The Impact of Ethnic Homogeneity on Outreach: Study on the Organization of the Ethiopian Evangelical Diaspora Congregations in the United States

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Practical Theology

First Advisor

Klaus Detlev Schulz


The main purpose of this research is to explore an understanding of how the Ethiopian evangelical diaspora congregations in the United States of America describe their type of ethnic formation and its impact on their outreach to determine how such ethnic makeup affects their outreach. In other words this research examines the implications of ethnic homogeneity to outreach. The field research of this study analyzed the participants' descriptions and understanding of their ethnic makeup and how this type of ethnic formation affected their evangelism efforts. This study was conducted through face-to-face and telephone interviews with thirty individuals from ten congregations of the Ethiopian evangelical diaspora congregations in the USA.

The biblical/confessional review of this study discusses the biblical foundation of tribes and ethnicity. It also discusses the impact of ethnic homogeneity, specifically, in the New Testament Christianity. The study has consulted literature that deals with the theory of homogeneous unit principle, particularly as proposed by the Modem Church Growth Movement, to see its application to the ethnic formation of these Ethiopian congregations and to investigate its missiological perspective of ethnic homogeneity. This study has been guided by four research questions: (1) How do the Ethiopian congregations in the United States describe some ofthe unique characteristics of their structure and composition? (2) How do the Ethiopian congregations in the United States understand and describe the impact of their ethnic formation on their worship life? (3) Given their homogeneous character, how do Ethiopian churches in the United States see missionalopportunities? (4) How do the Ethiopian congregations in the United States describe the challenges their ethnic formation brings to their outreach and what possible strategies do they recommend?

As the findings of this research suggested, these congregations have a desire to reach out to people outside their group, but they are limited by their ethnic formation. As the finding of this research suggests, the homogeneity of their organization has great impact on their cross cultural outreach. On the one hand, it has far reaching impact in their outreach to their own people. On the other hand, it poses serious challenges to their outreach to people outside their group as well as in reaching out to the second generation Ethiopians, including their own children.

The research has led to some recommendations. The first is the necessity of the continuation of the present form of worship service to first the generation Ethiopians. The second is the necessity of launching on adult service in English language for ethnically distinct converts. The third is the necessity of addressing the above stated issue of the second generation Ethiopians.


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