When it comes to ethnic diversity, one of the most common refrains in our culture is that 11AM to 12Noon on Sundays is the most segregated hour of the week. Such statements understandably raise important questions about our churches and ministries and whether they are focused enough on ethnic diversity.
However, African-American pastor Voddie Baucham, who leads Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, is concerned about our culture’s incessant push for diversity–what he calls “cherished pluralism.” In a recent interview with Ministry and Leadership, the magazine of Reformed Theological Seminary, Voddie offered some very helpful insights:
Q: How does the church adapt to the multicultural, multiethnic world we now live in?
We are at a place of cherished pluralism in much of modern American Christianity, and it’s dangerous. For example, you see one church with two different ethnicities, and another church with four different ethnicities, and you think the one with four different ethnicities has to be doing a better job of church, right? It may be, though, that that’s the neighborhood they are in, and they are no more welcoming or loving to people different than them. Or those four different ethnicities are broken up in four different pockets and they are not sharing community like they ought.
So, I’m very cautious about the push for diversity. I desire that all people would hear the gospel and be saved, that God would bring to his church all those whom he would call. The minute I start playing the diversity game, I’m in danger of stepping over certain lost people in favor of other lost people because I need to ramp up my ethnic diversity quota. And that’s usually problematic.
Q: How is it problematic?
In a number of ways–first, because we change our priorities. Instead of being set on faithfulness, now we’ve added another category. Faithfully preaching the gospel and seeing God bring whoever he brings is no longer enough…It’s not a biblical category of measuring success.
If there’s a problem with our not being welcoming or with being prejudiced toward people, then that’s sin, and we need to deal with that. But our goal is faithfulness in the gospel.
Q: It has been said that 11Am to noon on Sundays is the most segregated hour in our country. How valid is that statement, and how much of a concern is it?
Is it a valid statement? Probably. Is it reason for alarm? No, because people tend to go to church with people who are like them, and that’s always been the case. I don’t think we are seeing today what we saw in the 40’s and 50’s, where people were segregated because they were refused entrance. That’s simply not the case. So is the statement true? Sure, it could be. But is it better in those other hours of the week when people are together because they are forced together?
Inherently, in that statement, we’re saying that the church is wrong and awful because we are not seeing the demographic breakdown that other institutions are seeing during the week…Now we’re thinking we’re inferior to an institution that is forcing diversity on people, and that is simply not the case. If there’s sinful separation, that’s a problem, but the fact that people tend to congregate with people who are like them in a variety of ways is not necessarily a problem.
You can read the whole thing here.