The Many Models of the Asian American Church


By Helen Lee

Once largely monocultural, Asian Americans’ churches are now as diverse as the country they call home.

In just a few decades, churches created by Asian Americans have evolved. Once primarily monocultural, they now represent a broad spectrum of models of how to relate to—and reach out to—surrounding cultures.

The Asian Immigrant Church
These churches were created primarily by and for first-generation immigrants, but they also offer programs for their English-speaking children of all ages. Larger churches in this category have global ministries that supplement their original, Asian-specific focus, but they still retain a strong ethnic identity.

Seattle Chinese Alliance Church, Seattle, Washington

Seattle Chinese Alliance Church has built a thriving dual-language ministry in its 40-plus year history. Two-thirds of its 600 attendees speak Cantonese. The rest attend the English service, which ministers to junior high students all the way up to 90-year-olds. Roy Chang is the lead pastor for the English-speaking ministry. One day on a prayer walk he noticed cars lined up in the church parking lot, full of parents waiting to pick up their children from the elementary school across the street. He discovered that 90 percent of the children in the school received free or reduced lunch, the highest percentage in the district. “My youth pastor and I just started connecting with the parents, learning their stories, and praying for them when needed. We became their pastors.” Chang says that both he and the church have been permanently changed as a result. “Three to four years ago I didn’t even know terms ‘academic inequity’ or ‘achievement gap.’ But to understand that the gospel has something to say about those issues, that we can help do something about those issues—that …

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