Is the church ready for a multi-ethnic future?

Came across an excellent series of videos here around the theme of: is the church ready for a multi-ethnic future? It challenges the ethnic segregation of the church and issues a missional call to biblical, multi-ethnic community.

Why do we need a more multi-ethnic church?

Why are we so divided?

How can we change?

What are your thoughs? As a member of a multiethnic church I agree that it has many advantages over monocultural / tribal churches witness wise.

Synchroblog

This post is part of a synchroblog on the general theme of “Faith and ethnicity”. You may find links to other posts on this theme below.

8 thoughts on “Is the church ready for a multi-ethnic future?

  1. I see the value of having ethnic churches to reach their own ethnic group. Likewise a Christian community within a particular subculture. I don’t know how to reconcile that with the message presented here except that I’ve seen patterns of Christian community which have some diverse gatherings and some more less diverse.
    Most churches do not choose to become multi-ethnic. It happens when people move in. A notable trend in Adelaide of late (old news in Sydney) is large numbers of African refugees (mostly kids) joining churches which were previously mostly white. In many cases these were churches which had lost their younger generation and looked unlikely to regain it. This of course is a challenge to a church like mine whose core and long-standing members are mostly quite senior. This month we have a special focus on cross-cultural ministry.
    I see segregation as more than race. Rich and poor Christians are segregated, often by geography. Those with abundant resources seem separated from those with particular need of them.

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  2. Yes, segregation occurs in many other ways, I was just choosing to focus on this particular way as its one of the more obvious.
    You’re right, the approach outlined here is difficult to reconcile with the homogenous unit principle, but I have come to question homogenous subcultural mission in more recent times. In postmodern contexts diversity goes all the way down; any lines we draw will be arbitary and always exclude people who fall between our artitary lines. What do you do with half-castes for instance? What do you do with second generation migrants? What do you do with easternised westerners and other bicultural types? That’s a big question for me. A big practical question. Is it realistic to plant churches that specifically cater to bicultural? You end up with an infinite regression under the homogenous unit principle.
    I see a place for sub-cultural and mono-racial churches, but as society becomes more diverse I see them more as an exception for specific contexts, not as an ideal.

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  3. Hi Matt–
    Thanks for this great post–the practicality of it really spoke to me.
    Really opening to ‘the other’ is hard work…and that’s why so many churches don’t lean into multi-cultural venues. It takes so much self-knowledge and willingness to always be drawing the boundaries anew, as you mentioned.
    Thanks again for this!

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  4. Say that we attend a mono-cultural church in the suburbs. Should we try to force being multicultural? Should it just happen organically? If so, what does that look like? Any thoughts on practical steps in moving forward?

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  5. I wouldn’t recommend forcing it. But i think we can still till the soil and sow seeds so to speak. Organic need not imply waiting impotently, waiting for it to ‘just happen’.
    As for practical steps, we’re still in process so when we’ve got it all right I’ll tell you (grins) but as a first step I’d suggest listening for God’s call. How far out of step is your church with your cultural context? I think its ok for a church to be monocultural if its context is pretty monocultural. If its not monocultural, but very multicultural, what do you hear God saying though scripture, through the Spirit, throught the saints, through signs in your everyday walk with him. Getting in step with the Spirit is the first step.

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