DJ Chuang gave a really great presentation at “The Gathering” this past week at Evergreen Baptist Church in Rosemead. In his talk, Revitalizing Asian American Churches, DJ gave us the macro-picture of what’s happening with Asian American churches and he identified ways in which we might move forward in reaching the next generation.

DJ is a very refreshing and necessary voice — not only for the breadth of his research and the depth of his insight, but in his ability to bring people together. From my experience, Asian Americans spend way too much time trying to determine who is in or out based on our version of orthodoxy. In that paradigm, people spend more time straightening out the minutiae of their doctrine than in actually reaching people with the Gospel. Happily, the overall tone of this gathering was community-oriented and encouraging. In my prayer group, I was genuinely encouraged by the support of others who are a little bit further along in the journey of vocational ministry, including Sam Park over at Community Church on Holliston.

DJ shared some great insights about what existing churches can do to support the next generation of believers:

  • Encourage creativity
  • Raise up young leaders
  • Support church planting through prayer, people and funds

In particular, the idea of raising up young leaders spoke deeply to me. As someone who pastors students, I battle the Asian perfectionist tendency inside of me all the time when it comes to raising up next gen leaders. It’s hard to give people room to grow, to try new things out, to fail. There is often little room in Asian American families and churches for an actual learning curve — it’s often either be perfect or don’t even bother trying. Many Asian American pastors are perfectionists and micro-managers; not the best combination for raising up young leaders.

I have encountered way too many pastor-types who are maybe five or six years further along this path who refuse to mentor younger leaders because they themselves never received the mentoring they sought from first-gen pastors. I don’t want to operate from this kind of hurt. I don’t want to perpetuate this self-defeating cycle. I want to be someone who can help raise up next gen leaders. I might not have much to share, but maybe I can contribute to others so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single week.

I also see how important it is for me to seek out the wisdom of those further along the path. I’m not talking about a formal mentoring relationship with a set schedule (who has time in their schedules for that kind of model these days, anyways?) but conversations, dialogue and lots of listening. I have been privileged to be in contact with many wise thinkers and leaders recently, and I am just trying to absorb all the wisdom I can.

Here’s to more gatherings like this one!