Monday, April 30, 2007

Breaking the Language Barrier

The most recent edition of the Christian Chronicle contains an article by Erik Tryggestad on Churches of Christ within the United States who must deal with language.

A couple of items in the article stood out to me: Of all the Churches of Christ in the United States, only ten offer assemblies in three or more languages. Approximately 515 congregations offered assemblies in a non-English language.

Woodward Park got some attention in the article due to the fact that we have assemblies in four different languages at our building each Sunday. Add in the Downtown Church of Christ which holds their assemblies in Spanish and Woodward Park is directly linked to assemblies in five different languages each Sunday.

From Tryggestad's article: "Though greatly outnumbered, religious bodies comprised of multiple ethnic groups are more likely to grow than their homogenous counterparts, according to a 2005 FACTs update. Sixty-one percent of churches the study classified as “multi-racial” experienced significant growth in the past five years, compared to 31 percent of predominantly 'Anglo' churches.

Despite this finding, many churches don’t see reaching multiple ethnicities as a key to growth, said (Patrick) Odum, the Northwest church’s minister. 'The principle of homogeneity dominates much of the church growth literature,' he said, 'because it is simpler to grow a church that shares a basic ethnicity, culture and language.'