The U.S. population is more racially and ethnically diverse than it ever has been, and it is expected to become even more diverse in the future. This is already the reality for younger generations, in which there is no ethnic or racial majority. Even rural and small-town America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. So, what opportunities do these changing demographics bring to the church in America? Is it possible that God is doing something new?
In the cover article, Pastor Charles Yu asks us to consider what it means to “image” God. As image bearers, we communicate God’s essential qualities, he says. We do this individually, but we also image God in community. God’s love crosses differences.
The church in America has not loved across racial and ethnic differences well. Indeed, it was white majority churches and denominations that made monocultural churches a necessity. Today most Christian leaders and pastors in America articulate the value of ethnic and racial diversity in their places of ministry and influence. But too often while diversity initiatives result in greater diversity of color, they end with cultural assimilation.
Is there something deeper and harder that God is calling us to?
The authors in this magazine issue press into this question. Like most things worth pursuing, there isn’t a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all approach. This work requires humility, curiosity, courage and a bit of trial and error. But this massive demographic shift impacts all of our churches — whether majority white churches, churches filled with first- or second-generation immigrants, historic Black churches, or churches of any ethnic makeup.
Together we explore the biblical foundation for multiculturalism in our churches, review different models of multiethnic churches, consider the importance and role of the diaspora church in America, and begin to capture a vision for the glorious multicultural, multiethnic and multinational kingdom to come.