Jungle Fever: The Most Segregated Hour

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.”

Holla back!

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13 thoughts on “Jungle Fever: The Most Segregated Hour

  1. Started reading and I was like "what" but as I continued reading I got the intended message of the article and all I can say is "Right on Pastor"!

  2. We are segregated because we worship differently. Our style of preaching, singing and worshipping is totally different. I wouldn't give up the black service experience for anything. Twice a year, I witness interracial service at Kids Across America, which is a stew of both types, I love the worship service, and some of the worship songs are typically white however there's a special soul flair in it. I also attend a NANC conference where the praise and worship is totally different, it is more serene. Black churches are more passionate and full of soul.

  3. If I could have an even mixture of both worlds, I think I could deal with that. One thing about white services, I like the way the preacher teaches. Some ministers don't teach, they do what the black preacher does. I've watched the audience and they only come alive when the preacher is hoopin' , what did they learn, if anything, could they even tell you the subject or the points? What they normally say is, "He sho did preach", well what did he say, I don't remember, but "He sho did preach". That's why the church is in the state it is in, no one wants to study and listen to the Word. Some just come for the weekly experience, and leave out the same way we can, empty.

  4. Next, accepting black leadership is another touchy subject. Most interracial churches are led by white pastors.

    This is not true in every case.

    If you hit Mountain View Community Church in Temecula California it's not the norm. And there are a handful of congregations that are moving that way.

    But don't get me wrong, I agree with gist of the post, the premise of the post and I believe you are on point.

    And I wonder how many non-African Americans would " vote in" a African American pastor.

    • Hey Pastor Stowers!
      I think it's all about what God has called a person to. If God has called you to something that embraces more than one race, I think 9/10 times, he's already equipped you to do that. I think we (all people, not just black) segregate ourselves because we refuse to compromise, but we blame it on the other side. (Whatever side that may be)

      • Heeeeey Glenda,

        Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I totally agree; IF GOD HAS CALLED YOU is the key phrase. Not everyone is called to minister to more than one race. Those who are are uniquely gifted to walk in "both" worlds. As for self-segregation, unfortunately it's true. People have to be willing to move outside their comfort zones & learn from everyone.

  5. There are a number of CRC (Christian Reformed Churches )here in Grand Rapids that have elected black pastors, because they recognize that something is missing. )Not that we are the missing ingredient, but that the congregation does not resemble the community, or the world for that matter. CRC's are predominantly white churches if not completely white. I think God is calling for unity in the Body of Christ across the board, and we have to be relevant to whomever we should happen to meet and minister to. I am not talking about assimilating at all: changing at the cost of losing oneself. But I do think we can all do a better job of being more hospitable. Matter of fact, I think it's crucial to the relevancy and longevity of the church.

    • TCC is multi-ethnic, and people have come from soooo many denominations you can't even name them all. So I think the lines between culture and denomination get blurry, and behaviors or mindsets that we think are strictly cultural, are in fact denominational, and traditional at that! I value the way that God has stretched me since I've been here. I haven't changed now, just stretched. I believe I can go anywhere and lead worship. Praise and worship isn't cultural. It's Spiritual, but we have made the vehicle by which we praise and worship (music) the main focus. So the debate continues…

    • Wow, I wasn't aware the CRC were actively seeking to appoint Black pastors – that's true progression! Also, I agree; God IS calling for unity in the Body & I promise to do all I can to bridge the gap.

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