Ten years ago, Helen Lee shed a grim light on a generation of Asian Americans leaving the church in droves with a piece entitled “Silent Exodus – Can the East Asian church in America reverse flight of its next generation?” which Peter Ong resurrects on his blog.
Although I had heard of the title, “Silent Exodus”, and been loosely familiar with the term since the late 1990s, I’d never read the article until Peter’s post. When it was first explained to me back in the 90s, I remember that it had filled my heart with a sense of alarm, but when I saw the post and the title, even before reading it, I said to myself, “Exodus means freedom. They were never meant to come back.” I almost shocked myself with that thought. It runs counter to how I feel about the ethnic church that I serve and whether I truly know if they will find freedom upon leaving it. But is it possible that exodus was a necessary thing — perhaps even, a good thing? Is it possible that when Asian Americans don’t return to the church of their youth, that could spell good things for the faith of their youth?