Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 4

Last week’s book discussion on Chapter 2 (of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches)Growing Healthy Asian American Churches didn’t generate as many discussions and comments as the first chapter; the show must go on, so here’s Chapter 3, titled Healthy Leaders, Healthy Households: Challenges and Models.

Discussion questions for Chapter 3:

  • The chapter identifies 4 challenges that can be stumbling blocks to developing healthy leadership in an Asian church context: Confucian-based perspectives, false humility, face-saving shame-based approaches, and inability to resolve conflict.
  • 2 models of biblical leaders are presented in Moses and Jesus.

[update] I’d share a few of my thoughts on these chapters, but don’t want to say too much b/c I don’t want to stifle the discussion. And by having this available and decentralized in the blogosphere, people can jump in the discussion at any time, even though I’ll be pushing through a chapter a week. The book is a good read, and I most appreciate how the contributors surfaced many critical issues without coming across patronizing or pedantic. I also like how the book delves into these complicated issues with sufficient narrative stories as examples while avoiding prescriptive answers for here’s-how-you-do-it. I’d imagine that may be a little frustrating to some readers who may be accustomed to Christian books that often give answers for how to do everything from A to Z.

[discussion thread]

  • dpark >> Younger people, raised in a culture where pragmatism and utility are key values… and with postmodernism being a key doctrine preached from our academic centers… I think that Asian American youth have much less tolerance for these issues… I think that those on the margins of culture simply leave and don?t look back.
  • [related elsewhere]

  • I have lived in China and currently reside in Japan. In both countries, sin carries with it the idea of crime. That deffinition, combined with penal subsitution, loses most people that don?t feel like criminals. However, shame is something that is understood very well.” and … I live in an Asian country. … As far as I can tell, a sense of shame is NOT the same as a feeling of guilt. A person feels shame when he is publicly discovered doing something which the respected members of his society disapprove of. Because shame is based in the opinions of people, it only works if there is the threat that ?someone could find out.? … Neither shame nor guilt are effective these days in North America. from an active comment thread on What is Sin?
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    1. All religions should co-exist peacefully.
      Tollerence is very important.


    2. David Park says:


    3. Peter Ong says:

      since I have yet to purchase the book (it is on its way) I will offer some comments that I hope will garner more questions than answers. In discussing “Confucianism” we need to make a distinction between the cultural “Confucianism” or what I call the mass market highjacking of it, in its purest form, Confucianism was to appeal to elevating knowledge and scholarship. But Asian culture co-opted it into knowledge=good education=good job=prosperity. So prosperity is the end to the means of knowledge. So here we are…faced with what seems to pervade the modern Asian America psyche, this obsession over granting ourselves into this exhaustive prosperity spirituality…which runs into the face of the radical “going down to go up” gospel message. So how do we deal with this? Is it endemic to the Asian culture or a larger capitalism issue?

      I like Dpark’s insight about the emerging post-moderns who are being cultivated in our academic institutions to not see the church as a cultural center and converted to postmodernism…but I find that as more and more students enter into this framework, many leave it with a sense of cynicism and not fully subscribed to this loss of central thrust of truth. Something truly shatters for them when they encounter a conviction that polarizes them.

      But what is missing are a true sense of authenticity that is not being expressed in our Christian culture….at the end of the day, we want to be part of something with vision, with goodness, and impact…it starts there…and when they see that God is working in supernatural ways…beyond our differences…beyond the marble pillars of our science…they transcend everything…even culture…or should I dare say…even doctrine. I believe that in order to be healthy, we strive to be authentic, to be engaging in our authencity as a culture and to be authentic with God…that is our center and I believe that is when there is a shattering of a lot of the masks or mortal coil that binds us to ideologies that are fading and murky.

    4. David Park says:


      I totally agree. I think that Asian American church naturally is inclined to postmodern approaches (especially with our youth), but the more the church maintains the hierarchy and Confucian structure without showing vulnerability and authenticity, then the whole structure is compromised. then as you say, even if they do find themselves disenchanted with the self-serving, materialistic world, the church is not prepared to offer them anything substantially different. Many of our churches, as you clearly state, by their own Confucianism that values success and values prosperity, we are pushing the same self-serving materialism upon them, which leads them to a practical atheism, where they may politely tip their hat to the church, but never truly be moved by the power of the Gospel. You are absolutely right, we need to be authentic as individuals and as a culture, yet transcend botht hrough our Savior, and I still feel that we have trouble, collectively, with both the former and the latter.