Statistics on Asian Americans in Multiethnic or Monoethnic churches?

Research on Asian American Christianity can be hard to find in the pubic, though I’ve heard that there’s a significant number of academic studies, as in dissertations and thesis, that have been done. But, those are not readily available for public usage.

People ask me questions related to this topic of Asian Americans and churches. When they ask me about quantitative research, i.e. statistics, I rarely have the precise answers. I hope by posting this in the open, on the Web, that the wisdom of the crowd can chime in, and we can share what we know and learn together in community. Below is an excerpt from a private message thread (as is)—

How many Asian Americans attend ethnic churches vs. multi-ethnic churches?

Question: Do you have any data on the amount of Asian American churches in a multi ethnic church vs. independent Asian American churches ? Are there more Asian Americans in multi ethnic contexts ?

DJ: I don’t have hard numbers, but i’m persuaded that there are more Asians in non-ethnic churches than ethnic churches, especially in SoCal; not a lot more, just a 51% majority would be a wild guess..

um, i take that back; English speakers would be split 50/50 maybe; but non-English would be definitely 95% in ethnic churches (since “Asian Americans” as a label includes all languages)

having worked with.. church leaders, they’re always wanting more research.. [IMHO] it’s better to find out as we experiment, because research $$s are harder to come by.. [in other words, experimenting through launching new ministry initiatives is more cost-effective than mere academic research..]

the data that is out there, would be, like: Redeemer in NYC is like 50% plus Asian; notable megachurches around the country are 10%+ Asian, including Menlo Park, Saddleback, McLean Bible, Willow.. have seen the uptick too..

[I think it’s] reasonable to extrapolate that when a church notices this growing demographic (and megachurches are the best at being demographic sensitive), something has to be done

here’s another data point: Asian American Pastors on staff at Megachurches

My thoughts, at this moment in time

I’ve found that a majority of people are not that sophisticated about their church choices, whether theological convictions or ethnic composition.. (and, by majority, I mean more than 51% of church goers, just to put a number to it; here I avoided using the ambiguous word “some” or the misleading word “most” that might be inferred to be excessive.)

Normal people don’t have theological degrees. Normal people have not read the entire Bible through. Normal people don’t think about their cultural preferences. They just know what they like or don’t like; what they’re comfortable with or not.

All that said, I’ll say this, that the most common reasons I’ve heard from Asian Americans and how they choose a church (in no particular order)—

  • I’m comfortable there (it’s the only kind of church I know)
  • that’s where my friends are
  • I like the pastor (or, s/he’s a great Bible teacher)
  • they have a great children’s program (or youth group)
  • I want to my children to stay connected to their cultural heritage (and grandparents)
  • I like a church of this size (some like it small, some like it big)
  • they’re “biblical” (meaning, other churches aren’t as biblical)

What has been your experience in listening to how others choose a church home?