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Spreading Diversity
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As recently as a decade ago, a fairly decent argument could be made that America really isn’t the “melting pot” (or “salad bowl,” as some prefer) that the media has made it out to be. After all, the research showed that even though minority groups were increasing in numbers, they were not very evenly spread across the nation. Instead you found high concentrations of Blacks, Latinos and Asians in the largest metro areas – usually ports of entry to the U.S. (like, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, to name a few). If you lived in a city of less than 100,000 the “melting pot” was not a reality for you.

Well, times are changing! Even though minority groups are still clustering in the large port cities, the 2000 census shows that this diversity is spreading out. The Brookings Institution’s latest report, "Diversity Spreading Out", reports that, for example, 907 counties across the country are at least 5% Hispanic compared with just 538 in 1990. Twenty-eight states are now at least 5% Hispanic, up from 16 in 1990.

This is just a small example of the spread of diversity documented in this fascinating report.* What does all this mean for the church? It means that wherever your church is located, the world, in all its beauty and complexity, is coming to you! There is a deep irony in all this. Only a few decades ago when whites were leaving the large cities in droves many abandoned their churches and built new ones in the emerging suburbs and rural areas. Many of the church buildings that were left behind became mono-ethnic churches occupied by the growing minority populations in the city. Now more and more suburban churches are finding they need to learn about multicultural ministry.

These changes bring many challenges but if we will learn how to equip ourselves for these changes, we will find that God will richly reward our efforts. After all, the Bible tells us that on the great day of the Lord there will be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).

* For a full report visit www.brookings.edu/metro

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By Ryan Bell. Center for Metropolitan Ministries. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.

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