Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 1

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for, the start of a blog discussion on the new book titled Growing Healthy Asian American Churches. For those of you who have just heard about the book and/or are still waiting for your copy to arrive, you can join this discussion by read the book’s introduction online (PDF format, courtesy of InterVarsity Press.)
Growing Healthy Asian American Churches

To get our dialogue going, let’s assume that there is a bona fide place for the Asian American church. (For those that want to jump ahead and wrestling with the justification of such an entity, you’ll have to wait until we get to that part of the book.) To be fair, there are all kinds of Asian American churches, and that’s one reason I think the book title is particularly fitting. The book is written by a group of contributors, forum participants, and editors, just as it shall be discussed here online by a growing group of bloggers, including: William Woo, Glennis Lo, David Park, Jon Ng, Rudy Carrasco, Peter Ong, Bruce Reyes-Chow. [email me to join + get linked]

I do admire the adept skill at how the editors and contributors have pulled together such a volume, acknowledging the complexities and differences among the broad-stroke that often painted on Asian Americans, yet finding strong similiarities and themes that resonate for most of us in this social location. We as Asian American Christians have so much more in common and much to learn from one another, than to be locked behind histories and labels of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and dozens of other Asian American ethnicities.

Even in my own spiritual journey, more of it has been spent in non-Asian contexts than Asian contexts, I find myself nodding in agreement with many of the issues surfaced in the book, and long for a healthy Asian American church that is described in the book. There’s something to this longing and dream, and perhaps like good preaching, it paints a picture of how things could be, even tho’ none of us have arrived yet.

I’ll confess that I’ve already devoured the whole book (read it in less than a week after receiving it via Amazon.com pre-order, to the surprise of one editor.) So this discussion will help me to slow down and reflect on the book as we discuss it out loud and online. To pace ourselves, we’ll discuss one chapter per week. And please use trackback if you know how to do that; I’ll do what I can to link up other blog entries as I find (or find out about) them.

The book is a richly meaningful read, and I believe it is a seminal book not only for Asian Americans, but for its attempt to wrestle with the church’s orthodoxy and orthopraxy in an ethnic context. Too often theology is done with unstated ethnic-cultural assumptions from a Euro-centric perspective, and I think there’s great value unearthed by the book to take a look at not only theology in an intellectual abstract, but also the very human ethnic-cultural context.

So as you’ve read the book’s introduction, what questions has it raised for you? In what ways do you find the image of the “household of God” to be compelling?

[cf. previous entry about book discussion startup; first post anticipating this book.]

[discussion thread]

  • urbanonramps >> I love reading a book’s acknowledgements section first. You learn a lot about the writer and their connections.
  • mezuzah >> I think its compelling because we’ve probably not encountered a home where God is central and above culture. We’ve rarely seen Christian love acted out over “face saving” and kowtowing to traditions. We’ve not seen God over the syncretism of Confucian values married to the Protestant work ethic. We’re hungry. … 1 question. The story of the couple raising a child and finding a church… Isn’t the home the primary transmitter of Spiritual knowledge and practice, and the church secondary? If so how does the church teach that?
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    1. Glad to see you’ve connected with Peter Ong. He’s a great guy!

    2. Yu-Ling Lee says:

      Hi djchuang,

      I’m a seminary student from Toronto, Canada and I love your authentic voice within the asian/emerging discussion.

      I think the Toronto Chinese Church scene is pretty unique – we have a very strong network between almost all chinese churches. And yet, we’re all still struggling with the same issues – ethnic culture, contextualizing ministry, intergenerational conflict, etc.

      I would love to connect with you sometime about these issues.

      In the meantime, I am convincing my church leadership team to read the ‘growing healthy asian churches’ book.

      Learning lots from you. God bless.

    3. Justin says:

      Looking forward to the discussion!

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