Article: "Megachurches are propagating rapidly"

If the research in this article is true, I can't help but wonder what ramifications that has to ethnic churches. Not that I think ethnic churches are going away all together. But I believe there are problems that coincide with assimiliation to the majority culture and the impact that has on post first-generation churches.Here's the thing. Currently, many second-generation churches that grow out of English ministries simply try to provide quality church programming and they should. However, if there is no specificity to its programming in terms of culture, then it's losing its cultural flavor and thus just as relevant to its congregation as another non-ethnic church. Coupled with the fact that many of these ethnic churches have fewer resources and fall a notch in presentation or sound or teaching (could be any or all) than a megachurch in the metropolitan area, then what exactly are we assuming is the attraction to our churches?

I understand that there is a notion that well, Asians want to worship with other Asians, and for the time being, I believe that preference is still a strong draw to these churches, however, I do believe that megachurches with wonderful, slick teaching, a buffet menu of programs and ministries, and a growing legitimate claim to multicultural worship – we are kidding ourselves if we do not address long-term how the post-immigrant church's message is relevant.

In essence, we should become a specialty store as opposed to a Wal-Mart. The less we emphasize our specialty and strive to be like Wal-Mart, the more precarious our survival becomes. The more we emphasize our specialty, the more critical our expertise and our refinement of product should be.

Question: Is our message and purpose as Asian-American church refined to that extent? Why or why not?

What the 2nd-gener-asians stand to lose

There is a notion in economics known as "opportunity cost" – it is the idea that every decision you make, excludes the alternative — and that alternative was the price that you paid to make the decision. So for instance, if you were trying to decide between two things, whether to have the chicken sandwich or the meatloaf for lunch, not only did you pay whatever monetary difference between the two, but you also sacrificed one to have the other. It's a very interesting notion, although perhaps not in this example, because it really brings out the weight of significant decisions. What you have for lunch is simply not as signficant as who you decide to date, and who you decide to date is not as weighty as who you decide to marry, and where you decide to marry is not as important is where you decide to live, so on an so forth.

At some point in the decision-making process for the immigrant, this weighing of opportunities and the costs associated with the decision took place. For the first-generations, there was much to be gained — perhaps it was political stability, new business opportunities, freedom of religion, an outlet to graduate studies, a new life, more opportunities for the children, and for the adventurous in heart, a new culture. And it cost them individually, well, the sense of being a native, friendships and family ties, command of the language, and for the less adventurous of heart, their old culture. So along with their two sets of luggage (150kg total and often named 'emigration bags') and their two permissible carry-on bags, they boarded a plane carrying as much of their culture with them and brought them here. The chance at a new life for them and their children was too much to pass up.

Their decision obviously has some ramifications for the 2nd-generation, their children. Sure, we got the opportunities in education and we perhaps lived in a lot more prosperity than our far-off cousins. We have made out quite well in terms of those things. We are well-educated, well-paid, and relative to the general population, well-off. But it looks like we have some decisions to make as well. Because it has cost us something to live here and it will continue to cost us something.

And at some point we have to be conscious about this, because while with every decision, there is an opportunity cost to the alternative, there is an even higher cost when we decide NOT to decide.

the slow death of the asian-american church?

in a recent conversation with a newly acquainted friend, we discussed the validity of the asian-american church, to which he said, “that’s not as interesting to me as the immigrant church.” when asked to elaborate, he said, “well, i don’t consider you asian-american, i just consider you american. you speak english like me, you know this american culture like i know, you don’t even have an accent, david. i mean, what makes you asian? what makes your church asian?”

my heart started to race a bit, “you think i’m american then? because i didn’t have the same experience as you did growing up, i can assure you that. and i certainly had plenty of reminders – whether it was the food i ate, the language my parents spoke, or the fact that there weren’t many other kids that looked like me growing up in Oklahoma.”

“kids are like that everywhere. i was the fat kid with glasses and Continue reading “the slow death of the asian-american church?”

the conundrum of the asian-american christian

the following is an excerpt from a recent chat i had with DJ Chuang…

DJ Chuang: my theory is this, re: Asian cultural pride… since Asian culture is hierarchial, the place for repentance and cultural change is at the top. if the person (or few persons) who hold sway and influence at the top is willing to repent and to call what's wrong as wrong, then the whole deal can change. so, in a church context, it would be the senior pastor acknowledging a wrong, then proposing and taking steps to correct it

exportjoy: i've seen that done in an "american" church, but never in a korean or asian church

DJ Chuang: and what Asians have in common is that "save face" kind of pride and it is very rare to see open confessions by top Asian leaders

exportjoy: do you think that could change in the next generation of leaders? and would that alter our sense of cultural identity? i mean, would korean christians deem me less korean, if i dared to not save face? to downplay my own culture to lift up my faith? would the church embrace? or push me away?

DJ Chuang: yes, i think that would be the cultural / corporate reaction, to deem you Continue reading “the conundrum of the asian-american christian”