Igniting Change: An Evangelical Megachurch’s Racial Justice Program


Congregations, with their size, breadth, and legacy of shaping political activism, have the potential to be important sites of action for addressing racial injustice in America. Yet historical legacies of racism and persistently high levels of racial animus have made white evangelical communities in particular resistant to addressing racism. Most efforts to address racism in these communities begin with prejudice reduction programs that often fail. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, we examine the effectiveness of a different kind of six-week racial justice program in one of the nation’s largest evangelical megachurches that focuses on animating action among people open to tackling racial injustice in their church. We find that program participation is associated with increased feelings of efficacy, amplified perceptions of community, a greater commitment to cross-racial perspective taking, and greater likelihood of engaging in meaningful action. We argue that the program works by focusing on cross-racial relationship building to equip a people pre-disposed to action to actually take action. Developing such leaders is potentially the first step in a program other congregations can take to tackle racial injustice.

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