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Dr. Sam George Evangelicals 169

Diaspora Churches On The Move

Article published in the Winter 2023/2024 | Vol 9
No 3 issue of Evangelicals Magazine

Sam George, Ph.D., serves as the director of the Global Diaspora Institute
at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center and as a global catalyst of the
Lausanne Movement. He is of Asian Indian origin and has lived, studied
and served in five countries, and currently makes his home in the suburbs
of Chicago. He teaches and researches migration, diaspora missions and
World Christianity globally. He has authored or edited 15 books, including a
recent three-volume series on “Asian Diaspora Christianity.”

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF IMMIGRATION IN
SHAPING AMERICAN CHURCHES?
America is an immigrant nation, and American Christianity
is immigrant or diasporic at its core.  The different waves of
immigrants from many different shores of the world have led
to different streams of churches in America. Over decades and
generations, they have interacted with and borrowed from
each other. Some joined the streams while others switched,
abandoned, or created new ones. So, we say American
Christianity is diasporic, meaning we are all scattered people
who gather with other scattered people to worship and live on
God’s mission here and around the world.

HOW HAVE THE DIASPORA COMMUNITIES
PLAYED A STRATEGIC ROLE IN THE
TRANSFORMATION OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE
UNITED STATES?
With the exception of Native Americans, we all are either
immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Either we brought
our unique strand of Christian faith to this land or embraced
Christianity at the witness of Christians in the places of our
settlement. As such, migratory displacement is a theologizing
experience, and thanks to religious freedom in this country,
all religions have been able to  flourish and wane over
time, though Christianity has gained the most adherents.
Immigrants compare and contrast their inherited beliefs
with those they encounter in the new places. The geocultural
displacements make migrants into exceptional evangelists
and missionaries, just as all foreign missionaries could be
considered cross-cultural migrants.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST STRENGTHS OF
THE DIASPORA CHURCHES?
Most diaspora churches are made up of Christians coming from
places where Christianity is growing phenomenally (Asia,
Latin America and Africa) and are bringing fresh vitality to
the Christian faith in the West.  e diaspora churches are
globalizing the American church and the more global the
American church is, the more globally connected, relevant and
needed we will be.

HOW DO DIASPORA CHURCHES THINK
ABOUT MULTICULTURALISM IN CHURCHES?
Most new diaspora churches in the West are transplanted
“outposts” of cultural Christianity from different parts of
the world with distinctive languages, cultures, traditions,
spirituality and ecclesial ethos. However, when those language
and cultural skills recede and as spirituality and theological
quests shift with subsequent generations, they fuse into the
dominant language, culture and spirituality of the new place
and time.
Christianity has been a heterogeneous and global faith
since its beginning. As the gospel di used across geographies
and cultures throughout its history, Christianity always
embraced others due to indigenization and translation
principles. Our cultural familiarity, bias and prejudice should
not isolate us in our respective silos where we consider our
version of Christianity as the perfect one or superior to
others. Homogeneity runs counter to the heterogeneous order
that Paul advocated in his writing and that early Christians
embraced.

HOW CAN THE NORTH AMERICAN CHURCH
ENGAGE WITH DIASPORAS AND THE GLOBAL
CHURCH?
 The North American church is the most global church on
the planet on account of diaspora churches, though we
remain isolated and ignorant of each other. We need to
connect with those whom God has brought to our shores and
neighborhoods in order to leverage those natural networks of
relationship to engage the world.

 The division of churches along national, racial, linguistic,
ethnic and cultural lines has effectively blunted the witness
of the Church in the world. We have relied more on the
prevailing cultural norms and managerial principles to carry
out God’s kingdom agenda here and globally. Our collective
Spirit-filled witness is more powerful than our racialized,
power, resource and task-oriented approaches. We must realize
that North America is both a mission force and a mission
 eld. Immigrant Christians can save us from our narrow,
parochial, racialized and nationalized view of our faith.

North American churches must reimagine missions at
home with the help of brothers and sisters from around the
world who are here. This is vital to the future of Christianity
in North America. We must look for and get acquainted
with immigrants and learn from them, especially refugees,
persecuted Christians and those from regions affected by our
foreign policies, economic systems and climate change. We
must not forget the cardinal rule in migration theories that
‘they are here because we were there.’


Sam George served as the principal author for a new position paper
of the Lausanne Movement titled. “People on the Move”.