The church envisioned being “a church for all people with more than enough love to go around.”

“We are committed to maintaining and living out what it means to come from different places but have a common vision and life together,” Johnson said.

The church’s first core value is “multicultural inclusivity.”

Ministry for reconciliation

The Rev. Bob Whitesel, author, professor and national church change consultant, said multiethnic ministry is about reconciliation.

“We are given the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation is more than just reconciliation to God. That’s the most important, but it also means reconciliation of people from different cultures,” he said.

In his latest book, re:MIX: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press), written with DeYmaz, Whitesel said multicultural identity is a crucial aspect of the church’s mission on earth.

“We’re never going to reconcile people unless we get the established church today to embrace this, to embrace a church of living color,” he said.

Moving toward multiculturalism, Cokesbury decided that listening sessions would allow groups within the church to learn.

“We’ve realized, not only in different ethnic groups but across the economic divide, there are so many classes and groups that are divided from one another,” Lee said. “They all act out of preconceived notions, assumptions, prejudices. So we are intentionally breaking those barriers between us by reaching out and listening to one another.”

Cheryl LaTanya Walker, director of African-American ministries at Discipleship Ministries, said her goal is to “demystify” differences and break down “assumptions based on race or class.”

“We can worship together, be vital together if we break down the assumptions on what we see with the physical eye but look to God’s spirit,” she said. “We will see that we are more the same than we are different.”

To that end, Walker suggests that historically black churches begin by “doing pulpit exchanges” with congregations that seem different.

“Take your congregation, confirmation class and other ministry groups to churches that have different worship styles and persons who are outside of the African descent family,” she said. “Tour the facilities. Observe what is on their bulletin boards. Listen to the announcements. What are they doing in the community? Listen and observe what they are doing that may be the same or different.”

Start with leadership

At Garfield Memorial, “empowering diverse leaders was a very important strategy,” Freed said. “We don’t want the people on stage to be all one race. We try to represent diversity from top to bottom in our staff.”

Whitesel agrees that diverse leadership is a crucial point,

“Oftentimes, the dominant culture will have a tendency to try and run a multicultural church,” he said. “We teach in this book about shared leadership. It’s almost impossible to grow a multiethnic church without having multiethnic leadership in place first. You have to include these people and their voices in the decision-making process before you make structural change.”

Walker observes, “Bishops are assigning black pastors to historically Anglo churches that were in downtown with a specific mission of moving that pretty much Anglo congregation with some black members, to a more diverse, more multiethnic congregation,” she said.

Renovate worship, outreach

Westbury shifted from a “traditional, middle class, Anglo worship service” to something “in the language and style of peoples worldwide.”

“We started singing in languages other than English — some represented in our congregation and some not,” Johnson said. “We did this to nurture this sense of multicultural inclusivity within us and to challenge us to go further.”

Another key for all of the churches was a renewed vision for ministry in the community.

Walker pushes congregations to be creative in their outreach.

“What mission things are you doing for the neighborhood?” she asks. “What is your piece to get them in the congregation? Once they’re in the congregation, you begin the disciple process and inviting them to be involved.”

That involvement is not limited to Bible study or even to something in the church building, she adds.

“Particularly for our young folks, they are the ‘do’ generation. Sitting in a service for two to three hours doesn’t make a lot of sense to them, unless they see some output from doing that,” she said, “but they will go volunteer.”

In July, Garfield Memorial hosted “freedom week,” similar to vacation Bible school, at its South Euclid campus.

“It’s focused around teaching some of the Civil Rights movement,” Freed said. “As part of that, we have police officers come in and talk to the youth. They played a whiffle ball game.”

Partner with schools

Cokesbury and other churches are working to “do even more for the school” in their neighborhood. “Every time we meet and talk, we sense that it is not we who are doing this, but God is guiding us,” Lee said.

Garfield Memorial hosts an annual back-to-school event to assist low-income families by providing health screenings, haircuts, backpacks and supplies. “We’re trying to meet a need,” Freed said. “We’re bringing joy to the city. We want to make Cleveland a better place.”

Westbury also created the Fondren Apartment Ministry (FAM), a ministry at a nearby apartment complex, which houses many refugee families.

The ministry has led the congregation to be “tremendously blessed” as people from all over the world join in Westbury’s worship services.

“Many of these dear friends of ours have also become part of our worship life,” Johnson said, adding that they “faithfully participate” in worship despite some language struggles. “You can watch them begin to feel comfortable in the space and to take ownership of their own place here.”

“A person who doesn’t know the love of Christ, they’re our VIPs,” Freed said. The mentality is, “I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll set aside my personal preferences to reach those who are unchurched. When you do that, diversity will walk through your door.”

As churches embrace new cultures, Whitesel said, it’s important to create short-term wins. “Demonstrate to the congregation that this is going to work, that this is a worthwhile way to go.”

Humility, courage, vulnerability

DeYmaz emphasizes that, if a congregation tries to grow into a multiethnic church, “there is a 100 percent chance to offend each other.”

“Humility is the only way to approach one another,” Lee said. “We will offend the others without meaning to, because we don’t know them well, but we will be willing to approach each other. If offense happens, (we apologize), and mutually we will learn better together.”

Moving toward diversity requires pastors to take risks — and not worry about themselves.

“When you venture out to something new, there is a big possibility of failure,” Lee said. “Only when you are ready for failure can you do something.

“Those of us, when we are trying to grow in diversity, we need patience, persistence and perseverance. It’ll turn out to be a blessing to your local church, to your community and to yourself, so do some-thing!”

Emily Snell is a freelance writer living in Nashville, Tennessee. She writes frequently for Interpreter and other publications.

Read more at … http://www.interpretermagazine.org/topics/move-to-multiethnicity-is-not-easy-but-worth-it

DIVERSITY & A video introduction to LEAD 545 assignments on diversity & unity

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/22/17.

This is my video introduction to the assignments on how to create both diversity and unity in LEAD 545: Strategic Leadership and Management.  Be sure to read the syllabus and weekly instructions before watching my additional video introduction.

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.