Recently, I was privileged to hear a presentation from Dr. Jim Slack, the premiere demographer within the Southern Baptist Convention. For the past two plus decades Dr. Slack has conducted global demographic research helping Southern Baptists understand population growth trends, population shifts, people movements, church planting movements, etc. The presentation entitled, Realities, Trends and Implications Concerning the Future of the USA, Evangelicals and Southern Baptists focused on the changing face of America’s population and the implications for ministry as a result of these changes. Slack’s presentation is much too exhaustive and even more, much too significant, to cover in one blog post. Therefore today, Cross the Culture begins a four-part blog series examining the changing face of the American population and the implications for ministry these changes necessitate. Over the next four blog posts we will examine:

     1.    Anglo-Americans will soon be an ethnic minority in the USA.
     2.    The rise in illiteracy.
     3.    The “open back door” within the evangelical church in America.
     4.    The massive gap between total US population and evangelical
             church membership.

In part one we will focus on the rapid growth of ethnic populations in the USA. Parts two through four will follow over the next three weeks.

     1.    Anglo-Americans will soon be an ethnic minority in the USA.

Slack stated, “From 1970-2005 the highest era of population growth in the USA occurred. In that 35-year period 35,000,000 more ethnics came into the USA. This figure includes only legal immigrant ethnics coming into the USA to stay. In addition, immigration data also indicates that the first half of the last decade (2000-2005) has been the highest five-year period of immigration in American history and the latest waves of immigrants come mainly from non-Christian backgrounds such as Islam, Hindu, Buddhist and Animist (Traditional Religion) backgrounds.” Slack concluded, “Soon, no one ethnic group will make up more than fifty percent of the total US population. This means that for certain in only a few years, likely 10 years at the latest, Anglo-Americans will no longer be the largest and dominant ethnic people group in the USA.”  

Implications for Ministry

Wow! As we say in North Carolina “This ain’t Mayberry anymore!” The rise in the ethnic population of the USA yields staggering implications for the predominantly Anglo-American evangelical church. Local congregations must begin examining the demographic information available for their community and become knowledgeable of the ethnic makeup of their surrounding population. We must take the initiative to learn the cultures, the religious belief systems and the worldviews of the ethnic peoples in our communities. We must develop holistic evangelism/discipleship strategies to effectively communicate the Gospel of Christ and strategies to help ethnic converts travel the road of spiritual growth toward mature discipleship.  We must develop a simultaneous strategy for ethnic church planting in a multitude of languages (over 230 in my native state).  The USA needs Hispanic churches and Burmese churches and Iranian churches and African churches and Russian churches and on and on and on. To be obedient to the Great Commission the evangelical church in America must aggressively engage the multiplicity of ethnic cultures in America with the Gospel in their heart-language. Reaching the “panta ta ethne” in America is the biblical mandate for the church in the USA!

But, not only must we engage in an aggressive strategy for the planting of ethnic churches we must also embrace ethnic leadership within our ranks. The evangelical church in America needs ethnic pastors, ethnic denominational leaders, ethnic college and seminary presidents, ethnic presidents of our national boards and agencies. To effectively reach the American population with the Gospel the evangelical church must resemble the America population and to that end the evangelical church has a long way to go.

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