I grew up in Fremont, California, the second most diverse metropolitan area in America. Each day, the Filipino, Mexican, black, Korean, white, and biracial kids on my block would play kickball in the street and then break bread—Popsicles from the ice cream truck—together. It never occurred to me that this type of cross-cultural contact was unusual. It was simply my life. My school was diverse. The staff and clientele at the grocery store were diverse. My church was diverse.
Fast forward 30 years. As the country’s ethnic landscape continues to change, large swaths of America are looking more like my hometown. Research on this demographic shift has found that over the past three decades, 97.8 percent of urban areas, 97.2 percent of suburban areas, and 95.6 percent of rural areas have experienced a significant increase in diversity (measured by all ethnic groups having equal proportions of an area’s total population).
The American evangelical landscape is changing, too. Recent data on global migration patterns from Jehu Hanciles, who teaches global Christianity at Emory University, illustrates that US evangelicalism is diversifying at a faster rate than the broader society. He predicts that in the near future, American evangelicalism will be predominantly non-white (in large part due to the arrival of African Christian immigrants).
In a society rife with racial conflict, such as tensions around the policing of black Americans as well as the treatment of immigrants and refugees, US evangelicals are in a unique position to build cross-cultural bridges. Indeed, in Philippians 2:1–2, the apostle Paul calls us to be leaders in this way:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ ...1