Letters to the Editor
Thanks much for the July 2009 Missions on the Web article on Folk Religions
Thanks much for the July 2009 Missions on the Web article on Folk Religions. I am finding it to be of considerable help! From www.answering-islam.org you include Samuel Zwemer’s book, Studies in Popular Islam; however, I wanted you to be aware that we now have all of his books on the www.zwemercenter.com website, including the one mentioned. In addition, we have The Influence of Animism on Islam: An Account of Popular Superstitions. Thanks again for the good work you all do!
—Warren Larson, director, Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies at Columbia International University
Church Planting and Kingdom Building
In his article, “Church Planting and Kingdom Building: Are They the Same?” (April 2009 EMQ), Ken Baker criticizes contemporary church planters for uncritically accepting and implementing the homogeneous unit principle (HUP) while seeking to engage the thousands of still unreached people groups around the world. For the sake of accuracy, it needs to be pointed out that Donald McGavran was aware of the potential abuses of the HUP which Baker discusses, and as a consequence, gave the following advice in his Understanding Church Growth:
In applying this principle, common sense must be assumed. The creation of narrow churches, selfishly centered on the salvation of their own kith and kin only, is never the goal. Becoming Christian should never enhance animosities or the arrogance which is so common to all human associations. As men of one class, tribe, or society come to Christ, the Church will seek to moderate their ethnocentrism in many ways….She will educate leaders of several homogeneous unit churches in one training school….She will make sure that her people are in the vanguard of brotherly practices. The one thing she will not do—on the basis that it is self-defeating—is to substitute kindness and friendliness for the gospel. She knows that the first is the fruit and the second the root. And the Church, I am sure, will not deify the principle I am describing….Knowing that growth is a most complex process, she will humbly recognize that God uses many factors as yet not understood by us, and will not insist that he use just this one. If in a given instance, congregations which neglect this principle grow better than those which observe it, she will not blindly follow the principle. She will be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. (1970, 242-243)
Hence, McGavran never expected people to slavishly follow the HUP; however, unless we want to place unnecessary obstacles in the path of the unreached coming to Christ, it remains a legitimate strategy because people really do like to become “Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class barriers” (1970, 223).
—Christopher R. Little, professor of intercultural studies Columbia International University