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Who is to blame for the lack of Asian American leadership in the American church?

(That is the question asked recently on David Park’s blog).David Park’s analogy of the racial imbalance in the NBA brings to mind another racial imbalance, this time in a Manhattan church – Redeemer. Here is a church in which 33%-50% of the congregation is Asian, yet fails to have a real Asian presence in the church leadership stratum. (Yes, there is one Asian pastor, but he seems more token than anything else, hope that’s not too harsh).

Among the Asians in the congregation are brilliant, intelligent, articulate leaders in almost every other field: medical, financial, scholastic, entrepreneurial etc. etc. Yet there is an absolute paucity of Asian leaders in the church hierarchy. And it’s not just Redeemer. Think of all the Chinese churches, for example, which need to hire a white pastor for their English congregation. What? There’s not an Asian American pastor to be found?

Who is to blame for this? Some argue that it is subtle racism, that the whites have been keeping down the asians in the church sphere. I don’t buy that. Even if there is subtle racism, it certainly hasn’t kept Asians from rising to the top in other occupational arenas where racism just as surely exists.

It’s got to be Asians themselves. They have the brains and ability; but instead of channeling these gifts into serving the church, they have instead used them to succeed in other occupational arenas. If you’re smart and graduate from Harvard summa cum laude, you go to law school or med. school etc. You don�t go to seminary. Seminary is for the intellectual B- student who is a little clueless as to what he wants do in life. Disagree? Go to any seminary in America, speak with ten asian-american students, and at least 8 out of 10 will fit this profile.

Who is to blame? The Asians themselves.

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One Comment

  1. I came across your blog and I read a few entries with amusement. While I agree with the posts that I read so far, I disagree with this one. If you look at white churches, most white pastors are not stellar in terms of their academic accomplishments; they are average at best. The top guys are in other fields like law, medicine, and finance. Would you not agree?

    If you follow me so far, then leadership in white church should be filled with mediocre white and asian leaders, which is not the case. So, you are being to hard on Asians. That is the cutting truth.


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