There are different blends of multiethnic/multicultural churches. Some are very intentional in becoming diverse, some ‘naturally’ become diverse, some ‘supernaturally’ become ethnically diverse (meaning it was unintentional), some are holistically diverse, while some resist becoming diverse. The following is an initial survey to designate the different blends of multiethnic church communities. Ice cream flavors (most of them Ben & Jerry’s ? flavors) will be used to describe this phenoma of the nations coming together in worship. (7/2000; mod. 8/2/00)
Vanilla, or Chocolate:
This church is homogenously monocultural. She targets a specific culture or subculture, consciouly or subconsciously, and does not plan to serve the diverse population within its local community. She is founded on the so-called “homogeneous unit principle”, which is related to sayings like: “birds of a feather flock together” or “like attracts like”. This is typical of a vast majority of churches, gathering people together who are comfortable around those who are like themselves.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie:
(chocolate ice cream with chunks of fudge brownies)
This church desires to foster its unity and its outreach based on a common culture or ethnic heritage. Language-specific services or language translation may be established to keep generations or groups together. Often she will have her ethnicity specified in her name, because ethnic identity is the most important thing. This is typical of immigrant churches and subcultural-enclave churches.
Cherry Garcia ?:
(sweet ice cream with bing cherries and dark chocolate chunks)
This church welcomes different ethnicities together, but has a majority of one ethnicity. The perception may be that minority groups are valued but tokenized. She realizes that the Gospel is for all peoples, and allows other minority groups to join its majority dominant church culture.
(Vanilla, Strawberry, and Chocolate)
This church brings together different ethnicities, at some kind of an organizational level or shared facility, but keeps the people distinct and separate. She recognizes that the Gospel is for all peoples, and upholds cultural distinctives in worship and language. She is considered a multi-congregational model church.
Urban Jumble ?:
(Coconut Almond Fudge Chip meets New York Super Fudge Chunk? — A swirling safari of chocolate ice cream & coconut ice cream mixed with white & dark chocolatey chunks, pecans & roasted almonds)
This church brings together different ethnicities into one community for worship and fellowship. She is intentional at leadership and grass roots levels to embrace ethnic diversity. She recognizes that a person’s value is being created in the image of God, so multiethnic relationships and people of multiethnic descent are just as valuable as anybody else. She provides a safe place for the culturally confused, where stereotypes are shattered, and conflicts are transformed. She has an urban atmosphere that is energetic, sorta MTV or Benetton’ish.
Everything but the . . . ?:
(Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch/New York Super Fudge Chunk ? & Peanut Butter Cup — A collision of chocolate ice cream & vanilla ice cream mixed with Heath? Bar chunks, white chocolatey chunks, peanut butter cups & chocolatey covered almonds)
This church is doing everything possible to reach all peoples with the Gospel, because she recognizes Christ-identity is most important. She fosters an environment where diversity is sensitively valued through cross-cultural relationships, because it is in relationships that trust is established and the heart is transformed. Worship takes on a global cultural flavor, and no majority ethnicity dominates in leadership nor the whole. Diversity is fostered not only ethnically, but also socio-economically, generationally, and even linguistically. This is most typical of international churches, where all peoples worship together and show forth a powerful witness of Christian unity amidst a world tainted with racial strife.
(c) copyright 2000 by DJ Chuang; please contact author for usage and distribution permission