Mar 272013
photo credit ryerson

As the church adapts to serving a multicultural global village, some are developing ministries in multiple languages too. (cf. polyglot - someone who can speak multiple languages) Ethnic Asian churches and other immigrant churches have done that for decades. For some ethnic Korean churches, it’s ministering in Korean and English, for Chinese ones, it’s ministering in Mandarin, English, Cantonese and/or Taiwanese.

For more diversified multiethnic church, that could be at least 3 languages across multiple racial groupings. (Please add a comment – and I’ll do my best to keep this list updated.) Here’s a list of multi-lingual multi-racial churches:

Articles & resources about multilingual churches and worship

[nb: of course, it can be argued that there is only one race, the human race; yet in the context of the United States with a racialized history, there are significantly different social dynamics in a multi-generational Asian American context vs. a multi-ethnic context with Anglos, Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics]

Feb 192006

To those of you tuned in here for my forthcoming stream-of-consciousness commentary about the new book Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, I’d like to expand it beyond my own voice–I’d like to invite you to a blog-based conversation about the book. Growing Healthy Asian American Churches Also, you can preview parts of the book, including the introduction and a special online-bonus supplementary chapter.

So get your copy in the next week or so, and I’ll start posting my comments here as the calendar turns to March. Please trackback or email me so we can all get linked up. I would try grid blogging, but my intuition tells me that most people don’t know what that is, so making hyperlinks will likely have a better net effect. In lieu of grid blogging, I suggest using the Technorati tag ghaac.

The book is edited by Peter Cha, Steve Kang and Helen Lee, and contains stories and insights from pioneering leaders like Ken Fong, David Gibbons, Grace May, Wayne Ogimachi, Steve Wong, Nancy Sugikawa and Soong-Chan Rah. I don’t think any of these leaders are on the blogosphere yet, except for David Gibbons. (also see the Leadership Blog interview with Dave Gibbons)

(cf. publisher’s description, my previous blog post about the book in December 2005, read the book discussion)

Dec 102005

One of the conversation threads I was a part of recently mentioned the distinct flavor of minority-led multiracial churches (I would provide attribution and sound bites, but don’t want to be accused of name dropping or idolizing). The notion was floated that there’s something different and special about an Asian-led multiethnic church, which was different from an African-American-led multiethnic church, which was different from a Latino-led multiethnic church, which is certainly different from an Anglo-led multiethnic church. And as Anita had rightly commented, Native Americans (cf. Salmon House blog) are often ignored and left out of these dialogues, having been left out for some well over 200 years now, as are Arab Americans and numerous other minorities that don’t fit in the Big 3 minority racial groupings.

And a timely echo of the above notion is this new book scheduled for release in February 2006: Growing Healthy Asian American Churches. The publisher’s description mentions an all-star cast of key leaders [hat tip: Jon Ng, who has worked on websites like]:

Growing Healthy Asian American ChurchesThe Asian American church is in transition. Congregations face the challenges of preserving ethnic culture and heritage while contextualizing their ministry to younger generations and the unchurched. Many Asian American church leaders struggle with issues like leadership development, community dynamics and intergenerational conflict. But often Asian American churches lack the resources and support they need to fulfill their callings.

Peter Cha, Steve Kang and Helen Lee and a team of veteran Asian American pastors and church leaders offer eight key values for healthy Asian American churches. Drawing on years of expertise and filled with practical examples from landmark churches like Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, NewSong Church and Lighthouse Christian Church, the book provides soundly biblical perspectives for effective ministry that honors the Asian American cultural context. Insights from such pioneering leaders as Ken Fong, David Gibbons, Grace May, Wayne Ogimachi, Steve Wong, Nancy Sugikawa and Soong-Chan Rah make this an essential guide for Asian American church leaders wanting to help their congregations achieve health and growth. (Produced in partnership with the Catalyst Leadership Center, a resource organization for Asian American church ministry.)

Growing Healthy Asian American Churches can be pre-ordered at for pre-delivery before it shows up in any brick-and-mortar book store, delivered right to your home or office without having to fight traffic or waiting for a parking space.
Continue reading »

Dec 032005

New Wineskins magazine featured this audio on Racial Reconciliation by Jerry Taylor, in a recent issue. Dr. Jerry Andrew Taylor ministers as a church planter and community organizer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is president of Emancipation Fellowship Ministries, Inc., a non-profit community development organization. The audio is available in Windows Media (.wav) and MP3 format.

The issue remains, it seems to me, how to make it happen, not just to raise awareness about it. I think there is fairly broad consensus that the church is for all people, and it’d be great to have a multiculturally diverse church. Granted, there is still a place and need to get more dialogue going, to increase understanding, to enjoy talking with people who are different, to grow new relationships and friendships, and all that is foundational, even for the non-foundationalists. Emergent (the conversation revolving around the church that is emerging) has launched a place on the web at to start that conversational stream, and to coordinate a f2f event about it. Along the lines of : something is better than nothing.

As an aside, some very basic practical questions may still trip people up, like what do you call them? Latino or Hispanic? Asian or Chinese or Korean? Black or African American? Here’s one of my recent AIM excerpt [edited for legibility]:

djchuang: Should I be using Latino or Hispanic [to refer to the largest minority group in America]?
genxlatino: just use whatever the person you are speaking to uses
djchuang: ok, latino man! :)

Other finds on racial diversity; it even is an issue among academia >> Generous Orthodoxy posted Practicing Pentecost, linking to Anthony Smith’s paper Practicing Pentecost: Discovering the Kingdom of God Amidst Racial Fragmentation (pdf), excerpt:

Practicing Pentecost is about participating in the shalom of God that is producing local ekklesias that will embody a racial and cultural unity while also resisting death-dealing Powers in their profound rebellion of influencing ways of doing church that perpetuate racial divisions and hostilities that are ultimately an affront to God’s intent for a new creation that is to be found in Christ’s Body.

And, this awkward racism at an academic conference, described in this post: Power of words . noting two posts by Phil Sinitiere that set the stage for these thoughts: Accosting White Privilege, Interrogating Racism and Practicing Pentecost, and Accosting White Privilege, Interrogating Racism and Practicing Pentecost, Part 2; cf. Race and the Emerging Church.

At the end of Between Hauerwas and Constantine, cont’d, the author said Anthony has convinced him that racism needs to be a new and central issue Radical Orthodoxy agenda.

Oct 252005

Some great recent conversations in the blogosphere about church diversity, or the lack thereof. Don’t have the time to add my own thoughts and comments, but I’m tired of holding back all these links in my draft folder. Here’s some I’ve found, in no particular order:

…what about some other brothers and sisters?

“Every emergent gathering I’ve been to in recent years is extremely white concerning skin tones. What possibilities of inter-racial and ethnic working together are being talked about…and actually done…within the Emerging Church…especially in North America?”

Postmodernegro in The Church, Embracing Grace, and Racism links to Jesus Creed’s Church, Embracing Grace, and Racism Part 1 and Part 2, who used tapas, salad, and other foods to describe diversity models, whereas I had used ice cream flavors to describe multiethnic churches, similiarly.

Quite a thread going at funkateer74′s xanga about the lack of diversity in the “church that is emerging” conversation.

“I really don’t see real racial reconciliation coming out of the emerging church just yet. It really seems like a largely white movement here in the states.”

One Voice podcast is finally online with Mark La Roi, who had previously noted that God is not colorblind!

“I don’t believe that the different colors of people are “races”. Why? Because if you accept the term “Human Race” as valid, everything else is sub-division. I’m not sub-human, are you?”

More personally and poignantly, Andrew Seely ponders on his own ethnic identity:

Or this just is an ongoing issue between how I see myself, how others see me. … It is my hope that people look beyond the initial appearance that I carry with me and look deep into my character in God’s eyes.

And, this Leadership Journal article slipped through my radar, from Spring 2005: An Army of Ones: Does diversity in the church work? This was a panel discussion of sorts with Craig Keener, Larry Osborne of North Coast Church, and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

[update] Plus, let’s not forget the lively thread over at Seeking Diversity in Emergent, with 46 posts to date, and counting.

Aug 092005

On the cover of the August 2005 issue of Church Executive is an interview with Dr. David Anderson, cover storySenior Pastor of Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Maryland. I’m glad to see the issue occasionally getting exposure in the media outlets, and that Bridgeway continues to grow, now closer to 2,000 in attendance (which would qualify it as a megachurch.)

Excerpts from The Church Executive Interview: Ambassador of racial reconciliation

Bridgeway Community Church has responded to that call. In the last 13 years, Anderson’s church has grown to nearly 2,000 congregants who “practice the dance of multicultural ministry.” Anderson, who is the author of Multicultural Ministry (Zondervan, 2004), a book about his experiences as a hands-on builder of a multicultural ministry, says his church has found its own “unique rhythm” that appeals to a racially diverse congregation.

And towards the end of the interview:

What examples can you give that illustrate there is an environment of acceptance of other cultures and groups at your church?
Recently one of my staff members (a white woman) went to a major conference (that happened to be all-white) in the Midwest and came back and said, “I love that church. I love everything they do. But I felt like I went to a family reunion and only half of the family showed up.” She sees us as family. She sees people who are different than her in their color as family. That’s when I knew that the DNA of Bridgeway, the DNA of multicultural ministry has so affected her, has so enriched her life, that now she feels that something is missing and abnormal when she is not in a multicultural environment.

And for those of you who want a to-do list on diversifying a church, the magazine also excerpted from Anderson’s book: Want cultural diversity in your church? Here’s David’s do-something list for you.

Aug 032005

Here’s a few thoughts on multicultural churches from a PCUSA perspective, by the denomination’s moderator, Rick Ufford-Chase.

… I’ve spent time in several churches that are making a serious attempt to build a multicultural community. They are diverse in their approaches. One thing that is becoming clear to me is that, like most churches, there are no guarantees of success, and those that are successful know that they can never stop being intentional about their work in building culturally diverse communities.

In order to qualify as multicultural, there must be above twenty percent non European-American members. There are many different models (an anglo church nesting a new or developing church, a church that remains essentially a “traditional” U.S. Presbyterian worship service but has racial diversity, churches that are trying to embrace a variety of cultures in their worship, congregations that are attempting to move with a neighborhood as it shifts from European American to multicultural to an entirely different make-up, congregations that bring a strong focus on trying to work on racism, etc.

There’s also a Postmodern Negro (aka Anthony Smith) and his perspective on Diversity and the Emerging Church.

… I came to this conversation not because I wanted to see “diversity”. Diversity wasn’t the telos that has brought me here. What has brought me here are some of the similar features in my thinking and practice of Christianity and Emergent. Emergent is singing the same song I am singing in many ways. I believe diversity is something that should be intentional but not coerced. … Diversity, in our culture, in many ways, has become somewhat of a ethic of coercion foisted upon the dominant culture. Such an understanding of diversity does not embody the peaceableness of the gospel. Diversity is something, I believe, that is the outworking of participating in the very life of God. When we break bread together, pray together, fuss, fight, dialogue, debate, share our joys, our sorrows together God may see fit to bless with His Spirit to guide our bodies to reflect the sociality of the Father, Son, and the Spirit.

Jun 022005

Last weekend at The Vine, I was part of a panel discussion on racial reconciliation. I read excerpts from my blog posts on becoming a multiracial church. It was a good mix of presentations with personal stories, offenses, forgiveness, and (occasional) reconciliation.

But looking back, it was yet another rehash of the same conversation. Having been part of racial reconciliation talks/ panels/ seminars/ conferences for at least 3 years now, it feels like the same advocacy of what has to change gets voiced, and yet nothing big really happens. (Only 2 of the white majority were in the audience — either indicating other concurrent panels were more compelling and/or a lack of interest in dealing with this topic.)

There are (at least) 2 levels to dealing with racism: individual and institutional. Individual encouragement tend to hover along the lines of finding forgiveness for past offenses, personal, historical, social, unintentional or intentional, and building a relationship or friendship. Institutional change, which is much more needed, is often neglected. I am realizing that power dynamics are really a part of this mix, perhaps inherited and unintentional. It’s the decision makers of an organization, like a church, that can build the relationships, select and appoint the right people (coach, mentor, and groom them, as needed), and diversify the core as a means of changing the culture of the institution, ethnically and racially, as well as other categories too. This is not a matter of policy, but one of politics, in the sense of people in positions of organizational leadership. Implicit in my comment is that this cannot be done by mandate or quota, but relationally, as how most organizational leadership is done anyways. So, until that changes, intentionally and dramatically, the wheels will keep on spinning in the mud.

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, Mark Van Steenwyk (“Van S”) triggered some buzz about the emergent conversation being largely white. Charlie Ware (next-wave) thinks the reason for this is cultural. PostmodernNegro thinks that this is because of the history of the American church: the reason why there is a white church and a black church is because of racist white Christians. All good observations and comments, and we’ll see what the core planning team decides to do about the hoi polloi’s concerns of gender and racial diversity. (at the closing session of the Emergent Convention in Nashville, there was mention of similar emerging church dialogue already going on among some church leaders in South America, so while Emergent goes global, it’d be more encouraging to me to see that dialogue go on right here in multicultural America)

[Also see previously posted: part 4, part 3, part 2, part 1, original post. ]

May 282005

I’m hailing from Vail, Colorado, this Memorial Day weekend, participating in a conversation about faith and culture. It’s called The Vine, a national gathering going on for 6 years now. Something I’d wanted to be a part of for years; this is the first time I’d been able to get it onto my schedule and make the trip. Good conversations, or at least, conversation starters. There’s a wide range of young professionals from many vocations and industries, Christian traditions, and around the country. I’ve had to drink pints of water to slowly get acclimated to the mile-high altitude; and shortness of breath is not conducive to enjoying more conversations.

The Vine has masterfully provided a framework for a variety of voices to be presented and represented in a safe place– every attendee comes as a presenter. The theme this year is Called to Relationships: being the City of God. I’m weighing in with 2 presentations titled, Virtually Incarnational: Relationships over the Internet, and Becoming a Multiracial Church. (These are mere 3 to 5 minutes briefs; manage your expectations accordingly.) The former I’ll type up from my raw notes from my Treo 600; the latter are a re-packaging of my previous blog entries on the multiracial church.

As an aside, I had thought of titling this entry, My Roommate was Andy Crouch. But I refrained, for lacking a creative bent to make it into a compelling read. Fictional fabrication and embellishment is not my forte’. For the record, he is a great roommate and an excellent conversationalist.