Nov 302010

The first reason we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans is globalization. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. The world needs Asian Americans and America needs Asian Americans.

When I was growing up, lots of things were “Made in Taiwan.” Now, almost everything we use in America is “Made in China” — electronics, clothes, dinnerware, appliances, furniture, what have you. Case in point = Lenovo buying out IBM’s PC division. One conversation overheard around the Thanksgiving table was the speed of building modules and how much more modern the cities in China are compared to that of the United States. Simultaneously, the pace of innovative products from Japan is declining while more innovation is increasing from Korea, i.e. Samsung, Hyundai, LG, Kia, et al.

With the economy and cash flow of manufacturing flowing so quickly into China, and with the knowledge industry fast emerging in India, the epicenter of world commerce and the global shift of power is already under way, and the decline of the American empire is around the corner. With 1/3 of the world’s population already in China and India, all that people power over the long-haul will outdo any industrial machinery power, especially in the knowledge economy of the digital information age.

I’ll jump to my conclusion and then list a few supporting references. While there’s been good activist advocacy since the 60s and historical studies (albeit some may argue that it’s not yet sufficient), Asian Americans have much more to say now, as Asian Americans, for the present & future of America and the world, by working out and articulating the interplay of their identity and cultures and societies. We need these conversations in the open and not just confined in the silo of academia (as in Asian American studies). Asian Americans have the innate raw materials from their social-ethnic context that can navigate the bicultural dynamics (what Dave Gibbons calls “third culture“). Asian Americans have the potential to bridge and keep America connected with the evolution of a global village. Better than being left behind and disconnected into demise. This certainly includes Asian Americans who aspire into leadership roles and lead in a way that differs from the American constructs of leadership, yielding to more risk and uncertainty and unpredictability.

Let me refer you to the thoughts of a friend, a seminary professor who’s a 4th-generation Chinese American. Dr. Jeff Jue‘s talk, The Asian American Church: History, Racialization and Globalization, at the 2010 Korean Pastors Conference (Mission to North America) reiterates this compelling need and the contribution of Asian Americans in the church and, thus, American society:

Books like Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Asian/Chinese America (Zheng), Chinese American Transnational Politics (Lai and Hsu) point to how globalized and transnational the world in general and American society in particular have become… the lives and identities of Asians and Asian Americans also reflect these cross-national formations.

And, Simon Tay rightly noted in Forbe’s America’s Call To Globalization: The U.S. must respond proactively to Asia’s rise — “… while the Asian presence in the United States has grown beyond the confines of Chinatown, it is still not part of Main Street culture. Asia is still a specialty store. Global-as-Asian is just beginning and needs more engines to drive it forward.”

Nov 262010

While we wait for the final results to come in for the 2010 Census, very likely over 15 million, I want to share a few thoughts of things I’ve sense over the past decade or so as an Asian American and as a part of L2 Foundation, a private family foundation that’s developing leadership & legacy for Asian Americans.

Over the years, I find myself growing to embrace this label and categorization more than I used to. I know there are all sorts of problems and issues about the label. I may address some of them in this blog series. The term “Asian American” itself seems to be a lightning rod and magnetic force — repelling some while attracting some. Some say that it doesn’t matter at all what ancestry we have, we’re all Americans, and that’s all that matters.

In the Christian subculture, some say that our identity is only spiritual, only grounded “in Christ,” which I agree is true and ultimate. Yet, when this theological conviction is held to the exclusion to the reality of who we are on earth and our innate social and genetic context, it sounds an awful like Gnosticism, the first heresy of church history, a belief that our body doesn’t matter and only the spiritual matters.

So this is an introductory foreword to kick off a blog series about why we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans. First, a few disclaimers to minimize the knee-jerk reactions.

To say that we need this is not to say that every Asian American must be Asian American’ish. There is a whole spectrum of people in the Asian American mix. A growing percentage are bi-racial, with Asian and non-Asian ancestry. There are some that are politically very pro-Asian. There are some that are very assimilated into “mainstream America” and don’t have any interaction with an Asian American context. And that’s okay.

Being Asian American as an Asian American isn’t everything. To say that we need this is not to say that an Asian American is only Asian American. We are more than our ancestry, and in a multicultural society and global world, we do well to learn & grow in cross-cultural appreciation for the others.

Being Asian American doesn’t mean being only with Asian Americans. There’s a social dynamic connoted by phrases like “birds of a feather flock together.” Cliques stunt our personal development and limit our ultimate contribution to society and the world. Yet, to have no connection with Asian Americans, something is definitely lost there too.

Being Asian American doesn’t mean nothing. There seems to be a social pressure or default consciousness that to be American is to fit in with the majority. That’s where the institutional structures and power dynamics is to be found. To be a part of the system, you have to work within the system. To change the system would (most likely) take revolution. We’ve already had several of those in American history.

Being Asian American doesn’t mean representing all Asian Americans. To be Asian American doesn’t mean one has to be well-versed and represent all kinds of Asian Americans. It’d be a good first step to have some semblance of understanding of one’s roots. For me, that’s being Chinese American.

All to say that our American society need more Asian Americans to be Asian American. It is to say that at this state of the union, we have too few. We certainly don’t have too many. We’d do well to have a few more to stand up and represent. We’d do well to think through and have more robust conversations about what it means to be Asian Americans. We’d do well to allow the richness of our Asian American’ness to overflow and not hide it under a bushel.

In the next blog posts of this series, I’ll delve into a dozen or so reasons as to why we need more Asian Americans to speak up, with less anger, with more grace, with confidence, without apology. [Reasons #1, #2, #3, & the rest]

Nov 172010

There’s been lots of buzz about the missional church, some have described it as: a movement, a description of a “shift in thinking”, small networks, or more than 50 ways to define missional; with the word’s origin traced as far back as 1883. And here’s a video, The Missional Church… simple, describing what missional church is:

With many definitions, there are also growing numbers of networks with missional church resources and hubs of conversations. Here’s a list of missional church networks I’ve found (in no particular order):

Verge Network ~ “advocate and champion movements of Missional Communities”; could be described as a network of networks [Michael ‘Stew’ Stewart = Verge Network Catalyst]

The Gospel and Our Culture ~ “A network to provide useful research regarding the encounter between the gospel and our culture, and to encourage local action for transformation in the life and witness of the church.” One of the earliest proponents for the term, notably via the Lesslie Newbigin book, Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America.

Ecclesia Network ~ “a relational network of churches, leaders and movements that seek to equip, partner and multiply missional churches and movements”

TransFORM ~ a missional community formation network ~ Friends of Missional [via Rick Meigs]

Missional Church Center [via Milfred Minatrea]

Allelon ~ “a movement of missional leaders”

Roxburgh Missional Network

Missional Learning Commons

Missional Church Network [via Brad Brisco]

Missional Church Network [via Timothy Conner] ~ “inspiring gospel-centered missional churches” [via Jonathan McIntosh] ~ resources & blog by Tim Birdwell, Jonathan Dodson, et al

GCM Collective ~ “to promote, create and equip Gospel Communities on Mission” ~ “online and relational environment for engaging and developing missional leaders” [via NAMB of the SBC]

Missional Lutherans

Together in Mission ~ “to encourage the planting of missional communities” [in the UK]

Some names of thought leaders in the missional church conversation: Alan Hirsch, Reggie McNeal, Alan Roxburgh, Michael Frost, Neil Cole, Hugh Halter, David Fitch, Scot McKnight . . .

And, one more thing. See JR Woodward’s A Primer on Today’s Missional Church for the biggest list of missional networks, links, articles, and resources I could find.

Nov 162010

Staying in touch with trends is the last topic in this series on how to get up to speed on social media. (cf. part 1 for introduction + part 2 for tutorials + part 3 for strategy)

Technology is always developing and maturing, social media included. Once you’ve decided to participate in social media, it’s like staying on the treadmill and staying on pace — a pace based on your strategy.

Some of the best sources that I check somewhat regularly to keep up with new developments and trends are:

Another way to get at the trends is to browse the headlines at the magazine-rack style aggregator @

Granted, it’s probably too much for most of us to read the multiple blog posts that are made every day on the few blogs mention here. Give yourself permission to not keep up with it all. I confess I don’t keep up with all of it.

Thought: wouldn’t it be really valuable to have a source that gives you the essential trends and news on a weekly basis? Or a bi-weekly or monthly basis?

What other sources & resources have helped you learn about social media & to keep up with it? Please do add a comment.

Nov 112010

I have a few occasional opportunities to meetup with church leaders who’ve already started running with a multi-site church strategy, that is, being one church in multiple locations. I could create more opportunities and maybe aspire to be like Jim Tomberlin, but for now, I’ll stick with social media coaching. To make those meetups more robust, I’d like to kick-start them by providing these conversational pieces for further discussion:

Want to meetup and talk multi-site? Let’s find a date/time. Not sure about a meeting in person but okay to talk by phone? Or, you could ease into a convo by adding a comment here.

Nov 112010

Last week I was a part of the 400+ at the Multi-ethnic Church Conference in San Diego, a pre-conference of the National Outreach Convention. Though it has yet to proven whether this was a most significant historical event of the American church, for all who were present on-site and online, this was an incredible time of refueling for those on the front lines of working out the full implications of the Gospel.

3 things touched me most about this gathering — it was the grassroots effort in pulling this off. Speakers didn’t get paid. Sponsors pitched in. Organizers volunteered countless hours of time and effort. 2ndly, the energy & enthusiasm in the room. Some conferences have their share of spectators. This conference was filled with multiethnic leaders eager to learn and connect, to expand their horizons and soak in the value of differences in the Body of Christ across cultures, races, and ethnicities! Beautiful!

3rdly, the full implications of the Gospel was intentionally unpacked with every message. The Gospel is about healing and changing lives of the whole person, body and soul, and brings good to whole communities and societies, in word and in deed. The Gospel is powerful enough to overcome racism. What’s at stake is the credibility of the Gospel! The Gospel is about seeing the multiple facets of God’s character, more completely and wholistically– each culture and people group shed light upon; not possible with one culture alone or one homogenous group. It affects how we read and live the Bible; we need multiethnic diversity in community to more completely understand the Bible. The Gospel can bring about peace between warring tribes, and the learnings for how to do that are found in a diverse multi-ethnic community, where subconcious differences confound our best efforts to authentically relate to “the other.” The Gospel is not about what’s easy or efficient. It’s not just a nice thing to do.

In the coming weeks, as I clean up the 32 recorded audios from all the workshop sessions, I’ll be posting them and making them available. (Mark DeYmaz and I will be rolling them out in some strategic manner. We have to get a phone call in to discuss.)

And, got to meet Kim Levings of Outreach. She was a key player in making this multi-ethnic gathering possible. Turns out she has a past connection to Leadership Network too.

Nov 022010

Using a stylus instead of your finger on an iPad and/or iPhone takes its usefulness up a whole ‘nother level! Bam! I rave about a style every time I see someone just using their naked finger on an iPad. Currently, I’m using the Pogo Sketch stylus, which has had great reviews. It might be the only one that comes in orange.

What’s the best stylus? Hard to say, but popularity is one indicator, though much of it comes down to personal preference. Some newer styluses may well unseat the Pogo’s top ranking. I personally would stay away from generic ones.

This list of styluses (for iPad, iPhone, and any other capacitive touch-screen tablet PCs by the likes of Blackberry, Dell, Samsung) are the ones I’ve found so far ::

Do you use a stylus? What are you using? Are there other good styluses out ther? Please add a comment with other ones you know of so this list can stay updated. Thanks in advance!

Nov 012010

Now as we round the corner into the home stretch with using social media (cf. part 1 for introduction + part 2 for tutorials), it’s time to think about strategy. Granted, some pundits may talk strategy first, or concurrently with learning how to use social media…

Learning how to use social media is one thing. Learning how to use social media effectively is another thing called strategy (or strategery.) There are a bunch of articles that give advise and strategy and tactics about what social media can do for you or for your business or for your job search or for your whatever. But, this is where you have to do some strategic planning kind of thing so that social media can be effective for why you’re using it, for reasons like: to build relationships, make sales, extend your communication, reach certain goals, etc. And often it is valuable and helpful to work with a social media strategist / coach (like me, for instance) to define and refine that strategy.

Thinking through some kind of strategy is valuable for those of you who want to get something specific out of social media besides personal enrichment. Here’s a random selection of good articles about developing your social media strategy:

And, the 2 best books about organizational social media strategy are: for businesses and corporations = Charlene Li’s Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, which I’ve reviewed; for non-profit organizations = Beth Kanter’s The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change.

There’ll be one more blog post on keeping up with trends and new developements to finish out this series.