Archive for the 'Church' Category


Research on Bay Area Chinese Churches

Just a quickie during my oil change at a Honda dealership. I came across this informative news thanks to DJChuang on L2Foundation on some findings on Chinese churches from the Bay Area Chinese Churches Research Project. They will report their findings at a 3 day conference in the Bay Area with pastors and church leaders. Register online before November 3rd for complimentary free access.

Here’s some highlights.

  • There are over half a million Chinese in the six Bay Area counties. Between 1990 and 2000, the Chinese population increased by 45%, compared with a 12% increase in the total population.
  • In 1950, there were 15 Chinese churches in the Bay Area. Our 1996 Study listed 158 churches, a ten fold increase. In 2008, the number churches had risen to 194.
  • In 1996, total attendance at worship on a typical Sunday was 21,435. In 2008, that number had risen to 29,960.

We need a collaborative effort like this on the East Coast. I’ll get back to that thought after I pick up my car.


Church 2.0 Fall Tour

Yet another event announcement but I might actually go check out Church 2.0 in Boston this Friday put together by Greg Atkinson. Anyone interested?
It should be a very engaging dialogue full of creativity and innovation. I’ve been hungry for that.

1. Friday, Oct. 17: Church 2.0 Local Forum – Boston
Register for Boston on Facebook HERE. Not on Facebook? Register HERE.

There are other tours. Check out the tour schedule and sponsors at Church 2.0


Missional Christianity…Church Beyond Boundaries

“Missional Christianity… Church Beyond Boundaries”

Biblical Theological Seminary leading the way in teaching Missional Theology is hosting a conference addressing theological and practical challenges for the future of the missional church. Additionally this conference will feature the installation ceremony of John R. Franke as the Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology. Franke’s seminal work Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context is essential reading for you ministry geeks. This event features leading practitioners and scholars in the missional conversation: Darrell Guder [Also must read: The Missional Church &
The Continuing Conversion of the Church] – Tim Keel – John Franke – Brian McLaren – Scot McKnight – David Dunbar

Friday, October 10, 2008
1:00pm – 9:00pm
Biblical Seminary 200 N. Main Street, Hatfield, PA



ENGAGE Speaker Series: Worlds Apart? The Joys and Challenges of Serving in the Asian Ethnic Church

Worlds Apart? The Joys and Challenges of serving in the Asian Ethnic Church.
There is an old age concern about the challenges of serving in the second and third generation Asian ethnic congregation. Through anecdotes, spiritual reflection and exploring biblical thoughts on the joys and challenges of serving in the traditional Asian ethnic church. We will seek to show how God can redeem this often broken part of ministry.

This seminar will be given by Peter Ong, Associate Director Pastoral and Laity Ministries. Peter Ong grew up in Queens as a child of immigrant parents. He is an Associate Director of PaLM and is developing a Laity project to equip and serve Asian American leadership through fellowship, training and mentoring. Peter served with the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades’ Herald Youth Center for seven years before joining the staff at Pastoral and Laity Ministries. He also currently serves on staff with Living Faith Community Church in Flushing as the Director of Gospel Community and also as the Director of Youth Ministry.

Date: Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Time: 7:00 pm-9:00 pm
Place: Overseas Chinese Mission, 154 Hester Street, New York, NY 10013 (corner of Elizabeth St.)

Please RSVP to or call at 212-202-3264.

Pastoral and Laity Ministries presents their Fall 2008 ENGAGE Speaker Series. After participants’ replies to  last season’s ENGAGE Speaker Series, they are hosting a series of talks/seminars and conversations on cultural, generational distinctives and issues serving in the Asian American ethnic church. Please forward this to your fellowship groups, leaders and congregation.


FollowUp to Missional in Suburbia from Al Hsu

Missional in Suburbia one day conference with Al Hsu

Questions to consider. Link to Al Hsu’s (pronounced shee) post from The Suburban Christian.

Part 1: Exploring Your Suburban Context

Describe your suburban context, where you live/work/worship/minister. How did you come to live here? What brought you to the area?

What would you say is distinctive about your particular location? Consider these cultural cues:

· What institutions are important in your suburban area? Commercial, governmental, nonprofit, educational, entertainment, etc.?

· What major employers are based in your area?

· What kinds of local festivals or community events are held in your area?

· What different kinds of residents live in your area? Where do they live?

· Why do people move to your local suburb rather than others?

· How is your particular suburb different from others nearby?

What are the needs of your suburban area? Assess the “as is.” Consider physical, economic, social, emotional, relational, spiritual dimensions.

What would your suburb look like if the kingdom of God became more manifest there? What problems might be alleviated? How would your suburb be different?

What is your vision for your suburb, your neighborhood, your community? Describe the “could be.”

Part 2: Identifying Your Church’s Role

Why do people come to your church? (If you don’t know, call some ordinary church members right now and ask them, “Out of all the churches in the area, why did you decide to visit our church? What made you stay?”)

Why do people leave your church?

What’s your church’s distinctive DNA? How is it different from other churches in your area?

What does your church do that other churches don’t do? What can your church do that other churches can’t do?

What do you wish your church could do? Is that hope anchored in reality?

Consider the “as is” and “could be” discussed in part 1. What is your church’s role in contributing toward this “could be”?

How can your church partner with other churches in moving toward this “could be”?


Is Your Church More Chinese Than Christian?

More Chinese Than Christian?
photo credit by phil of

I just recently discovered Andrew Lim and this nice piece he wrote from down under.
Is your church more Chinese than Christian?
From the article, 7 key identifiers for when Ethnicity supersedes Christianity
1. When the church becomes an excuse for a social club for a particular ethnic group

2. When ethnic/cultural unity is more important than gospel unity.

3. When ethnic-cultural values override Biblical virtues and Biblical truth.

Formally put: “In the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Jesus has given us a culture-transcending and a culture-transforming dynamic which confronts ethical categories of all societies and ethnic groups. The Gospel calls into question all social mores and moral codes.” Informally put: God’s virtues trump our values.

4. When church is restrictive and exclusive.

5. When church becomes insular and inward focused.

6. When church becomes homogeneous, rather than heterogeneous.

“People like to become Christians without having to cross racial, linguistic, or class barriers…It takes no great acumen to see that when marked differences of colour, stature, income, cleanliness, and education are present, men understand the gospel better when expounded by their own kind of people. They prefer to join churches whose members look, talk, and act like themselves.” (Understanding (1980), p. 227)

This states in brief what has become known as the Homogeneous Unit Principle (HUP). Although it sounds obvious to anyone involved in evangelism, it has had significant consequences for the church. It has influenced the development of many churches with a heart for mission. As churches move more towards making mission a priority, the more they will have to deal with cultural issues that interfere with or distort the gospel, and so the more the HUP appeals. The problem with this approach is that homogeneous evangelism tends to create a homogeneous church.

7. One Final Story St Andrew’s Cathedral and Asian Bible Church. You have to ask Andrew about what this means.

this isn’t anything new or profound. we need to be reminded that we’re all in danger of doing these things whether we’re ethnic based or not.


Missional in Suburbia Seminar with Al Hsu

Missional in Suburbia one day conference with Al Hsu

Missional in Suburbia one day conference with Al Hsu

Al Hsu‘s a great guy. I had the privilege of sharing the platform with him as well as my old prof Dr. John Franke amongst others at The Well’s Missional in Suburbia Seminar responding to some of the things Al shared with us. His book, The Suburban Christian, offers very practical insight to something that a lot of leaders have not considered very carefully at least not so practically. It’s easy to see the needs in the city and follow Tim Keller’s lead to minister in the city to impact culture and overlook addressing the problems in suburbia. The Suburban Christian is a great companion to the groundbreaking classic,  “The Urban Christian” by Ray Bakke.

Download the Sessions Here
Part One
Part Two


On Interracial Churches and Rev. Rodney Woo

Rev. Rodney Woo

Rev. Rodney Woo

Interesting CNN cover story yesterday on interracial churches and “Why Many Americans Prefer Their Sundays Segregated.” Good read.

Some great highlights:
What was he was going to do if more of “them” tried to join their church?
The article cites Rev. Rodney Woo, who is partly Chinese, showing a very Third Culture approach on his part. There was fear that more Asians would flood the church because of his last name but according to the article it seems like that’s far from reality. I wonder if there are Asians in his church? My guess is that if they go or don’t go it probably has nothing to do with Woo’s last name. The reverend doesn’t look very Chinese to me. Not a knock on him but just a statement that perhaps the reason why people (Asians) go or don’t go has little to do with his last name but it may be an issue for non-Asians.

The Rev. Rodney Woo, senior pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, may be such a person. He leads a congregation of blacks, whites and Latinos. Like many leaders of interracial churches, he is driven in part by a personal awakening.

Woo’s mother is white, and his father is part Chinese. He attended an all-black high school growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, where he still remembers what it was like to be a minority.
“Everyone understands the rules, the lingo, the mind-set — except you,” he says. “It was invaluable, but I didn’t know it at the time.”

When he became pastor of Wilcrest in 1992, he was determined to shield his church members from such an experience. But an exodus of whites, commonly referred to as “white flight” was already taking place in the neighborhood and the church.

Membership fell to about 200 people. At least one church member suggested that Woo could change the church’s fortunes by adding a “d” to his last name.

“The fear there was people would think I was Chinese,” he says. “There would be a flood of all these Asians coming in, and what would we do then?”

Woo kept his last name and his vision. He made racial diversity part of the church’s mission statement. He preached it from the pulpit and lived it in his life. He says Wilcrest now has about 500 members, and is evenly divided among white, Latino and black members.

Woo doesn’t say his church has resolved all of its racial tensions. There are spats over music, length of service, even how to address Woo. Blacks prefer to address him more formally, while whites prefer to call him by his first name, (a sign of disrespect in black church culture), Woo says.
Woo tries to defuse the tension by offering something for everyone: gospel and traditional music, an integrated pastoral staff, “down-home” preaching and a more refined sermon at times.

But he knows it’s not enough. And he’s all right with that.

“If there’s not any tension, we probably haven’t done too well,” he says. “If one group feels too comfortable, we’ve probably neglected another group.”


Pastoral Confessions: Being Ourselves



Do you know your pastor? I mean, do you really know your pastor?
There is a serious disconnect with the public recognition and expectations of the pastoral office and the family life that comes along with that. Sure I can understand the congregational psyche of looking to the pastor as the “one” as if they’ve achieved some level of holiness. Someone’s gotta be able to show that this Christian life is possible. Is that realistic?

Yes, possible while stumbling through all the way to those pearly gates.
Thankfully, our hope is not in a sinner that’s been called out to be called “pastor”.

The playing field has leveled out. People are people regardless of rank and gender. We’re in this together. We’re all together on a mission to heal the world. We are the priesthood of believers. The way we think and talk about individuals has to be retooled. I’d like to think we’ve changed and have come so far as the church but I guess that’s why we’re always 20-30 years behind the times. Same old thinking about roles, gender, sin, mission, evangelism…I could go on.

Pastoral authenticity is so crucial to today’s sensibilities. We’ve got to be real and discerning not talking heads. Not someone who’s out of touch with personal pain and suffering. Not someone who thinks they’re always right and they’ve got all the answers. Yes, above reproach but not infallible. Jesus-ish just not Jesus.

We’re not the standard for living. If that’s the case then why don’t members in our congregations take a serious pay-cuts? Don’t use us as the standard for what to watch and read, asking if we read Harry Potter or watch this show or movie.

Then add in the mulit-dimensional factors like marriage and parenting as if any of us have done this before we’ve been married. My boys will be boys. Perhaps like me and perhaps not. For their sake, better not.  Include the nuances of Chinese culture and you have foreboding doom following overhead. With all these unrealistic perceptions and expectations, being a pastor in the Chinese church or not is a nearly impossible task. Pastors are destined for disappointment, implosion and isolation. There’s so much inner turmoil with no outlet for confession because of shame and honestly, pride. Ah, to be merely mortal.

“The Church can be a thankless employer, with poor boundaries between private and public space, vague practices about holidays and days off, laughable job descriptions and few opportunities to congratulate oneself on a job well done and completed.” – Jane Williams

I’ve always appreciated Archbishop Rowan Williams but I think I loving his wife more right now. She just outted us all in a new book called, “Marriage, Mitres and Being Myself.” Amen and thank you.

She writes how the spouses of church leaders are expected to entertain guests as well as raising children and following their own careers, and admitted visitors to Lambeth Palace are sometimes “shocked” at how untidy it is.

In the Chinese church there’s this thing about pastor’s wives, it’s like having a two-for-one deal. They’re expected to serve almost just as much without the pay and recognition. It’s interesting that she is also called not by name but a title, “See-Moh”, literally, “pastor’s wife”. My church doesn’t practice this ;).

Is it too much to ask to simply, be myself? or at least for my wife to be herself?

How appropriate that I’m writing this as The Dark Knight is being released today. There’s a narrative in there for us as pastors. We are our own dark knights struggling with inner conflicts. We know about shadows and light. I want to be Superman but I’m more Bruce Wayne than Clark Kent.
I love the marketing campaign…Why so serious?
We really do need to take ourselves less seriously and just live.

Also related
Pastoral Confessions: Should I stay or Should I go now?
Pastoral Confessions [i]


Pastoral Confessions: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

LT in Worship

Don't I look so holy and spiritual?

A handful of resignations in English Speaking Ministries of Chinese Churches have come across my attention in the past month or so. Just a couple resigned under favorable conditions. Sadly, the others were typical of the struggles we hear about in this context.

About a month ago, my co-pastor, Greg Hobaugh had resigned for an amazing opportunity, Dean of Students at Westminster Theological Seminary! So if you go there or planning to go there, tell him I sent you! Really…big kudos to the man! It was a very quick transition out. In his leave you can imagine the weight of responsibility that I feel now which is why I’ve been slow to post. We’re all very excited for him. I confess, I ask myself very often along with other pastors in this context, “Should I stay or should I go?” Are we getting anywhere? When is it a good time to go? (If you’re from my church and reading this…I’m not going anywhere anytime soon)

Not all Chinese Churches are the same but overall who has an encouraging story to tell? There have been a bunch of new seminary grads that haven’t been able to get themselves in a position because Chinese Churches are looking for an EM Pastor with experience. The only positions they may be considered for is a youth pastor position if the Church has even thought that far to consider that an option. It’s usually a stepping stone. Working for a Chinese Church is surely a long obedience and a serious calling. We’ve only talked about just getting in the door thus far not what’s behind it. It’s a pandora’s box. These guys are trying to get in where so many have said, I’m out.

Wayland Wong (a name you should know – he’s like the grandaddy of ABC Pastors) who also shared recently at a PALM meeting has always encouraged ABC pastors to stay and endure the long haul. Every time I see the man, “keep at it kid, keep at it” with his big grandaddy smile. Steve Chin, an ABC Pastor in Boston, jokes about outliving the leadership. I think it’s how he became Senior Pastor. I used to go by that. I mean c’mon, really, the elders are how old now? Time is precious to me. I want to make the most of it but it has always been a part of my philosophy of ministry to go the long haul no matter what the circumstances. The Chinese Church needs ABC pastors but I confess that more frequent than not I still struggle with that nagging question, what’s better, to stay or to go?
If i stay there will be trouble. If i go there will be double.

Also Read Related
Pastoral Confressions [i]

[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.


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