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.
1. The white population declined for the first time since 1790. All the nation’s growth is attributable to people of color. Almost every county in 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.
2. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Most all-white churches will become significantly older. The oldest generations are predominantly white. As such, ethnically diverse churches will tend to get younger while all-white churches will tend to get older.
4. All-white megachurches based on large campuses in the suburbs will experience the most rapid declines. Not only is the megachurch movement beginning to fade, but many of these churches also grew with the Boomer generation through the 1990s and 2000s. As the Boomer generation ages, all-white suburban megachurches will see steep declines.
5. Some all-white congregations will continue to thrive in areas where they reflect the community. Parts of the country are predominantly white and will remain so for the next ten years. All-white churches in these areas will be the least impacted.
6. Most multi-ethnic churches will grow gradually, not exponentially. The predominantly white churches that begin an intentional process of becoming more diverse will not grow overnight. However, much progress can be made gradually over a decade.
7. Healthy multi-ethnic churches will develop because of a purposeful effort to equip, train, and hire people of color. Most all-white churches will not become diverse unless they start with becoming multi-ethnic in leadership.
8. Healthy neighborhood churches will lead the way with diversity. What new movement will replace the megachurch movement of the past? I’m banking on a revived neighborhood church. And I believe these congregations will lead the way in becoming more diverse.
9. Geography will matter less in the future than in the past. Diversity was once an urban reality, but it is now everywhere. All-white churches in every community should pay attention to this trend.
10. Racial tensions will still exist in our churches and in society at large. Racism is a sin, which means it is not going away in the next ten years. Satan will continue to use skin color to divide us. But the church has an opportunity over the next ten years to demonstrate a little taste of heaven.
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.
Where can you start? How diverse is your community already? Most people are shocked when they look at the data. If you don’t know your community, then you can’t reach your community. Church Answers has created a resource to help. It’s called the Know Your Community report. We offer this incredible demographic and psychographic report to help you reach and love your community.
Know your community. Love your community. Reach your community.
Posted on August 18, 2021
As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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This article is much too optimistic. “Woke” ideology is planted and growing and no herbicides currently in use are working. The anti-white buds are sprouting and will mature eventually into genocidal fruit. This vile foliage will overwhelm the gardens of reason, moderation, and love. Only God’s miraculous mercy can destroy the infernal weed.
Kind of. White Anglo-Saxon is in decline. All European countries have populations in decline, not just the US (or Japan). The US churches are in decline not because of diversity but because white Americans become atheists (same in Europe). Majority of African Americans (55%) still go to church every Sunday. The whites are declining but they also leave church, i.e. the white atheist population will decline too. The majority of non white world is deeply religious, there are no atheists there. Most Christians will be in Africa. Hispanics are the fastest growing group in the US. Most of them believe in God and consider themselves Christian. Evangelicals are fast growing in Latin America, sending missionaries all over the world and into the US. The US is going to be largely Spanish speaking plus African and Asian with declining white Christians and atheists. The US can still be a Christian Evangelical but different ethnically and racially (a bit like Brazil). Instead of trying to reach white atheists (who are in decline and do not care), study Spanish and reach out to Hispanics, they will be the largest group in this country and they are open to Gospel.
Interesting Census data in concise form https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/08/improved-race-ethnicity-measures-reveal-united-states-population-much-more-multiracial.html
Actually Asian was the fastest growing, +35.5%, 19.9 mln in 2020. Hispanic population grew up by 23% from 2010 to 2020 to 62.1 mln, while non Hispanic population grew by 4.3%.
25% of 18 and younger today in the US are Hispanic… It will be a 1/3 Hispanic country in 10 years. They probably will be close to white by size or even the largest. Our church should start a Hispanic church plant.
Furthermore, in research I have conducted, Anglo churches are already showing lower growth and lower core vitality indicators than monocultural non-Anglo and multicultural expressions of church.
Viola!!!! Diversity has come to stay. I also believe the rate of this decline change rate would be at a faster pace. The real question is: are we ready for this, going forward? Thank you Sam for sharing this trends findings!
In 50 years there will be hardly any churches left in the United States anyways. The younger generation is not religious. And the ones that do have faith are more of a personal faith. They see organized religion as a grandma and grandpa thing. Not to mention that more people will turn to online communities and interaction. So there won’t be many churches left period, white, black, purple, pink. Churches will become extinct.
Black churches are still culturally relevant in communities. I don’t see that changing until the issue of racism is dealt with.
This is so true,I Pastor a church in Balto. and we have seen this first hand. We re purposed our facility to try and address future growth. We have English services and Hispanic services every Sunday. At times we will come together for Fellowship meals and special services. I say this because your evaluation is accurate, the Hispanic community is growing faster then the English speaking community. Blessings