Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 3

Our blog-based book discussion of Growing Healthy Asian American ChurchesGrowing Healthy Asian American Churches is off to a great start! Even though you do not have to have the book to comment, you are encouraged to buy the book to participate in this discussion more deeply and richly.

Now onto Chapter 2, titled Truth-Embodying Households. The chapter challenges churches to be more than truth-knowing or truth-telling; the church must be also truth-living and truth-embodying.

Before we wrestle with this challenging chapter, in last week’s discussion, I asked what the book meant by “Asian American churches.” The “tell” in the book is the wide range of examples cited: the intergenerational ethnic Asian church, the English-speaking pan-Asian church, as well as the Asian-led increasingly-multiethnic church. So, it seems the book is using the umbrella term “Asian American churches” to cover the full spectrum of how Asian Americans from immigrant to indigenous are participating in all kinds of churches where Asians comprise (at least) a majority of the congregational body. Many (most?) Asians in America do not self-identify with the term “Asian American”, but more closely show affinity for their country of origin (i.e. Korean, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) Nevertheless, I think the book does present a broadly pan-Asian perspective applicable to most Asian American contexts, even though every one of the other 30+ some Asian American ethnicities are not specifically mentioned. And, noted, theologically the book stays right-of-center evangelical, and does not specifically address mainline Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox churches.

Discussion questions for Chapter 2:

  • One pastor is quoted in this chapter, “There’s a danger especially in Asian American cultures’ emphasis on knowledge. … I’ve seen too many congregations that are solidly committed to right doctrine, doctrinal purity. They know all the doctrine, but it makes no difference in their lives.”
  • This chapter itself asks some very pointed questions: Is there a need for ethnic-specific ministries? Where do you find ethnic-specific ministries in the Bible? Isn’t the Asian American church phenomenon a direct result of multiculturalism in ever-secularizing America? Doesn’t the Asian American church inevitably end up focusing on the culture more than the truth of the Bible?
  • Can the Church read its Scriptures with any other guiding assumption than that in Jesus Christ, God has himself appeared in human history?

[discussion thread]

  • dpark >> The problem is that the collective nature of our culture is that if I do something that nobody else agrees with, I?m abandoned; I?m the idiot that went out by myself. … It?s not so much that we don?t want doctrine to make a difference in our lives, it?s just that we can?t justify the changes that lead to applying that doctrine. It?s simply too risky and I can?t guarantee that we will all come out better for it.
  • ibeatdrum: One thing that I’ve been challenged with by this book is the idea of modeling and contextualization. It would be easy for Newsong to send out a full set of staff out here to Dallas to basically reproduce the experience they have out there. And it would even be pretty easy for us (or them) to find some people here in Dallas that could reproduce what’s going on in California too.
  • [related elsewhere]

  • will not try to develop a “Korean American Theology” but uphold the historic theology of the Reformation. We will address how we can apply our theology in the Korean American context.
  • the Korean Church is basically a “salvation sect” that teaches justification by grace, but then layers on a Confucian perspective that requires ever greater levels of faithfulness to prove the validity of one’s conversion. As a consequence the average Korean either develops a mentality of the need to continually up his devotion through more prayer, giving, faithful church attendance, missionary work, etc.
  • There is a deep part of me that has forgotten how to hope. Often when I speak of the Asian American church, my passions range from railing against our self-righteousness and hating our little cultural ?enclaves? (Thank you William Woo) to wondering what God has in store for the Asian-American church. I cannot help but hate it and pine for it at the same time.
  • I would just love to see an Asian church be open to different styles of worship. I think that the Emerging church model would realy fit in the Next Gen. Asian Church.
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