A new survey from ECFA says that slowly but surely, megachurch congregations are starting to look as diverse as the communities around them. The survey defines a “multiracial church” as one in which at least 20 percent of the congregation identifies as a racial minority. According to the group’s 2020 survey, 58 percent of megachurches in the U.S. are now multiracial. That’s a huge leap from twenty years ago, when just 21 percent of U.S. megachurches were multiracial.
Warren Bird, vice president of research and equipping at ECFA and co-author of the report, told the Christian Post that what’s changing is intentionality. Church leaders are figuring out that it’s not enough to just want to be diverse. Churches have to put people from minority communities in places of leadership to help guide diversity efforts.
“It’s not enough to state it as a core value. It’s not enough to agree that it’s important,” Bird said. “Churches have to take intentional steps to become multiracial, such as the people that are platformed on Sunday mornings: Do they represent the diversity of the neighborhood they’re seeking to reach? The staff that is hired in the church and on the board in the church: Are they likewise appropriately diverse? When you have intentionality like that, the non-majority races tend to grow into becoming a multiethnic church.”
The survey highlighted another growing trend within megachurches: an emphasis on people with special needs. 53 percent of megachurches have programs for people with special needs, all of them offer wheelchair access and a little under half offer sign language interpretation. Just 15 percent offer large-print worship materials. The survey suggested that such considerations and intentional focus on people who have special needs remains a major area of focus for many megachurches, although it hasn’t yet got the same amount of global attention as the need to address racial issues.