Monday, January 20, 2014

Racial diversity in churches remains elusive

By Bob Smietana

Having a racially diverse church remains more dream than reality for most Protestant pastors. More than eight in 10 (85 percent) say every church should strive for racial diversity, according to a survey from LifeWay Research. 

But few have diverse flocks. 

Most (86 percent) say their congregation is predominately one racial or ethnic group. 

It's a reality that once led Martin Luther King Jr. to call Sunday mornings the most segregated time of the week. 

Today, diverse churches remain rare, says Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, partly because of human nature.

"Everybody wants diversity," Stetzer said. "But many don't want to be around people who are different."

The research study also found 91 percent say "churches should reflect the racial diversity in their community," and 79 percent believe their congregations look similar to the people in their neighborhood.