Article: Orange County exports Asian American churches to the world

DJ_ChuangA recent article was released in the Orange County Register featuring DJ Chuang.  Here’s an excerpt from the article, written by Jim Hinch:

“I’m an experimenter,” Chuang said. “My heart is in the church, the Asian American church. But church is not known for being a place of research and development.”

Chuang left formal ministry and became a consultant, working for churches, parachurch organizations and Christian nonprofits, always aiming to help Asian American Christians become more digitally savvy and culturally responsive.

He’s helping Brea’s Ambassador Church expand its network of sister churches and advising La Mirada’s Talbot Seminary as it develops one of America’s first doctoral programs in Asian American ministry.

Chuang is a manic presence, especially online. He was, he says, the first person in Orange County to sign up for Twitter seven years ago (a distinction confirmed by the rankings website Twitaholic). He tweets throughout each day, blogs, produces a weekly podcast and talks by phone, Skype and Google Chat with a nationwide roster of church leaders. Callers make appointments via an interactive scheduler on Chuang’s website.

Last year, Chuang traveled 35,839 miles in 74 days on 16 trips to conferences and meetings. This information comes from the Chuang family Christmas card, which also details the number of followers (7,000) Chuang has on Twitter and the number of reward points he earned last year at Starbucks (50).

Since 2005, Chuang has edited two books on Asian American ministry, produced a report on current trends in Asian American churches, written 23 magazine articles and made 28 presentations at church conferences and seminars – achievements tabulated, in chronological order, on Chuang’s website.

Chuang has bipolar disorder. He has been successfully treated for the condition since 2001. But he attributes his numerous career changes and intellectual restlessness, in part, to manic episodes.

His periods of depression, he said, brought him near suicide. And they convinced him that helping Asian American churches become more culturally inclusive is tantamount to a life-or-death calling.

“It’s very hard for Asians to talk about their weaknesses,” Chuang said, explaining why he waited years before publicly acknowledging his condition and seeking treatment.

Chuang said traditional Asian American churches are especially inhospitable to painful personal problems because many Asian cultures prize a veneer of stoic hard work and moral respectability.

“I want to bring churches into a place to deal more honestly with the real person,” Chuang said.

“I would like to see Asian Americans become more healthy and whole as people.”

To read the full article on the Orange County Register website, visit here.

Also, DJ gave an inspiring talk at Urbana 12′s PANA lounge, called: “Step Up, Speak Up, Live It Up,” which you can find in transcript and audio format on his website, or in video format on Intervarsity Asian American Ministries’ website.

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Comments

  1. paul collier says:

    “I’m an experimenter,” Chuang said. “My heart is in the church, the Asian American church. But church is not known for being a place of research and development.”- interesting- your heart is in the Asian American church. This is very sad. I am seeing the divisions of the body based on Jesus’ divinity, the nature of the cross, the day we worship, the manifestations of the Spirt, and now our ethnic identity. I am a sufferer of fbromyalgia- I see the world very differently from people who do not daily suffer acute pain. What is my contextual doctrine? Can I start the church of fibromyalgia and put my heart in that? Are you Peter’s or Paul’s or Christ’s? I understand the diversity of the body- but the unity of the body is this- my HEART is for CHRIST! My diverse expressions may be asian or fibro or having a heart for people with bipolarism or having special ministry callings to teach children the one true doctrine, but all, ALL of my many identities are NESTED in Christ

  2. adrianpei says:

    Paul, I’ll let DJ weigh in if he wants to, but you’ve definitely come to the right place if you’re asking those questions. Please check out this page on why this blog about Asian American Christianity and church exists: http://nextgenerasianchurch.com/faq/

    And this video on “Why Ethnicity Matters”: http://vimeo.com/35721693

    It’s a good place to hear some of why many of us as part of this blog have a heart in the Asian American church. And by the way, our hearts are also for Christ, and our identities are nested in Christ as well. Thanks for sharing about your fibromyalgia… you’re right, that’s something that impacts the way you live life and even live out your faith, and I can’t it understand like you do, because I don’t have the same condition. But I’d love to hear more about it and learn, just like I hope you take the time to listen to why we believe in ethnicity and faith, and get to know us and our stories better.

  3. djchuang says:

    Hello Paul, thanks for adding a comment here. You’re right to say that our heart is and must be in Christ and for Christ, and for the whole body of Christ!

    As a newspaper article, space limitation does not allow for elaborate explanation of nuances for detailed precision in wording, particularly when it comes to the multi-faceted issue of identity. And I apologize for my poor choice of words that got quoted in this interview, as my intention is to describe how a church needs to be better contextualized to reach all peoples, particularly those who are next-generation Asian Americans. In the context of this interview, I would say that ethnic Asian churches and majority Anglo churches are insufficient in their contextualization.

    As you’ve better elaborated, there is a spiritual identity that is our ultimate identity of being created in the image of God and redeemed through Jesus Christ. There are also other dimensions and aspects of our identity, namely, ethnic, or racial, or gender, or personality, or vocation, or whatever.

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