May 302009

This set of question was posted in a recent email discussion, as Southern Cal ministry leaders are anticipating the upcoming lunch fellowship this Wednesday 6/3:

As an observer and advocate of ABC ministries since the 1970s and a former youth worker in a Chinese church, can anyone educate me as to WHY there are few(er) ABC’s committing themselves for full time Christian service these days? (a) Postmodern culture? (b) Options of going into Asian American/mainstream churches and ministries? (c) Others…? We have always had a shortage. Is the shortage growing?


John Ng (Youth Pastor at First Chinese Baptist Church, Los Angeles) wrote:

There are not enough from the Chinese churches going into seminary. We need to instill the vision and dream to help our youth and young adults to contemplate and pray about full-time service in church and the mission field.

… I personally feel one of the reasons is that even Christian parents have a hard time with their children entering into ministry positions. It’s not prestigious enough, they can’t gloat to their friends, their kids can do better, etc., so it’s not encouraged but discouraged. Tokunaga’s book Invitation to Lead, says some things similar to that.

Also, I’ve known women who have graduated seminary and it’s tough finding a place to serve and work in a Chinese church, so in that respect, yes the options are much more limited. Obviously theological barriers and traditional Confuscian barriers.

I agree that parents, Christian or not, is a huge factor on whether their children will follow God’s calling, or if their children will fulfill certain career expectations for “practical” reasons. Now, I admit that I’m less interested in figuring out why, and much more interested in finding solutions. To find solutions, I’d like to see more experimenting, trial & error, research & development.

And one more thing. I’d add that developing the following would avert the apparent shortage — (1) raise the prestige and salary of pastors [if the church doesn't do it, who can?], (2) producing contextualized resources [and events], (3) starting new churches that reach the unchurched, (4) providing coaching for everyone to fulfill their God-given calling, not only those who might be pastors or missionaries.

What would ABC Pastor say? What do you think?

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