Growth of Korean Churches in Southern California

November 1, 2008

Los Angeles Times published the 1st article of a 2-part series, “Korean churches growing rapidly in Southern California” by K. Connie Kang. Some of the highlights are excerpted:

Korean immigrants in Greater Los Angeles have established the biggest Korean community outside Asia, and their growing influence on the business community is well known. Perhaps less obvious is the extraordinary growth of Korean churches, which tend to practice a brand of Christianity emphasizing daily worship and missionary work.

Experts say that nearly 80% of Korean immigrants attend church. By comparison, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life this year found that 54% of Americans went to church weekly, more than once a week or a few times a month. …

An association of Korean Protestant churches in Southern California has 1,359 congregations, representing 39 denominations. A study last year by the L2 Foundation, a Christian group that strives to develop Asian American leadership, found that of 7,000 Protestant Asian congregations in the U.S., 4,000 were Korean.

… Estimates put the U.S. Korean population at 1.2 million, and researchers say the vast majority are Christian.

Min believes Christianity appeals to Koreans because it demands unconditional commitment, which blends well with the Korean work ethic and emphasis on achievement.

The article refers to a March 2007 report titled Asian American Churches: An Introductory Survey (published by L2 Foundation in partnership with Leadership Network.)

2 related items: (1) List of the largest Korean churches in North America, i.e. United States and Canada, (2) In a paper titled “Korean Ethnic Church Growth Phenomenon in the United States” by Chul Tim Chang, the author observed 22 characteristics of a typical Korean ethnic church, and noted that in 2001, there were 3,375 Korean churches in the United States, with 1,108 of those in California, according to The Korean Church Directory in America (2001:1-264).

[update] Read part 2 of the series, Southern California’s Korean Christians put a premium on evangelism.

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