Guest / Limited Access /
Black Churches' Missing Missionaries
Chris Carter / Baptist Press
Black Churches' Missing Missionaries

The number of black churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has surged more than 80 percent in the last decade to 3,400 U.S. congregations. However, the number of African American missionaries remains tiny: Only 27 of the SBC's 4,900 international missionaries are black.

That's about half a percent in a missions-minded denomination where 6.25 percent of churches are African American (totaling about 1 million members), and it isn't likely to change soon, experts say.

The main reason for the disparity is that black organizations just cannot keep up with the financial capacity of white organizations to send missionaries overseas, said David Goatley, executive secretarytreasurer at the African American mission agency Lott Carey.

"[African American] income is about 75 percent compared to our [Anglo American] siblings'—even when we have comparable education and experience," he said. "Our unemployment rate is also nearly twice their rate."

And sending missionaries requires raising support, Rice University sociologist Michael Emerson said. "Whites have 20 times the wealth of African Americans," he said. "So when you go to raise support, it's really hard because there's so much less money going around."

Another factor is most religious organizations still have racial divides, said Goatley. "The prospect of African Americans being part of Christian organizations with sending capacity is small."

But last year's election of Fred Luter, the SBC's first black president, could make a big difference. Luter plans to make his first mission trip to Africa later this year, and has called for more African Americans to consider missions. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueRick Warren's Final Frontier
Subscriber Access Only Rick Warren's Final Frontier
Saddleback wants to bring the gospel to the world's 3,400 unengaged people groups. Why it just might work.
RecommendedHow Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently
How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently
Survey: African Americans value spiritual formation in community, while whites prefer the opposite.
TrendingThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Editor's PickThe Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
The Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
It begins by recognizing the name above every name.
Christianity Today
Black Churches' Missing Missionaries
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.