In a September 2009 post entitled Latest Stats Confirm the Growing Movement! I quoted Dr. Michael O. Emerson recognizing seismic shifts in local church diversity that had taken place over the past ten years (1998-2007).
Further research from the 2010 Faith Communities Today Study shows racial diversity continuing to increase in congregations throughout the United States. As Dr. Scott Thumma points out in this recent Huffington Post article, the percentage of multiracial congregations (using the 20 percent or more minority criteria) has nearly doubled in the past decade to 13.7 percent. More specifically, Thumma notes:
"In 2010, 12.5 percent of all Protestant Christian churches and 27.1 percent of other Christian churches (Catholic/Orthodox) were multiracial. Multiracial Mainline Protestant churches accounted for 7.4 percent of their total, while 14.4 percent of Evangelical Protestant congregations were multiracial."
Not surprisingly, Thumma gleans from the study (a random sample, key informant mailed/emailed to 11,077 congregations in over 120 denominations) that "intentionality is also important. The survey asked participants whether the congregation wanted to be racially and culturally diverse. The stronger they agreed the more multiracial they were." The fact is, Tak(ing) Intentional Steps is the second of seven core commitments required for Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church.
Such reporting provides us with further hope and evidence that the Early Adopter Stage of the Multi-ethnic Church Movement is fast approaching. With this good news, may those of us engaged in catalytic efforts to advance this cause press on toward a quantitative goal of seeing 20% of churches 20% diverse by the year 2020 ... and this not for diversity's sake but for the sake of the gospel - presenting a credible witness of God's love for all people in an increasingly diverse and cynical society, so that the world may know Him and believe (John 17:20-23).