connecting innovative Asian American churches

May 23, 2007

I’m so grateful to see how God takes my dreams and orchestrates it beyond my own limitations and far exceeded my own expectations! They must’ve been God’s dream to begin with. During the past 6 months since coming on board with Leadership Network (via a partnership with L2 Foundation), I’ve been researching churches all over North America that are effectively ministering to next generation English-speaking Asian Americans.

My working assumption was that God was working amongst this racial grouping, and there was innovation to be found. I know that with China’s 5,000 years of history that traditions have often overshadowed innovation, and it was pleasantly surprising to see how much innovation is going on in this next generation. With over 100 million (1/3 of the population) in the United States being a minority now, churches have a huge opportunity to minister to this racial & ethnic diversity.

During the 24-hour period at an experience we called the Asian American Pastors Wild Challenge, I worked with an excellent support team to gather 17 churches to connect face-to-face with each other for focused conversations. Pulling together such a diverse group with churches of all sizes from different locations and wide theological variance left a tinge of uncertain anxiety. That was instantly displaced with overwhelming excitement. The quick engagement and instant combustion was amazing to see!

About a month ago, I had published a report with an overview of what’s happening with Asian American churches, which was produced via results from an online survey. But to get the face-to-face interaction adds a human touch and rich texture to better understand and appreciate God’s handiwork.

Pastor Seth Kim from Harvest Mission Community Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote about his experience as a participant:

As I am sitting here reflecting on my 24 hours in Dallas, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed (in a good sense). First of all, it is incredible to think that God would use imperfect people to build His Kingdom. Sometimes, I see myself messing things up more than anything else. But God is truly gracious and patient – truly amazing.

Secondly, to think that there are so many like-minded people (Kingdom minded) all over the States (and the world) is another overwhelming thought. God is truly moving and doing some great things in various churches. I was so encouraged to hear about some of the awesome things that God was doing across the nation.

Lastly, as I have downloaded some incredible discussions and dialogue about the Church with some cutting-edge (euphuism for people willing to take risks) pastors, the question is: how do I help navigate some of the things that God spoke to Pastor Andrew and me at this conference?

I realized that in our context, not everything is transferable but the principles are universal. The challenge is trying to come up with details for the framework that was discussed. Such topics as multi-ethnicity, leadership, and mentoring now need to be applied beyond the theoretical to the practical.

It is definitely going to be a process but I am thankful that God has led us to think through some of issues even before the conference. As I was interacting with some of the other pastors and leaders, I felt a tremendous sense of affirmation and confirmation of the direction that God is leading us into the future – we are not alone.

[cross-posted from the Leadership Network Learnings blog]

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