Will a massive wave of multi-ethnic churches form in the next decade? It’s possible, but there are headwinds. Many cities are diverse, but the individual neighborhoods within them are still segregated. As mentioned previously, demographic trends change slowly. By the time Gen Z starts having grandchildren, however, I believe the all-white church will be more the exception than the rule in the United States.
Demographics tend to change slowly. You can see the patterns emerging, and, for the most part, you can know what is coming years in advance. Most people do not pay attention to these gradual shifts because it does not have an immediate impact on their lives.
Then we hit an inflection point, and everyone seems to notice.
We’re now at an inflection point demographically in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau recently confirmed two noteworthy milestones.
- The white population declined for the first time since 1790. Allthe nation’s growth is attributable to people of color. Almost every countyin the United States grew in diversity the last ten years. In other words, this trend is occurring in your community whether you choose to see it or not.
- The youngest generation is now minority white, meaning white children under 18 make up less than 50% of their respective age group. Around 2040 the entire nation will become minority white.
As you can see in the above chart, this demographic trend has been in place for some time, but the inflection point is now. I started writing about this reality over ten years ago. We’ve arrived at the place demographers predicted.
Why does this trend matter to the church?
As the demographics change in the community, the same demographics must be reflected in the local church. You should reach your neighbors! While it may seem like common sense, unfortunately, it is not common practice. Many all-white churches are not ready to be ethnically diverse. My focus is on the all-white church in this article because two generations prior the United States was 87% white. The sheer number of all-white churches means this shift will have a profound impact in the coming decade.
Is a day of reckoning coming for the all-white church? It’s less about a specific point in time and more about a gradual fading. What do the next ten years look like? Here are ten trends to consider.
- Growth in most all-white churches will not occur because the parents are having more children. Biological growth will continue to slow in all-white churches. Not only did the absolute number of white people decline in the United States, but there were also significant declines in the number of white children born here. The birth rates among white families are significantly lower.
- All-white churches will become less attractive to the youngest generation. Gen Z will gravitate toward churches that look like their schools. While segregation may be normative for older generations, the opposite is true of the youngest generation.