In a recent article for Premier Christianity magazine, senior editor Justin Brierley explored why UK churches are split on racial lines and what can be done to overcome the divide. Spring Harvest, Keswick, Soul Survivor, or Word Alive are all attended predominantly by white Christians, whereas the Festival of Life – organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God – is attended by some 50,000 almost exclusively black Christians, most of Nigerian origin.
The fact that the UK’s major Christian events are either almost overwhelmingly white or black in attendance (and almost unaware of each other’s existence) is a reflection of what is often going on at a local church level. Rev Malcolm Duncan, the chair of Spring Harvest’s planning group, says that serious efforts are being made to address this issue by consciously including more diversity among speakers and musicians on their platforms.
Duncan explained that leaders from across the major UK conferences have also made a deliberate decision to show unity in 2017. “From the beginning of the festival season – Spring Harvest in March through to October’s Festival of Life – there will be a declaration of unity, of working together. A baton is going to be used in each event and carried from one to the other as a symbol of an attempt to start to strengthen unity across not just denominations, but across racial and ethnic barriers as well.”
Of course, there are many churches that are exemplary in their diversity and integration. The change may be slow, but may ultimately be linked to the changes in attitude that occur over several generations. As Christians from other parts of the world have found a home in the UK so they are increasingly finding that their own young people are less interested in a monocultural
church experience. It’s no coincidence that one of the most racially diverse churches in London – Hillsong – also has one of the youngest average age composition.
Source: Premier Christianity magazine
Bible Study: John 17:20-24
JULY PRAY WIDER for a great increase in integrated churches that will lead to true spiritual enrichment and numerical growth. Give thanks for churches where integration is already happening, particularly as younger generations break taboos and mistrust.