Should Your Church Be Racially Diverse?

By: Slow to Write Topic: theology

It’s not just Hollywood, workplaces, or schools—churches have also become obsessed with racial diversity.

88% of pastors say every church should strive to achieve racial diversity. Which means 88% of pastors have an unbiblical view of racial diversity in the Church.

Lifeway Research, who conducted the poll, said

“Perhaps one reason pastors care so much about pursuing racial diversity in churches is that they recognize racism as a threat to the church today much like it was a threat to first-century churches when the Apostle Paul frequently addressed divisions between Gentile and Jewish Christians.”

Except, despite the prevalence of racism in first-century churches, the Apostle Paul didn’t recommend diversity, equity, and inclusion frameworks. He didn’t say churches should be racially diverse. He didn’t say in his letter to the Ephesian Church that they should reflect Ephesus’ or the Roman Empire’s ethnic diversity. He didn’t say every church should strive to achieve racial diversity.

And since people who advocate for racial diversity in churches also advocate for racial diversity in church leadership, it’s important to know the Bible doesn’t say churches should ordain Jews as pastors in order to appease or attract Jews. And in the same way, it doesn’t say churches should ordain Gentiles as pastors in order to appease or attract Gentiles.

It’s sad that it needs to be said, but a person’s “race” isn’t one of the qualifications for being a pastor.

The answer to racism is repentance, not racial diversity.

Actually, pursuit of racial diversity often leads to racism. People who idolize race inevitably treat others according to their “race”. 

Like seeker-sensitive churches who create pragmatic programs or downplay the offensive nature of the gospel in order to attract desirable people, churches who prioritize racial diversity consistently embrace worldly philosophies like critical race theory in order to attract black people and other non-white people.

Also, what happens when a church that strives for racial diversity is faced with a disproportionate number of non-white people who need church discipline? Will they prioritize scripture when they’ve already prioritized racial diversity? Will they be Christ-centred when they’ve already given themselves over to man-centred thinking?

When a church strives to achieve racial diversity, they’ll be vulnerable to disobeying the Bible in order to maintain that racial diversity. This is why many pastors have embraced critical race theory.

But critical race theorists aren’t the authority on racial diversity, Christ is. The Bible doesn’t every church should be racially diverse. Therefore people who believe churches should be racially diverse are trying to please men, not God.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to desire racial diversity in a church. There’s a difference between people who desire racial diversity and people who demand it.

For instance, I wish my local church was more racially diverse. I’m only the second non-white or black member at my local church. And I’m also the only immigrant. I wish there were other Ghanaians, Canadians, or immigrants. It would make my transition to America so much easier.

If my church was more racially diverse, it would be a lot easier for me to relate to other church members. It would be so much easier to fellowship with them. 

But the church doesn’t exist to please me—it exists to please God. The church isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus. It’s not what I want that matters most, it’s what Jesus commands that matters most. 

Jesus doesn’t say churches should be racially diverse. Therefore who am I to say otherwise?

Still, some people say local churches should reflect the racial diversity of their communities. But that burden on pastors doesn’t come from Christ.

Churches are responsible for who hears the gospel in their communities, but they’re not responsible for who responds to the gospel.

In other words, churches should absolutely preach the gospel to different kinds of people in their communities, but it’s Jesus’ responsibility—not our responsibility—to draw specific kinds of people to the local church.

Churches are only responsible for planting and watering seeds, they’re not responsible for making the seeds bear fruit. As the Apostle Paul says, “neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)

It’s disappointing that most of the evangelical leaders who recognize the unbiblical nature of the church growth movement have joined the racial diversity movement in churches. 

Nevertheless, local churches do not need to reflect the diversity of their communities. The only need to reflect the holiness of Christ.

As the prophet Samuel said, “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

But praise the Lord, although racial diversity isn’t a pastor’s responsibility—it’s the responsibility of our Good Shepherd. Jesus has many sheep of all colours that may not be in your local church, but they are in the universal Church. (John 10:16)

This is why the Bible says in Revelation 5:9-10 that some of the angelic beings in heaven worshipped Christ saying:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

So dear pastor, don’t take the burden of striving to make your church more diverse. Your church should faithfully preach the gospel to all people in your community. And your church should support missionaries in obedience to the Great Commission. But racial diversity in the Church is Jesus’ responsibility, not yours.

Slow to Write