Growing Healthy Asian American Churches
By: Peter Cha, S. Steve Kang, Helen Lee
To be honest, I had a strong reservation about this book, and it was evident as I was reading it. My concern is that many of the pastors and churches profiled in this book would not classify themselves as true Asian-American churches. I am familiar with Evergreen Baptist Church-LA, Newsong Church, and Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, three of the four churches highlighted on the cover of the book. None of the pastors of these churches would identify their churches as Asian-American churches, even though their congregations contain a majority of Asian-Americans.
The overwhelming majority of churches that Asian-Americans attend are the bilingual, ethnic-specific churches, which are vastly different than most of the churches profiled in this book. I was disappointed that the editors of this book did not adequately consult pastors from the more abundant and traditional church models, many of which are healthy and thriving. Healthy bilingual models like Boston Chinese Evangelical Church and true Asian-American models like Evergreen SGV come to mind, of course.
My skepticism aside, I found this book to have some very valuable insights and can be very helpful to ministry. It discusses the areas of ministry that are most pivotal in growing a healthy Asian-American church community, like extending grace (Ch. 1), having good teamwork in leadership (Ch. 4), and the importance of social justice (Ch. 9)
I was especially pleased with the views put forth on gender in the church (Ch. 8). It helped to open my eyes to the stifling environment that Asian-American churches create for women to minister. Rev. Grace May’s testimony is definitely worth reading.
The content on multi-generational issues (Ch.7) especially struck home with me as I am second-generation. Reading about the healing brought to a congregation between first- and second-generation attendees warmed my heart. I have seen and experienced both the blessings and challenges of the bilingual model, and this section of the book helped me to articulate them well.
Overall, I would recommend this book for any Asian-American minister, with slight reservation that it would help that they also seek wisdom from church leaders in more traditional bilingual Asian-American church models and true English-speaking Asian-American models. Also, I would read this book keeping in mind that InterVarsity places a high emphasis on racial reconciliation and multi-ethnicity in churches.