Mar 302007

Something about using an alias gives people more latitude and freedom to speak honestly and candidly, without the perceived fear of being marginalized or ostracized for having an opinion that differs the party line or one that dares critique Asian culture. Strong voices have recently blogged some salient insights into issues related to Asian American Christianity, behind aliases, like thecuttingtruth, emergingtruth, TheoCross, bluebutton, and prayerboi516. While I don’t necessarily want to out them, I’d like to read their bio and get the back story on their perspectives.

I’ve heard some leaders remark that anonymous comments are useless, and they’d only listen to feedback that come from people with their real name. The reasoning: people should stand behind their words, and not frivolously rant and vent. In an individualistic society, that’s modus operandi and people are allowed to air their difference of opinions in the open. Not so in an Asian or Asian American context.

kimchichipo calls out the default narrative of many Asian American Christians and their Asian American dream [ht: x_paperstars]:

It’s a shame what so many of us Christians have placed on the thrones in our lives. Regardless of our passion and vocational calling that we claim might be in ministry, many of us still expect to following the traditional Asian-American path to succes: do well on the SATs, do well in school, go to youth group and possibly serve there, go to prom, graduate from high school, go to a UC, maybe serve on a college ministry; go on some missions or something, graduate from college and maybe go to graduate school, find a good wife candidate, find a good job, have kids, maybe serve at a home church and send your kids to youth group, and then eventually, die.

kangaroo802 also exposes this idolatry:

Be a Lawyer, Doctor, or Engineer…these are the 3 pillars of occupational life for most Asians (at least in terms of desirability). These are necessary occupations needed for society to function, they are indeed respectable professions. They are also very real places for someone to live out Christian life; there is nothing incompatible to doing good work as a Lawyer, Doctor, or Engineer as an expression of faithfulness and worship to God. But what we readily see exposed primarily in OUR CHOICES as 2nd generations is a continuation of our parents idolatries lived out in our lives.

Switching gears to the broader topic of multiethnic diversity — it’s still an occasional conversation because it’s still not a part of the tiers of organizational and institutional life, especially at most churches and denominations. This panel is at a denomination’s annual conference. Anyone missing from this diversity panel? (what would our aliased bloggers say?)


Mar 292007

Since Tallskinnykiwi blogged about the 2nd Annual Foundation Briefing on International Missions, I think it’s okay for me to selectively post some sound bites from the 4th annual foundation briefing on international missions. This time it’s here in metro Washington DC, and the venue has an open WiFi connection. So I’m live-blogging this.

Andy Crouch of the Christian Vision Project is sitting next to me, and he’s got 2 coveted spots to talk over our meal times, tonight and tomorrow.

Jim Haney (director of IMB’s Global Research Department) leads off with a ‘state of world evangelism’ address. He spoke of his time in Africa, “When you eat out of the same bowl with somebody, you have close fellowship…” “it’s not fair there are people out there who haven’t had a chance to hear the Gospel…”

“some people groups speak multiple languages… some languages are spoken by multiple people groups…” “people groups are moving around, some even come here…” “this year marks when half [50%} of the world's people are urban..." "measuring key result areas: engagement of unreached people groups and urban centers, advance toward church planting movements, partner engagement..." "in the past, we have been excited about record numbers... but what if your 'market' is exceeding that? incremental growth is good, but population growth is exceeding that.. we're not keeping up." he shared some exciting statistics about Church Planting Movements (CPMs)...

A Church Planting Movement is a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.

church multiplication is exponential.. churches are planting new churches.. members are bringing the lost to Christ.. long-term service is what it takes to sociologically reach a people group.. lives are being changed -- dramatically! ... networks are more important than teams.. [wild idea] planting a church that won’t be there next year, b/c people will scatter to the four winds and plant new ones all over..

next up, a couple shares about OneStory, a great ministry that’s telling Bible stories to unreached peoples in oral cultures.. he shares about 3 lives of people who were changed by storying.. training people to tell stories.. this is nothing new.. storying workshops that teach people how to build relationships and how to tell stories.. people finally can understand the truth in the Bible.. sharing stories don’t threaten people like tracts or bible.. interactive with the listeners.. okay to ask: what does this story mean to you?

[Day 2 - March 30, 2007]

morning opened with a mention of “Finishing the Task,” a strategy to target 639 unengaged unreached people groups (UUPGs) with over 100,000 in population.. this represents over 500k people in 77 countries..

Tom Mullis of Global Outreach, a ministry of Perimeter Church (Atlanta) shares about their big picture on global outreach.. “there are more megachurches per capita in Atlanta than any city… but, all the transformation indicators in Atlanta are all going the wrong direction..” “missions is from everywhere to everywhere.. we have to learn how to work with indigenous ministry.. they need capacity building, and I don’t mean [just] funding..” “what seems to be happening is among the next generation.. the marginalized [via mercy and justice].. the business world (9-to-5 window, in addition to the 10/40 window).. Kingdom businesses..” “our own church planning has been changed and affected by overseas partners, who pray more than we plan..” “most churches are under 2000; so how do you help churches of 50 to 1500 to engage the world.. one way is to use non resident missionary teams to mobilize resources abroad.. cost-effectively.. do no harm..” “re-entry: learn from partners overseas and incorporate it into our own church life..”

“how to build capacity: training of trainers.. seed projects..” “measurement is tough, but you gotta do it.. not b/c we’re Americans, but b/c we’re stewards of kingdom resources.. projects are required to do due diligence.. specify measurable results.. working towards web-based real-time results for Kingdom investments.. [vision trips] help with supplemental giving.. what people don’t see doesn’t touch their heart..”

lively discussion ensued on the effectiveness of short-term mission trips.. referred to an archived CT article “Study Questions Whether Short-Term Missions Make a Difference: Missionaries don’t keep giving after they return; hosts prefer money to guests, Calvin sociologist finds“.. another mention about Kurt Ver Beek‘s study at Tough Questions to Ask Before Your Next Missions Trip.. read the study, The Impact of Short Term Missions: A Case Study of House Construction in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch (Word .DOC format); listen to Van Beek’s lecture about short-term missions:

Then, a panel discussion about Table 71 with Jerry Rankin (IMB), Roy Peterson (The Seed Company), Steve Douglass (Campus Crusade for Christ International).. “let’s figure out how to get it done..” “recognized we can’t do it alone..” “what pulled us together was a common goal, a vision beyond what we had.. the unengaged unreached people groups..” “identified challenges and barriers as to why they were unengaged..” “it was more of a spirit than the details.. it’s about people.. learning to trust.. work together.. and rely..” “[God seems to be] moving large organizations together.. to focus on the smallest, the marginalized..” “people see the needs.. critical mass and relationships form.. great things happen..” “orality is helping people not only in the illiterate world, but also the literate world.. e.g. college students who can read [very well] but take in information more relationally and conversationally..” “shift in missions thinking.. local church owns it.. mission organizations come along side with expertise to serve local churches..” “big change of focus: engage the unreached people groups and serve the indigenous church planting movements..” “secret ingredient: making time for personal relationships..” “bringing the gifts we have, laying it on the table, let God use it.. and it [continues to] multiply..” “engagement is just the first step.. evangelization has to follow.. church planting movement too..”

Andy Crouch & Mark Labberton (First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley) spoke to the Christian Vision Project‘s 2007 theme of mission.. and what would it look like to do mission.. to be the church.. to relate in the form of “Christ crucified” instead of “Caesar triumphant”.. “power differential is diffused through real relationship..”

Andy mentioned forthcoming article in Christianity Today in summer 2007 with Emmanuel Katongole, Associate Research Professor of Theology and World Christianity at Duke University. Keep on the lookout for it.

Mar 282007

I commented on Doug Pagitt’s post “What’s in a Name?” that gives the back story of how the title of this new book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, came into being. I’m very curious how this kind of a multi-author book gets published, and added my question into its comment section, with no reply yet. Maybe my trackback ping and mirror copy here will help raise its visibility:

Congratulations on this new hopeful book, and good to read a mini-deconstruction of how the book title came to be construed.

I’m curious, and perhaps a public forum is not the most conducive b/c it’s too transparent, how does an edited book with many different authors & contributors get published with a traditional publisher? From what I know of the publishing world, multi-author volumes allegedly don’t sell as well, and for a book to get published, it has to show some semblance of viability and profitability, or it doesn’t get published. So would this book project happened to have some extra sponsorship to make it viable? It’s okay to talk about money things some time right? :)

Keller on Money

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Mar 282007

Excerpt from The Gathering‘s newsletter, Tim Keller Speaks on Creation, Fall, Redemption—and Your Money:

The Bible sees the history of the world in four stages—1) Creation by God, 2) Fall into sin, 3) Redemption through Christ, and 4) Final Restoration—the new heaven and new earth. But creation-fall-redemption-restoration are not just discrete stages in time, they are also different aspects of present reality. Put another way, when we look at any object in this world, we know three things about it:

  • First, it is part of God’s good creation, yet,
  • Second, it is fallen and affected by sin—distorted somehow, broken, falling short of its original purpose. But,
  • Third, it is being, and can be, redeemed. The purpose of God is to wipe all creation clean of all the effects of sin until it is all restored to wholeness, beauty, and glory.

This is the basis of the Christian worldview. If you miss any these three perspectives, you have a distorted view of reality. … Similarly, to understand money and possessions properly, we have to do the same kind of worldview analysis.

One of many punch lines:

The only way we can be free from the power of money, and to be sure we are free (and not self-deluded), is to give money away so much that we lower our living standards.

Mar 262007

I get a preaching invite occasionally, and to pace myself, I’ll take no more than one invite a month. I preached at Vision of Peace in McLean this past Sunday. I don’t think it was recorded. I did write out a full manuscript, “How to Do Ministry Without Losing Heart.” I know words are less than 10% of the total communication, and I need more practice to get more comfortable with the other 90%. I read much of it verbatim. ChurchRelevance’s 10 Tips for Great Preaching are great tips, but I haven’t yet figured out (and haven’t had enough practice) how some preachers use a manuscript but also keeps great eye contact with the audience.

It was the first time my son Jeremiah listened to my sermon, and he remembered one of the illustrations I used (that was not in the manuscript; I pulled one that morning, hot off the press, about how multitasking hinders productivity.)

Mar 262007

I’m a fan of Starbucks, but not quite the zealot that Winter is (he’s that guy trying to visit every single Starbucks in the world). Congrats on the new documentary film Starbucking releasing in April 2007 [see trailer], and the free London trip he got on the Wayne Brady show.

Starbucks just had their annual shareholder meeting, where they revealed key business drivers behind their growth strategy: exapnd store footprint, increase average unit volumes, promote continuous innovation, leverage the Starbucks brand with complementary offerings, remain employer of choice, extend the Starbucks Experience beyond our stores, leverage business partners.

I sure hope they come up with better growth strategies and tactics. Maybe try some of these ideas — 2 former Starbucks marketing strategists over at Brand Autopsy and Idea Sandbox volley back and forth on solving Starbucks problems: loss of coffee theatre, loss of coffee aroma, loss of store soul, lack of merchandise focus, and loss of identity. [note to self: brilliant idea, have to do a blog volley with Next Gener.Asian Church some time]

Wallstrip weighs in with their take on SBUX:

Mar 252007

On another note, could “Cerealicious: the next Starbucks?” blogs the Retail Marketing Management MBA course at Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario:

In a sense, the RVP of Cerealicious mimics that of Starbucks. Customers feel the value derived from the unique experience, convenience and customized selection overpowers outrageous prices. In fact, Ego and Thorne-Simpson have publicly announced their goal of developing Cerealicious into “the Starbucks of the cereal industry”.

I tried to add a comment, but they wouldn’t let me. So here’s what I wanted to compare/ contrast:

There’s a comparable franchise called Cereality that are located near college campuses in the US, and their retail cafe’ approach really plays out the whole breakfast anytime experience. But at $3.50+ per bowl of cereal, and having just gone there on a recent Philly trip, I have a difficult time seeing how it’ll be financially viable. I don’t think there are that many cereal lovers that’d go there 3 or more times a week — which I think is what it’d take to have enough regular customers to sustain it.

Mar 242007

Pastor Steven MacDonald of Chinese Bible Church of Greater Lowell wants to hear faith stories from a broad spectrum of American Born Chinese (ABC), British Born Chinese (BBC), and Canadian Born Chinese (CBC). Take a look at the interview questions (Word .DOC format), fill it out, and send it in. Here’s how he’ll use those stories, in his own words:

Why do I want to do this interview? I have watched children grow into young adults. What I have seen is that many of our America-Born Chinese (ABC) young adults struggle with guilt, shame, a sense of unworthiness, and great pressure from high expectations and other issues, including identity. I want to address these needs first through a series of sermons (talks on Sunday morning) to help deal with these issues. Then I want to explore other means of meeting their needs. So, I need to understand the issues on a deeper level and to be ready to illustrate what I am talking about with real life, anonymous, stories. I want to speak to a broad audience so I am interviewing people of diverse backgrounds (Indians, Egyptian, Iranian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian…) but of a similar, “Asian” culture. More, I hope to get feedback and understanding not only from those in America but, also, in Canada and England.

You are helping others like yourself by doing this interview. Out of deep respect for you, allow me to assure you that any material I use will be strictly anonymous. Your identity will be seen by my eyes only. I will guard your anonymity as I would that of my children. I will be using this information to better inform my understanding of the issues involved. And I will be using the information to illustrate what I talk about in my sermons. I will keep it anonymous.

This is not a scientific survey. I am simply trying to understand better and I am looking for stories that others can relate to. Finally, allow me to say that I have deep respect for our first generation parents who, mostly, have only done as they knew best. I will not be attempting to bash the previous generation. I suspect that as we grow older our children will have their own lists of our short-comings. I only wish to find a better way for our generation and, perhaps, bring some understanding and reconciliation between the two generations.

Questions? Contact Pastor MacDonald via email to steve_hsiaofang[at]

Mar 222007

Of the 300,000 Protestant churches in the United States, an estimated 7,000 churches have a majority attendance of Asians. Many of these congregations reach multiple generations using multiple languages.

Through our partnership between Leadership Network and L2 Foundation, I’m delighted to announce the publication of Asian American Churches: An Introductory Survey! This introductory report provides an overview of the distinctive characteristics and top ministry issues among Asian American churches (including what’s going well, new ministry opportunities being pursued, and key challenges).

A couple of highlights from the churches surveyed:

  • Asian American churches are diversifying ethnically — 79% have at least 10% non-Asians in attendance
  • Active church planting to reach more people — 61% are planning to launch new churches
  • Missionary zeal is evident — 61% send out career missionaries

Download and read the full report. We’d love to get your feedback! How does this compare and contrast with what’s happening in your church?