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America's Newest Race - Are you Ready?

I just finished reading an interesting article on MSNBC's site about the newest and fastest growing race in America...

  • It's not African-American
  • It's not Hispanic
  • It's not Asian
  • It IS...
Multiracial people!

Here are a few snippets for you to consider:
  • The number of multiracial people rose 3.4 percent last year
  • First given the option in 2000, Americans who check more than one box for race on census surveys have jumped by 33 percent
  • Demographers attributed the recent population growth to more social acceptance and slowing immigration
  • Second- and later-generation immigrants who are more likely to "marry out."
  • Utah had the highest growth rate of multiracial people in 2008 compared to the previous year, a reflection of loosening social morals in a mostly white state
  • More than half of the multiracial population was younger than 20 years old, a reflection of declining social stigma as interracial marriages became less taboo
  • Interracial marriages increased threefold to 4.3 million since 2000, when Alabama became the last state to lift its unenforceable ban on interracial marriages
  • Due to declining immigration because of legal restrictions and the lackluster economy, the growth rates of the Hispanic and Asian populations slowed last year to 3.2 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, compared to multiracial people's 3.4 percent. The black population rose at a rate of about 1 percent; the white population only marginally increased
So, it got me to thinking...most of our churches in Georgia are of the white variety - a few are multi-cultural, a few are African-American and a few are Hispanic...

Could it be...
  • that the church is 20 years late (we are in most things) when it comes to acceptance of multiracial people? i see this when i hear church attendees talk of the "stigma" of interracial marriages that will be attached to the children of said marriages
  • that the church is not ready for the influx of multiracial people, and thus their expectations regarding culture, values and tolerances? the "old" blended worship was mixing hymns with choruses - the new "blended" worship will be mixing black Gospel songs with Latino music - are we ready for that? have we begun to make the changes? are we even thinking about it?
  • that God is sending a wake-up call to Western Christianity that it's not a "white thing" any longer? Rather, it's a God-thing to see all people, their intrinsic value as being created in His image and their worth validated by sending His Son to the Cross on each person's behalf for their redemption?
  • that maybe, just maybe, immigration was God's plan for the Church in America to awaken to the need of looking beyond our skin color and culture? that maybe we're being stretched to look at humanity as God sees them, not as we see them?
Would love your thoughts about this...

As I was preparing this post this afternoon, I received an email from Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine. Lee has become a good friend and we keep in touch via Twitter with each other's lives. Lee had this to say in his most recent post regarding ministering in Alabama this past weekend:

I reminded them from Mark 7 that Jesus led the way for us in breaking the racial barrier. When the Pharisees questioned Jesus because His disciples did not follow their strict religious codes of hygiene, Jesus called them hypocrites and then immediately went to the region of Tyre—outside the borders of Israel—and ministered to a desperate Gentile woman who was considered unclean by Jewish leaders (see Mark 7:1-9; 24-30).

Jesus was clearly showing the Pharisees that true faith has nothing to do with living in a sanitized, racially segregated world. Jesus popped their bubble by venturing into Gentile territory, setting up His base in a Gentile house (7:24) and casting a demon out of a Gentile woman.

Jesus told the Pharisees that their holier-than-thou traditions actually nullified the Word of God. They were obsessed with washing their hands and dishes to keep themselves pure; Jesus was focused on touching the untouchables of society so that God’s love and mercy could spread to everyone. We have a choice: Sterile religion or radical compassion.

I’m convinced we won’t achieve true racial reconciliation until we all become more intentional about it. Healing won’t happen if we don’t make it a priority. What will it require? If we truly want to be a prophetic people, the church must address racism from every angle:

  • We must offer Christ’s healing to those who have been treated unjustly (this includes Native Americans as well as immigrant communities).
  • We must challenge Christians to let go of racial offenses rather than tolerating a climate of bitterness and resentment.
  • We must build multi-ethnic churches led by multi-ethnic leadership teams.
  • We must be willing to feel the pain of those who have suffered discrimination so we can truly “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2, NASB). That means we have to educate ourselves about the history of racism in our own communities—and dialog with the people who have been most affected.

This week would be an appropriate time for all of us to jumpstart our reconciliation efforts. June 19 is Freedom Day, otherwise known as Juneteenth—a holiday commemorating the emancipation of black slaves (an act President Abraham Lincoln said was a response to God’s leading). Instead of viewing Juneteenth as a “black thing,” all churches that care about justice and compassion should celebrate the fact that God heard the cries of American slaves and blessed them with freedom and dignity. Then we should link arms across racial lines and work to bring that dignity to everybody.

I stood with a church planter this past weekend as he launched a new church called Vertical Community Outreach - they launched in a city park near downtown Barnesville. At the end of the service, Shane Harris (church planter and pastor) asked the multi-racial and multi-generational crowd to stand and renounce the sins of the past; to ask forgiveness of one another for our intolerance and prejudices; and, to serve an eviction notice to the kingdom of darkness that the walls that have divided us are coming down in Barnesville, GA!

It's happening in at least one city and in at least one church - will you be a part of making it happen in your city and your church?

latest edition of blogs on my radar-part 3 (the outreach edition)

  1. Sam Rainer talks about the demographic shift in America here.
  2. Ed Stetzer highlights some common characteristics of churches reaching younger generations. Do you care about them? If so, take time to read, evaluate and implement where you can.
  3. Sam Rainer talks about the "Sticky Church" vs. the "Magnet Church" here
  4. So, what about church online? Ever participated in an online church service? Who do you reach in an online church service?
  5. Finally, fresh perspective from a pastor on why he believes his church is growing. Part 1 and Part 2 - if I had to bottom line it: ministry is hard work

10 Q's that need A's before you launch (or have any service)

I spent some time this morning thinking through any "last minute" questions/issues to discuss with Shane Harris before Vertical Community Outreach goes public with their first preview service this Sunday.

As I evaluated the questions, it occurred to me that they are really good questions for any church to ask themselves this week before they have service.

Thought I'd share them here:
(if you're an existing church, replace "Opening Day" with "this Sunday")

1.) What will our guests encounter on Opening Day? (Shane said, kid-friendly, relaxed atmosphere, multi-cultural)
- Greatness?
- Excellence?
- Acceptance?
- Love?
- The Gospel?

2.) How will _________________ (insert name of church) be different than all the other churches in our town? List 5 things. (Shane said, 1. only church outdoors this week; 2. people with signs guiding you to the worship service; 3. free t-shirts AND rompers for babies - no one is doing this!; 4. inflatable bounce houses and a city park - this will be great for post-service relationship building and connecting with the community; 5. service will be multi-cultural. Basically, the white people will be the minority - that's by design because Shane is intentional about bridging the racial lines)

3.) How will you gain contact info? (Shane is giving free t-shirts to all first time attendees - publicity and info, all at once)

4.) How will you process info for follow up? What's the assimilation process look like?

5.) Have you gone through the service in your head and in person?
-Have you practiced your message?

6.) Have you filtered your message through the lens of your DNA, vision and mission?
- along those lines - keep your message positive and encouraging - there's enough bad news in the world
- have no excuses

7.) How will you call people and challenge them to respond to the vision of ______(church)?

8.) As a leader, are you projecting:
- Stability?
- Confidence?
- Strategy?
- Momentum?
- Leadership?

9.) Have you prayed today?
- Have you heard Him speak to you through His Word today?

10.) Are you having fun?
- Enjoy the journey!

Give me some feedback - what else could I ask?

latest edition of blogs on my radar - part 2 (the communication edition)

  1. Ed Stetzer offers more insight into how Andy Stanley communicates in these two posts: #1 and #2
  2. And, while on the subject of communication and preaching, here's a recap of one of Andy's podcasts, that Michael Hyatt offers.
  3. Keeping in line with communication - what does your church say? who are you? who are you trying to be? here's a thoughtful, provoking and challenging post encouraging you to "pick one"
  4. gotta be honest, this one convicted me - i'm processing this video post by Ed Young...would love your thoughts...
  5. finally, closing out the communication edition, do you BOLD everything - read about it here...

latest edition of blogs on my radar-part 1

i've listed below several blogs that have caught my attention recently:

  1. batterson asks the important question in this post: Who are you becoming? He follows up with, "I'd rather be the right person in the wrong place than the wrong person in the right place."
  2. batterson also exhorts us to "consider the source" - a great post that EVERY church leader should read. if you're a complainer - don't bother. here's a thought: If someone has a complaint about our weekend gatherings, the first thing I want to know is whether or not they are inviting their unchurched friends. If they aren't, there is a much greater likelihood that the complaint is selfish in nature.
  3. sam rainer offers 10 bad church-work habits - guilty of some! how about you? probably #2 is the one that's my biggest obstacle and pet peeve (funny how some things that bother us the most we are guilty of-or, not so funny, actually)
  4. i'm passionate about making things better - it offends and bothers some people probably...i know that. but keeping things the same and never making them better is offensive to me (well, not really, but it sounds good) - oak leaf's pastor offers this advice - there's great advice here if your church wants to grow (from a church that is growing) and speaking from a recent expereince of working with a church that started doing some of these things.
  5. Maxwell offers these thoughts on how successful people think