A few days ago, I republished an article I wrote sometime back about whether or not our churches should focus on reaching specific cultural groups based on things like ethnicity nd class. In the article, I argue that we should aim to grow churches which are culturally diverse. I argue against the Homogenous Unit Principle (HUP).
However, before I published, I took a paragraph out because I realised that I was no longer sure that I agreed with what I had previously said. In that section, I argued that it is okay for a church to be homogenous rather than diverse if that reflected the nature of the community around it and so I would not seek to try and somehow encourage or artificially create diversity.
Well apart from the fact that we can never truly and healthily artificially create something, I want to revisit that. Here’s why. I want to think specifically about class here. We were not made to segregate out based on wealth, power and status. Therefore, I want to suggest that communities which are culturally homogenous on that basis are themselves artificial.
Therefore, if I find that the church I am part of only reaches one class of people because those people live nearest to the building, then I don’t think that this is something to accept. It is worth remembering that where we draw community boundaries is often artificial too. For example, some people might identify our chapel with a particular local authority ward which will be dominated by a particular class and culture. However, if you walk the same distance in other directions but outside of that ward, you reach some completely different communities.
So, within reason, I would be willing to consider that a church with a homogenous catchment area should look again at where it draws the boundaries in order to encourage a level of diversity. The church then becomes a witness to those homogenous communities of God’s ability to reconcile people to each other as a consequence of them being reconciled to God.