Being part of an Indonesian American church, I found this article quite challenging:
The article uses some technical language, so let me give my hopefully simplified less technical summary:
When people first immigrate to North America and congregate to form ethnic churches, they do so out of necessity because of the language barrier. When they raise children those children speak English fluently. Yet when the church remains mostly centered on its cultural heritage (ethnocentric), it undermines its true identity, which is catholic (universal, including believers of all ethnicities) and apostolic (sent to proclaim God’s Kingdom and reflect what it is like today).
So the question is: Why should an ethnic church be segregated from the wider church when language is no longer a barrier (which it is not for the children of immigrants)?
The author believes that ethnic churches stay that way mostly to preserve language and culture, which over the long term is unsustainable. I would add the major consideration of keeping families together, but this is not addressed in the paper.
The author challenges churches to embrace their biblically defined identity. By doing so, they become a witness to the kingdom of God in which people from every culture and language worship God together.
I would want to extend the challenge of this paper to all churches and not just “second generation ethnic Asian churches in North America” given the possibility of using technology to help overcome the language barrier.
What if churches could be widely multilingual? Since God’s Kingdom is multilingual, does that mean they should be multilingual?