Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I created a new typology for understanding multicultural churches: The 5 Types of Multicultural Churches and ranked each based on how well they create reconciliation (to God) and reconciliation (to one another). See my address to academics and popular articles on this here:
MULTICULTURAL & 8 Steps to Transitioning to 1 of 5 Models of a Multicultural Church #GCRNJournal by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., The Great Commission Research Journal, Biola University, 3/1/17.
UNITY & 5 ways church unity creates a powerful influence in your city by Bob Whitesel, chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity” in
re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017).
The Church as a Mosaic: Exercises for Cultural Diversity, A Guest Post by Dr. Bob Whitesel (Dr. Bob Whitesel explores what it would look like for the church to be variety of ethnicities and cultures) overview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, Christianity Today, 2/10/14.
If Reconcilation are the goals, then one of the best strategies is to integrate a church rather than just plant or support an autonomous congregation (and in the push both congregations apart).
In the chapter I contributed to the book, Gospel after Christendom: New voices, New cultures, New expressions (ed. Bolger, Baker Academic Books, 2012), that before St. Thomas’s Church in Sheffield, England became England’s largest multicultural congregation … it was first a multicultural merger between a small Baptist church and a small Church of England congregation.
The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.
And, with so many small struggling mono-cultural congregations, the idea of merging two homogeneous congregations to create a multicultural congregation needs to be the strategy of more churches and denominations.
The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.
See my book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013) for ideas and the chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity.” You can read an overview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, in Christianity Today.
Also, read this article for more ideas:
Integrating Sunday Morning Church Service — A Prayer Answered
by Sandhya Dirks, National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, 8/11/18.
… Which brings us to Pastor Kyle Brooks and Pastor Bernard Emerson. They knew creating an inter-racial church was not going to be easy, but they kept kicking the idea around. They would take long walks through Oakland’s Dimond District and dream about it out loud. Maybe at some point in the future, they thought.
Then a year ago, Neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they felt like they could no longer wait.
First, they had to break it to their congregations.
“I saw it on facebook, and instantly I typed back, ‘oh my god, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for,'” said LaSonya Brown, who had been attending Emerson’s church, The Way, for about a year. “I’ll be the first one to join,” she said.
Brown was raised in a black church with only two white people in it. One was her godfather, who had married into the black community, the other was a white woman who would “speak in tongues, and then translate the tongue.”
“I never knew her name, but I’ll never forget her,” Brown said. Despite it being different than what she had known before, Brown welcomed the idea of an inclusive congregregation. “I think it was something that I wanted, but I didn’t realize that I wanted it until I saw his post,” she said.
At first she thought it was going to happen instantly, just everyone showing up to church together. But it is not that easy to flip the switch on hundreds of years of segregated worship.
“It’s much more complicated than that,” Brown said. “You don’t think that your life is different than somebody else,” but it can be. In an ideal world, she said, people want to think about what they have in common and not their differences.
But we do not live in that ideal world of race relations. “There’s a lot of things that we don’t do in common,” she said. “But we do want to know how to be together.”
Each church individually went through months of workshops and classes, owning up to their own fears about what merging would mean.
Many people in Pastor Brooks’ white congregation were afraid of being uncomfortable. There was a feeling of discomfort around everything from different hymns, to the service being in a different neighborhood, to different styles of worship. There was also discomfort in having to face up to their responsibility, as white people, in ongoing American racism. Everyone in the church was excited about the merger, but that did not make it easy.
Pastor Emerson’s congregation was also supportive, and not just because they are largely family. The black congregants of The Way had different fears, fears that they might not be welcomed. Emerson said some of them asked, “will they accept us for who we are?”
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.
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
“(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
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.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Reconciliation is not about acculturation or blending, but about “giving up power.” That’s what Mark and I tried to say in our book: re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017). Read this article below for a good corollary.
“Transitioning to a Multiethnic Church” By Eric Nykamp, Global Christian Worship, 8/25/17.
Many urban white churches realize that their congregation doesn’t reflect the diversity of the cities they reside in, and many of these churches desire to become multi-ethnic communities. However, moving from this desire to developing into an actual multi-ethnic community can be challenging, especially for churches with a track-record of being a “whites only” worship space in their city. Since most white people have little awareness of their white cultural norms, they mistakenly assume that what is normal for them is also the norm for all people … and are puzzled when their “outreach” or “welcome and enfolding” efforts fall flat with people of color. Due to this cultural blindspot, they are unable to recognize that some of their white cultural norms send the message that people of color with different norms of worship are not welcomed, unless the person of color is willing to assimilate.
Some majority-white churches realize that changing their worship norms will help them develop into the multi-ethnic space they desire to become … but find that they are stuck in making this happen. This talk, given at one such church, addresses how white Christians need to recognize and understand how white norms about worship may operate within their church. The presentation asks questions about what it would mean for white people to change their ways and give up power in order to become a multiethnic community. He concludes with a challenge to white Christians in multiethnic churches to love their brothers and sisters of color with Christ self-sacrificial love for the church, especially when it comes to issues of power and control in multiethnic churches.
Hear it at:
April 10, 2017 | by Bob Whitesel, published by Church Central.
It has been said that “10:30 on Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week.” I don’t have a problem with that if 11:30 is the most integrated time during the week. Here is what I mean.
The purpose of worship is to draw near to God as if to kiss his feet. This means the goal of our “worship services” should not attempt to create unity but to create a connection with God. I asked a girl in one Millennial church why they had such a large foyer with a coffee shop. She said it was because the large foyer was designed as a place for people from the early service and the late service to fellowship and discuss what they are learning. I replied that in my observations, most of the time in Boomer churches this fellowship takes place in the sanctuary. She replied, “That’s a poor place to have fellowship. The seats are facing the wrong direction.”
Worship has become too many things; it is one thing.That got me thinking about 15 years ago, about how we have turned worship services into pep rallies. We often celebrate the church and our volunteers or our different musical styles, when really “worship service” in its very terminology is about connecting people to God. Maybe that is why people sometimes feel less connected with God, because we have the wrong emphasis in large segments of the worship service.
I’m not saying worship doesn’t take place in our worship services. It does. I’m saying, however, that it often feels sandwiched in between so many other things. Worship is too important to be sandwiched.
Where is fellowship, dialogue and reconciliation fostered: the Fellowship Foyer, Hall, etc. I believe fellowship is better fostered when we can talk about what we are learning at length. That takes place best in small, intimate groups where we can dialogue on a regular basis about our differences. But, it is especially hard to do when you’re entering or vacating a sanctuary so the next service can be held.
A good first step, however, would be for churches to provide a fellowship foyer (fellowship hall?) adjacent to the worship area where people could hang around after worship services to discuss what they are learning. I believe we must again create robust areas for fellowship, like the fellowship halls of old. These were the places of old where congregants hung around after church and deepened their relationships.
Even today many large churches with trendy facilities foyers too small for congregants leaving one service to fellowship with congregants attending the other. One pastor said, “We have a foyer, but they don’t hang around.” Well, if we are intent on creating unity and making 11:30 (or 10) a.m. a reconciliation time, then we may have to spend more time and thought on how to create fellowship. Just don’t do it during the worship time and detract from that.
And, worship services should be multiplied according to the artistic genres with which people are most culturally comfortable. It has been my observation that people worship best when they are singing songs with which they are familiar, to music with which they are comfortable.
I don’t think the worship service is, by its very name, purposed to create unity. I believe this is the wrong use of the worship time because the designation “worship” means a time to draw people close to God as if to kiss his feet.
I’m not against unity, I’m for it … just not at the expense of worship.I want to see more unity in our churches. But, we detract from the important ministry of worship and the Word by trying to cram into our worship services a unifying experience as well. In fact, I’ve written a whole chapter in the book The Healthy Church (2013) on how to create unity services.
Reconciliation begins with dialogue. Reconciliation is not going to take place in the limited conversations of a fellowship foyer, fellowship hall, etc. But it needs to start somewhere, and it can be fostered there. What if people who enjoyed different musical genres could attend the same church, hear the same sermon (perhaps by different culturally relevant preachers) and then exit into a “fellowship hall/foyer” to might with people of other cultures and learn how the sermon impacts each culture similarly and differently. This can begin a dialogue that can then branch out from Sunday morning to the rest of the week.
Here I think is the reason the quote that “10:30 is the most segregated time of the week” was utilized by Martin Luther King Jr. That is because our churches are segregated on Sunday mornings. This may be because most churches offer only one musical genre style of worship and therefore those who come to worship are primarily people attracted to one musical genre. I recently wrote a book with a colleague titled: re:MIX: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color(Abingdon Press).
I pray fervently for churches to develop a ministry of reconciliation to God and one another (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
So, what if we offered multiple genres as well as united opportunities to talk about what we’re learning over a cup coffee in our foyers? Reconciliation might not end there, but it certainly should start.
Most people who attend church do so on Sunday mornings. And they attend a segregated church because the music we select and the facilities we build promote one dominant culture. That is not good. So, if we are going to start breaking down cultural biases and walls, we must start church makeovers with facilities and options that promote multicultural options with uniting environments.