Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Changing Face of the American Church

population-chartBy Bob Smietana

For a look at the future of the church in America, it’s time for pastors to go back to school. Not to seminary—but to their local public schools.

More than half the students (50.3 percent) nationwide are ethnic minorities, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That’s up from 37 percent in 1997, according to Pew Research. This is just one sign of how the United States is becoming a multiethnic nation.

Consider this: In 1960, 85 percent of Americans were white, about 11 percent were black, with other minority groups making up the remaining 4 percent. Today, only 63 percent of Americans are white.

By 2043, the Census Department predicts no one ethnic group will hold a majority. By 2060, an estimated 57 percent of Americans will be people of color (black, Hispanic, and other).

For American Christians, the changes have been even more dramatic—at least on a demographic level. Among older Americans (those over 65), 7 out of 10 are white Christians. By contrast, only about a quarter of younger (18 to 29-year-olds) Americans are white Christians. In addition, more than half of younger Christians are people of color, according to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

Yet few American congregations reflect these changes.