Sunday–The Most Segregated Day of the Week

I had the privilege of meeting pastor, and now author, Scott Williams, at last year’s Catalyst Conference. I can say, with not a shred of mockery, that he might just be the coolest guy on the Internet.

A week or so ago, I broke open the race can here on Modern Reject and personally shared with you all of my feelings as a “mixed” race Christian. I have long struggled with the lack of diversity within the Church and I am not alone. Scott Williams has just published a compelling and stirring book, “Church Diversity-Sunday The Most Segregated Day of the Week.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy. In it, Williams strategically explains how and why, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s declaration that Sunday is indeed the most segregated day of the week rings true, even today.

I wanted to share a video with you that emotionally touches on this topic
. (It is only 1:35 long, too. Bonus.) Then, I’d like to open up the conversation.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How do you feel after watching this video? Hopeful? Angry? Frustrated? Indifferent?
  • Why do you think the American Church has continued to remain segregated?
  • Have you ever struggled with the lack of diversity within the Church? If so, how and why?
  • Have you ever had the blessing of being in a racially, economically, and/or socially diverse church community? If so, how did that experience affect you?
  • How do you think theChurch as a whole can combat and conquer the racial divides so prevalent in our churches?

I am beyond excited to start this dialogue with all of you. This is a conversation that needs to be had by every believer. As Scott Williams explains in one of his compelling videos, the church is “not a white church or a black church. It is God’s church.”

P.S. For everyone that leaves a comment, you will be entered to win a free copy of Church Diversity-Sunday The Most Segregated Day of the Week. I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday. Good luck!

49 thoughts on “Sunday–The Most Segregated Day of the Week”

  1. Nicole,

    Big topic. Are you ready for the reactions?

    * How do you feel after watching this video? Hopeful? Angry? Frustrated? Indifferent?
    * Why do you think the American church has continued to remain segregated?
    * Have you ever struggled with the lack of diversity within the church? If so, how and why?
    * Have you ever had the blessing of being in a racially, economically, and/or socially diverse church community? If so, how did that experience affect you?
    * How do you think the church as a whole can combat and conquer the racial divides so prevalent in our churches?

    1. Indifferent.

    2. We choose to remain in cultural cocoons. This is neither right nor wrong, it is simply our nature. Ever since the fall of the Tower of Babel.

    3. I do not struggle with the “lack of diversity” in churches. What does that really mean, anyways? It sounds like code for secular social activism. Sorry, ain’t buyin’ it.

    4. When I was first brought into the New Covenant, I attended a “black church”. Lots of theatrics, lots of hooping and hollering, lots of emotional climaxes. Not my cup of tea. It plays to the stereotype too much for my comfort level. I shun any church that specifically caters to any racial group. Again, it sounds like code for secular racial social activism.

    5. “Racial divides?” Really? Why would you say it like this, Nicole? And what makes you think they are so prevalent? Would it make our Jesus more approachable or believable if we had a rainbow coalition on Sunday morning? I think you might be looking for an issue that doesn’t exist. If I went to a church that had blacks and whites and latinos and asians, would that make me better? What is the end goal of seeking to eliminate these “racial divides”?

    Hey, you opened this can of worms. I look forward to your response.

    1. Donald,

      Sorry for a delay on my reply. I am away from my computer the first half of Tuesdays.

      #2 &3 I agree that, in many ways, we choose to remain in our own isolated bubbles or “cocoons.” However, I think it would be naive and overly-simplistic to assume that our “bubbles” are the only factor contributing to the lack of diversity seen in the American church. I suppose it could sound like “secular social activism” except that I am not a liberal social activist and so the context in which the question is being asked (and by whom) has to come into account.

      #4 If you shun any church that caters to any particular racial group than and why are you indifferent to the issue? What do you take issue with, in regards to having a “black church” or a “white church”? Not any one church service is going to meet every person’s needs. If the “hooping and hollering” was not your style, that does not mean that churches should remain segregated as a result does it? Would you prefer there be black churches so that you can avoid how others worship, whose particular worship style does not float your boat? I’m really not trying to sound biting or rude in asking these questions. I apologize if I do. I just really am trying to understand what your dismal of the stereotypical black church service has to do with question #4.

      #5 I said “racial divides” because I think it is a rather accurate description of what goes on in churches across the country each and every Sunday. I think it would absolutely, without a question “make Jesus more approachable or believable if we had a rainbow coalition on Sunday morning.” Yes! The church is the representation of Christ on earth. How can racially divided churches exemplify Him best?

      The New Testament is rich with the theme of unity. Unity does not exist in a vacuum, nor does it only refer to a white church having unity with another white church.

      In John 17 Jesus prayed for His disciples, and the future church. He said in verses 20-22: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
      Their Future Glory “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;

      I personally do not believe that Jesus was referring to the “one” white church down the street and the “one”-ness of the black church on the other side of town. I believe He was referring to spiritually unity within the body of believers that could be visibly seen and thus shown as a witness to the world.

      1. Nicole,

        I briefly glanced at your response…sorry I have a 6-month old daughter with a YES! ear infection. However, just to lay this out there:

        Your tone is not a problem. We are reasoning together as adults, not as sensitive politically-correct walking-on-eggshells liberals. I take absolutely no offense and I am hoping you take none from my tone either.

        As far as I am concerned, we’re cool, no worries. :) I shall be back later with a more proper response to some very interesting points you have brought forth!

        Thanks for being you.

          1. So….following this thread once again, here we go.

            I have read and re-read your comments several times so that I do not misinterpret what you said. You make some salient points, to be sure. I still am flinching a little at some of them, but for the sake of not making a huge post here, I am content to simply flinch and make nothing of it.

            I reckon, if I could put this into a nutshell, I would simply say this:

            Why does any church culture have to amplify their version of Jesus? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I have seen asian Jesus, white Jesus (the famous painting from 1940 by Salzman, I believe it is), black Jesus, Egyptian Jesus, etc. Well, where’s the Jewish Jesus? I mean, He is the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, not Jeff from accounting.

            To me, when I see a culture reflect their version of Jesus it defies unity. It makes Him like one of them. Big mistake. If I am not “one of them”, then how can I relate to their Jesus? Sure, it is comfortable and all that, but…I mean, really.

            I read an article YEARS ago…oh my…from Charisma Magazine that was titled, “Black Charismatics”. Slice it how you wish, the article gloried in how the black charismatic movement was closer to Jesus because of the slavery issue. They stated that this is why the “Negro Spirituals” were so deep and soul-stirring. The emphasis on demonstrative interactions with the Spirit were expected, apparently. It left a bad taste in my mouth to think that any group, any culture, would seek to familiarize themselves with Jesus on the basis of their race. One of your other commenters rightly cited the wonderful, “Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free…” Scripture. I believe this. I really, really do.

            The moment any culture seeks to make Jesus like them, I’m out.

            I’m quite sure I could go on and on, but I think I’ll let my fingers rest for now. :)

  2. My initial reaction to this is thankfulness. I have been part of a mid-week Bible study for the past year and a half, and as we lead into our Sunday morning launch service this week, I feel very blessed by such an amazing group of people. As I read this post and watched the video, I honestly couldn’t relate too much… The reason being, in our small group of 25ish people, we have young, old, black, white, filipino, mexican, puerto rican, indian, peruvian, korean, venezuelan, the list goes on. We’ve got bankers and administrative assistants, bell hops and quantitative analysts, students and teachers. Thanks for writing this post, Nicole. It serves to help me appreciate even more the community I have thanks to Jesus, and I pray that more people can experience that kind of community within the body of Christ.

    1. Praise a New York church for its diversity. What a tremendous blessing. I crave that kind of socially, culturally, and racially diverse community. I hope I can visit some day.

  3. I find this video to be very interesting, but a much needed issue that that Church needs to be honest about.

    I have struggled with the diversity and truthfully I would love for the church to be diverse, but I would admit that I am a little hypocritical in this area. I would criticize a predominately white church for not being diverse, but not a predominately black church. I am an international student in America and I come from predominantly black country. It was hard for me to come to a place where I was the majority, to come a country where I’m in the minority. I felt the same way in Church.

    I think American Churches are segregated because that is just they way it has always been. I think the styles of worship and preaching also contribute to this factor. (I don’t mean to stereotype) I have black friends who do not like the ‘band’ type of worship and I have white friends who would stand awkwardly during a more gospel service. I also have friends that could care less and they worship wherever, whenever with whomever. I think it has to do with the culture.

    I think this topic is difficult, because when you really think about it, you have to be honest with your own prejudices. I have a friend who’s white and she told me that she would not go to a church with a white pastor because white pastors do not encourage diversity within the Church. I found her reasoning to be strange, but she did have a point. I went to Church with her and the pastor was black, but the entire praise team was white. I was shocked. The Church had people from other countries and races. It was a new thing for me. I’ve also noticed that Churches in America are predominately one race and then treat the other races as a mission field. I don’t know why. Am I the only one who realizes this?

    I believe that if a Church wants to be diverse then it would depend on the members, but also the leadership. If it’s not important to the leaders, then it won’t be important to members I think that there was always be different churches, because you have Korean, Spanish churches, etc to meet the needs of a particular group of people, that they would not find anywhere else. I see the Church being segregated more so culturally than because we prejudiced against each other because of race.

    1. Fallon,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You bring up so many great points.

      I agree that addressing the issue head on means examining our own prejudices. I am half black and half white and yet, I hold stereotypes regarding churches, as well. People need to be willing to stop worrying about being comfortable if we are to see an change. Jesus Christ is not concerned with our comfort, so much as His glory. If that means opening yourself up to a church style that is not your favorite, then so be it.

      I love too your point about the change needing to come from leadership not just members. Often times, a church values what its leadership values. The message of diversity has to be communicated from the top. I agree too that much of the divide we see is actually cultural and not so pointedly racial.

      Great points! Thank you again.

  4. I think the use of “segregated” is problematic to me. Segregation, to me, is when one population (usually a cultural majority) forces another population (usually a cultural minority) apart from them. It does not allow a mix. While some churches/synagogues/mosques continue this practice (not allowing women and men to mix), I do not consider people choosing to attend a church where they feel comfortable because they are surrounded by others like themselves to be a segregation. It’s not being forced on anyone.

    The church I currently attend has a decent racial/cultural mix…but I still wonder when I see someone new walk in if they will find enough familiarity to feel at home.

    While I would hope that individuals would be searching for the comfort and familiarity of the Holy Spirit and Truth in a new church home, sometimes it is easier to opt for a church that is like the one you grew up in. Or at least one filled with people who are like-minded about how you worship, or how you preach, or how you serve those around you.

    I remember once attending a church in another nation that was very unlike mine. I was one of a few Caucasians. I didn’t speak the language. And the way they prayed corporately rattled me a bit….but then I thought it was beautiful. It made me wonder if heaven would be like that. Every tribe and tongue coming together with no man-made walls between them.

    When we choose not to extend ourselves and see how other people choose to worship, or preach, or love Jesus…I think we are the ones that are missing out. None of us has the corner on “rightness” when it comes to church. The most we can hope for us to truly love each other the way we are called to. I think if we are truly loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul…others of every race and culture seeking Him will be drawn to it. If our focus is on ourselves, on our own comfort…not only with worship but with God (isn’t that why we tend to box Him and His power…for our own comfort?) we are the ones that end up boxed. We put the walls up that forbid us to grow.

    1. Dee Dee,

      I will say that the word “segregated” may sound harsh, but I think it is totally appropriate. Segregation is not defined as being forced upon one group by another, but rather the state of being isolated or separated.

      Being part black, I will admit that blacks are often the ones segregating themselves. No one has forced them to have their “own” church. They simply choose to do so for a whole host of complex reasons.

      I think you touch on a great point too: familiarity. We flock to what we know, that which is understandable and comfortable. Many of us spend so much of our adult life doing what we know, instead of allowing the Spirit to lead us somewhere new.

      Such a great visual too you gave–every tribe and tongue! So true and so Biblical. Jesus was a boundary destroyer, a divide conqueror. I don not think He expects anything less from us.

      Now practically getting there…that is another story. But since He has called us to it, He will also show us the way on.

  5. After watching the video, I feel indifferent since I haven’t experience a church like that. Maybe if I had experienced that then I would feel differently. The church that I attend is diverse. Everyone is in a different place in life, going through different things, and there are many different cultures, skin colors, and classes attending and involved. I love it because it is great to hear an African accent speaking the Truths of Jesus and learning where they came from and how their family overseas is affected by Christ. I love it because I know that we are not reaching out to one color of skin and one type of people. We are reaching out to everyone who is willing to accept Jesus Christ.

  6. I think it all depends on what the goal is. If you’re in a community that has all races and types, and people feel that they shouldn’t or won’t worship with each other, then that’s a problem. If people are comfortable with the way things are, then that should be ok, too–as long as the people of God know that they would welcome anyone to their church, and visa versa.

    If people live in an area like I used to, with pretty much only whites around, then it’s a moot point.


    Anytime we erect false barriers between ourselves–race, age, sex, length of sleeve, type of car, radio station, whatever–then we aren’t being true to the gospel. The love of God obliterates all boundaries. Don’t mean you have to like another culture’s traditions, it just means you have to know they are valid to God.

    I’m lucky here in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi, to be in a church that has people from all corners of the world. Seriously. Filipino, South African, US, UK, arab, Chinese, Ugandan, Persian….it’s a huge mix. And that’s cool.

    I think it’s sad that there’s still so much segregation. I think it’s sad that most people don’t see the beauty and benefits of learning and seeing how other people do things. But as someone above said, that’s our nature. I suppose we can only hope, pray, and keep the issue alive in people’s minds and hearts. We won’t convince every Christian of the joys of this wonderful mix of worshippers, but we can try.

    Blessings to you!

    1. “The love of God obliterates all boundaries.” So true Josh.

      I am envious of your time in a diverse church community. I think once people experience church like that, it hard to go back to anything else.

  7. How do you feel after watching this video? Hopeful? Angry? Frustrated? Indifferent?

    Why do you think the American Church has continued to remain segregated?
    *Why has so much of American life remained segregated? I don’t think there’s *that* much out-and-out racism (except in the “illegal immigration” debates), there are just larger societal patterns that get reinforced and expand through the force of inertia.

    Have you ever struggled with the lack of diversity within the Church? If so, how and why?
    I’ve been fortunate enough to attend church at several “integrated” churches (by which I mean at least 40% of the people were not white). Racial diversity doesn’t sound like a big deal on paper (to an American white guy), but diversity of experience and perspective can do a great deal of good. For me, socioeconomic diversity has been even more eye-opening.

    Have you ever had the blessing of being in a racially, economically, and/or socially diverse church community? If so, how did that experience affect you?
    *Seeing the different ways that people from different backgrounds walk with (and stumble before) the Lord can be a real eye-opener to one’s own pre-conceived notions and stumbling blocks.

    How do you think the Church as a whole can combat and conquer the racial divides so prevalent in our churches?
    *I think younger generations of church-goers are adopting less of an “us vs. them” outlook which will be healthy in healing all sorts of divides. As a practical step, perhaps churches could set up formal “exchange programs” with other churches from other parts of town/the world.

    Good post, Nicole!

    1. Ben,

      Thank you for your thoughtful answers.

      I think you bringing up the fact that seeing the differences socioeconomically speaking, spoke more to you, is a great one.

      As another commenter pointed out, it is often our culture (which sometimes translates as our economic status) that truly divides, not skin color.

      I also love your answers for the 5th question. I agree that younger generations are seeing less barriers, but practical steps still need to be taken. Your “exchange program” idea is a great one I think.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Oooh, I have so many things to say, I hope I can be as articulate as you, Nicole (by the way, LOVED your response to Donald. The Word says it best, doesn’t it?)

    Yes the video frustrates and saddens me. I think the problem with segregation in churches is linked to the same problem we have in our culture. The church does seem to have a slobbering crush on secular society so it’s not surprising that at times they look so similar. I think creating divisions among the races is a money making venture. People like Rev. Jesse Jackson make money on creating more division. When injustices arise, no one steps in to create unity, everyone steps in to argue and further divide us with “black” and “white”, “minority”/”majority” perspectives and descriptions, using people’s emotions to boost their own image. It is eternally frustrating that society continues to see and point out how different we are instead of seeing how very much the same we are.

    Someone said it is wrong to use the term segregation because this type of “choosing churches or groups” is not forced. I disagree, it might not be overtly forced, but there is an under current in today’s culture that keeps us segregated. When people speak on racism or injustice they usually cling to stereotypes and division instead of using words like “people” to describe all of us. You will see our tax dollars aiding in this segregation in local schools as well- the level of funds that go into a school depend on the community the school is in- but supposedly we provide equal education to all, but I’m getting off topic. The thing is, while we partly choose our own cocoons there are ideas about our identity and where we belong forced on us by society. How many times have you heard of Obama referred to as a black president, instead just a president? He is always an African American or a black man and never a man? But in Christendom those labels should drop, but we cling to them. I think Galatians 3:28 says it pretty well “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    I have struggled with lack of diversity before, and not just racially. We briefly belonged to a church that had one black family, but the requirement seemed to be that you had to be upper middle class to upper class and own at least 2 pairs of Italian leather shoes. They liked to show videos about how their bus ministry reached out to local immigrant children loaded with the beautiful faces of African children, but never invited any of these families to church on Sundays. When I lost my job and it seemed we were no longer upper middle class we were treated poorly and we left. I’ve been to churches with diverse cultures and economic status and there is a much friendlier, welcoming, air there. It is refreshing. Unfortunately these churches are very small and do not represent the larger church congregations. I have also been to churches in Georgia that were mostly black, and I stood out like a sore thumb. But everyone was so excited to share their church with me and show me the ropes that I felt pretty welcome. I have also attended churches in Africa and that is an entirely different subject ;).

    I think we can combat this separateness by strengthening our relationship to Christ and our understanding of the Word as well as encouraging Christians to be different than the culture. We don’t have to follow secular trends as a church, and I think if we are to represent Christ, we need to represent all people. We need to stop taking our lead from society and pave our own way as Christ called us to do, to be set apart. When we start seeing others as Christ does and stop being afraid to be different we can make this change.

    What a great discussion!

    1. Carla,

      What a great comment! You nailed so many of my thoughts.

      This right here is the stuff: “We need to stop taking our lead from society and pave our own way as Christ called us to do, to be set apart.”

      Yes. The church should not be bullied by the secular culture into thinking that race is a factor. Race is non-existent in God’s eyes and yet we as believers continue to use labels.

      Galatians 3:28 is a perfect example of looking to the Word and allowing it to guide us.

      Thank you!

    1. Scott,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m happy to be a part of spreading the news about Church Diversity.

      This is a necessary and often over-looked issue.

      Thank you for opening up the discussion and giving me a much needed nudge.


  9. Wow, what a powerful video! It just makes me wonder how many people would be benefited from mixing in (so to speak) with other races. Like, wouldn’t those two boys grow in Christ so much if they were in a church that validated their friendship more? Not that the churches are trying to keep them apart. It’s more of just a defacto circumstance.

    Growing up in Scottsdale, I haven’t thought a ton about this issue before, but I enjoyed reading your post and the comments so far. It gives me a lot to think about, and makes me hope that my church will grow in its diversity.

    1. One more thought…

      I think in areas that are not very diverse (like Scottsdale) it can be hard to have a diverse church. While there is certainly room for improvement, I don’t really think a church can be any more diverse than its home town is. What do you think?

    2. Ashleigh,

      I think that is an excellent question.

      I don’t have any statistics at my finger tips, so I can only answer from experience and observation. With that in mind, I would say that a city like Scottsdale (where I also live) which is predominately middle-to-upper-class-white while inherently not “diverse” is still more so than we’d like to admit.

      For example, there are many Hispanics living in Scottsdale. Yet, in the large affluent churches I know of, they do not attend. Why?

      Perhaps the pastors and leadership there have not placed a value on diversity. Perhaps Hispanics have not been made to feel welcome there.

      In my opinion, a lot of it comes down to what we value and practicing what we preach. If an affluent all-white church in Scottsdale wanted to have a more diverse congregation, I believe they really would.

      1. FYI, an affluent all-white church in Scottsdale did want to have a more diverse congregation and they spent big bucks and planted a church in a geographic area of the city that would be more convenient to a multi-racial, diverse soc-econ crowd. From what I heard, it was an epic failure. But they tried.

      2. Perhaps, and forgive me for being so blunt, the reason many Hispanics do not attend “white” churches is because many of them don’t speak English, or at least it’s not their 1st/preferred language.

        1. Emily,
          I don’t think that is blunt, but an appropriate question.

          I agree that language is, of course, a factor in Hispanics attending or not attending certain churches.

          That is also why Chinese-American churches, Chaldean churches, Korean churches, etc exist.

          I get it. All I can say is I hope language is not always a factor.

          The church Jon and I attended until recently had a bus ministry that would pick up kids in lower-income, and often Hispanic areas and bring them to church.

          Sometimes the kids would attend for months, in the meantime the bus ministry pastor and volunteers would evangelize and form relationship with the parents.

          Many parents upon hearing their child had accepted Christ, would begin to attend church too.

          They desperately wanted community and to know more of God.

          They would attend church and speak in broken, sometimes non-existent English.

          I saw families changed. I think the power of God’s love in action transcends language.

          Sometimes, however, it takes creative thinking and a willingness to be uncomfortable and vulnerable (for both parties involved).

  10. It’s funny reading Donald’s post because I absolutely love the “hooping and hollering” sometimes. I think that we can learn from all types of worship-liturgical, responsive, internal, external (obviously not an exhaustive list)-and I think that we should. I think that we can all learn from different life experiences. Or race-experiences. Or genders. The only limitations that should be put on our search for God should be those that are laid out in the Bible. We’re only hurting ourselves when we limit ourselves to a church that is “like the one we grew up in” or “sings the songs we know” or “has people who can relate to me.”

    I think that racially divided churches are the biproduct of desiring the comfortable and familiar over what is most loving, even if it is not something we address conciously very often.

    1. Josh,

      I so agree with the need to experience other kinds of worship. I always say that God is a God of variety.

      But at the same time, we have to be willing to step out of what is normal or familiar, in order to have those new experiences.

      Great point Josh!

    2. Josh,

      Allow me to clarify:

      The whooping and hollering smacked of forced, cliched, expected, and emotional drama that one would see in any Hollywood movie portraying a black church.

      Being a charismatic myself, I have no fear of the supernatural or the miraculous. Human emotion, when done theatrically, only serves to detract from the Majesty of God.

      Just my two cents, not an accusation or condescension.

  11. Thought provoking post.

    I must say, I almost feel like a child in my experience with church diversity (or rather, lack thereof). Let me explain: I grew up in a family/home church. My family was the only church I knew until coming to college this year (except for about the 20-30 times I went with friends growing up). Of course, I never really noticed the diversity in the church growing up, seeing as I didn’t have much experience, however I did go to a very small, private Christian school during high school (I was home schooled until then). This is where I really started noticing the diversity among Christians. My school was made of nearly all of white students. There were possibly 4 blacks, 10 hispanics, and 2 asians my entire 4 years there. Then, upon coming to college, again, a small private Christian university, there was a distinct difference though, mainly because my college is the number one college for international students, but even then, it’s predominately white. Anyways, what I really wanted to touch on, the church I’ve chosen to attend while at college…

    I’ve honestly never thought about it until this post, but I don’t know if there are any members that aren’t white. I’ve never looked, but that’s saying something in my opinion. I don’t like that.

    At. All.

    In fact, I’m kicking myself in the butt right now for never noticing right now. Christ was so beautifully diverse in the people He hung around: poor, rich, widows, prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners, thieves, sick, Gentiles, Jews, the list could go on and on. If we are to truly follow His example, then we would have churches overflowing with all people, from every walk of life.

    Great post, thanks Nicole!

    1. Hannah,
      I so love and appreciate your comment.

      Thank you foe being so honest and sharing your experience.

      I’m blessed to know that this discussion has raised some questions.

      You said it so well..”Jesus was beautifully diverse in the people He hung around…” He leads and we follow His example. He gave us a perfect model to follow too, with inclusion and room for everyone.

  12. Is this God’s can of worms, or man’s?

    Isn’t it fascinating that God made men to appear different in so many ways, but the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance… for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

    Have you noticed how color-blind the Bible is? Lots of pages and lots of stories, but almost nothing concerning “race”. The heroine of Song of Solomon is black (SoS 1:5) and lovely. To my recollection, this is the only reference in the entire Bible to skin color related to “race”.

    Why do I keep putting “race” in quotes? Because the way we discuss “race” in America is very different than the way the Bible deals with it. The Bible refers to the human race (Jas 3:7), or treats race as tribal (Ezr 9:2; Zec 9:6, Mk 7:26, Ac 7:19) not as color groups.

    “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9) We are united with other believers, regardless of skin color or nationality or denomination.

    I have made almost two dozen mission trips into areas where my white skin sets me apart from the majority of the residents, and it’s not an issue–we enjoy great fellowship together. I have traveled to other areas where people have the same complexion I have, but our communication is hampered because they speak a different language.

    In the U.S. I have participated in churches with a significant mix of people in different socio-economic groups. Our communication and understanding was not as quick and easy as in the churches where we shared more in common in our backgrounds and present life concerns. You, Nicole, feel the need to fellowship with families raising young children, as you are. You couldn’t care less what color they are. But does this mean that you “segregate” yourself against us older folk because you don’t like us? No way.

    God loves to stir the pot and send people into situations that challenge us in different ways. Sometimes, that will involve cross-cultural fellowship. But my going to a church where there are a lot of people who are like me is not more or less spiritual than going to another church where I am different. The church is diverse in diverse ways. Based upon the video, I am “segregated” from Christians of other denominations, and of different worship styles, and even from those just like me who fellowship in the building in their neighborhood instead of my neighborhood.

    But I am not “segregated” from my brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. I rejoice with them wherever I am, without regard to gender, color, nationality, language, or any other barrier, as long as we share Jesus as Lord.

    1. Indifferent. This is an artificial issue. The only real issue here is if any Christian looks down on his fellow Christians with an attitude of superiority.

    2. We all seek a place that “feels right” to us personally, where we are comfortable with the worship style and appreciate the teaching… unless God sends us somewhere uncomfortable for our growth and His purposes. Many churches today have multiple services offering different worship styles. Does this mean they are “segregated”?

    3. I have no struggle with the lack of diversity within the church, because the church is full of diversity. We just meet in different places and do some things differently. Not wrong, just different. Not an issue.

    4. I have had the blessing of being in a racially, economically, and/or socially diverse church community. I learned some things there just as I have in other places. God knows how I need to grow and where I need to go in order to accomplish His will.

    5. I think the church needs to combat and conquer Biblical ignorance and spiritual complacency and lack of discipleship, whether the majority of believers in the congregation are white, black, brown, yellow, red, green, or polka-dotted. Fretting about this artificial issue merely takes our focus and energy away from the things that are truly important.

    1. I have to say, that while I wish I agreed with you–I just don’t.

      1. I think perhaps there is some thoughts of superiority that come into play. However, I think many people, even some of the comments here, address a more isolated church experience born out of circumstance and socioeconomic factors, not arrogance or superiority complexes.

      2. I do happen to think that churches that offer different styles of church services, are in fact, on a small scale, segregated.

      I am personally opposed to having a “contemporary service” and a “traditional service” and a “blended service” and a “young adults” service. It is age-ism in many ways. We are dividing people up by their worship style preferences. I think it is segregation. I also do not think it is the healthiest or best representation of the body.

      3. The church, as represented by the body of believers around the world, is indeed diverse. You could argue that the American church is, as well.

      However, to an outsider looking in, I don’t know that black churches, white churches, Hispanic churches, etc could be deemed “diverse” especially in the way that mean people think of the word.

      What about the many individuals, like myself, who are bi-racial or multi-racial? Do they need to choose?

      5. I do not, in any way, believe that racism is an artificial issue. Just because the Bible only uses the word “race” once does not negate the power of “race” on our culture.

      The Bible is rich with themes of segregation and even hatred based upon one’s cultural background or lineage. Gentiles and Jews. Greeks. Samaritans. Romans. Slaves and free.

      The woman at the well wondered why Jesus would dare speak to her, an outcast segregated Samaritan woman. Sure, the Bible doesn’t call it racism, but it echoes many of the themes the church struggles with today.

      I agree that focusing on the things of God is to be our number one priority. That does not mean, I don’t think, that we are not to discuss or address issues, like church diversity, as they arise or as needed.

      To be sure, God’s love transcends all divides and conquers all barriers. God is color-blind, but that certainly does not mean man is also.

    2. In reading your response, I couldn’t help but think of the example of Jesus. If Jesus, who was the second person of the trinity, fully God and fully man, came and lived with tax collectors, prostitutes, Jews, Gentiles, etc., then shouldn’t that be how our life looks if we are to be his disciples. Wouldn’t that mean, if we were following his example, that we would be actively entering the lives of those who are incredible different than us?

      I think that is one of the most incredible ways that the gospel manifests itself: when we stop believing that we can learn the most/live the most comfortably/be the best that we can be with people who are in the same season of life as us. And when we start just relating to people as God’s creations.

    3. Rejectdad,

      In reading your response, I couldn’t help but think of the example of Jesus. If Jesus, who was the second person of the trinity, fully God and fully man, came and lived with tax collectors, prostitutes, Jews, Gentiles, etc., then shouldn’t that be how our life looks if we are to be his disciples. Wouldn’t that mean, if we were following his example, that we would be actively entering the lives of those who are incredible different than us?

      I think that is one of the most incredible ways that the gospel manifests itself: when we stop believing that we can learn the most/live the most comfortably/be the best that we can be with people who are in the same season of life as us. And when we start just relating to people as God’s creations.

  13. Jesus tells us to go make disciples of “all nations” not just those that look like us. The bottom line is the Gospel, it’s about winning more people to Christ…

    I you don’t like church diversity… you won’t like heaven.

    I love that we can have a discussion about this, every other entity in society has either willingly or forcefully dealt with issues of race an diversity. The church is lagging behind. We can do better and conversations like this one helps.

    God is Love!

    1. Scott,

      “every other entity in society has either willingly or forcefully dealt with issues of race an diversity.” Great point.

      The church should be no different, in its need to address this issue. Where we can and should be different is how we respond to the issue of race–doing so in the power of Christ’s love and motivated by the Gospel.

  14. That is an incredibly thought provoking video. Unfortunately it’s also very much a reality. The congregation that I am a part of is anything but diverse and that’s due in part to the lack of diversity in the surrounding neighborhoods but also the fact that little has been done to create an environment that appealing to other demographics.

    That video is definitely a call to action.

    1. David,
      Our church location plays so heavily into our diversity or lack of it.

      I love your recognition though, that your church has also not been actively or intentionally appealing to other demographics.

      It can be difficult to accomplish, but I think with the leading of the Spirit, some creativity, and willingness to stretch beyond our bubbles we can do so.

      Thank you for commenting and sharing.

      1. I would disagree that neighborhood always plays a role in the diversity of a church congregation. I attended a church that is located in a low income area with many low income rental properties. The neighborhood was populated with Somali and Ethiopian refugees (yes this is in South Dakota!), Hispanics, and Native Americans. It was a huge opportunity for outreach and diversity. Sadly the church catered to snobby white people. I’m not saying white people are snobby, just the ones at this church who’s focus was too much on looking stylish, what gym you attended, and how extravagant a Christmas program they could put on. While the preaching was usually scripturally sound it also came with a huge push to financially support the church. I’m not against tithing, this went way beyond that and I’m sure would make anyone of limited means very uncomfortable.

  15. I’m enjoying reading all the comments on this post & thinking about this subject. I grew up in a small church in a small town & honestly longed for diversity. Now I am Mama to our biracial daughter and our caucasian son (one adopted from U.S. & one adopted from Russia) and I want them to be able to go to church with diversity because it is more reflective of what Heaven is going to be like. I did benefit from being around lots of different ages in my small town church experience growing up so I appreciated what you said about ageism where churches segregate by age or worship style because I don’t like seeing that either. I learned so much from being around senior adults and I want my children to benefit from being around older folks, too. Wish I could be more eloquent in this but it’s nap time and I’m caffeinating after busy morning with little ones & a night of tornado warnings…

    1. Heather,

      Diversity is what heaven will look like! I so agree. I too, think it is important to have all ages represented. I love you recognizing your children’s need to have older adults to help influence and guide them. The body at work should be doing just that.

      Thanks so much for taking time from the craziness of momhood to comment. Blessings!

  16. I appreciate you may have moved on to other topics but just wanted to thank you for highlighting this issue. I am a pastor of a church in the UK and praise God that the church where I am at is growing racially diverse with people from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Singapore as well as the UK. It truly is invigorating each Sunday to look out on the diversity to which the glory goes to God.

    I can’t speak for the States but having grown up overseas in South Korea, I think awareness and bringing awareness to others is crucial in dealing with this. (I personally feel that I am more Korean than British and that has been helpful to me in this). I think generally that there is a lack of awareness and intentionality in seeking to reach our diverse local community.

    We need to be of the incarnational model as opposed to the hopefulness that people will come to us. We have to be asking and holding ourselves accountable to how and what are we doing to reach out to the local Pakistani community for example?

    One of the blessings of this too is what we can all learn from each other. For example, I am inspired and galvanized by my Singapore brothers and sisters commitment to study God’s Word and by my Nigerian brothers and sisters freedom of expression in their love for the Lord in worship. (Certainly in the UK, there is a lot we can learn from our fellow Christians around the world in what it means to follow Jesus.)

    As a pastor, I feel the leadership of a church has to be proclaimers of this message of racial diversity in our churches as certainly here, I think raising awareness is crucial. Location and demographic profile do play a part, but if you are part of a racially diverse community then is it not, as Scott says, part of Jesus’command to go and make disciples of all nations… not just around the world but around the corner from where you live!
    Every blessing

    1. Paul,
      Thank you so much for your comment and perspective.

      I think you paint a practical portrait of how and why we need to further seek racial and social diversity within the church. I love what you said: “We need to be of the incarnational model as opposed to the hopefulness that people will come to us.”

      This is so very true. Our churches and communities, I believe, must model diversity, not just proclaim such truths. Walking the walk reaches people for Christ, more often in my experience, than just talking the talk. Blessings to you Paul and your work for His Kingdom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *