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The Role Ethnic Church in the Urban-Society

The Role Ethnic Church in the Urban-Society

Gerrit Singgih in Teologi Kristen dan Tantangan Dunia Postmodern (Christian Theology and the Challenge Postmodern World) declares “too much to say that none of the Protestant churches in Indonesia, which is not an ethnic church” (Singgih 2009, 253). Even the Catholic Rome church is inseparable from the ethnic ties. Singgih indicates: “distribution of Catholics in the diocese according to ethnic background” (Singgih 2009, 255). According to Glenn J. Schwartz in Ethnic Churches and Identity in Missiological Perspective, ethnic church is caught between “preserving its own identity” and “seeking to establish an indigenous church” (Schwartz 2003).

Indonesian churches are made up of various tribes with customs, languages, and cultures. Churches need the fellowship that is ethnically in order that they able to preserve their self-identity. Especially ethnic churches in big cities like Surabaya, and Jakarta. Because in the big cities is the goal of urbanization of the whole island in Indonesia. They became immigrants and permanent residents who are faced with the reality of the impersonal. The big cities become the reality of impersonal because every major city populated very dense and tend selfish. Among the impersonal situation, people needs touching and bonding ethnic church. In comparing the vast majority of church communities in Sydney are homogenous. These churches have many denominations that non-English speaking background as Arabic-speaking, Cook Island Maori, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, Samoan, Ghanaian and Brazilian ( In this context we see that the culture become psychic unity. May be without this psychic unity, the fellowship might fear losing its reason to exist; fellowship can fly apart without it.

The presence of ethnic churches are also being a fellowship that keeps continuity and cultural richness. In this context, culture is not a pattern of life that is released from the life of faith. Because culture and faith instead interact and influence each other. In Christian perspective, cultures need to illuminated and transformed with Gospel values, and vice versa. In other words Gospel values must be rooted in a cultural context. Even further Gospel values should be comprehended in a cultural context, so Gospel and culture is integrated with each other in real life people. Need to know that God reveals Him-self through the culture that is the culture of Israel. So culture is medium the revelation of God in history of human.

However, the role of ethnic churches should be progressive, dynamic and ever-changing society for the church to deal with diversity. Therefore Schwartz asserted how could this ethnic church, which possesses the Gospel, plant a truly indigenous church in a radically different society, without losing its own identity? (Schwartz 2003).


Singgih. Gerrit. 2009. Menguak isolasi, menjalin relasi: teologi Kristen dan tantangan dunia postmodern. Jakarta: BPK Gunung Mulia.

Schwartz, Glenn J. 2003. Ethnic Churches and Identity in Missiological Perspective. World Mission Associates.

Face to face intercultural. Tranforming a homogeneous church into a multi-ethnic church community.

Yohanes Bambang Mulyono

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