January 5, 2010
Evangelicals and Race
We just got back from InterVarsity’s Urbana 09 Student Missions Convention in St. Louis, where 45% of the over 16,000 attendees were non-white. So David Van Biema’s article in the current issue of Time magazine about evangelicals and race is, well, timely.
The article highlights the perennial questions about how segregated Sunday morning worship is, and focuses on one church that is trying to do something about it. In the process, Van Biema quotes three IVP authors. The church, perhaps surprisingly, is Willow Creek, founded by Bill Hybels (Too Busy Not to Pray, Who You Are When No One’s Looking and Making Life Work). Remarkably, in ten years Willow has shifted from being almost entirely white to being 20% minority.
The article notes that the person who got Hybels started down this path was IVP author Alvin Bibbs (Crazy Enough to Care), who was on staff at Willow at the time and gave Hybels a copy of Michael Emerson’s Divided by Faith. Van Biema also quotes the reaction of David Anderson, founder of the multicultural Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Md. and author of IVP’s Gracism, who said, “I bet they’ve done it faster and better than anyone else with a church that large starting off as all white.”
Such topics have been an interest of IVP for decades with dozens of books on the subject. For evangelicals as a whole, challenges definitely remain in this realm but such change is encouraging and offers hope and a model for others to emulate.