I’ve heard the line of argument, “If those in ethnic churches don’t join our churches, then people in our churches will continue to be racist against them.”
There’s more than several things unsound and unsettling with this reasoning, and I’ll address a few here.
- It displays an “us vs. them” mentality. Examine the statement above again and pay attention to the “those” and “our” words. It betrays a belief that we are not all part of the body of Christ. It’s the same thinking that has become the root of “You get out of our country!” or “They’re taking our jobs!” First, consider the minority part of the same body and then we can talk about how to work on racism.
- It blames the victim. This is classic blame-shifting. “It’s not our fault that we’re racist against them if we don’t get to be around them.”
- It demands that the minorities serve the majority. “If only they would do what we want…” In response this, I invite those who are in this situation to serve others instead of demanding to be served.
- It is illogical. This is a classic “false dilemma” fallacy, something that is made to look like an either-or situation. “Either ethnic churches end, or racism will continue.” This is absolutely false. There are many, many ways for racism to end.
- It does not follow that being under the same church leadership will make people less racist. This has obviously not been the case for people working together, going to school together, or living in the same city. This leads us to the next point.
- It takes shepherding! It doesn’t take worshipping under the same church leadership to stem racism. What it will take on the church’s part is shepherding by its leaders. Those in influence must teach and model this. In other words, it must be taught and caught.Shepherd your own flock.Do not abdicate your responsibility to teach this to your congregation. And this, along with points #4 and #5, show that it does not lead to the the condemnation of the ethnic church model.
- Let’s have a mixer then. Invite the ethnic church near you to mix with your church for a social event or conference. Unity can happen at the inter-church level.
On a related note: Do Ethnic Churches Breed Ethnocentrism?