race. it's that thing you're ignoring.

I have been thinking a lot about the dynamics of being a white pastor in a predominantly Asian American Church, a church that was planted out of a Pan-Asian Church. In particular, having been in intentionally diverse communities for 15 years (excluding seminary..) it has still been more disorienting than I initially expected, being displaced and trying to embody, communicate, a value for connecting beyond our allegiances. I gathered some posts that capture better than I the things I have been thinking about lately.

A Starting Point
A concise justification for Racial reconciliation, well, I mean besides 2 Cor 5, is offered up by David Fitch at Reclaiming the Mission. He muses about the kinds of reconciliation that matter, vs "show well." But remember, he's white. Here's a taste:
It is not a unity built out of some democratic principle of sameness or capitalist exchange. Instead it is a unity born out of the Eucharistic celebration, where we practice reconciliation in the cross, where we come into such a “peace” that we submit to historical forms of life and worship born out of who we are in Christ without losing our ethnic and gender differences. The church gathering is the place by which the coming together of cultures actually becomes the means to further salvation in our midst.
Eric Holder, our new Attorney General, puts it best:
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder declared.The most significant challenge to a multiethnic church, is explained well by David Park.
Why Multi-Ethnic Churches Get it Wrong
I have always wrestled with whether or not it is possible to have a hybrid culture or if there will always be a dominant culture. If so, in the interest of reconciliation and justice, it would seem there needs to be a lot of work to keep the church from becoming white in culture. Of course, there is a further problem figuring out if your church is Asian or Asian American. Check out Park's article.

Gospel Worship is the best.
African-American worship style might be the most approachable entry point for most people. I have had this discussion with a number of folks engaged in multi-ethnic ministries (of various cultures). Here, Efrem Smith seems to agree. Of course, it does My personal theory is that there are mostly 3 worship music styles in the U.S.; Gospel worship (inc. Hip-hop), Traditional Euro-Hymn, and the indie/emo/smooth country of "contemporary" services. Not saying it's better, just more accessible.

New Monasticism.
I have a lot of friends who moved into the inner city to be present there. And I raised up a lot of students to go there. And the impact has in large part not been what one might expect. This idea, now a movement, apparently called "new monasticism" is examined by Eliacín Rosario-Cruz. It remains a suspiciously white endeavor at times.

Western Cultural Captivity
Soong-Chan Rah puts it on the bottom shelf for us though in his new book, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity. He writes:
"I believe the real emerging church is the church in Africa, Asia and Latin America that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. I believe the real emerging church is the hip-hop church, the English-speaking Latino congregation, the second-generation Asian American church, the Haitian immigrant church, the Spanish-speaking store-front church and so forth. For a small group of white Americans to usurp the term 'emerging' reflects a significant arrogance."
Lest you think it's all brambles and thorns, here's a hopeful post by Eugene Cho.
I’m thankful for the beauty of diversity, community, and uniqueness of each person because they give me a glimpse of a larger, deeper, and fuller God and Kingdom. When I exclusivel [sic] hang with those that look, think, and view the world just like me, I’m prone to live with blind spots… In short, I see what I see and what I want to see. This is why I need others and yes, why others need me.


Popular Posts