In 2013, I wrote an article, 9 Things about Asian American Christianity, for The Exchange blog. Now 9 years later, Ed Stetzer has invited me to share an update. Yes, a lot of time has passed and many things have happened amidst Asian American Christians and churches, including the disruption of a global COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The Asian American population continues growing faster than any other racial grouping, currently over 24 million (2020 US Census) and projected to reach 46 million by 2060 (Pew Research).
This article highlights nine significant things about Asian American Christianity from my personal vantage point. This isn’t to say these are the most significant things nor are these listed in any particular order. This is a simple attempt to introduce some of the valuable contributions that Asian Americans are making in mainstream American Christianity.
1. Uniting Together for Public Safety and Social Justice.
As the social and political environment has increasingly polarized in the United States in recent years, Asian Americans are being greatly affected by anti-Asian hate crimes. Stop AAPI Hate had 10,905 hate incidents reported from March 2020 to December 2021 and it’s likely many more went unreported. Furthermore, 1 in 6 Asian American adults experienced a hate crime or hate incident in 2021, an increase from 1 in 8 in 2020. (AAPI Data)
In the midst of this tumultuous environment, the Asian American Christian Collaborative (AACC) launched to empower whole-life discipleship by amplifying the voices and histories of Asian Americans in the church and the world. In addition to on-going advocacy and education, two unprecedented accomplishments of AACC that brought people together: collected over 10,000 signatories for its first landmark statement, Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the Time of COVID-19 and mobilized an estimated 5,000 people for a national prayer gathering simultaneously in 14 cities, Rally for AAPI Lives and Dignity. AACC has also led efforts like March for Black Lives and Dignity and Latin & Asian Christians United Against Racism.
2. More Next-Generation Multi-Asian Churches.
In 2016, I authored the book, MultiAsian.Church: A Future for Asian Americans in a Multiethnic World, because I had noticed an increasing number of Asian American pastors leading a new kind of multiethnic church that paved a different path than the black-and-white binary. Next generation multi-Asian churches are loosely defined as: “autonomous English-speaking churches that are intentionally or incidentally reaching next generation Asian Americans and other non-Asians too and led by an Asian American pastor.” From 2015 to 2022, the number of multi-Asian churches has grown from 291 to 385. A directory of these churches is available at multiasian.church/directory.
3. More Asian American Christian Women Pastors and Ministry Leaders.
While Christians have different convictions and practices about church leadership and gender roles, women have always been a vital part of every church throughout its history. Good efforts that are empower Asian American women leaders include:
- Someday is Here podcast hosted by Vivian Mabuni: Asian American & Pacific Islander women on leadership and culture
- Innovative Space for Asian American Christianity and its podcast, When Women Preach
- The Honor Summit
- Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PAMAAWTM)
- Asian American Women on Leadership – team blog
4. More Asian American Christians Leading Evangelical Organizations.
As the United States becomes increasingly multiracial, with its population projected to have no racial majority by 2044, Christian ministries and organizations must be increasingly diversified in their leadership to have an effective impact for its future. These are major evangelical organizations that have appointed Asian American leaders:
- Julius Kim, President, The Gospel Coalition
- Tom Lin, President, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
- Michael Oh, Global Executive Director/CEO, Lausanne Movement
- Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals
- Eugene Cho, President, Bread for the World
- Joel Kim, President, Westminster Seminary California
- Felix Theonugraha, President, Western Theological Seminary
Learn more about these leaders and organizations: Asian Americans Who Are Presidents Of Major Evangelical Organizations (SOLA Network) and Historically White Christian Ministries Now Have Korean American Male Leaders (Christianity Today’s Quick to Listen).
5. More Networks and Academic Resources for Asian American Pastors and Church Leaders.
Some denominations have had ethnic and racial ministries for decades. Yet independent organizations can be a healthy sign of ownership, autonomy, and growth. This is a short list of networks and resources specifically for Asian American Christian leaders:
- Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary
- Association of Asian/North American Theological Educators
- Center for Asian American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary
- Asian American Theological Forum
- SOLA Network – a digital platform for Gospel-centered resources
- SBC Asian American Collective – a collaborative network among Asian American churches and ministries within the Southern Baptist Convention
- Covenant Asian Pastors Association – for Asian North American clergy and ministry leaders within the Evangelical Covenant Church