They argue that churches should be interracial whenever possible because their success could ultimately reduce racial friction in America.
American churches haven't traditionally done a good job at being racially inclusive, scholars say.
De Young, the "United by Faith" co-author, says the first-century Christian church grew so rapidly precisely because it was so inclusive.
He says the church inspired wonder because its leaders were able to form a community that cut across the rigid class and ethnic divisions that characterized the ancient Roman world.
"They would say, 'I need a place of refuge,'" he says.
"They said, 'I need to come to a place on Sunday morning where I don't experience racism.' " Whites also complained of their own version of racial fatigue, other scholars say.
Like many leaders of interracial churches, he is driven in part by a personal awakening.
Just like in society, racial tensions in the church can erupt over everything from sharing power to interracial dating."People said that if Jews, Greeks, Africans, slaves, men and women - the huge divides of that time period -- could come together successfully, there must be something to this religion," De Young says.Biblical precedents, though, may not be enough to make someone attend church with a person of another race.Something else is needed: a tenacious pastor who goads his or her church to reach across racial lines, interracial church scholars say. Rodney Woo, senior pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, may be such a person.He leads a congregation of blacks, whites and Latinos.
De Young, who is also an ordained minister, once led an interracial congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that eventually went all-black.