"Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

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"Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Sandy » Tue May 30, 2017 3:27 pm

http://religiondispatches.org/how-race- ... gregation/

I meant to post this here, moving it out of the threads on the New Baptist Covenant, where it isn't actually related to the discussion.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Jon Estes » Thu Jun 01, 2017 2:08 am

As a pastor of an international, multi-denominational church (where we do not push denominations) and a multi-racial church (where color of skin is not an issue) the church in the west is missing the blessings of such a fellowship. Whenever I return to the US, I will find it difficult to find a church which presents itself more like the streets of heaven than the communities of most large cities in the US. If I land in the DFW metroplex, I probably will heavily consider Dwight McKissicks church.

As sad as this is and as much as people are missing, we the people tend to attend a church where it fits our way of worship.

An example would be... many of the African American churches worship at a higher level of participation than the SBC churches (large or small) on most corners. Yet, the African American churches, in many ways, worship with a mix of African style and American style. The fastest growing nationality in my church are from Cameroon and Nigeria. Let them lose and they worship (in style) much different than their American planted churches.

I see the church moving slowly to being more open to other nationalities in the US church conversation. I do not see it changing on a large scale prior to the return of the Lord.

Martin Luther King's comment is correct and I think it is fair to say many whites would have been comfortable in the church he pastored. To much stereotyping from both ends. Even if that disappeared, the preferred style will be the draw. Good preaching comes in second. I would admit that the black preachers I have heard preach circles around most whites. The style helps. I can enjoy Adrian Rogers as much as I can enjoy Tony Evans, TD Jakes (yes, I said it) and others. I am not a fan of let me in your wallet preachers.

Lastly, I think we make way to much of segregation in churches. Church should not be like a workplace or a school It needs to be what God lets it be to reach the masses that God has called it to win.

Not everybody can hold a conversation about Jesus with people of a different nationality. Those who can... must.

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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Sandy » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:05 am

There are places where multi-ethnic, multi-cultural congregations form spontaneously, without any specific or deliberate intention, even among Southern Baptists. I served such a congregation in Houston for five years. It was an unlikely setting for something like that to happen, built on the remains of what had been a white, upper middle class church that started a decline due to neighborhood demographics in the early 1980's. Among the congregation of 130 people, mostly in their 60's, 70's and 80's by the late 1990's were a few visionaries in leadership, willing to consider the potential uses of the space in a building where they were only using 20%. When the church included leaders from the various ethnic congregations that were using the building, and they realized their equality, three congregations became one with two worship services, one in Spanish. The African Americans became the worship leaders.

The congregation I currently worship with developed a very diverse character in a spontaneous manner, in spite of the fact that the demographics of the area are overwhelmingly white. It's not a large congregation, but it seems that it is a magnet to people who are from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Many are second generation Americans and not from cultural backgrounds in which there is much Christian influence of any kind. The worship style has virtually nothing to do with the background of the people who attend, and remains what I would call traditional to this particular body.

Does your church have a denominational affiliation, Jon? How does it handle that with the multi denominational character of the membership and leadership?

Dr. McKissic's congregation is one I'd pick as well, if I had to live in the DFW area. It is racially mixed, though latinos and whites probably only make up about 5% of the membership.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Jon Estes » Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:02 pm

Sandy wrote:There are places where multi-ethnic, multi-cultural congregations form spontaneously, without any specific or deliberate intention, even among Southern Baptists. I served such a congregation in Houston for five years. It was an unlikely setting for something like that to happen, built on the remains of what had been a white, upper middle class church that started a decline due to neighborhood demographics in the early 1980's. Among the congregation of 130 people, mostly in their 60's, 70's and 80's by the late 1990's were a few visionaries in leadership, willing to consider the potential uses of the space in a building where they were only using 20%. When the church included leaders from the various ethnic congregations that were using the building, and they realized their equality, three congregations became one with two worship services, one in Spanish. The African Americans became the worship leaders.

The congregation I currently worship with developed a very diverse character in a spontaneous manner, in spite of the fact that the demographics of the area are overwhelmingly white. It's not a large congregation, but it seems that it is a magnet to people who are from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Many are second generation Americans and not from cultural backgrounds in which there is much Christian influence of any kind. The worship style has virtually nothing to do with the background of the people who attend, and remains what I would call traditional to this particular body.

Does your church have a denominational affiliation, Jon? How does it handle that with the multi denominational character of the membership and leadership?

Dr. McKissic's congregation is one I'd pick as well, if I had to live in the DFW area. It is racially mixed, though latinos and whites probably only make up about 5% of the membership.


Our early history has ties to the SBC. Currently we partner with the International Baptist Convention. It is a loose affiliation due to distance and cost to get together. Our Statement of Beliefs is very conservative with strong Baptist language. Those coming in are given our doctrinal position and few look elsewhere.

Our worship and solid Biblical stance draws people. Having lived in Nigeria, I can preach to the liking of many internationals.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Jun 01, 2017 4:48 pm

As we look toward Pentecost, it is time for more inter-racial and multi-cultural associations. Having pastored one tri-racial church, I can say that there is much to be gained by growing more open to the varieties of worship among the varied groups worshipping together. We need more congregations open to the varied ways of folks who come from different backgrounds. Alas, I fear we are the victims of the church growth movement that taught people that the fastest growing churches would be homogenous.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby JE Pettibone » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:55 pm

Dave Roberts wrote: Alas, I fear we are the victims of the church growth movement that taught people that the fastest growing churches would be homogenous.



Ed: Dave would you kindly explain what you mean by "the church growth movement that taught people that the fastest growing churches would be homogeneous"?

I believe I have sat through my share of church growth programs, without ever hearing that idea presented as you seem to imply, that some church growth movement or movement taught that maintaining homogeneous churches was desirable in order to have church growth. Perhaps I misread the intent of you statement.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Jon Estes » Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:21 am

Dave Roberts wrote:As we look toward Pentecost, it is time for more inter-racial and multi-cultural associations. Having pastored one tri-racial church, I can say that there is much to be gained by growing more open to the varieties of worship among the varied groups worshipping together. We need more congregations open to the varied ways of folks who come from different backgrounds. Alas, I fear we are the victims of the church growth movement that taught people that the fastest growing churches would be homogenous.


I am not sure if what you speak of can be accomplished in the present paradigm of which churches structure themselves. As long as a church is inward focus (and I am convinced most are), they will have no desire to be multi-cultural.

There is a church here that was started by white Americans who after several years ended up leaving the church and going elsewhere because to many non-white Americans were coming. White Americans who showed up were gently encouraged to go elsewhere by the white American church goers. Moral of the story - White Americans church goers can be just like they are at home while in Dubai.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:58 am

Dave Roberts wrote:As we look toward Pentecost, it is time for more inter-racial and multi-cultural associations. Having pastored one tri-racial church, I can say that there is much to be gained by growing more open to the varieties of worship among the varied groups worshipping together. We need more congregations open to the varied ways of folks who come from different backgrounds. Alas, I fear we are the victims of the church growth movement that taught people that the fastest growing churches would be homogenous.


I have very much enjoyed and appreciated opportunities to promote inter-racial and multi-cultural associations/programs/events. But when you are moving to a town that is 96.9% Anglo, I'm afraid it will limit my opportunities. Indianola is a much less ethnically diverse area than I'm in in Sioux City which is 80.6% anglo. That is often true of medium sized and smaller towns in the midwest.
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Re: "Race Tests" and Evangelical Segregation

Postby Sandy » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:35 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:As we look toward Pentecost, it is time for more inter-racial and multi-cultural associations. Having pastored one tri-racial church, I can say that there is much to be gained by growing more open to the varieties of worship among the varied groups worshipping together. We need more congregations open to the varied ways of folks who come from different backgrounds. Alas, I fear we are the victims of the church growth movement that taught people that the fastest growing churches would be homogenous.


I've only been to two church growth conferences in the past decade, both of which emphasized the key words "appeal" and "attract" and lots of talk about branding. One of them, at Willow Creek, emphasized being homogeneous, though not using that specific term. Almost everything they used to present their philosophy of church growth was tied to worship styles, church activities and ministry programs which all have a high level of appeal to upper middle class Caucasians who live in the suburbs. As I recall, there wasn't even a break-out session on evangelism. The bottom line that I got from them is that church growth is created when a larger congregation focuses its resources, programs and ministries on reaching the people who attend smaller churches nearby that can't offer as much, and which require more time and service from their members. At National Community Church in Washington, DC, a congregation which is extremely diverse racially and culturally, the emphasis was almost completely on ways to engage people in order to get to the point to present the gospel. This is a church that has five or six different meeting places for Sunday worship, almost all of which are movie theater auditoriums easily accessible by the Metro. The church emphasizes a homogeneous approach in that it aims worship "look and feel" and church experience at 18 to 30 year olds who have virtually no background in church at all.

I believe the NT teaching about the makeup of the church, the "ecclesia," the gathered body of Christ, in its local context has more to do with the Holy Spirit bringing the members together, based on fitting together their spiritual gifts, not people picking and choosing a church to attend based on their preferences. The individual gifts, applied to the various functions of a church as a body of Christ, are visible as they are used. If worship is allowed to be an expression of this, rather than a directed "style" related to music preferences, it will be visible every time the church comes together. The worship where I currently attend doesn't have anything specific about it that "attracts" or "appeals" to people, related to style or preference. There's no specific style or genre of music, or an order of elements, or a high quality sound system, or a deep voiced preacher with a southern accent. People come because it meets their spiritual needs, and they feel a sense of God's presence which resonates and connects with them. And its about as diverse as you can find in this area, which is about 80% Caucasian, and 70% past fifty years of age.
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