Each Monday this summer, I’m blogging Scott Williams’ book, Church Diversity, because I won the book from Michael Perkins’ blog and because I’m puzzled by the phenomenon of segregated Sundays.
As you know if you read here regularly at MessiahMom, I love a good mystery, especially old English country house mysteries by Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer. In those formulaic mysteries, the body is found in a locked room, everyone present at the weekend party is a suspect, weapons abound, etc. The reader’s task is to discover WhoDunIt before the inspector or amateur sleuth in the novel.
As Scott Williams does in his 2nd chapter of Church Diversity, readers must also face the “brutal facts” of the case. If we are to solve the case of missing diversity, let’s look at those brutal facts.
*According to Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic, The Multi-Ethnic church, in his podcast, 92.5% of churches are segregated by race and class.
*Curtis DeYoung found that only about 5% of churches are fully integrated (meaning, made of up of ethnic groups that constitute more than 20% of the population of the largest ethnic group).
*Sociologist Michael Emerson found that non-denominational megachurches are much more likely to be racially diverse (and otherwise diverse) than smaller, tradition-bound congregations.
These are the facts of the case. Let’s look at our cast of suspects. People investigating church diversity often point to THESE to identify the cause. So, Who is Kaiser Soze?
Pastor: People like to blame the pastor when their church doesn’t look like they believe it should. Pastors are expected to welcome visitors and drop ’round member’s houses and make hospital visits and create, share and execute the vision of the church. Pressure much? No wonder pastor burnout is a problem!
Sure, Pastors can be a contributing factor in church diversity. Like attracts like. Is he or she reaching out to minorities and actively pursuing diversity? What about Staff?
Staff: Associate ministers, Music Directors, Youth Directors, Church Secretary, Custodial staff, Nursery Director… I’m not asking churches to make hiring or calling decisions based on race, but given that our communities are diverse, it would stand to reason that there would be SOME diversity on staff. That’s something to pray about, yes?At the same time, can we encourage a diverse congregation with the staff we have?
Ushers: Some day, I’ll write about how a rogue usher almost convinced me never to go back to my former church. Ushers are the front lines of greeting in many churches, but they might also be serving as gatekeepers to determine who is in and who is Auf Wiedersehen (pardon my Project Runway ref). For instance, there was the story of the special needs child whose family was escorted out on Easter Sunday, to help create a “distraction free” worship environment.
Congregation: Couldn’t the people in the pews be inviting a variety of their friends and neighbors to church? Shouldn’t the people in the pews have reason to believe their church is open and welcoming to all races, ages, economies, abilities, backgrounds… what about those sex offenders?
Honestly, and I’m about to ruin a great Christie novel for you, so, turn away if you don’t like spoilers… I think that lack of diversity in the church isn’t a matter of WhoDunIt, but, like Murder on the Orient Express, we have ALL contributed to the segregation of congregations across the nation.
Our weapons were apathy, omission, snide comments, cliquishness, nepotism, risk aversion, myopia and distrust. Those weapons are not God’s weapons, they belong to the enemy.
This week, I’m asking you to pray for our churches. Pray for a destruction of the weapons that are so easily available to us.
What weapons would you like to see destroyed?
What’s your favorite mystery novel?