star trek
 Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                           November 2, 2009
Are Small Groups Just for White People?
My Reflections
Forward to a Friend
The Banqueting Table does not necessarily endorse all contents of videos or the organizations that produced them. Please test everything you see and hear against the Scriptures.
Visit for more regional information
Dear ,
white people 2Sometimes I read things that cause me to scratch my head. The below excerpt is one of those instances.
The excerpt causes me to ask, How much of what I think about the church is based purely on my ethnicity? My language? My socio-cultural standing?
What is more, How much of the way I think things should be do I push onto others? What biases do I read into the Scriptures because I'm white? Male? Greek in my orientation?
These are good questions, I think, and cannot be ignored.
QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: Are house churches just for white people?
Are Small Groups Just for White People?
Excerpted from Leadership Journal by Sam O'Neal
question_markI came across an interesting interview in the recent issue of Leadership Journal. The subjects of the interview were from River City Community Church: a multi-ethnic ministry located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Leadership talked with Daniel Hill, who founded the ministry, along with several key leaders of the church.
Here's a brief excerpt of their conversation:
What kind of person is attracted to River City?
Most of our new people are white. But there's a revolving door with the white community here. They have a romantic notion of being part of a multi-ethnic church, so many of them get frustrated and leave when they realize how difficult it is to erase their assumptions about the way church is supposed to be.
What assumptions do white people carry into the church?
Arloa Sutter (pastor of community life):
When I came I said, "Let's just start small groups! Everyone wants to be in a group, right?" The fact is small groups aren't as important to other ethnicities as they are to white people.
Small groups are a white church thing?
White people rely on small groups to connect. Other ethnicities form community more organically, more relationally. Immigrant communities find fellowship within extended families. In the city a lot of community happens on the front porch or sidewalk. So non-whites aren't as eager to set up structures and systems like small groups.
Carlos Ruiz (coordinator of community groups): I think whites really value efficiency.
Antoine Taylor (director of Sunday morning ministries): And releasing that value is really hard for a lot of them. They perceive other ways of operating as inefficient or disorganized.
Jennifer Idoma-Motzko (elder): They say it's not the right way to do church. And I respond bluntly by saying, "You mean it's not the white way to do church."
My Reflections 
Here's a question I've pondered. Which came first? The Jewish culture or God's instruction? Here's what I've discovered: it's definitely a both/and. Why's this important? It's important because the Christian faith is not a free-for-all. Although God is certainly sensitive to cultures, hence the incarnation of Christ, God's instruction beckons a new politic, a way of life that transcends human preferences and ushers in the Kingdom.
In light of the above, I must ask myself, Why does my house church structure itself the way it does? Basically, we meet once a week, call and email each other in between, and gather during special occasions, say birthday parties or biblical holidays. And frankly, I'm the worst at it. My life is so scheduled.
Although I don't beat myself over the head, I admit my way of life is too "white," too American. As an observer of people (the anthropologist in me), other cultures seem closer to God's ideal. For instance, the Bible tells us of a people that regularly rested, thus allowing time to reflect on God's goodness and time to be together. As the above excerpt suggests, whites are notoriously bad at living in community while other cultures seem to "get it."
One of the mantras of the church today is contextualize! Let's be relevant, some say. And I say, Since when is God's way of doing things irrelevant? It's not. True, God's way may be at odds with my selfish nature. I have a tendency to want things my way and I can push, often subtly, that way onto others in my community.
crownBut that's not what God wants, is it? He wants obedience. Is God sensitive to cultures? Absolutely, but a careful reading of the Scriptures suggests God doesn't capitulate to cultures. No, God is unchanging. So, here's the point. Don't let your cultural biases dictate the right way to do church. Instead, while recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of all cultures, let's leave the old behind and walk anew in a new regime. After all, it's a Kingdom (with a King), not a democracy.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table