OUR KIND OF PEOPLE: The Ethical Dimensions of the Homogeneous Unit Principle in Church Growth by C. Peter Wagner

OUR KIND OF PEOPLE: The Ethical Dimensions of the Homogeneous Unit Principle in Church Growth

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A defense of religious ""localism,"" not as suggestive or ironic as its title, but much better than the stuffy subtitle. Wagner, who is a missiologist at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, does a careful study of the dilemma facing church leaders all over the world: whether to aim for uniformity or diversity (racial, cultural, linguistic, etc.) in building congregations. Integrationists claim that homogeneous units betray the very nature of Christianity. They protest that 11 A.M. on Sunday is ""the most segregated hour in America."" On the other hand, statistics prove that heterogeneous churches simply don't work. The fastest growing denomination in America, the Southern Baptists, has promoted homogeneity with striking success: in California alone their ministers conduct services for speakers of at least 23 different languages. Wagner insists that the age of the melting pot has passed. The rise of black self-consciousness and the new ethnicity have uncovered the cultural imperialism implicit in the old integrationist ideal. Instead, he proposes Andrew Greeley's image of the ""stew pot""--a harmonious pluralism that encourages diversified identities. There are obvious possibilities for racism and destructive conflict in this approach, but Wagner thinks they can be overcome. He points out that at the dawn of Christian history the pluralist impulse triumphed, as we see in the struggle between Judaizers and Hellenizers in the primitive church. Wagner's sociology is a bit amateurish, but the broad outlines of his argument are solidly convincing.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1978
Publisher: John Knox