“What I see among Millennials are African Americans, and Asians Americans, and Latinos who are vibrantly growing in faith and leading the future of what the church will become,” says Gray.
About a third of young (18-29 year old) Americans — and more than half of younger Christians — are people of color, according to data from the Public Religion Research Institute. White Christians, on the other hand, make up only a quarter of younger Americans. In fact there are more Nones — those with no religion — than white Christians in this age group.
But the switch from most Christians being white to the majority being non-white has largely gone unnoticed. Instead, most of the focus has been on the idea that “young people are leaving the church.” That idea is true among white evangelicals, who show a dramatic decline in PRRI’s polling. Among Americans 65 and older, nearly 3 in 10 (29 percent) are evangelicals. That number drops to 1 in 10 for younger Americans.
That makes me think of something that happened to my wife and I last fall when we went to South Florida for my high school reunion. She wanted to go to the Swap Shop, the big indoor (mostly) flea market in Ft. Lauderdale. She also wanted a screen protector for her new iPhone. So we went from one booth to another until we found one at the price we liked, and not only that the nice young lady at the counter agreed to put it on. While she was doing this my wife asked her whether she went to church anywhere (a common question in the South, a whole different matter in South Florida). She, who looked like her family came from Mexico or Central America, told us the name of an independent Hispanic full-gospel church, and then added “I love going to church”. At that point I noted the “Jesus te ama” bracelet on her arm.
One of the pleasures of working for the Church of God–which I did for 13 1/2 years–was ministering to and interacting with non-white churches and people,–Hispanic, Caribbean, Indian, Roma, you name it. Combined with my years of international business and the engineering profession, I find that life is better when you can share it with people from so many different backgrounds.
I also think that people like this young lady make South Florida a sweeter place, something the region needs badly. And the same effect is in store for Evangelical Christianity in this country, too.