Racism still exists (even in the church)
That’s right, I said it!
Americans may be poised to elect an African-American as president, but it’s segregation as usual in U.S. churches, according to the scholars. Only about 5 percent of the nation’s churches are racially integrated, and half of them are in the process of becoming all-black or all-white, says Curtiss Paul DeYoung, co-author of United by Faith, a book that examines interracial churches in the United States.
Personally, I do not believe integrated churches work.
(when they are led by Black pastors)
Having a determined pastor is not enough. Interracial churches can also implode on issues far more explosive than worship styles — like interracial dating & power. Some scholars and leaders who deal with interracial issues say it’s not unusual for parents in racially-mixed churches to leave when their teenage kids begin dating.
Some parents talked about the importance of a multiracial church, until their kid became attracted to someone from another race within the church. As kids began to date, some things get revealed. They (both Blacks and Whites) don’t want their kids involved in interracial dating.
Next, accepting black leadership is another touchy subject. Most interracial churches are led by white pastors. A congregation typically becomes all-black if a black pastor is hired, says DeYoung, the United by Faith co-author. As long as the top person, the senior pastor, is white, power sort of resides with whites. But when that shifts, it does something psychologically to people. White people usually leave.
Black pastors who do gain the acceptance of interracial congregations still have to watch themselves. Some white parishioners, even progressive ones, get uneasy when a black pastor gets too fiery in the pulpit. A black church sermon that could be understood as impassioned might be interpreted as angry and defensive by a white congregation.
Most Black preachers who minister in predominately White congregations must modified their preaching style to appeal to all sorts of people. Many abandon the pulpit pyrotechnics they learned growing up in the black church. They also carry their authority lightly, dressing casually in the pulpit and consulting with church committees before making decisions. In conversation, they’re relaxed and accessible.
Honestly, I’m quite comfortable serving the congregation God prepared for me. Each Sunday I preach with passion and enjoy how we “do church.” I have no desire to modify my preaching style (White preachers don’t modify theirs) to appeal to all sorts of people. As the point-man at Mars Hill Baptist Church, I don’t carry my authority lightly or dress casually so I can “fit in” with everyone. Quite frankly, I “do me.”
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