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Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 4

Discussion Questions from 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.

I’m not sure if these are discussion questions or truisms regarding the Asian American Church. They most definitely are stumbling blocks to healthy leadership and I confess to suffering from some of these symptoms, although reluctantly so. While I do have a metaphorical toe dipped in the pool of cynicism regarding this, I believe that tension comes out of the understanding that the upcoming generation of youth have a much more tenuous grasp on the relating their culture to their faith. In fact, I don’t think that it would be altogether incorrect to see a much more pragmatic approach to how they view matters of faith.

To be short, I have trouble believing that the younger generations see churches as centers of culture. I know that this is the way many churches set themselves up, but I think that is to the detriment of their faith. The youth (in metropolitan areas) have cultural centers to go to and places to learn, express, and incorporate culture — whether that’s in the form of a student or professional organization, family gatherings, Chinatowns or Koreatowns, so while there may be a draw for an Asian church, they’re not looking for culture there. They may be in search of community, which is the Asian church’s playing card, but that premise is a shaky one, because while community could lead to genuine exposure to the Gospel, it is very possible that it just languishes there, without personal and collective reformation.

Younger people, raised in a culture where pragmatism and utility are key values (“What does it do for me?”), and with postmodernism being a key doctrine preached from our academic centers (“this has meaning that I ascribe to it”; or “I am the final authority on truth for me”), I think that Asian American youth have much less tolerance for these issues: false humility, shame-based approaches, and inability to resolve conflict. While we try and figure these issues out, I think that those on the margins of culture simply leave and don’t look back. They see notions of culture and religion in general as archaic and binding. I think in order to reach this huge contingent of Asians raised in America, Asian American churches will not only have to focus on their own cultural stumbling blocks, but to realize that the speed at which culture is moving is fast enough that our tactics have to remain extremely flexible and address the larger culture as well.

What good is it if we exorcise our counter-Gospel Confucian issues, only to realize that our youth have already left the building?


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

2 responses to “Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 4

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  2. Great post. I think you hit the nail on the head about the Asian church as where one finds COMMUNITY and not culture, at least for the youthful generations.

    How about the Asian church as places where those non-Asian are looking for culture? In the area of missions, esp. to reaching the never before reached people groups, Asian churches could be gatekeepers for the non-Asian into those areas, intellectually, pragmatically, and perhaps spiritually. That way our Asian American church can also focus on the greater ministry of God, because I feel not many of them are doing that.

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