Photo used under Creative Commons from K.W.

Our church’s English congregation has attracted an unexpected demographic: Non-Chinese couples who have adopted a child or children from China. For most of them, they are church transplants. Many have been faithful attending another church. Yet they were looking for a place to worship where their children would be around peers who are Chinese-American.

A few thoughts and questions:

  1. Is our church the ideal environment to build disciples of Christ out of these children?
    What indeed does our church offer that these families felt they did not have at their former churches? Is it an illusion? These children come to a church environment where they are now around other children who look more like them. How is this reconciled with what they are seeing at home and at school?
  2. How can our church family be blessed by these adoptive families?
    Adoption is a beautiful concept.  These are children who were very wanted, diligently sought-after, “pre-loved” before the parents even met them. There’s deep lessons to be learned about the gospel through adoption– the beautiful truth that we who were once alienated from Christ are now brought into His family. We were loved before we even knew Him. Furthermore, families like this provide the helpful perspective of those who have left their churches for good reasons. They are also “outsiders” to the ethnic-specific minority church, but they often bring the attitude of humility and appreciation instead of the common themes of ignorance or criticism for the church model.
  3. It’s not the church’s purpose to teach Chinese culture.
    Despite this, these families are in the midst of this as they experience ministry approaches flavored by Chinese and Chinese-American values (this is unavoidable). Chinese immigrant parents interact with these mostly white-American parents as their Chinese-American children play and learn together. I wonder if this interaction reinforces the immigrants’ belief that the church’s purpose is to instill Chinese culture in young people.
  4. What is the body of Christ doing to support families like this?
    Several of these families have formed a small group together. The support and shared experience brings them together in a beautiful way. But what about a family who just recently adopted and is new to our church? If they adopted an older child, are there folks who can help with Mandarin translation or mediation between the child and the new parents?  Or are there families who can come alongside and answer questions, provide meals, or pray for them?
  5. How does this contribute to our understanding of the Homogenous Unit Principle?
    The HUP, in the context of church growth, is a controversial principle championed by missiologist D. McGavran. Basically, the concept is that people are more likely to become believers if they cross less barriers.  These barriers can be socioeconomic, class, or race, etc. Are these parents hopeful that the Chinese-American church is more ideal for their adopted children as a place to build them into disciples of Christ? Is the homogenous environment more effective in this regard?

I would love to hear thoughts from others. Feel free to comment.