What does Asian American worship sound like?
A significant Asian American population worships weekly in over 7,000 churches, mostly in Asian languages, with some in English. One research approximates 42% of Asian Americans identify as Christian, including both Protestants and Catholics.
People can easily distinguish the unique sounds of African-American and Latino-American worship music. A majority of Christian worship music has been influenced and shaped by a generic American sound, or historically, an European sound. Think of the hymn, Amazing Grace. I’ve heard that song sung by all kinds of people, even non-Christians.
During the 80s, when my Christian faith was forming, American worship’s popular influences were Maranatha and Vineyard.
Today, the popular sounds in American music are brands like Hillsong, Passion, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Elevation Worship. CCLI Top 100® tracks the most popular worship songs, because of licensing requirements for the many worship songs that have copyrights.
But what does Asian American worship look and sound like? Here’s a list, and unfortunately, it is a short list. If you know of others, please add a comment and we can grow this list.
Asian Amerian Worship Resources
Asian American worship leaders and Christian musicians, curated by DJ Chuang
Worship on the Way: Exploring Asian North American Christian Experience by Russell Yee (2012) – Yee is a third-generation Asian American, who has directed several groundbreaking contextualized worship projects
The Search for Asian-American Worship — article by by Russell Yee (Chinese Around the World #185, Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism, Hong Kong, June 2004, pp. 85-90)
Singing the Lord’s Song in a New Land: Korean American Practices of Faith by Su Yon Pak, Unzu Lee, Jung Ha Kim, Myung Ji Cho (2005) — “The groundbreaking work identifies eight key practices of the Korean American culture: keeping the Sabbath, singing, fervent prayer, resourcing the life cycle, bearing wisdom, living as an oppressed minority, fasting, and nurturing.”
“According to this author’s view, there is no distinctive hymnody that prevails in Asian-American churches, but there are certain characteristics and trends that typify these congregations.”
Korean American Churches: From generation to generation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship)
Hymns, Songs, Prayers, Liturgy for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (UMC)
Theresa Cho’s blog posts in the worship category and Intergenerational Worship resources — has a great collection of liturgy examples and worship exercises contextualized for Asian Americans