Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 7

This blog-based book discussion of Growing Healthy Asian American ChurchesGrowing Healthy Asian American Churches will continue with Chapter 6, Hospitable Households: Evangelism, a pivotal chapter about how churches can grow through relationships rather than programs.

Evangelism has become an acceptable word in the marketing and business world, while evangelism has become a “dirty” word in the spiritual and religious world. What’s up with that? One thought: it’s okay to tell someone how well something works, it’s not okay to tell someone they’re wrong and you’re the only one right. Another thought: evangelism has to go outside of the small circle of people one knows and has relationships with, it has to touch people who we don’t yet know — this is one area where comfort zones have to be stretched. We need a new way of relating and building relationships with people we don’t know — blogging is one of those ways.

The chapter tells many stories to describe how relationships works in the Asian American context and the social dynamics of the Asian American (sub)culture. That is where I often feel out of place. I don’t have that strong sense of insider vs. outsider like many Asians. I don’t only relate with those that I know and “trust”. I love to be inclusive and relate openly. I keep myself open, vulnerable, real, transparent, though I’m not able to be as transparent in this online world as much as I’d like b/c of my professional roles. I didn’t have a role model to relate openly. It’s just what seems right if we are to follow the Great Commandment and to love our neighbor as ourselves. A glimpse of my personal thoughts; now back to the book.

Discussion questions for Chapter 6:

  • Several characteristics of Asian American culture were said to affect evangelism: strong community orientation, relational dysfunctions, resistance to “losing face.” How do these characteristics affect evangelism? Are there other Asian American cultural characteristics that affect evangelism?
  • Seven notable examples of Asian American churches that are evangelizing were listed: missiological approach, understand postmodernism, focus on the marginalized, pursue relationships, relevant worship, embracing diversity, and traditional approaches. It takes all kinds of ways to reach all kinds of people. What works (and doesn’t work as well) in your context?

[discussion thread]

  • mezuzah: … I feel that there is somewhat of an element of unfriendliness…yet also we are not taught to greet, to be hospitable. How many churches go over spiritual gifts with the congregation, identify those natural greeters, and send them off to work? If the thinking is “why would anyone want to know me?” then the people should be taught, have I someone that you have to meet! His name is Jesus. …
  • mcshoo: This post will contain why I am opposed to the idea of an Asian American Church. … What I do mean by an ‘Asian American’ Church is a church in which the preaching is done primarily in English, the population of the area is fairly diverse, but the congregation is almost completely second generation or first generation Asian American … I tried my hardest to think of a biblical reason why someone would want to have an Asian American Church, and the only thing I could come up with was Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 9…
  • ISAAC: “With a few exceptions, I felt that most of the contributors to the book were too negative about first generation culture.
  • [related elsewhere]

  • After months of dialogue, prayer, and hoopla (not necessarily in that order), Liquid has arrived at a new name for their church community: Vox Veniae, a voice of grace. This will soon become the church formerly known as Liquid; it began as a college ministry of Austin Chinese Church and is emerging into its own viable church plant to serve the broader community. Photos should be forthcoming. [update 4/12: story about the new name]
  • Hyun and I have been “church hopping” for the past several weeks and I must say it’s been difficult to find a church to call home. And what’s becoming even more sad is that I’m beginning to understand why most Australians don’t attend church on Sundays. For those out there who have a heart for church-planting, this is a country in *desperate* need of a lot of good church plants. And I don’t just mean for the Asian communities … I mean for every community.
  • I’ve always wished our 2nd generation pastors could have had a proper mentoring-type relationship with older pastors while growing up. But because of language and cultural barriers, we’ve basically had to learn on our own as to what to do and what not to do. But luckily for the next generation of pastors, there exists people who have walked the road ahead … and who can (hopefully) offer more words of wisdom that can help them on their journey.
  • IM chat excerpt: do you ever wonder if we’re calling too much attention to AA issues in the church? or is it possible that they could be resolved in the next generation as a natural consequence? that is to say, i could see how some pastors may think that the dialogues that are brought up about emerging church, diversity, and the shortcomings of the AA church are distractions and obstacles to the actual ministry to AAs
  • i’ve always been very conscious about the personal establishment of my cultural and social in, where i should be standing… because of that, it causes me to behave in an aloof manner sometimes when i’m in the korean church… for example, some korean youth members regard me as part of the youth ministry. Because as long as you are unmarried yet, you are considered a youth member.
  • reflecting on going to Korean church? I felt like there was a sense of competition for more?of always having to do more, give more, be better. For kids and for the adults too, given how they kept moving the church from place to place in seeking a better location. It wasn’t really a place to say hey, I’m having problems with my business, my marriage, my life is falling apart and I have no more money to give, can I have some help…
  • The cliquishness and distrust of outsiders which the Asian-American church promotes without actually expressing revolutionary sentiment against that society, manifests itself in personal relationships. More and more young Asian-Americans, especially males, may turn to a church to meet potential co-ethnic mates
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    3 Responses

    1. Jon says:

      Two Ideas

      Successful witnessing is telling others how they can have a personal relationship with Jesus and leaving the results to God. God will hold us accountable for every opportunity we miss and every opportunity we take advantage of to tell others about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. It’s important to remember that God will never hold us accountable for whether someone accepts or denies Jesus. Our job is to ?tell it often, tell it well? (The only way to be unsuccessful in witnessing is by failing to share.)

      Evangelism “explodes” when Christians stop giving reasons about why they can’t share the gospel with others (strangers & friends) yet and make an intentional effort to get the message of hope out.

    2. William Woo says:

      My comment to MCSCHOO:

      There is a part of me that feels just like you do, interestingly enough I’m at an Indonesian Church, even though I’m ethnically Chinese. My thought is that this is an evolution. Just think that 60 years ago, certain Asian ethnicities would not get along…this is one small step for man to the next step of full racial reconciliation. Are we even there yet?

      I wonder if this Asian American phenomenon is solely a product of living in the USA. Do Australian Chinese separate into separate English speaking churches of Australian Chinese?

    3. William Woo says:

      Wow that last link above ( is old! I wonder what happened to the guy. Its good to see this person’s point of view. He didn’t seem to touch on the fact that perhaps being the minority in the broader culture may project on us the desire to find people “just like us”. And the guys thoughts about the church as a refuge from interracial coupling (in part. Asian female, white male) is wrong. The guys sounds bitter about that though.

      Interesting observations on Asian American Women all being Christians. Is that true of all those AA women in broadcast journalism?