The following is a transcript from a talk Daniel Yang gave at the Church Planting Leadership Fellowship (CPLF) in New York City on November 17, 2017. CPLF is a community of church planting denominational and network leaders from across North America who gather twice a year for collaborative learning.
During my freshman year at the University of Michigan, I took Sociology 101. I had the nerdiest teacher named Professor William Frey. I remember sitting behind an Apple Macintosh LC3 running computer models of population growth and decline. I think I literally snored in one of his classes. Professor Frey taught us about population cohorts and the effects of immigration and birth rates on the different pockets of America. I really wish I would’ve paid more attention because I didn’t realize at the time that the man was prophetic! No joke.
Today, William Frey is THE leading demographer in America and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. And he’s written probably one of the most important sociological books for modern North American missiology. If you want to read another “minor” prophet (very minor that is) then read William Frey’s Diversity Explosion.
In his book, Frey explains why the US Census prediction is correct in that we won’t have a majority race in less than three decades (2043 to be precise) and he breaks down how we get there. It all comes down to 1) immigration and 2) birth rates.
Frey explains that the White population is ageing and having fewer children. The black population is growing, but not as quickly as Hispanics. Hispanics have the largest and fastest growing youth population. Blacks are slowly leaving inner cities and moving into the suburbs replacing Whites. At the time of Frey’s book, Asians were the second fastest growing segment of the population. But according to the latest Pew Research, in the last 15 years, Asians have grown 72% from 11.9 million to 20.4 million, now, making them the fastest growing population in North America. In case you want to know the third-fastest–it’s multiracial children.
Now, demographics isn’t destiny and Frey isn’t giving Biblical prophecy. So what does this have to do with the importance of what you’re doing and why we’re meeting this week?
You see, today Chicago, Toronto, and New York City have the racial makeup and social psychology of what America will have as a country in 2043. What we’re learning and doing in cities like Chicago, Toronto, and New York City will become the norm of church planting and missiology in just three decades.
And just in case you think diversity is strictly an urban thing and not a rural thing, check with the prophet William Frey again. It’s the Sunbelt states where we see Hispanic and Asian growth!
Groups like CPLF need to start working together across denominational and network lines today, to share best-knowledge and best-practices in order to learn how to multiply the right kinds of churches in the midst of this new reality.
The decline narrative of the North American church may have motivated church planters a few decades ago, but it might not motivate the church planters of tomorrow.