In two weeks, I’ll be attending the Gospel Coalition national conference in Chicago. I’m looking forward to a good time of learning and discussing with many pastors, seminary students, and church leaders.
One of the workshops I registered for is “Asian-American Christian Thought and Theological History: Pastoral Implications for Diversity and Innovation in a Multiracial Church,” led by Stephen Um and Julius Kim. Here is the official description:
This seminar will examine the recent rise of Asian-American Christianity in the US. This will be accomplished through the lenses of history and theology as they impact identity development. Consideration will be given to the implications of the Gospel in an ever increasingly racially-diverse society. We intend to facilitate conversation with Asian-American Christian leaders and those who have Asian-Americans in their congregations.
Recently the TGC blog highlighted this workshop on its blog. You can read the entire post here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/25/identity-history-and-passivity-julius-kim-and-stephem-um-discuss-challenges-for-asian-americans/
Here are some highlights of what Um and Kim write in this post:
While it’s difficult to generalize the unique challenges that allAsian American Christians face, there are certain issues that continue to emerge in these discussions. Take, for example, the issue of identity and/or identity formation. Risking the danger of oversimplification, many Asian Americans face the challenge of being viewed either as an assimilated American (thus bearing no unique cultural traits) or as a perpetual foreigner (essentially, a non-American). This perception influences the way Asian American Christians view themselves and their sense of belonging, whether in society or in the church.
I would add that this perception influences the way Asian-Americans view God and our relationships with Him. The concepts of grace, acceptance, and family give us certain colored glasses when viewing God and the church.
And while these Asian Americans are emerging as leaders in their respective secular careers, they are not finding the same kind of opportunities for advancement and leadership within American churches that are predominantly led and populated by Caucasians.
This is an issue that should be discussed more. I am not sure that Asian-Americans receive the same opportunities as our similarly-educated white-American counterparts in the workplace. However, to read that there is a greater discrepancy in what they call “American” churches makes me sad that the marketplace has been more accepting and recognizing of Asian-American gifts and talents than white-American churches.
- In 2007, there were about 15 million Asian Americans in the United States.
- By 2050, that number is projected to grow to 34 million.
- Scholars believe that by 2042, there will be no racial majority in the United States.
- 86 percent of Asian Americans are high school graduates.
- 49 percent of Asian Americans are college graduates.
- 20 percent of Asian Americans have graduate degrees (M.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D.).
- Asian Americans have the highest median household income of any racial group ($64,238).
What do these statistics tell us? Asian-Americans are becoming more and more educated and influential in the marketplace. These statistics shout a mandate for us to reach them with the gospel. Transformation of Asian-Americans can mean transformation for American society as a whole.
It is our hope that church leaders (pastors, seminarians, lay leaders) from both Asian American and other multiracial contexts will come and dialogue with us about what we can do to help foster more gospel-centered churches and leaders for the glory of God and the extension of his kingdom. We’ll talk about history, culture, and ministry implications. Practically, we’re excited about the kinds of networks and resources that may emerge through conversations like this one.
Yes, conversations like this equip us, inform us, and encourage us. I’m looking forward to being part of it. Again, you can read the entire post here: