Growing Health Asian American Churches, 9

Chapter 8 of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches is titled Gender Relations in Healthy Households, breaching a controversial subject in evangelicalism. Many in the evangelical theological realm have aligned themselves with complementarians or with egalitarians in defining specific boundaries (or lack thereof) for legitimate and illegitimate roles. For (most?) mainline Protestants and progressive theologians, it’s a non-issue.

I think everyone wants to affirm the value of both women and men equally before God and with one another. But, there’s a difference of perception and conviction on what titles and roles and responsibilities are permitted. Where this gets particularly sticky is how Asian culture itself may have defined roles and values for men and women. It wasn’t obvious from the book contributor’s list if there was a strong proponent for complementarianism to argue for that position.

Discussion questions for Chapter 8:

  • What does a “safe and nurturing place” for men and women look like in an Asian American church context?
  • How can a healthy church demonstrate grace to others who hold different biblical convictions about gender roles?
  • The end of the chapter suggests practical steps to take in revisiting biblical gender roles and critiquing cultures and practices. What steps are missing from the process of congregational change? Is it possible to move from an egalitarian view to a complementarian one?

[discussion thread]

  • mezuzah: Someone raised this issue in discussion- if God does not permit women to preach/ be pastors then you wouldn’t have many churches in places like East Asia. I raised this issue in another conversation and the reply was this: “God raises up women because man has been sinful and not taken his proper place in leadership. The biblical view is that only men preach…etc.”
  • eddiebyun: And I’m in the middle of reading the book below … a few interesting observations … a lot of stating the obvious … while some of it has made my eyes roll big time (as in “give me a break!”). My impression so far … it’s just ok – not as “groundbreaking” as advertised IMHO.
  • Matt: I found myself pulled in immediately from the first chapter. The truth captured in each chapter is not meant only for Asian Christians but can shed light upon struggles that Christians from all backgrounds can relate to. Real life examples and illustrations in each chapter allow the readers to… [an amazon.com book review]

[related elsewhere]

  • Like at church, I want to feel that we view our current pastoral staffing situation as unjust and a product of the evils of man’s privilege. 3 male pastoral staff, 0 female staff. And when we had a chance to at least offer a couple female staff positions, we never did. … Maybe the entire staff should be female for the next 50 years to make up for the Church’s male-dominant history in Asian circles. But the key here is the attitude–not an attitude of condescension towards women, that finally some “decent” men are looking to give them a hand up. But rather a humble view permeated with guilt and acknowledgement of privileges enjoyed at the cost of oppressions suffered. … Also, having all female pastors would have nothing to do with nurturing the men in our congregation. And I acknowledge the deep need that Asian-American men have for validation, something that does not occur in mainstream society, or even sometimes in our own subcultures.
  • There are about 70 Chinese churches in Sydney, many with some sort of English language component. For some this is an English-speaking youth group, but an increasing number are starting up ABC / English congregations. … SCCCA English is looking to find and equip the leaders of the future for ABC congregations, and to sustain them for long-term ministry in Chinese churches. Those seeking to work in ABC ministry in the Chinese churches will face challenges due to generational differences as well as cultural differences. … As of the 2001 ABS census, there were 448465 Chinese in Sydney’s population – and many of these have yet to hear the gospel. At SCCCA, we want to strengthen Chinese churches because we reckon that Chinese churches are in the very best position to reach them! [apparently they’re called ABCs in Australia too — Australian Born Chinese]
  • The pastor of the English congregation is my friend and former TBS classmate, Christian Grewal. He has perseveringly ministered to a core group of young people who are 2nd generation English-speakers from Chinese families. His sacrificial care has had a great impact on the lives of this group. … Christian also hoped to see the English congregation grow beyond those who were 2nd generation in Canada to include non-Chinese brothers and sisters. My wife and I have been blessed with this opportunity to come as foreigners to Chinese culture, and yet be welcomed with such warmth and generosity.
  • I want to see inclusion of women in ministry as equals and I like the notion of embracing a world church, but me being a catalyst towards a diverse church, well the jury is still out on that one. If you know me somewhat or have been reading this blog for a while then the fact that I identify with a mainstream white culture should be no shock, even though I am fully Korean.
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