19
Aug
08

Is Your Church More Chinese Than Christian?

More Chinese Than Christian?
photo credit by phil of posterchildforgrace.blogspot.com

I just recently discovered Andrew Lim and this nice piece he wrote from down under.
Is your church more Chinese than Christian?
From the article, 7 key identifiers for when Ethnicity supersedes Christianity
1. When the church becomes an excuse for a social club for a particular ethnic group

2. When ethnic/cultural unity is more important than gospel unity.

3. When ethnic-cultural values override Biblical virtues and Biblical truth.

Formally put: “In the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Jesus has given us a culture-transcending and a culture-transforming dynamic which confronts ethical categories of all societies and ethnic groups. The Gospel calls into question all social mores and moral codes.” Informally put: God’s virtues trump our values.

4. When church is restrictive and exclusive.

5. When church becomes insular and inward focused.

6. When church becomes homogeneous, rather than heterogeneous.

“People like to become Christians without having to cross racial, linguistic, or class barriers…It takes no great acumen to see that when marked differences of colour, stature, income, cleanliness, and education are present, men understand the gospel better when expounded by their own kind of people. They prefer to join churches whose members look, talk, and act like themselves.” (Understanding (1980), p. 227)


This states in brief what has become known as the Homogeneous Unit Principle (HUP). Although it sounds obvious to anyone involved in evangelism, it has had significant consequences for the church. It has influenced the development of many churches with a heart for mission. As churches move more towards making mission a priority, the more they will have to deal with cultural issues that interfere with or distort the gospel, and so the more the HUP appeals. The problem with this approach is that homogeneous evangelism tends to create a homogeneous church.

7. One Final Story St Andrew’s Cathedral and Asian Bible Church. You have to ask Andrew about what this means.

this isn’t anything new or profound. we need to be reminded that we’re all in danger of doing these things whether we’re ethnic based or not.

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6 Responses to “Is Your Church More Chinese Than Christian?”


  1. August 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    this is an interesting metric, one that if seriously applied to the white ethnic church would probably leave a lot of people feeling pretty uncomfortable. Of course there are few people who would even acknowledge that the white church is ethnic so….

  2. 2 L T
    August 19, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    thanks for the comments elderj. a real understanding of the gospel would make any of us feeling pretty uncomfortable wouldn’t it? this is nothing new but we need to be reminded of these things every now and then because even if weren’t ethnically based but multi-ethnic we’d be in danger of being a social club or insular and so forth. what is the white church? 😉

  3. 3 Lon
    August 19, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    thanks for posting this… been following your blog for quite a while. good stuff.

  4. August 20, 2008 at 1:04 am

    good stuff. question though, so heterogeneity is the mark of success? and inclusiveness to what degree? to what levels of leadership? i think this is a good guardrail, but does this mean we should have one for the other side as well? what we really would like to have as a metric is “rate of transformation”. that would be nice…then we could just grade churches, monoethnic or multiethnic, by taking some sort of derivative. gosh, i can’t believe i said that. i suck at calculus.

  5. August 20, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    wow, so this is where everybody’s jammin’… just discovered your site and from the looks of it I’ll prob be frequenting it…

    as usual I feel elderj – all the more so since I’ve been reading Gutierrez. It’s hard to take off these “glasses” now, but truth be told there is something systemically wrong and it aint just the asian churches…

    David’s point has been a big convo over @ my place. whether heterogeneous or homogeneous I think the deeper questions center around our missionality, willingness to die, sacrifice and go to the other. Some call it “trans-cultural”.

    Betcha miss NY pizza huh? That’s my biggest thing too…


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abcpastor
[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
[i]
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
[ii]
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
[iii]
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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