A Misunderstanding of “Ethne”
Jesus tells us to make disciples of all ethne. The power of ethne (people group) imagery to focus people’s strategic thinking began to be used to re-define all kinds of strata of society as a “people group.” So young people, the disabled, prostitutes, or taxi drivers in certain cities (which are actually segments or a strata of society) began to be defined as a “people group.” But this definition is not really an ethne. A better understanding of the term ethne would correspond to an ethno-linguistic/ethno-cultural people group which includes the various strata of youth, urban, rural, rich, poor, disabled, etc. -Lausanne Papers
I feel like I see this problem all the time. We’ve redefined “ethne”, “people group”, or even “culture” to be something different that what it means. When I talk about doing cross-cultural ministry, people think that has more to do with me reaching skaters, or emos, athletes, or other subsets of white culture. Guess what….they’re all still white! We’ve got to take the gospel to different ethnic groups if we want to fulfill the great commission!
When we begin to have a true understanding that the gospel must cross ethnic barriers (and not just cultural ones as we’ve defined them), then we begin to see the need to reach Latinos (or other ethnes).
Let’s stop watering down what it means to reach different “people groups”. We still struggle at taking the Gospel across ethnic lines and diluting our definition of cross-cultural ministry is part of that problem.