Church and Multiculturalism

A couple of years before his assassination in the 1960’s, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out that the 11 o’ clock hour on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in America.  Dr. King was referring to the segregation of Churches.  Almost 50 years later, we can sadly admit that that observation is still true.  This is because the type of segregation being referred to here is de facto racial segregation, rather than de jure segregation.  It is the segregation that exists in practice, though not necessarily ordained or enforced by law.

Anyone who is willing to call a spade a spade would admit that we have come a long way from how things were in the 1960’s but that we still have a long distance to travel to get to the attainment of color-blindness in the Church.   Many Churches today see multiculturalism as a badge of honor, so they claim to be multicultural Churches, even though many times the justification for such claim is questionable.  I have observed that there are six categories of Churches based on the degree to which they embrace multiculturalism.

Type F:  The type F Church has zero–actually less than zero–tolerance for multiculturalism.  The members are so far from accepting diversity that they actually loathe diversity.  If someone of a different race visits the Church, they would wish that they could escort the person out of their Church.

Type E:  The Type E Church has about 10 percent tolerance for multiculturalism.  The members are willing to say a casual “hi” to a visitor of a different race, but they certainly hope the person does not come back.

Type D:   The Type D Church has about a 25 percent tolerance for multiculturalism.   The members would welcome a visitor of a different race to the worship service and even as a member of a Sunday School class, but the person of a different race had better not think he or she would be given any leadership position, such as teaching a Sunday School class.

Type C:  The Type C Church has about a 50 percent tolerance/acceptance of multiculturalism.  The members would welcome a visitor of a different race to the worship service and as a member of a Sunday School class. The person of a different race may even be given a leadership position, such as teaching a Sunday School class, but he or she cannot be considered for any staff position in the Church.

Type B:  The Type B Church has about a 75 percent acceptance of multiculturalism.  The members would welcome a visitor of a different race to the worship service and as a member of a Sunday School class. The person of a different race may be given a leadership position, such as teaching a Sunday School class. He or she may even be considered for a staff position in the Church.  However, such a person cannot have a snow chance in hell of becoming the Senior Pastor of the Church.

Type A:  The Type A Church has 100 percent acceptance of multiculturalism.  The members do not just welcome diversity, they actually crave diversity.  The members would welcome a visitor of a different race to the worship service and as a member of a Sunday School class. The person of a different race can be given any leadership position, such as teaching a Sunday School class. In addition, he or she can be considered for any staff position in the Church, including that of the Senior Pastor of the Church.   There is no limit above which someone cannot go based on his or her race.  Multiculturalism is actually celebrated in the Church, not simply tolerated.

Obviously, there are many Churches that claim to be multicultural Churches that do not deserve that designation.  More and more Churches need to aspire to be the Type A truly multicultural Church, for that is how we can ensure that we eschew prejudice which the Bible clearly condemns.  The excuses are many, but it is wrong for the Church which prides itself with living by the Bible which clearly condemns prejudice to continue to be the most segregated institution in America.  Let us do everything possible in the little corners where we find ourselves to hasten the day when we can claim that the Church in America truly exemplifies what Paul said:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

One response

  1. Thank you for writing this timely and discussion-worthy topic! As implied by your blog, contesting or being resistant to multicultural inclusion when it comes to the 11 a.m. worship service crosses ethnic and racial boundaries. In your next blog, I look forward to learning about the leadership qualities that move a Type F church in the direction to becoming a Type A church.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: