Multi-ethnic Churches listed in Outreach’s 2009 Top 100 & Fastest Growing and Largest Churches

No longer can it be said that multi-ethnic churches will not grow as fast or as large as homogenous churches.  Below is a list of America’s fastest growing and largest church for 2009 as listed in Outreach Magazine.  These churches have been identified as multi-ethnic from their website.  Dr. Ed Stetzer writes:

“Our research indicates that churches don’t like to identify themselves by ethnicity, so it’s difficult to determine an accurate number of ethnic or multi-ethnic churches on both Outreach 100 lists. However, we do know that many megachurches are intentionally focused on reaching more cultures and ethnicities. And according to Leadership Network’s 2005 Megachurches Today study, slightly more than half of the megachurches surveyed said they were making efforts to become intentionally multi-ethnic.”

http://www.outreachmagazine.com/library/features/Out100ftrLearningFromChurches.asp

The Fastest Growing Multi-ethnic Churches in America 2009

#2 Cornerstone Church of San Diego, CA | TurningTheHearts.com

#12 Richmond Outreach Center, Richmond, VA | TheRoc.com

#29 Redemption World Outreach Center, Greenville, SC | RWOC.org

#36 The Rock Church, San Diego, CA | TheRockSanDiego.org

#39 Community of Faith, Cypress, TX | CommunityofFaith.tv

#49 Eastlake Church, Chula Vista, CA | EastLakeChurch.com

#52 Victory World Outreach, Norcross, GA | VictoryATL.com

#65 New Hope Church, New Hope, MN | NewHopeChurch.org

#75 The Rock Church & World Outreach Center, San Bernardino CA | RockChurch.com

#81 The Church on the Way, Van Nuys, CA | TCOTW.org

#85 Village View Community Church, Summerfield, FL | VillageViewChurch.com

The Largest Multi-ethnic Churches in America 2009

#1 Lakewood Church, Houston, TX | Lakewood.cc

#18 Christ Fellowship, Palm Beach Gardens, FL | GoChristFellowship.com

#19 The Rock Church, San Diego, CA | TheRockSanDiego.org

#23 Crossroads, Cincinnati, OH | Crossroads.net

#30 Redemption World Outreach Center, Greenville, SC | Rwoc.org

#32 The Rock Church & World Outreach Center, San Bernardino CA | RockChurch.com

#34 Faith Fellowship Ministries World Outreach Center, Sayreville, NJ | FFMWOC.org

#39 The Church on the Way, Van Nuys, CA | TCOTW.org

#41 Abundant Living Faith Center, El Paso, TX | ALFC.com

#81 Victory World Church, Norcross, GA | VictoryATL.com

#84 Calvary Chapel Chino Valley, Chino, CA | CalvaryCCV.org

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21 Comments

  • Tony Andrews

    Interesting that over 95% of the “multi-ethnic” churches listed here are lead by Sr. White Pastors. Doesn’t surprise me though. Again to me in the majority of cases multi-ethnic churches are so-called successful only if it is operating on the culture of whiteness.

    • Avis

      What about Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia MD? Dr Anderson is African American and 3000-4000 people attend. It is multiethnic.

      • Sandra

        I have visited Bridgeway several times, from out of town, visiting family, since 2008. The white population seems to be dwindling.

  • Bob Rasmussen

    Why do you think that is tony? I’m interested in your view.

  • Tony Andrews

    @ Bob Let me just say I have ministered primarily in the African American context ( I am white) in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We have what we call regional conferences (black administered) and non-regional conferences (white administered) and I was hired in the regional conference for “diversity” purposes ( I made history) and I am well studied on race, racism, whiteness and white privilege. Sooooo.. to answer your question…It just shows of our white supremacy. Whites will mostly attend diverse churches on the condition it is operating in white culture. If things begin to change in integrating different cultures into the life of the church research shows that they begin to leave. So most multi-ethnic churches are mostly lead my white sr. pastors is because that is the only way to retain white members.

    You don’t see whites or any other group voluntarily say hey, lets go the the black church and make it multicultural. It just doesn’t happen. Why? I think we know why.

    • Bob Rasmussen

      I don’t suppose any of us have enough of a handle on what is happening in North America or globally to be able to say with authority that there are very few if any black-pastored (and led) multi-ethnic churches. However, I do know that I am a part of one now. My wife and I are learning a bit about what it is like to be in the minority, and you are right, there is a difference. I have attended multiethnic churches that are white led and I am much more comfortable culturally because my Anglo culture (if there is such a thing) is the “host” or the foundational DNA of the church. When the host culture is black (or another non-Anglo) culture, the practices and values of that culture are the default way things are done. One thing I am learning is that I sometimes feel out of sync with what is happening in my church, even though I know the leaders love and appreciate us. Turning the tables, I expect that the non-majority people in an Anglo church often feel out of sync with the way things are done in dominant-Anglo churches; how gracious of y’all to stay! The book The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb by Eric Law has opened my eyes somewhat to the power structures inherent in any group; I think your “white supremacy” terminology is unfair in a sense; many whites do not intend to be domineering; they would like to be in egalitarian relationships; yet, I will admit myself, that when it begins to cost me something I draw back and have a natural instinct to preserve my place and position.

    • Sandra

      Tony, in searching for multiracial churches, I have sadly come to your conclusion.

  • Tony Andrews

    @ Bob The difference between White Administered church that our diverse is that they say they are diverse and welcomes all people yet when it comes to ministering to them they fall short. They fall short because they don’t know how to meet the spiritual, cultural and social needs of the minority group. A lot of times we think that our culture is superior i.e. white supremacy and expect other culture to be like us. So we expect them to change if things are to get better for them.

    On the other had “historically” black churches were not established to meet the needs of other cultures. The black church was established to reach the needs of their community for survival (physically, emotionally and psychologically) were otherwise they were shut out from white churches because or racism. Check out my small clip on my website at the bottom at http://www.onenessministries.org.

    Also even though other minority churches such as, korean, hispanic etc., these churches are meeting needs to their community that are similar to the black church.

    I do believe in this day and age that now “black” and other churches are mandated by God to minister to their community and communities are getting more diverse everyday. They do have the same problem as white culturally dominated churches but for different reason. But that is not an excuse not to reach out to their diverse communities and let that be represented in the life of the church.

    Good dialogue man..

  • Steve Parkes

    @Tony, can you define for me what you mean by “operating on the culture of whiteness” and could you give me contrasting examples of operating on the culture of some other group or base

  • PJ

    After reading many books, watching some cross-cultural teaching videos and working with internationals for ten years I can say, “Yes, all of this happens.” All of the culture barriers mentioned or described here in this conversation are happening in our churches. We, who are trying to step out and share the Gospel with ALL people around us, need to understand our weaknesses, our unspoken preferences and our prejudices. BUT, once they are confessed, God helps us! He humbles us, changes us and leads us to more effectiveness. This is very good. Keep the discussion going for those who are reading and learning.

  • Juan Sarmiento

    Great reflections. Thanks for igniting this conversation Bob!

  • Pecious"that's my real name"

    I understand both Tony and Bob reason for their discussion. It’s just crazy to me because I’m new to the Christian life. As a child I was forced to go to church and while in church the elderly ppl would push and tug on me to go the front and be prayed upon. It was very scary to me seeing everyone falling out and screaming like crazy. (I was only 8.) I made up in my mind that when I got older I wouldn’t put myself nor my kids through that. Unfortunately, my kids great grandfather and of members of their dad’s side of the family are Seven Day Adventist. Their father and I were never married nor are we together anymore-he’s in jail for raping a woman-just as he raped and abused me for years but I never told. I’m now with someone else and we’re engaged, but my kids other side of the family are pushing me to be “like” them. I feel that their views are far diiferent from mine. They say that God only listens to virgins, they tell my 5yr old that God isn’t in her heart, they tell me that God “told” them that I do not pray nor do I go to church, and they say that the only way to Heaven is through church which are all lies to me. All their beliefs are based off of what they think and see me do-and they don’t see much of me. They say to me “the reason why your life is such a mess is because you don’t go to church and you don’t pray”. So they think. So basically I see that Christians are at war with one another through race, beliefs, and churches, etc. And it’s sad. See I feel that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone and just cause you don’t see or witness me doing something don’t mean I don’t do it. And to sit there and say “God told me…” Is just using God’s name in wrong. So now I tell them not to teach my kids any of their beliefs and they say that they that will continue to do so anyway-so I don’t bring my kids around. Am I wrong for that? Sometimes I feel that I maybe just a little too harsh, but they raised their kids-who turned out to be women abusers and rapists, so let me raise mine the way I feel is right. I don’t want to force religion on my kids as it was done to me. So I teach them but I don’t forced them. I need someone’s feed back asap.

    • Selah

      Pecious, I am replying to you because I just prayed for people who reject the hypocrisy of Christianity. The Creator of the universe knows what you feel and what you endured. When Jesus died, the bible teaches us the God did not leave us without help. We have the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures to help us navigate “The Way”. We, as humans, want to have our way and therefore set up systems inside and outside of church to appease that desire. Religion is mostly a system to identify what a particular group of people have deemed to be important. What I hope you develop through studying the bible on your own with the help of the Holy Spirit (which came to reside within you upon your profession of belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior) and with others who can illuminate His Word for you, is the relationship with God. Doing so will increase your ability to discern truth from the lies. Satan is the father of lies and prowls the earth seeking to destroy the things of God. Confusion is a common tool he uses. Concentrate on what you know to do and protect your children. Refuse to expose them to teachings with which you don’t agree. The bible is the believers answer to life’s dilemmas. What I believe is important is for believers to move from belief in God to serving God by surrendering our will to His ways. Study to show yourself approved, Pecious (or is it Precious?). Be a blessing and be blessed!

  • Connie Walters

    @Tony and Bob, my family and I attend a multi-ethnic church called Transformation Church in Indian Land, SC, which is led by an African-American pastor. The church has its 1-year anniversary this weekend, and we have grown from around 175 people to around 1300 people in that year. The pastor is Derwin Gray, and there is an article by him in this same online magazine. My family is white, but we LOVE worshipping in a multi-ethnic church! I’m not sure of the exact “ratios” but I want to say it’s close to 50/50. God is at work in this church, and it’s been powerful to see what He has done in bringing many ethnicities together to serve and worship Him. It IS possible! Heaven will not be segregated, and our churches shouldn’t be either!

  • Beaunelle Haynes

    Thank you Ms. Connie for that comment! We as humans want to put a label on everything and categorize it. People are people regardless of race. If a church is operating under the direct mandate of God than neither race will feel uncomfortable. Just as Ms. Connie said Heaven will not be segregated… so we should learn how worship and praise together as one. And of all things to talk about why does it have to be about race. It’s about GOD, it always have been so stop adding the ways of the flesh!!!!!

  • P

    Thanks for an AWEsome discussion. I especially applaud Tony who seems to really ‘get’ it. So refreshing. The ‘challenge’ with ‘never wanting to talk about race’ Beaunelle, is that it’s here. When people argue that it’s not a factor, that is even more demeaning, because it’s dismissive – not only of the existence of race, but also it’s dismissive of the very REAL racist behaviors, past and, yes, present, along with the needless suffering of too many people. Most of these behaviors were/are not simply ‘slights’; many were/are horrific. For those, of any race, to claim racism is non-existent, and that those who suffered and continue to suffer have ‘chips on their shoulders’ and ought to ‘move on’, ‘get over it’, and ‘get on with it’, demonstrate their total disregard and disrespect for those who suffered and suffer. Now, this does not mean that ones who suffered and suffer are entitled to have a ‘chip’ and/or to harbor anger, bitterness or resentment, especially if one is a Christian. Not at all. (But, certainly they deserve to be understood.) The same forgiveness that Christ granted to us, is what we are all to extend to those who have harmed or offended us; the magnitude of that grievance, notwithstanding. We are called to love – unconditionally, just as Christ loves us. Yet (in an attempt to bring this all together), those who have suffered and are suffering are not required to behave as though they have not suffered needlessly and for reasons beyond their control, particularly when in many ways, they still suffer on the same basis; and others should not make them feel as though nothing happened or continues to happen. This is a great time to insert the Golden Rule: If we all, across race, social class, gender, age, ability and disability-levels, educational and achievement levels, preferences, etc. would simply regard and treat people the way we wish to be regarded and treated, ALL of the time, it would truly be, as Louie Armstrong sang, ‘What a Wonderful World’.

    • Selah

      P, i couldn’t agree with you more! also i thank God for this discussion!

  • jordan

    Tony, I completely concur with what you are saying. I attended a “MULTICULTURAL” church and everything was all image. Behind the scenes was a totally different thing. The membership has no idea how they are really viewed. If they really knew the truth, they would not be there. This is a needed discussion.

  • Elle

    Tony or Bob or anyone,

    I agree with Jordan. I have some questions.

    What is the purpose of a multi-cultural church?

    Is it simply to say many races go to our church?

    Is it to expose your members to many races and get them thinking in terms of a multi-cultural society?

    Do you desire for the ethnic groups in a multi-cultural church to have a similar economic status and share of power as the predominant white culture?

    Do you intend to involve yourself and your church in fighting unfair practices based on race outside of your church?

    Basically, my point is that you can have an aesthetically mult-cultural church, but if there is no equal opportunity and status and share of power being sought for, I believe that at best, it simply allows for your members to only begin thinking about other races. In the end, when they leave the church, the ethnic groups must deal with a society that practices discrimination in the workplace, neighborhoods, schools and in the balance of power. Particularly, blacks. The depth to which blacks experience these things is enormous. It has a direct impact on their ability to be successful in America. Only a few “rise” above these types of practices. But every black person in America has a story to tell. My family does well, but well in Black America is middle class. I have a Master’s degree, but only make 43,000 a year. I don’t dare waste my time applying to a predominantly white organization to do what I do. I am good at what I do, but I am not likely to get the job. My dad was of a handful of black people at Ford Headquarters. He was highly intelligent, with an MA, and even trained other whites to do what he did who went on to make more money than him, one of them going all the way to the top. He had to deal with discrimination all the time. Once on the way to a meeting while in the car, a boss told him “There is nothing that a black man could do for me but shine my shoes. My dad chose to ignore this man so that he could continue putting food on the table for his family and sending his kids to the best schools. Usually when this type of subject comes up, people want to dwell on who they call “thugs” and “criminals,” but the reality is that those of us who do not have to turn to that way of life to support ourselves still struggle enormously through a lack of shared economic power. It is difficult even for educated blacks to rise in America. Anyway, just wanted to give you a little bit of background from my “black” experience in America. I believe that if anything is going to get started in America in terms of balancing out power and true equal opportunity, it will be begin with God’s people who have God on their side working with them to fight for what is right. I think that a move to create physically multi-ethnic churches gets people at least thinking about a greater community than just their own race.

  • Elle

    Also I wanted to add that once the conversation of salary came up at my Dad’s job, and when he told a guy what he made the guy was absolutely shocked, exclaiming “I have never heard of anyone making that low amount of money” for the position that they were in. At the end of the day, the Bible says that “money is the root of all evil.” Even in my position, when I received a Master’s degree, my employer said well now that you have a Master’s degree, I will give you a .50 cents raise per hour with a straight face. I was blown away and told her that. Nothing that they could offer me at that point when she tried to negotiate more to what I would accept made me feel that I was being given a fair salary. She even had the nerve to tell me that no one else would offer me more. I did go on to make more, of course. But I do not feel that I can go to Anytown, America and even be looked at with all seriousness for applying for the position. I would love to live in Anytown, America because I am a country girl at heart. I love rural areas with populations of 1,000 people. But I can’t even think about it. I have a son. I do not want to end up in jail if anyone mistreated him or I would not be able to continue raising him. I am expected to remain calm in situations like that rather than act like any mother would who would get upset and curse someone out for mistreating their child.

  • James Young C. Kim

    I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2010 with a deep passion for multi-cultural ministries. After researching several churches in the Los Angeles area claiming a multi-ethnic makeup I was very disappointed because, as Tony says, the leadership was almost entirely white. Some of course had the token minority on staff. Usually female. Perhaps less threatening?

    I grew up all over the world and came to appreciate the beauty and diversity of different ethnic groups. I grew up in Uganda, spent my teenage years in Brasil, am Asian by ethnicity, and came to the US just when I was turning 18. I thought with my diversely rich cultural background, many years of youth ministry in Korean churches, excellent academics graduating cum laude, it would be easy to find work in a multi-cultural church in the Los Angeles area. So I researched job position listings with these churches and applied. Guess what? Not a single follow up. I couldn’t even pass the initial stage to an interview stage. And some of my fellow caucasian classmates were getting interviews at the least.

    Most of these churches have websites. When you look at their staff page, it is rather obvious what they mean by multi-ethnic church: it doesn’t mean the leadership which as Tony stated above is white. Sadly, this leads to the disenfranchisement of minority members because there is nobody on staff who can understand their socio-cultural locations, their unique spiritual needs. Minority members in such places are being asked to conform to the majority culture. Usually this is couched in terms of “your race doesn’t matter.” Then why does it matter when it comes to employment?

    I was sad but it did not diminish my passion for multiculturalism one iota! To Elle’s questions regarding the purpose of a multi-ethnic church, I believe it is the appropriate way to give glory to the God who is the Father of us all. Read Acts and the Pauline epistles again. And this time pay attention to the fact that ethnicity (Jew and gentile) was at the forefront of the issues confronting the very birth of the church!

    I’m currently at the University of St. Andrews pursuing a 2nd masters in theology, writing a dissertation on Romans 9-11. I have come to understand that at the very heart of the Romans letter is the issue of Jew and gentile believers coming together in unity to reflect the glory of God. Romans 1:16-17 is universally agreed to be the thesis statement for the letter.

    “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to all who have faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, the righteous ones will live by faith.”

    Everyone concentrates on the “gospel” and the “righteousness of God”–and rightly so–but forgets it is “… first for the Jew, and also to the Greek.” The issues are too complex to write on a blog comment, so I’ll just give a brief statement. After the expulsion of the Jews from Rome because of Claudius’ edict, the Roman churches became mostly gentile. When the Jews returned to Rome, they were considered 2nd class citizens by the gentile majority. Jews were derided, excluded, thought to have been forsaken by God, etc… On this basis, read Romans chapters 9-11 again and see it is Paul’s cry of agony for his own people which culminates in the climactic statement, “and in this manner all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26). Israel has not been abandoned by God! They are his people on behalf of the promises made to the patriarchs. And God doesn’t fail. Here is where the “righteousness of God” comes into play as a major theme. If God made promises to Israel, he will fulfill them. Their ethnicity matters! And matters deeply to God. Their salvation is of course the same for the gentiles, based on faith in God through Jesus the Messiah. But this does not extinguish their ethnic heritage or culture in any way. You don’t ask a person to abdicate their culture and ethnic heritage in order to become Christians. That is just to confuse categories, and to demand conformity to the default majority culture. God loves who you are! As you are!

    To apply this to the current situation: We are all what we are. And coming to faith in Christ does not make you or me less ethnic. God loves our diversity so much, he does not sacrifice it for a token unity. In fact, unity can only be achieved where our differences are truly recognised and highly valued. It is the “uni – versity”, a unity in diversity that is the biblical model.

    Sadly, I have found many Christian scholars tend to spiritualise the text by referring to “all Israel” as the new church composed of both Jew and gentile, that is, a unity regardless of race. In this way, ethnic Israel is seen as having been superseded by the church. But that is not what the text says! Please don’t get me wrong, unity is a key central aspect of the letter, and Paul will indeed go on to expound on this unity in the following chapters 12-16, but it is not a unity that can be achieved by eradicating difference. Those who favour a spiritual interpretation of “all Israel” are jumping the gun so to speak. And the cost is that modern attempts at multi-ethnic church become superficial because our difference is not accounted for.

    Can this unity in diversity be achieved?

    Yes! It is what the New Testament is all about: the nations (ethnos) coming to Christ together to worship the lamb that was slain. The Christian church must be at the forefront of culture in this regard. And so, I still have this great, deep seated passion to catch a glimpse of that heavenly unity reflected in our earthly and imperfect churches. I shall be finishing my degree this summer and heading back to Los Angeles with a renewed passion for this vision. I recognise it is hard, some might say impossible, but with God, all things are possible. With God, we are all one in Christ.

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