Homogenous Unit Principle
I'm 35 years old (believe it or not). I'm married, with two kids. We live near El Dorado Park in a little fixer upper (that, in five years, we haven't fixed up all that much!). I like reading philosophy and listening to indie rock and drinking strong coffee and rooting for the San Francisco Giants (yes, I know all about the second half of their season and recent losses to the Dodgers - and no, I don't need you to remind me, thank you very much).
All of this means I get along well with other guys who are in their mid-30's, married with kids, and live in Long Beach's quaint suburbs. Especially if they like philosophy and indie rock and strong coffee and the San Francisco Giants! (What are the chances?)
This is true for each of us: Whatever our place in life and whatever our various interests, we get along best with others who share that season of life and those various interests.
It's true of churches, too.
Mid-way through sharing last week's message on Acts 2, "Pentecost in September", I remembered a concept popularized by Donald A. MacGavran that explains it well. After serving as a third-generation missionary to India, MacGavran was on the faculty of Fuller Seminary, where he developed the "homogenous unit principle" of church growth. Simply put, churches grow faster and grow larger, when they focus on reaching people with the same ethnic, social, educational, or vocational similarities.
To be clear, he didn't encourage churches to function this way. He just explained that's how it often happens.
The "homogenous unit principle" of church growth reveals those innate desires and preferences, but it's not what God had in mind. That's why God called together all those "Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontians, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans and Arabs." That's why God empowered "mere Galileans" to speak all those different languages to "declare the wonders of God" in ways they would understand!
But God didn't just give the gift of language. As we'll see in worship on Sunday, God prompted them to "sell property and possessions to give to anyone who had need... to meet together in the temple courts... to break bread in their homes and eat together with glad and sincere hearts... to praise God and enjoy the favor of all the people."
As we continue our series To the Ends of the Earth, let's keep our eyes open to these patterns and principles, these ways that God led His people. Let's notice the ways they were faithful in living the gospel so much so, that they "enjoyed the favor of all the people"!
All the people! Not just those who liked the same things they did! Doing so will prompt us to live into our new mission statement (say it with me):
Inviting all people to grow into a Christ-centered life in God's family