<![CDATA[Some of you know that I occasionally dabble in stand-up comedy, and since I’ve started, I’ve been trying to find ways to make my jokes a bit more personal.

Stand up is, by its nature, a very confessional form of comedy. Since I’m kind of a cerebral guy, my jokes tend to be more observational, but I’ve decided to try to write more about the things that I care about, rather than the things that just pop into my head (after all, that’s what Facebook and Twitter are for). And there are few things that I care about more than multicultural church, and multicultural worship music in particular.

So with apologies to both Letterman and Foxworthy, and with partial credit given to my friend and co-laborer Peter Park (whose emails helped me generate ideas), I present the following list of ways to discover whether or not your church is multicultural.

By the way, the official demographic definition for ethnic diversity in churches is whether or not you have at least 20% attendance and/or membership of a non-dominant culture or ethnicity. But who thinks like that on a daily or weekly basis? If you care about the church* and you care about diversity, these are probably the things you’re more likely to notice.


The Top Ten Ways To Identify A Multicultural Church

  • If in your church, you’ve got black folks who have just discovered Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin and white folks who’ve just discovered Israel Houghton or Fred Hammond… you might be in a multicultural church.
  • If you have a church potluck, and many of the dishes require instructions on what it is and how you’re supposed to eat it, you might be at a multicultural church. Coincidentally, if you have a potluck and you find that most people end up mostly eating the dishes they brought… you might be at a multicultural church.
  • If half of the church doesn’t want coffee in the sanctuary, and the other half needs coffee in order to make it into the sanctuary… you might be in a multicultural church.
  • If, for Black History Month, someone shows up wearing a colorful West African tunic, and when asked what it’s called, they say, “dashiki” and the person who asks says, “oh yeah, he was the best character in The Lion King,” … you might be in a multicultural church.
  • If the pastor asks the worship team for some shoutin’ music, and they respond with “Rock and Roll, Part II” … you might be in a multicultural church.
  • If the worship leader ad-libs during a song, “can I get some help in here?!” and after church a few well-meaning members end up staging an intervention for that person… you might be at a multicultural church.
  • If your singles ministry organizes a day hike out in the country, but they have to call it something else because some of their black people don’t respond well to the idea of “country” as a location without the words “Old” and “Buffet” involved … you might be in a multicultural church.
  • If your church hosted or announced a vigil for Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis, and the announcement required an explanation of who they were and what happened to them, you might be in a multicultural church.
  • If someone stands up to give an announcement and says, “how many of us know God is good?” and people say, “AMEN!” … and then that person follows it up with, “no really, show me your hands —  I need to do a head count for our analytics team” … you might be in a multicultural church.
and finally…
  • If you know that 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America, not just because black and white people don’t attend the same churches, but because even when they do, service usually starts at 10 and by 11am, a lot of the white people are ready to go and a lot of the black people are still showing up… you might be in a multicultural church.
So these are really just my top ten… which ones did I miss?
Let me know in the comments.
UPDATE (2/21/14, 2:45PM):
A few people have noticed that this list is primarily black and white cultural observations… that’ because these are most of the things that I’ve seen and lived through. Obviously, multicultural church is about much more than black versus white, but still… I still maintain this is the biggest divide we have in church circles, and the one that requires the most work to bring healing into.
Also, for those of you who have served with me in the past or who are serving with me now… I’ve served in a lot of churches. These observations aren’t necessarily about you.
On the other hand, if the shoe fits…   🙂
*shout out to my church, the ECC, leading the way in many of these discussions.



  1. Tiffany on February 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    If you have to introduce and clarify your husband’s name at the same time. This is Jesus, My husband, not my Lord and Savior. Or when everyone calls him Juan…because that’s what all Mexicans are named…right? lol

  2. Brian Dahlen on February 22, 2014 at 7:43 am

    This is HILARIOUS! And true. Thanks for sharing! Followers of Jesus need more humor in our lives…particularly with issues that can be intense.

  3. Prophetik Soul on March 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

    If you see a sea of kids and you know that if you did not know them, you would not be able to identify their ethnicity, you are in a multicultural church.

    Also, when the pastor starts blending denominational terms to explain the style of music or preaching like “Luthercoastal’ or “Baptimethodist”, you know you are in a multicultural church.

    • jelani on March 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

      I think I heard one of those terms on the news the other day.

      “There’s a Luthercoaster weather system working its way up the eastern seaboard… residents are advised to stay in their homes, softly singing hymns while shouting exuberant ad-libs to stay warm.”

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