Church Planting and Hybridity: Challenges to Planting New Churches Within Ethnic Communities
By Marcelo Gomes
Author Enoch Won says that church planters working with ethnic groups must consider four essential aspects: focus, conceptualization, approach and orientation, and strategy. Focus concerns the essence of praxis—the community; conceptualization concerns the perception of missional intent or what the proposed initiative is based on and justifies; approach and orientation concern institutional methods and monitoring; and strategy concerns practical resources and daily activities.
Won’s model offers the possibility of church planting focused on complexity, and not on the expectation of results.
Church planters must understand these aspects and must be able to navigate among them from a hybrid (cultural) perspective.
From the point of view of the first aspect (focus), it becomes a significant challenge to develop church planting initiatives among ethnic communities—which I prefer to call hybrid communities. This challenge concerns three central themes: culture, migration, and implicit theologies. Church planters must understand these aspects and must be able to navigate among them from a hybrid (cultural) perspective.
Moving to the second dimension, conceptualization, it is necessary to shape the motivations of church planters. Motivation, in this case, is not related to Christian witness, but to the embodiment of the initiative. For example, if we are planting new churches among ethnic communities, and the motivation is to convert people—including those of other Christian traditions, we are using the wrong motivations.
In terms of the third dimension—approach and orientation—one of the biggest mistakes in church planting initiatives among ethnic communities is to reproduce native communities with the argument that we are preserving culture. First-generation models are obsolete and do not reach the hybrid context of immigrants and their families, nor the second and third generations. Preserving culture is a matter of valuing and offering space for it and not isolating a community in a cultural corner.
The last dimension of this model refers to strategy. Developing a strategic perspective is a survival item for church planting initiatives. A central aspect of any strategy includes not centering the church community on a physical structure but creating organic discipling models that function within the community.
If you want to know more about this topic or would like to schedule a meeting to discuss ways that PATH1 can help you with church planting among ethnic communities, feel free to contact me at [email protected].
 Enoch Won, Diaspora Missiology: Theory, Methodology and Practice (Portland, OR: Institute of Diaspora Studies, 2014).
Dr. Marcelo Gomes is the Director of Training & Church Planting Systems with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.