In Houston, missions specialists discuss ways to evangelize without ‘Americanizing’ the nation’s many ethnic groups.

In Hollywood, California, a fast-food establishment run by Koreans sells Kosher tacos. Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District collectively speak more than 100 languages. Miami is the world’s second-largest Cuban city, and Chicago is the second-largest Polish city. Further, more blacks live in the United States than in any country except Nigeria.

With facts like these, missiologist C. Peter Wagner last month illustrated the ethnic diversity that pervades America, in his keynote address to Houston ’85, the National Convocation on Evangelizing Ethnic America. Sponsored by the North American Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, it was the first major consultation of its kind to be held in the United States. More than 47 Protestant denominations and organizations were represented, with nearly 700 registrants representing 63 language/culture groups.

“The teeming multitudes of all colors, languages, smells, and cultures are not just a quaint sideline in our nation,” Wagner said. “They are America.” A professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, Wagner noted that “Anglos now comprise only about 30 percent of America’s population, even though most of the national cultural structures and forms remain Anglo.”

Wagner’s observations came as no surprise to representatives of churches and denominations that already have extensive programs to reach ethnics with the gospel. The leader in this field is the Southern Baptist Convention. Across the nation each Sunday, some 4,600 Southern Baptist ethnic congregations worship ...

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