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Two approaches to multiethnic ministry

In recent years, the need for the planting and development of multiethnic churches has been recognized among many evangelicals. Among those who are pursuing multiethnic churches, two streams have emerged: the colorblind approach and the racial reconciliation approach. The colorblind approach assumes that all believers have their primary identities as Christians; therefore, no concession needs to be made for cultural differences. Since we all are believers, our cultural differences should not matter. In other words, the most effective approach to multiethnicity is to cover everyone in the church with the same flavor of dressing. Usually, the use of Western, white forms of worship, teaching, and community are assumed in these types of settings. After all, the “norms” of American church life are assumed; therefore, the common denominator of Western, white forms of ecclesiology becomes the key expression of church life in a colorblind approach.

The racial reconciliation approach asserts that significant sins have been committed related to the issue of race. These sins cannot be avoided or swept under the rug. These historical and social sins need to be dealt with when bringing the range of different races and ethnicities together as a worshiping community. The presence of the social-historical corporate sin of racism cannot e ignored. Between these two expressions of multiethnicity, the colorblind approach fails to acknowledge human fallenness. While the colorblind approach may be efficient and easier, it fails to acknowledge sin and can become a human rather than a divine effort. The racial reconciliation and justice approach moves mutliethnicity out of the realm of church growth fad to a level of addressing injustice and sin….

If the American church is able to look toward the future with a hope and a promise, then the sin of racism must be confessed and racial justice and racial reconciliation become a theological priority over and above the priority of producing a pragmatic paradigm of church growth.”

Soong Chan Rah

There are two types of multiethnic ministries according to Soong Chan Rah, founder of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC) and author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.

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