Our conversation on Sunday about the challenges and opportunities facing the Asian immigrant and Asian American church was a compelling one. In addition to me, DJ Chuang, Dpark, and John Lamb all participated, which gave a particularly diverse flavor to the mix as all of us hail from different ethnic groups and church experiences. We utilized the 6 hats paradigm to frame our discussion and it was helpful, as it kept the conversation moving and kept us from dwelling too long on the ciritical analysis (Black hat) to which I think such conversations are prone.
In any event, some of the more intriguing things that emerged from the conversation (in my view) was a sense of optimism and hope that the immigrant church does have a unique function in American society despite the many ways in which it is failing to live up to its mandate. We discussed the obvious challenges of being merely ethnic enclaves that fail to be as committed to the mission of God as they might be, as well as the ways in which age specific ministry within the ethnic church is sometimes unhelpful in bridging the culture gaps and in being effective in ministry. The negative consequence of such ministry was apparent to us even as we saw the need (due to language and other barriers) that led to its development. One such consequence was the possibility that the segmentation of the church was actually working against helping the 2nd generation to own either its culture or its faith in a helpful way. Despite this, the overall tone was that of hope as we thought about ways that each generation can be a blessing to the other – the 2nd generation serving the 1st by helping to bridge the language gap for instance, or the 1st generation being intentional about sharing its own story of faith in such a way that can inspire and instruct the 2nd generation. We talked about ways that joint worship, prayer, and mission opportunities can be used to increase kingdom witness and also bring the church together.
This discussion was recorded and I believe that DJChuang is going to make it available. It is unfortunate that a conversation of such depth happen so rarely. Our hope is that the next conversation can include some of the voices of the 1st generation. To God be the Glory