Cultural Diversity in the Church

Tim Chester has an interesting blog post on the homogeneous unit principle in Church planting. He goes on to say:

I believe God intended cultural diversity. It was the sin of Babel to come together to create a monoculture. God had commanded that humanity scatter and, I would argue, thereby create cultural diversity. God’s judgment at Babel is, therefore, also an act of grace that fulfils the creation mandate. Moreover God welcomes cultural diversity in the new creation. So the church should not squash cultural differences, but celebrate them. (Of course, all cultures are also polluted by sin and must therefore be critiqued and transformed by the gospel.)

My conversations with Christians from other cultures, especially the Welsh speaking community, have made keenly aware how easy it is for us to do this. ‘But they can speak English,’ people say of Welsh Christians. ‘They are putting their nationalism before the gospel.’ It seems so reasonable until you realise that what this means in practice is that participation in the church is dependent upon adopting English culture (language being perhaps the key componant of culture). If we were talking about a majority culture accommodating to a minority culture it would not be so bad. A majority culture does not need protecting. It has been through these conversations that I have come to see that a similar situation often exists in which working-class or marginalised people are expected to confirm to middle-class culture to participate fully in church life.

It fascinates me that Tim, who works in Sheffield, is wrestling with some of the same issues which face Bible translators around the world.

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