Thursday, March 08, 2007

The first rule of immigrant culture: The grandchildren try to remember what the children tried to forget.

Great article in the Los Angeles Times on the crisis of leadership in Asian-American churches. Simply put, the church's that helped first-generation immigrants survive aren't the churches that their children want to attend -- and if a second-generation pastor tries to bridge the gap, then he or she is going to run into problems with first-generation attitudes about:
  • language,
  • respect for elders,
  • and the kind of "upwardly mobile" mindset that brought those first-generation people into this country in the first place.
The result? A dearth of Asian-American clergy -- and a big problem with burnout for those who do make the effort.

Two subjects with which the article did not deal that might be worth some discussion:
  • If the second-generation of Asian-Americans is not joining the clergy in anywhere near the numbers you'd expect, then how much of that is due to the expectations of their first-generation parents? (I've had one Korean-American pastor tell me that his peers are expected to be doctors, dentists, and lawyers . . . but not pastors; his parent's generation would consider that to be a bad career move for their children.)
  • Is the Hispanic church facing the same problem? And yes, I know that we're baptizing thousands of first-generation Hispanic immigrants, but what's happening with their children? Do we have pastors who can reach the second-generation?
Click on the title of this post for the article.

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