Asian American Ministry Conference: Lessons on Leadership

2nd Annual Asian American Ministry Conference

Lessons on Leadership

November 6-7, 2015

Biola University @ La Mirada CA

Plenary Speakers

Dr. Alexander Strauch

 Dr. Alexander Strauch

“Leadership in the Church”

Pastor Steven Chin

Rev. Steven Chin

“Leadership in the Home”

Brian Chan

Brian Chan

“Leadership in the Marketplace”

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Survey for English Pastors at Chinese Churches: win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Are you a pastoral staff member at a Chinese church in North America who primarily ministers in English? Would you like to help with a study that can boost the health of Chinese churches in America?

If so, please take a few minutes to complete the survey at the link below. Each completed survey will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift code.

survey preview

There is no obligation to participate, but your help would be greatly appreciated. The absolute maximum time your participation will take is 15-20 minutes. The survey itself will take about 5-10 minutes. If you are unfamiliar with your Myers-Briggs personality temperament, it may take an additional 10 minutes.

Your answers will be confidential and will be grouped with all others who respond in order to draw some general conclusions about the correlation between a long ministry tenure and Myers-Briggs (Kiersey) personality temperament.

Please forward this link to other English-speaking ministers at Chinese American churches. Youth and children’s ministers are eligible, as long as they primarily minister in English.

Thank you very much!
Daniel K. Eng

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Stop Using “Multi-cultural” when you really mean “Multi-racial.”

I usually encourage others to be more specific when they use the term “multi-cultural.” Very often, people usually use this term interchangeably with “multi-racial.” If they look at a room with people of different skin colors, sometimes they say that it’s a “multi-cultural” grouping. This is especially the case when we discuss churches. Here are a few reasons why I help people understand the distinction.

multicultural is not multiracial

  1. Simply because people look similarly doesn’t mean they have the same culture. This really should go without saying, but it’s not the case in many conversations I have. An Asian-American who has never set foot outside the USA has a vastly different culture than a recent immigrant. We can’t equate race with culture.
  2. Culture goes beyond race.
    Culture has to do with shared customs and values within a community. My wife and I both identify as Chinese-American. However, we come from different cultures because we come from different families. We both come into marriage with different expectations, habits, rules, and values that we brought from our families.
  3. Every church is mono-cultural. 
    I hope that got your attention. Every church has a distinct culture. In fact, every cohesive group has an overarching culture. There are shared customs, shared values, shared preferences. Every group has one culture. Even if your church is a church of many cultures, it is has one overarching culture. Even if your church is a group that likes to have people of different cultures, that in itself is a single culture. One can therefore say that a multi-racial church is mono-cultural.
  4. Every church is multi-cultural.
    That’s right. Every church–every cohesive group–has people from different cultures. Just like my marriage is multi-cultural (see above), everyone comes with different customs, different habits, and different preferences. We learn from each other, challenge each other, and grow together.

So, please don’t use “multi-cultural” when you really mean “multi-racial.” They’re two very different terms.

Related Posts:

“Multi-Ethnic, Mostly Asian”
Defining a “multi-ethnic” grouping.
“Your church is not biblical.” Why Ethnic-Specific Ministries Exist in America, Part 2.
Why Ethnic-Specific Ministries Exist in America, part 1.

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Why is Mentoring So Difficult in the Asian American Church?

In preparation for the Asian American Ministry Conference (you can register at, AACE is releasing a series of short videos featuring some of the breakout session speakers. Clark Fobes, the Youth Pastor at Sunset Church in San Francisco, answers the question, “Why is mentoring so difficult in the Asian American church?

You can watch the video here:

Clark does a great job of pointing out that our culture often hinders us from having good mentoring relationships. For many Asian Americans, we often grow up with parents who have been absent, both physically and relationally, because of how hard they’ve worked. A pattern of absenteeism is developed that perpetuates through the generations. It seems rare to see an immigrant Asian dad really invest relationally in his children. Perhaps mentorship was never really modeled to them.

I believe this generation of young Asian Americans is hungering for role models in the church. Can we raise up leaders who will invest in them and guide them?

What has been your experience with mentoring? Why do you think it’s so hard among Asian Americans in the church?

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Doesn’t more education lead to spiritual maturity?

photo by Matt DeTurck. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

photo by Matt DeTurck. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

For many Asian Americans, our emphasis on education drives us towards worldly success. As one of the most highly educated ethnic minorities, Asian Americans often excel in the classroom. For many of us, we work hard. Our parents push us. Getting a “B” is never good enough.  In some Asian American circles, it’s unheard of or even shameful if someone does not have a college degree.

Much of our emphasis on education comes from the teachings of Confucius. The Confucian ideal of qin-xue dictates that the path to self-improvement comes through pursuing the best education. A person is considered developed and highly respected if they have a good education.

I wonder if a lot of Asian Americans whose traditions are rooted in Confucianism also view spiritual maturity in the same way. At my Chinese church, I was light-heartedly urged to promote a guest speaker’s education rather than his character, to get more attendees at his seminar. Somehow the letters after the man’s name would draw more Chinese churchgoers.

Recently I heard (unconfirmed) that 75% of a seminary’s Master of Divinity program consists of Asians. Many of these would be international students from South Korea. Our Asian churches are much more likely to require an advanced degree than other churches. There’s a high emphasis on education.

After my first semester in seminary I found myself visiting a Chinese church that I am familiar with. I was asked “So do you feel more holy now that you’re in seminary?”  I answered, “no, in fact, I am more aware of my own sinfulness” as I study the Word more and more.

One thing about Chinese parents: in wanting our kids to develop, we send them to experts. We send them to SAT tutors, Math camps, piano teachers.  And we send them to youth pastors. Chinese parents often leave the mentoring to others, in the name of getting the “best” for them.

Aside from abdicating our privilege and biblical responsibility of mentoring our own children, there’s a danger here. Spiritual maturity doesn’t come from more education.

The more I spend time with people I respect and look up to, I realize that their spiritual maturity doesn’t come from schooling. It comes from humility and pursuing a genuine relationship with Christ.

Knowledge often just makes people more self-sufficient, less submissive, less willing to throw themselves at God’s mercy.

Perhaps if the rich young ruler was Asian, Jesus would ask him to give up the letters after his name instead of his riches. Maybe Jesus would say, “How hard is it for an educated man to enter the kingdom of God!”

Posted in Asian American Ministry, Race and Ethnicity | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments