So here’s the thing. I grew up in a country that’s just now walking through the debris caused by apartheid. Slowly but surely our nation is being united in a new way. So what about the church? I think it is fair to say that apartheid is still alive and kicking when it comes to churches integrating. This concerns me a great deal. One of the reasons for this continuing segregation is the "homogeneous unit principle" that was proposed by the church growth movement. According to this principle,
"Men and women like to become Christians without crossing linguistic,
racial, and class lines" – McGavran
This thinking resulted in the various church literature encouraging pastors to find their niche ministry or to develop a target market. In the 90’s I was part of one of these ministries that targeted rich and middle-class Afrikaans speaking people. One day the leadership of this church scouted for a new site to build a bigger auditorium. The leader of the group noted that ‘it was a really poor area’ and that it didn’t fit our target market. Lollie then commented that her grandmother lives in the area and I can tell you that the meeting was enveloped with an eerie silence.
Peter Wagner was a very vocal voice in the popularizing of the "homogeneous unit principle", in one of his books where he explores the signs of healthy churches he says the following:
vital sign of a healthy, growing church is that its membership is composed of
basically one kind of people…People like to become
Christians without crossing racial, linguistic or class barriers…. A
"homogeneous unit" is simply a group of people who consider each
other to be "our kind of people." They have many areas of mutual
interest. They share the same culture. They socialize freely. When they are
together they are comfortable and they all feel at home.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue ….