Our blog-based book discussion of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches continues with Chapter 1, titled Grace-Filled Households, opening with a dizzying conundrum of a story about a fallen Asian pastor. In our day and age, people are increasingly susceptible to sexual temptation and impropriety, and pastors are no exception. Restoring someone with a moral lapse in any church is already difficult; restoring a church leader or pastor in an Asian church is barely imaginable. The Asian American church culture largely shaped by its strong Asian heritage has a strong shaming gravity that pushes out those who make mistakes out of community acceptance; restoration is unheard of. Kudos to the book for jumping right in to tackle one of the toughest real-life issues.
This chapter presents the outrageous generosity of God as the foundation for ministry, the transformation of relationships, and the process of spiritual growth. This outrageous generosity can be the perspective that enable churches to demonstrate the healing of the Gospel in the here and now. Indeed, the Gospel narrative is about bringing restoration, healing, and reconciliation to the broken and fallen. So why is it so hard to imagine what outrageous grace looks like in an Asian American church? When I think of Asian American churches I’ve experienced, my impression of them tend to be more about tradition and purity than places for grace-exemplifying healing relationships.
Some other discussion question for starters (you’re welcome to add your own)::
- How have you seen grace demonstrated in your Asian American church experience? Is there more of grace that you wish you could experience in that context?
- The chapter lists Asian cultural values that most Asian American ethnicies hold in common: hierarchy, community and family, education and achievement, conformity and humility, respect for tradition and elders. Would you add any other values to this list?
- How do you think this affects the call for the church to demonstrate the outrageous generosity of God?
- Before we dig more into the book, it might be helpful to also explore what the book means by the term “Asian American church.” Is it talking about the 1st generation ethnic Asian church? the intergenerational ethnic Asian church? the English-speaking pan-Asian church? the Asian church becoming increasingly multiethnic in ethnic diversity?
dpark >> Grace is something that is considered beautiful, but not realistic; convenient for self-righteousness, but mostly considered weakness. … I get this sense of pride that places people in destructive relationships as opposed to constructive and healthy, all in the name of cultural solidarity. … I hope for the more progressive definitions of Asian American church, but I believe that by and large, we are not ready to move forward yet.
mezuzah >> It seems that in the discussion of the Asian church in America there is much hurt and cynicism… I hope to be non-condemning when I mention the syncretism of the Confucian values with Christianity… Leading not in a dictatorial manner but as Christ led, he was a servant leader…
Ken Kong >> I just got done reading a book about healthy asian american churches. Man i was encouraged these authors. Especially when they talked about evangelism being a part of life. That’s something I’ve been working in my life. Just being a natural Christians. Nothing more. Just being a light on a hill. Nothing more.
ibeatdrum >> For me, grace is an issue that I don’t think I have ever fully grasped. I didn’t really think about it being my ethnicity’s fault, but it kind of make sense. The first chapter kicks off with a story …. The thing that trips me out is that this story seems so right to me. As if that whole process of sneaking the pastor out is normal. That’s what I’ve come to know from the churches when I was growing up. Come to think of it, the church I grew up in went through pastors like I go through a pack of thin mints…..disgustingly fast. So I sit here and say to myself, “Wow. That’s gotta be a problem.” And this story doesn’t just apply to pastors, but to members, layleaders. My reaction itself is enough to convince me that I have not fully embraced (or accepted?) the grace and generosity of God.
Generally speaking, Asians tend to keep things inside … it is such a shame based culture that we assume people don’t want to talk about their struggles because as it is said in an old Chinese proverb “Family shames cannot be shared.” Silence kills.
… Dr. Jeff Jue Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary … spoke particularly on issues surrounding the Asian-American church …
… In thinking of AACF, my thoughts always turn toward the Asian American Christian community in Seattle, and the larger Asian American community itself. My feelings are ones of sadness, tinged maybe with a glimmer of hope, because I really feel that the situation has in many ways stagnated… most young Asian Americans remain a largely un-ministered to group…