Something perked my memory when I was listening to the White Horse Inn broadcast on Spiritual Gifts. No it was not particularly the charismatic gifts that perked it. It was on the idea of a church being started based on ethnic or cultural lines.
I have experience with this because a decade ago I pioneered a Filipino church in Melbourne. There is no denying that birds of a feather flock together, and that feather happened to be 'same ethnic background'. This common root idea is no doubt a rallying point for the church to have a sense of unity. When that happens, church work is easier to do because you got more hands on deck.
Unfortunately it has an ugly side to it. For one thing, it will never break out of its own mold and pre-concieved ideas. For example, a few caucasian folk sometimes would join us and during fellowship lunch, guess what, no one from my church would speak to them. These white folk would just stand there eating their lunches and no one would bother to approach them. I have tried to tell my congregation why they do those un-friendly sort of things and I would scold them, I would say - "hey you people know and understand English why don't you speak to them"?.
People from ethnic churches are comfortable within themselves and they often think they "own the church". The depressing part is that they will not let people break in to them. It rocks their style and they can not be bothered putting up with strangers or people from different backgrounds. You see the church is their gheto. They are there because they are _________(nationality). You can fill in the blank your self. You know what I mean.
Whereas culturally based churches may work for a while, they never work in the end. It does not work because it is being made to be a social club, with a bit of Jesus and some church ritual on the side. What happens is that the social aspect takes over and Jesus becomes a small aspect of the group. So the church dies besides who would like to go to a place where you are not welcomed?
Church leaders that minister to churches that have a cultural background as its root is in a very challenging position, but I think the earlier they get to identify the problem the earlier the solution will be. So what is the problem? The problem is not whether or not people are friendly or brotherly, that is just the symptom.
The problem is if people are there because of culture or the Gospel? Are they there because of Jesus or because that is where they were born, baptized or because they have the same nationality as the rest of the members? This is the reason why ethnic churches become ghetos, they are not united by the Gospel, they are united by ethnicity. This to me is the greater concern, are they there because they have grasphed the Gospel? It is a challenging thing to convert members from being there because of ethnicity to being there because they are Christians, i.e. because of Jesus, because they are fellow sinners just like people from other ethnicity, they know they share the same humanity and sinfulness and above all they know they need a Saviour just like the rest of mankind.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.