Multi-ethnicity and Niche Ministry

I've been confused, reading after reading, by the New Testament's unapologetic portrayal of Paul's ministry strategy.

Here's why:

I find myself stirred by Paul's efforts throughout the NT to create a multi-ethnic church.  The gospel of Jesus breaks down the walls that divide Jew and Gentile in a way that is so thorough and unusual, the world takes notice.

But Paul starts off in every city pursuing a segmented strategy.  He goes to the synagogues first and focuses his efforts on the Jewish people. 

How does this niche ministry, this market segmentation, fit with God's bigger multi-ethnic purpose?

It's a step.

That's gotta be it, right?

When we forget that niche ministry is a step, a stage, temporary ... that's when we end up divided and divorced from one of most significant signs of the power of the gospel of Jesus: a multi-ethnic church ... and ultimately, the great worshipping multitude that no one could count.

What do you think?

Is all niche ministry temporary?


  1. But he always integrated the churches right away didn't he? I'm not sure a valid comparison is in order. Or is it?

  2. It makes you wonder why so many of our churches aren't integrated, doesn't it?

  3. To comment on your comment unsarcastically:

    Always and right away.

    The thought of a church remaining mono-ethnic is really hard to square with Paul's ministry strategy. (And I realize that this is a controversial claim)

    But there's a gray area for niche ministries like IV because temporality is built into our strategy and ministry rhythm. We know we're sending them out into something different.

    If students graduate from our ethnic-specific ministries without a greater capacity to engage in a multi-ethnic church, something's gone wrong. (The same goes for students involved in our multi-ethnic chapters)

    The "right away" element of Paul's segmentation strategy probably tells us more about his priorities and belief in the witness of a multi-ethnic community than his timeline.