This post is the basis for a shorter edited version written for World Vision Canada’s Beyond the Welcome tool kit, a project designed to help Canadian churches open themselves up to new immigrants in their communities.
Here’s the question I want to answer in this post: Why is integrating new immigrants into the local church community biblically and theologically important? For the sake of brevity, I will focus on lessons we can learn from the early Christian church as recorded in the New Testament, especially in the book of Acts, in answering this question.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that the most segregated hour in America was Sunday morning worship. I am reminded again of that reality thanks to Martin Luther King Day in the USA this past Monday. Sadly, King’s observation is still probably true today. Churches in North America are still highly segregated according to ethnicity – not just black and white but also, Chinese, Koreans, Philipinos, Latinos, Caribbean, etc. Unlike in the past, however, churches today self-segregate along these ethnic lines. Why? There are a variety of reasons (racism probably being one) but one popular justification is the Homogenous Unit Principle or the HUP. Recently, I wrote a guest editorial denouncing the HUP. This was published in Christian Courier, Dec. 27, 2010 issue. Below is what I wrote: