Discipling Asian-American Millennials

Discipling Asian-American Millennials

– [Michael Lee] What are some of the
biggest challenges you’ve faced in ministering to Asian-American
millennials? – [Steve Bang Lee] Yeah, you know, one
thing I think I’ve seen is they’re… So I speak on behalf of Korean-Americans
obviously. But, you know, every Korean-American has pretty much grown up
in the church or had some church experience at some point in their life,
and a lot of them they go back to their youth days when at the last night of the
retreat, things get emotional, and they cry, and they think something happened. And so the rest of their faith journey
moving forward almost becomes a… They’re trying to reclaim. “Hey, what was that experience? What happened there? And how come it seems, like, everything
just fell off the map after that point?” And so a lot of the experience I think is
there’s this utter confusion of what is Christian spirituality. “What is biblical spirituality, and how
come I don’t feel what I once felt?” And so I think it’s kind of hard to map
out a spirituality, a biblical one, where they’re trying not to go back to a
past experience. – [Steve Bang Lee] That’s good. – [Alex Choi] I think for me there’s a
couple of thoughts, a couple of things. One, there’s been a big challenge
is being bicultural. Sometimes we’re the best of both worlds,
sometimes we’re the worst of both worlds, and then sometimes we just selectively
choose when we’re Asian, when we’re American. So for example, like, our welcome
ministry, I noticed at least at our church the Asians at our church, like Americans,
like their autonomy. They don’t want you chasing them with
clipboards, they don’t want you bothering them, haggling
them for their info. They want that space. But when I go to a lot of white American
churches, they have ministry booths, so when I’m ready to engage, I will engage. But for Asian-Americans,
they want the autonomy on the front end like an American, but on the back end,
when they’re ready, they want you to call them out. They want you to ask them to serve,
ask them to help. So when they move between cultures like
that, I find it hard to kind of okay, like, what are we dealing with here,
you know. Who are we dealing with? Probably a better question but… The
other thing too, for me, is the concept of becoming an adult, right,
because if discipleship is, you know, helping people become fully formed
Christians, we become adults very differently. So in American, white-American culture,
18 is a rite of passage into adulthood, but in Asian culture,
it’s marriage, when you get married. They add to that millennials are
getting married later. So you’re not seen as an adult from the
first generation until you’re married, and so I think that just complicates becoming
your own person, thinking about things on your own. I think that it’s been hard to kind of
pinpoint how do we then help them become mature Christians. Yeah. – [Michael Lee] Yeah. For me as a pastor, I think right now,
like, a big buzzword amongst young adults and millennials in the
church is community. This idea of community and I think as
Asian-Americans, the cultural, you know, traditional historic experience of
community it can get really confused. And so I think for some there’s, like, an
idolatry of community, and a real misunderstanding of what biblical
community is when in reality, they’re just trying to replicate maybe a youth group
experience. They have Confucian influences on what does it mean to be a neighbor, or
friend, or be in relationship with one another. And so for me that’s been a real
difficult thing because I would say number one reason why people are leaving their
churches, they’ll just throw it out there, “Oh, a lack of community,” you know,
“I’m looking for a different kind of community,” and you always have to
flesh out like, “What do you mean by that?” And it just means so many different things
that as a pastor, for me, it’s been tricky to navigate and really trying to build up
a biblical foundation of what a gospel-centered Christian community is and
not just, like, feed into… Yeah. – [Alex Choi] Yeah. And that’s kind of, like, not just
community, but also, like you said, they’re looking for that experience again. Or if when you say the feeling again. So that’s another reason I think people
leave church like, “I don’t get that feeling here, community and experience.” Those are the ones at least mark a lot of
our exodus when people are transitioning out of our ministry. So yeah, I think those are good thoughts.

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  1. I met a Korean Christian once. He said he didn't need discipling because God had a special plan for Koreans. Probably true. God doesn't care about white people anymore because we've been too racist.

  2. I identify with these Asian American christians. Worship can be a glimpse of heaven and it can be addictive. Unfortunately, western church history has painted the church as a culture club built on homogeney and comfort. We are the children of that compromise. We can right the ship but it starts with courageous honesty about our past and boldness about discomfort in the present. Stop segregated churches, stop spliting bodies over worship style, reintergrate the young and old, end the pendulum swing of either Outreach church or Doctrinal church. We have to stop seeking our selves in our church selection and seek the edification of the Kingdom instead. God will reward our sacrifice.

  3. I wrote a book that shares about some of these issues typically found in Korean American churches. Please check it out and let me know what you all think. Thanks for this video about this increasingly important topic.

    A Letter to the Korean American Church: Reconciling the Gap Between First and Second Generation Koreans https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946174114/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Ir5PDbJMET1DW

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