Should a Christian Community be Homogeneous or Heterogeneous?
It’s fun to be in the company of likeminded individuals. It’s comfortable to hang out with people similar to us. But are fun and comfortable, necessarily good things? Do they promote personal growth and advance understanding?
Being with people like us?—uniform or at least similar in perspective—is a homogeneous experience. The opposite of homogeneous is heterogeneous. A heterogeneous community is diverse, comprised of dissimilar people. They might look, talk, dress, or act differently. Perhaps they hail from distinct neighborhoods, cultures, or even countries. They could be rich or poor or somewhere in between. They might embrace diverging priorities, worldviews, political alliances, or (gasp) even hold to an alternate theology.
How comfortable are we spending time with people who view God differently than we do? Will we bask in a diversity of perspectives or cringe over perceived heresy? One of the things I learned from visiting 52 churches in a year is the grand variations in Jesus’ family. Our vastness and distinctions are beautiful. I’m delighted to have had the experience— and I miss it now that it’s over.
I’ve heard that if two people agree on everything, than one of them isn’t needed. We must apply this to church. How can our faith grow if everyone agrees on everything? Most churches today are homogeneous, but I think we should be heterogeneous. We need to embrace, pursue, and celebrate diversity in our faith communities.
I learn the most from those whose ideas and understanding differ from mine—or even contradict them. It’s not always a fun or comfortable place to be, but I think that’s where Jesus wants us—and where he would be.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.