Guest / Limited Access /
Black Churches' Missing Missionaries
Image: 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."

...

"As SBC president, I will let [black] churches know that we desperately need more African Americans on the mission field," Luter told Baptist Press. "I want to challenge pastor[s] to start with young people."

Luter ...

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

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

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedAn Interview with Dr. Philip Jenkins, Distinguished History Professor (Part 3)
An Interview with Dr. Philip Jenkins, Distinguished History Professor (Part 3)
What does the future of the global church look like? Dr. Jenkins explains.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickThe Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
The Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
Why it may (or may not) be okay to watch adults beat up on one another.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2013

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