It is vitally important that we look at this issue dispassionately. The tribal, ethnic and racial undertones in our body politics have crept unawares into our churches. Looking around today, 80% of our churches, both large and small, are ethnic and tribal churches! In our cities and urban areas, we build churches along ethnic lines, languages and tribal consideration. Church positions and leadership also follow the same pattern. In fact, associate leaders break away to start their own churches due to tribal and ethnic considerations! It is that bad.

However, is that what the Bible says? Are ethnic churches biblical? How can we raise multi-ethnic churches? This is our focus in this teaching.

A.​Scriptural Foundation – Gal. 3:24-28; Eph. 2:14-16; 3:1-13; Romans 1:15; 15:16; 1 Cor. 9:19-23; Col. 1:27; 3:11-15; Rev. 5:9. The gospel breaks down cultural, ethnic, tribal and class barriers to create one new people in Christ who are to live out the kingdom of God by loving one another.

It was in the city of Antioch that Jesus’ followers were first called Christians (Acts 11:19-26). It was in Antioch that Jesus’ church transformed from a homogenous group of the Jews into a local, multi-ethnic church comprised of the Jews and non-Jews (African, Arab, Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Asians etc). And it was the multi-ethnic, local church in Antioch that took the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world, not the homogenous church in Jerusalem (Acts 13:1-3). The Greco-Romans stood in awe as they saw people who hated each other began to love each other and do life together in the name of Jesus (Eph. 2:14-16).

B.​How Churches Become Ethnic – Acts 6:1-2

Our big, middle-sized and small denominations are largely ethnic. Churches become tribal due to these factors.

❖ A local vernacular leader that refuses to improve.

❖ A leader that is prejudiced against other tribes.

❖ A local dialect or language speaking church.

❖ Majority of leadership positions going to one ethnic group.

❖ A structure and culture that uplifts one language above others.

❖ Practices that subjugate other tribes and cultures.

❖ Planting churches only along ethnic and language lines.

I know churches where you cannot become anything once you are not from the tribe of the leader. I know churches where everyone in leadership comes from one ethnic area. I know churches that are only planted in one ethnic area. I know churches where suspicion is used to subjugate other tribes.

There are many demerits to ethnic churches, which include the following:

➢ Working against the plan of the scripture.

➢ A bad spectacle to watching world.

➢ Limited gospel impact across cultures.

➢ Cultural Christianity.

➢ Limitation to the power of God.

➢ Helping the divisions in the nations.

C.​Why Multi-Ethnic Churches Is Crucial

Multi-ethnic churches are crucial, relevant and mandatory because of these reasons:

  1. Plan of salvation – Eph. 2:14-16 – God wants every person to be saved.
  2. Christological – Eph. 3:1-6 – Christ came to save both the Jews and the Gentiles.
  3. Church in heaven – Rev. 7:9-12 – All tribe will be in heaven.

The eternal church will be multi-ethnic. There will be no white church, black church, Igbo church, Yoruba church or Asian church. There will only be Jesus’ multi-ethnic church. If this is the future, let’s pray and work for it today.

D.​How to Raise Multi-Ethnic Churches – Rev. 5:9-10

While ethnic churches might be useful and okay in rural, homogenous areas, multi-ethnic churches is the main thing in urban areas. Most urban areas are cultural melting point that comprises of people from different tribes, languages and localities. Here are steps that will surely help you along this process:

  1. Believe in the multi-ethnic church of Jesus.
  2. Live the gospel, love people and share Jesus with individuals.
  3. Bring down the cultural barriers that keep ethnics separated on Sunday mornings.
  4. Speak the official language – lingua franca in church communications.
  5. Choose leaders on merit – not by ethnic considerations.
  6. Scatter throughout the community as small groups that grow spiritually and serve practically.
  7. Discourage ethnic undertones, class and cultural barriers from the pulpit.
  8. Teach and demonstrate the gospel power to reach anyone – irrespective of tribe and tongue.
  9. Encourage people to live as true Disciples of Christ – not ethnic champions.

Prayer Points:

1.​Every ethnicity challenge facing my church, receive divine solution in Jesus’ name.

2.​Father, enlarge the scope of my ministry in Jesus’ name.

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