Skip to main content

10 tips for an effective Chinese church meeting


Pictured is a tactic I have imagined using in certain church meetings I've had in the past. Anyone who ministers to people has meetings and Chinese church meetings have their own unique set of frustrations. Of course these vary by church but here are some suggestions to help navigate what could potentially be hazardous minefield for 2nd generation Asian-Americans and non-Asians. The context is meetings between ABC ministers and lay people (like myself) and OBC ministers and lay people.

1) Determine the de facto leadership structure. Titles are not as important as seniority and status. Someone with no official position may pull the strings.
2) Find out attendees' position in advance and explain your position. This is not always possible due to time and relationship considerations but it makes a huge difference in what kind of expectation you set for the meeting. Much (if not all) of the decision-making happens outside the meeting because often dissenting opinions are voiced off-line between the de facto power players.
3) Assume silence is disagreement. In American culture, we think no news is good news. So if people are silent to a proposal, we may conclude it means agreement. Not in Asian culture. When people greet your comment or feedback with silence, assume there is an issue.
4) Observe carefully how people react each other. You can determine the de facto leadership structure by watching how people's faces express themselves when someone is talking.
5) Listen carefully to detect the underlying issue. Because Asians tend to communicate indirectly and avoid conflict, learn to talk less and listen more. When listening, pay special attention and read between the lines to discern what the true issue is. For example, if a mom says she doesn't want her child to attend the church sleepover, it may be because her child is often cranky and difficult to deal with the next day than because she objects to your youth ministry philosophy.
6) Identify the poison pill people and have a plan to address their concerns: There are always leaders who either extremely conservative or critical or both. When they voice their objections, your proposal will get sick and die. Find out who they are, acknowledge their fears, and discuss ways to assuage their fears.
7) Learn to make small talk and be genuinely interested in others: This is a general relationship principle but is possibly more crucial in a Chinese church where rapport-building really helps Asians feel safe enough to tell how they really feel about something. The quality of relationship affects the level of transparency.
8) Be vulnerable about your weaknesses and struggles: I hear ministers complain about being under-appreciated by their OBC leaders. We can give others an opportunity to minister to us if we freely share the challenges we are going through
9) State your position and/or concerns clearly and directly: If you would like people to communicate with you in a direct and clear manner, then you must model it for others.
10) Give grace to yourself and others: At various times, I have been incredibly frustrated with other people's faithlessness, lack of vision, and ignorance. I sprinkle Jesus' blood over them. I recognize and accept that these may people may never change and choose to accept them as Jesus accepts me. And at various times, I have lost my temper or made flippant or insensitive comments that I later regretted. I pour Jesus' blood over my guilty conscience for those moments.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read]

The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package. It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s).

Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boys o…

Planting a Church. Finally.

James Taylor, the great grandson of Hudson Taylor, the famed missionary to China who founded the China Inland Mission (now OMF) once said: “It is a tragedy so many foreign Chinese have left the evangelization of China up to the non-Chinese.”

James spoke those words over twenty-five years ago during a Chinese church retreat when I was a senior in high school. His calling out of the Chinese diaspora vis-a-vis white missionaries challenged and haunted me. This challenge was the impetus behind my plans to join Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) staff to do a one-year mission trip to China. But I didn’t go. Rather, I accepted an invitation from my hometown pastor, Tom Chow, to return to San Jose and reach my American-born Chinese peers.

After nine years of working as a project manager and volunteering with the youth group and young adult ministry, I joined the staff of my home church, Chinese Church in Christ - South Valley (South Valley) in 2006. In the summer of 2007, South Valley l…

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene. It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you. I finished it in three days.

Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice. 
That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point.
Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can practice that much is…