Eric M. Brown

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)




The question at the heari of this dissertation is, "can it be different?" The "it" is the way church is organized, worship happens, and the very flavor of the church in the United Methodist Church in Oregon and Idaho. Today, church is generally organized following the traditional Anglo experience. The hymns, food, and organizational patterns generally follow the patterns of the white, English-speaking majority in the churches. A different formula would be one that is more multicultural and multiethnic. In this dissertation, the different way of organizing and thinking of church is called functional diversity.

Functional diversity is explored through the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, the traditional United Methodist formula for doing theology. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral looks at any theological issue through four lenses: Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. After exploring the Scriptural call to welcome strangers and aliens, listening to the theology of marginality as discussed by J. Y. Lee, discovering a time in the history of the church where diversity existed, and taking note of my own experience with diversity, this dissertation claims that there is another way, that the church can be different.

Throughout this dissertation, I argue that the church is called to diversity and that diversity is a valid, biblically-sound way to build a church. In chapter one I introduce the idea of functional diversity. In chapter two I explore the biblical witness that calls the church to diversity as I key into the bible's special concern for the strangers and the aliens. In chapter three I read the theology of marginality as imagined by J. Y. Lee and hear this as a call to diversity in the church. In chapter four I explore the time of the Egyptian monks of the third and fourth centuries and hear their monasteries and places of diversity. In chapter five I listen to my own experience and that of United Methodist Churches in Oregon and Idaho as the area has become more diverse. In chapter 6, I consider the idea ofmissiology and the teachings ofthe Church Growth movement. The Church Growth movement suggests that, rather than diversity, a church will grow best if it is filled with homogeneous ethnic units. I suggest that, while the teachings of the Church Growth movement are one biblically-principled way to grow churches, there are other, equally correct and biblically-principled ways to grow churches. Erwin McManus' Mosaic Church is one such way. In the final chapter, I draw conclusions from the previous chapters and suggest that a functionally diverse church is the way I feel God calling me to grow churches.

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