In a recent conversation, I heard someone use the acronym “MEMA”–Multi-Ethnic, Mostly Asian, to refer to churches. This refers to churches that aim to be multi-ethnic, and end up being mostly Asian. Many times this assessment is aimed to be used in a negative connotation towards such churches.

Why is this? What’s wrong with MEMA? Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with MEMA, just like I don’t think there’s anything wrong with multi-ethnic or ethnic-specific. It’s just that there’s a significant segment of the churchgoing population that believes that MEMA isn’t ideal. Some thoughts:

  • Mostly Asian is not politically correct.
    In the name of tolerance, Americans at large seem to find something inappropriate with an ethnic group dominating a group, saying it’s exclusive at best, racist at worst. Mostly Asian just looks bad.

  • It seems like a failure.
    Churches like this work very hard to put forth a multi-ethnic image, showing “diversity” on their websites, preaching integration, and doing their best to have their congregation be mixed. But often they end up attracting more Asian-Americans. Granted, these are Asian-Americans who want to be part of a multi-ethnic church, but it seems like they attract more of the same.

What happens to MEMA churches? How do we assess these churches? Should they make more efforts in a new way? Should they accept their identity? Have they succeeded or failed?