Do you think church based on a particular ethnic group is biblicallly alright?

India
October 22, 2009 1:08am CST
I don't know if you've noticed a local church that's started by the Korean for the Korean in the US or one started by Indian for Indian in the UK or similar kind of thing. Here in India we have similar kind of churches; started by one ethnic group for that particular group and so on. What do you think about such congregation? Do you think when Bible says "there is no Greek or Jew... barbarian, Scythian... " such churches are being faithful to the biblical teaching? Do you also think such church promotes or reduce racial prejudice?
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5 responses
• United States
23 Oct 09
This has been going in for centuries,for many different reasons. 1. Each ethnic group has their own language...therefore it may not be possible for them to understand a worship service in any other language but their own. 2. Each ethnic group has their own way of worshipping, such as singing and dancing, playing musical instruments, etc...and the other ethnic groups in that church may feel that they are infringing on their sacred way of worshipping. 3. And certainly, there are ethnic groups who do not believe in the same God. I certainly wouldn't want to worship in a Budah temple, since I do not believe that Budah is GOD. 4. And the final reason, is that different ethnic groups feel more comfortable with their own people. Many years ago, in the United States, when the Italians immigrated here, they started their own chuch/Parish...they believed as others believed, but they wanted to hear their services in their native tongue, as well as be among their own people. The same for the French people and the Irish people, when they immigrated to the United States, they all built their own church, even though they believed in the same God as we did. However, today is quite different in the United States. In my state alone, it doesn't matter if you are Italian, French, English, Irish, Korean. When I look around, I see many ethnic groups in my church. We all believe in the same God, and the main language is English, so everyone can understand the services.
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• India
24 Oct 09
Thanks for writing. Well, if people do not understand each other then there is no option. But if they don't understand each others' language then they won't even stay together in the same city. Will they? In different ethnic groups believe in different kind of gods, then of course they can't be together. My comment applies only to Christians. I am happy that different ethnic groups are worshiping together. In the first century when Christians first became followers of Christ, whether it's in Rome or in Corinth there is no evidence that Christians meet only in their own ethnic groups. In Rome, for example, it's Romans, Greeks, Jews etc. together coming to worship Jesus.
• United States
24 Oct 09
You didn't read my response very well...as I said, when the Irish, Italian, and French immigrated to my town, they all lived in the same city, yet they all spoke a different language..therefore they wanted a church built so they could worship in their native tongue...again, this has been going on for centuries. These people were all Christians too. But as I said, times have changed, and there is not much of this going on anymore. We now see more ethnic groups in our churches...because the main language is English, and we can all celebrate our services together and are able to understand one another.
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• India
24 Oct 09
Thanks for correcting me. What is your observation of Asians? The Koreans, Indians etc. Do they meet separately or with the existing groups there?
• Australia
23 Oct 09
Are those Churches EXCLUSIVELY for the ethnic group? Here in Australia it seems as though ethnic groups will congregate together but will not exclude others. I travel quite a lot to various Churches in connection with my role in children's ministry. I have conducted Holiday Clubs at several ethnic Churches. Recently, at a Melbourne Church which is pastored by a Filipino man and has a large Filipino congregation, there were also many Australians, some Columbians, some Chinese and possibly others. At another Church in Sydney which is largely Filipino there were many from other countries and many white people. At other Churches there have been large groups of Sudanese, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Malaysians and others. In some of our "Chinese" Churches the older people have a Mandarin service and the younger people have an English service. While the Mandarin services are (naturally) mostly Chinese, the English service has a large number of white people as well. I think it is natural for people who have emigrated to another country to group together. While most can speak English, at least to an extent, they seem to break into their own language among themselves. I do not know of any Churches in Australia that are EXCLUSIVELY for any particular ethnic group.
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• India
23 Oct 09
Thanks a lot for your interesting comment. The groups that I know do not say EXCLUSIVELY for themselves. But what they do is something like this: This is Chinese Fellowship; and some will have service in Chinese and some in English. There is no Chinese group here though; I am giving an example. You mentioned of a large Filipino congregation where there are Australians, Columbians, Chinese etc. Why do you call that a Filipino congregation? I am just curioius. Why not South/East Melbourne Church or St. Peter's church or something like that? But I am happy the congregation is ethnically mixed. Here in Delhi, India, it's different. If there is a, say, Tamil congregation then others will not join them. And if there is a Keralite congregation then others do not join. And it goes on. Each group does not say, "if others come we shall them throw them out". But others joining a group is not expected nor do anyone thinks of joining others'. In the process evangelism to a group which does not have a congregation is greatly compromised. I remember one Korean brother saying, "these groups are not praying and working to build God's kingdom, they are building their own kingdom". India has so many ethnic communities. And these congregation reinforces the gap or at least refuse to bridge the gap. Even in America or Canada you may see, say, Keralite or Tamil or Naga having their own group. I am not sure about Australia. I have no problem with each ethnic group trying to preserve their language. I think it's important, but I think church is not the place for that. In church all diverse ethnic groups, at least on Sundays, should come together and pray and partake in the Lord's Supper to demonstrate visibly the love and oneness in Christ. They can do cultural activities on the Weekdays. God bless!
• Australia
23 Oct 09
Firstly, let me correct something. The Filipino Church in Melbourne DOES have a NAME. It is NOT called a Filipino Church, as such, but since the vast majority of members are Filipino, it does get called a Filipino Church. I was merely pointing out that a mainly Filipino Church also has other nationalities. I think it is also true that Filipinos tend to merge in with the community more than some other groups. Many Chinese Churches do include the word Chinese in their name. I have also seen Korean and Vietnamese Churches with their nationality in the title (e.g. Korean Baptist Church) I don't know a great deal about India, but I believe Tamil, Naga and Keralite are social groups who are all Indians but of different cultures. From what I've heard, many of these do not mix in ANY PART of everyday life. If this is so, it is natural they would form their own Church groups too. I think this is especially true of the Dalit and Tamil peoples. I agree with you that among Christians there should be no differences, and that these groups should be able to worship together and join in ministry together.
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• India
23 Oct 09
Thanks for the post, cloudwatcher. I think it's okay to have, say, Korean Baptist Church or something of that sort in Korea. But if such a group is there in, say, Melbourne or Chicago I would not be supportive of that. Here in India the Tamil or Keralites or Nagas have their own state/province. And there it's natural that they don't have other people, except for some government officials or businessmen etc. But when these people come to Delhi or Mumbai, which they do because these are metropolitan cities, even then they form their own groups. That's when things get messed up! We have Catholic church which do not allow such group. But almost all Protestant groups have their own congregation. In India we take pride in the story that St.Thomas came with the Gospel to Keralite-Tamil in the first century itself. I wonder if such kind of ethnic based church is one reason why evangelism is so less in other parts of India. For example, in Delhi, except for individual Naga or Keralite or Tamilian missionary doing mission work the local church of such kind doing evangelism is nil. Most Nagas minister only to Nagas (Btw, I am a Naga myself); and so do the others. I heard such is the case even in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese and Tamilians have a tough time coming together to break bread. God bless!
@Frederick42 (2019)
• Canada
25 Oct 09
Biblically, it may not be all right. Jesus never said anywhere to build churches for only a certain group of people. But people are people. In every country, you could find such churches. People are more bothered about their own convenienes or prejudices more than what Jesus said. If every church has to be a church for all, that is possible only through spirituality. When the flame of divine consciousness burns brighter and brighter within people, then it would be impossible to discriminate.
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• India
26 Oct 09
I think people who consider themselves followers of Jesus are not always faithful to their master. If they are faithful to their Lord the world will have less thieves, murderers, rapists etc. And there won't be racial-ethnic division either. But sadly not many bother to read their Lord's words well. Cheers!
• Philippines
22 Oct 09
I think that if the congregation doesn't accept other ethnic group, then that congregation is not a church, it is just a group of people assembled for their own purpose. The Bible clearly states that we should not limit whom we accept just like you mentioned. In our place, there are also Korean churches and most of the goers are Koreans. I just don't know if they confine it to their own Korean friends only. In our church, everyone is welcome.
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• India
22 Oct 09
I completely agree with you. I remember someone saying that such congregation is not a church, but a religious club where people can come and meet one another sort of. Someone says that such group does not worship Jesus of the Bible but Jesus of their own creation. I think as the world becomes smaller this will be one challenge because people move out yet they want to stick with their own people and not mix up with others. Well, in their personal life I can't say but in church I think it should not be like that. Cheers!
@suspenseful (40314)
• Canada
1 Nov 09
Often a church is started in an area where all the people are of one particular ethnic group, such as starting a Mission field for the Chinese or having a Chinese church like what we have in Vancouver, B.C. but it is to minister to those people who do not speak English and only speak Cantonese. However the church is not designed to remain a Chinese Cantonese speaking church, just the same as a church in the Southern United States with a large black population will remain or should remain an all black church. The point is that these churches are started because the population only speaks that language but as time goes on, some of the congregation may move to another area and learn the language of the country and they will also get visitors who do not speak their language. For instance, the church I go to has a large Dutch population and many of the older members know Dutch, but it now has members who are Native Canadians, English, French, and at one time, a family from Togo, Africa as well as Scottish, German, etc. So those churches do not remain ethnic isolated. It is just that is the only way to perhaps minister to those who before "had no hope."
• India
2 Nov 09
I agree with your point at one level. To start the work that kind of thing may be done. And I am quite okay with it provided years later things will change. But what if things will not change even after 500 years? In India things of such kind has been going on for even more than 500 years. Yet even today they remain like, and they are spreading to other parts.
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@suspenseful (40314)
• Canada
2 Nov 09
I suppose when everyone speaks the same language and they do not move out of the area, then it is likely that it will be a one ethnic group church. and if the normal population is hostile to strangers it is likely to remain that way, unfortunately.
• India
3 Nov 09
Do you have Indian church there in Canada? I guess there may be Chinese church! Some Indian ethnic groups will start their ethnic church wherever they migrate; they hardly marry others and marrying others are like traitors. They are well educated; they speak English; it's just that they don't want to mix with others. It's sad but that is widespread here in India.
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