I have just finished a new book, People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States by Michael O. Emerson. It is an academic investigation into diversity in the modern church in America. Using a definition of a multiracial congregation is one in which no one racial group comprises 80 percent or more of the people, it estimates that 7 percent of American congregations are multiracial. Not a very impressive number at all. Even worse is the fact that just 2 percent of congregations have at least 20 percent white and at least 20 percent black.
Fascinatingly the book highlights only two periods in American church history where the church was in any sense of the word diverse. The first was during the evangelical revival of the late 18C where implications of evangelical teachings were not lost on many slaves. John Wesley and George Whitefield marvelled at the numbers of African Americans who flocked to hear them preach. The second was in the early twentieth century, the early Pentecostal movement, and its focus on a life-changing baptism of the Holy Spirit brought more whites and blacks together in integrated revival meetings and church services.
When the Spirit of God moves it would seem that barriers between people are broken down, however when man takes back control of the church it once again becomes divided. I don’t think this should surprise us; the Spirit brings unity. We need to make every effort to maintain it. Ephesians 4v3.