In class the other day, an interesting question was posed: does every church need to be multi-ethnic in order to be considered biblical?
My initial answer would be no. I think back on all the chinese churches that I’ve visited or been a part of. Are they not part of the true church? Is it so bad that they are mostly chinese? While I think being multi-ethnic would be good, I think the Chinese churches do a great job of reaching out to Chinese immigrants. If those churches were white or black, I doubt their ministry to the immigrants would be effective. The same would go with the Chinese Church trying to reach out to a black community.
On the other hand… doesn’t Jesus teach that the gospel transcends race? If the gospel transcends race, shouldn’t our churches? And didn’t Paul rebuke Peter for disassociating himself with the Gentiles? How many times do we read in the New Testament about how the Jews and Greek Christians needed to love one another and to live in peace and unity? So, in that sense, our really ethnic chinese churches need to become more diverse and intermingle with Christians of different races, so that our unity, despite our diversity, can be evidences of God’s glory!
But, on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if all this talk I hear in Christian circles about how God loves diversity, and how because “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess,” our churches need to representative of that (instead of just sticking to our race), is a result of our current culture. We live in a post-modern society in which diversity is celebrated. Does that play a part in the church’s current emphasis on diversity?
In the end, although much more could be said on this, I think its important to think about whom we are reaching out to. I think Chinese church need to stay chinese (at least for 1st gen), because they do a great job of reaching out to Chinese immigrants. For a young church in the city, I think its important to be diverse ethnically, because thats the culture of the young professionals.
No matter what we decide our churches should be like, we ought to keep this in mind…
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Gal 3:28