The Chinese-American Christian Problem
The Chinese church in North America is failing to keep subsequent generations of Chinese-Americans in the church. Some of this loss is inevitable as Chinese-Americans become more Americanized; the Chinese church may no longer meet their needs or goals. Most, however, leave because the Chinese church is not a healthy place. Church leaders view their English-speaking adults as baby-sitters for their children. They do not recognize the English-speaking congregation as an equal partner in the church. They promote and enforce cultural values and beliefs that no longer have relevance to younger and more acculturated generations. This has led to great disillusionment and resentment on the part of second generation Chinese-American believers towards the Chinese church they grew up in.
This cultural divide between Chinese and English-speaking congregations has broadened with time and few churches today are equipped to close the gap. Churches slowly die, split, or sell out to either the Chinese or American culture, and often both. It is not that these believers have forgotten the purpose of the church. Rather, it is that the Chinese church has not understood the relationship between our identity as children of God and the body of Christ. The goal of the church is transformation that occurs at both an individual and corporate level. The body of Christ brings the kingdom of God to earth through the Holy Spirit’s transformation of people. The Chinese church is committed to the cause of Christ but helpless to achieve it because it is caught up with preserving and promoting culture and not the transformation brought by the Holy Spirit. (introduction of my final paper for the course "Developing a Healthy Ministry in the Chinese Church" 4/7/03)