Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Ethnic Church Planting in the USA – a real need
I was having a discussion yesterday with other folks interested in not only reaching the Unreached People Groups (UPGs) of the world, but reaching the UNENGAGED UPGs of the world. [ Footnote: “Unengaged” means that there is no known long-term resident, vernacular, church planting effort within that people group. ]
One of the interested possibilities that came up is reaching the international immigrants/refugees/students/businessmen of that UUPG wherever they take up residence in the USA. However, a bit problem is the vacuum of ministry targeting internationals and UUPGs (or even UPGs) in that way. What I mean is this: international student ministries primarily work in evangelism and some discipleship across a smattering of any number of nationalities represented on the university campus. Good. But, if they engage them in a church at all, it is almost 100% of the time acquainting them with an American church. IF they do it at all (and that’s a big “IF”) they attempt to mainstream the foreign student into an American church setting. Even if there is a, e.g., Mandarin language campus church, the meeting style, room, physical meeting building and arrangement of chairs, and other accouterments all follow a Western – American pattern.
Especially within refugee or immigrant communities, but also including university, grad school, research, and business populations, how can we expect believers arising out of those groups (UUPGs?) to feel comfortable with reproducing the church model if there is not careful thought given to making the church pattern to be a culturally contextualized model?
We need church planting among UPGs and UUPGs present in the USA that produces church which have biblically qualified “indigenous” leaders who are able to faithfully reproduce that local church model back in their place of origin. I cannot think of one single mission organization or church effort that does so.
Case in point: Koreans plant typically ethnically and culturally Korean (not American) churches in the USA (and pretty much everywhere else they do missions). Hispanic churches in the USA tend to be reproducible back in the countries of origin of their congregation. Chinese churches in the USA can be significantly culturally relevant and, to some degree, apart from size and affluence perhaps, reproducible in many places across Chinese populations “at home”. Who is planting ethnically Somali churches among the significant Somali populations of the USA? Who is planting culturally contextualized Muslim churches in the heart of so many UPGs represented in immigrant and refugee communities and even student populations in the USA? How could we possibly expect the ethnic UPG and UUPG new believers in the USA to take what they see given and modeled to them as “church” back to their communities of origin and reproduce it?
Challenge: Can American missions and churches apply a bit of sound missiology to UUPG populations HERE in order to reach the much more difficult to reach UUPGs THERE?