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Too white, too safe, too bad

Homogeneity is a problem in the church. It’s a term that means that everybody in a group is pretty much the same. It’s a problem because (as explored in yesterday’s blog) one of the greatest threats to our faith is our comfort. Because everyone we socialize with looks and thinks like we do, we d…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Homogeneity is a problem in the church. It’s a term that means that everybody in a group is pretty much the same.

It’s a problem because (as explored in yesterday’s blog) one of the greatest threats to our faith is our comfort. Because everyone we socialize with looks and thinks like we do, we don’t get the accountability that diversity brings. When everyone is white, votes Republican, hasn’t known any real pain, and feels like they have the answers to the world’s problems, it’s a big problem.

It’s a problem because Christianity is an outreach-based faith. When we all look the same, we forfeit the broad perspective that allows us to be “all things to all people.” We become intolerant of those who think differently and we become off-putting to people outside our huddle.

It’s a problem because we stop thinking. Everything we think is what our neighbor already thinks, so why talk about what you both recognize as obvious? Why beat a dead horse?

It’s a problem because this lack of exchange with others breeds intolerance and even arrogance. This wouldn’t be an issue were we not called to humility and love. We’re supposed to be in school to learn grace and the very makeup of the school makes that difficult.

So what kind of churches are homogeneous? Churches in Iowa are. Churches in downtown Atlanta are. Baptist churches in north Georgia where I live are. The Anglican church in England is filled with geriatrics struggling to be attractive to young people.

Homogeneity is particularly dangerous insofar as it stifles spiritual inquiry. Because no one challenges what I believe, I start to think I’ve got a lock on truth. I become intolerant of others and even subtly put them down. My great wisdom and learning become a stumbling block for others and, unbeknownst to me, they begin to think of me as a hypocrite.

Comments (2)

  • Abraham Kuyper, Dutch theologian and very avante-guarde believer, wrote, “Our interpretive lenses are glued to our faces.” We usually lack the lens of our LORD. We cling voraciously to our lens. We call it truth or at least my version of it, which in this postmodern world, is sufficient to hang far more than your hat upon. We miss almost all of what God has available when we are unaware, ambivilent, or possessive of our lens, refusing to be refracted by our Savior as He does the necessary surgery on our “lens”. I view through my heart. May God be the hound of heaven after me and my heart, doing all necessary surgery on it and all I hold onto, am ambivilent about, or am unaware of. God’s lens is in technicolor. That should be reflected in the Body, and in my open heart and arms for others.

  • where else am I supposed to go to get a good healthy dose of righteous self-validation? The church seems like the only place left for me to hang out with people just like me…everywhere else, I have to put up with people who are different!
    ha! I make me laugh! sorry.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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