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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?

1 comment:

Tyler said...

This is awesome Rick I love it! I hope more of the Church in American wakes up to what Jesus really wants to do beyond our boxes. Heard Vertical was awesome this weekend!!