challenges in reaching the next-generation ethnics

October 8, 2007

In this NAMB Church Planting Update article titled “Evangelism and the Next-Generation Ethnics“, Kenneth C. Tan notes distinct challenges in reach the next generations:

There is also the challenge of reaching the next generation. Whether we call them postmoderns, second generation ethnics, or the marginalized generation, these groups are bound by racial issues that have been imposed by society. For example, second and third generation Asian-Americans adapt easily to adopting an American lifestyle but have difficulty assimilating into an American society on an equal basis. In dealing with the next generation, you see the issue of race among African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans, and so on in contrast to an Anglo society. Stereotypes are formed out of experiences of cultural bias and persistent racism. As a result, assimilation to the dominant culture no longer becomes their goal. A mosaic of various cultures and ethnicities emerges. They are the in-between generation that is caught between two worlds—that of their parents, and that of the dominant society in America. How are we to reach this marginalized group? They are the dash between Asian-American and other ethnic Americans, believing they are molding a new culture that is more accepting of diversity a combination of a both/and culture. They believe they can be true Asians and true Americans in a pluralistic society. How can we assimilate them if our churches are divided along racial lines rather than culture or affinity?

A third challenge in reaching people groups is in the area of raising indigenous leadership. Most of our ethnic churches are being started and pastored by first generation ethnics that cater mostly to first generation immigrants. Our seminaries and Bible schools are lacking in second generation ethnics. The next generation ethnics have continually stayed away from full-time vocation to bi-vocational type of ministry. Why is this so? The models for ethnic churches in a dominant Anglo society have been limited to ethnic types of churches and many are barely surviving, reaching primarily first generation immigrants. The language skills and cultural barriers have relegated ethnics to form ethnic conclaves. We see Chinese, Korean, Hispanic, and other minority groups coming together for support. However, the next generation that has grown up in America and is versed in both cultures has been left on the fringes. The first generation leaders find it difficult to train new leaders. They fear they might lose control, or even their heritage, as they give in to a generation that is perceived to be influenced by an immoral, postmodern society. How can we reach this generation if they are not affirmed or seen as a group that can lead us to the next century?

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