Author Archives: djchuang

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The Role of the Next Generation in the World

Tom Lin (InterVarsity‘s Vice President of Missions and Director of Urbana 2012) presented a talk on “The Role of the Next Generation of the U.S. Church in Global Mission” at a Leadership Consultation to Revitalize & Reshape Evangelism and Missions in the U.S.

Tom noted 3 contributions from the next generation:

  1. Global Engagement – This student generation thinks and engages globally… The world has become smaller to this student generation
  2. Communal Collaboration – there is a collaborative spirit
  3. Entrepreneurial Action

Tom also identified 3 challenges:

  1. Current financial model of American missions is unsustainable
  2. Learning how to empower and walk alongside global church partners, rather than race ahead with our own agendas
  3. Increasingly dangerous persecution and violent global anti-Americanism

Also, read his postscript at his blog. [cached at]

3 Challenges, 3 Hopes for the Next Generation

Posted by Tom Lin on May 16th, 2011

The transcript for my talk on “The Role of the Next Generation of the U.S. Church  in Global Mission” is now available on this link, along with other resources from the Orlando Consultation last month.  As a follow up piece, I was able to recently visit my old stomping grounds in Boston and speak to a group of local missions pastors, senior pastors, and parachurch ministry leaders.  It was a joy for me to learn from them, to hear about what they are seeing in the next generation.  I ended our time sharing not just about my 3 hopes, but also about 3 challenges that lie ahead for the next generation:

1.  Current financial model of American missions is unsustainable. DEBT and increased resistance to raising support by this generation’s innovative missionaries are huge concerns.  The WSJ Online reported this week that the Class of 2011 is graduating from America’s colleges and universities with a dubious distinction: the most indebted ever — $22,900 is the average student debt of newly minted college graduates!

  • Looking at large, well-known Christian colleges that have traditionally been fertile recruiting grounds for mission agencies, the picture looks even more bleak.  The average debt for a student graduating from one of these schools can be around $35,000.  And when you consider that many mission agencies have debt policies (typically driven by a value for strong member care and wise financial stewardship) that limit the maximum debt to $20,000 or $25,000 in order to be a viable missionary candidate, you begin to see the challenge that’s ahead!
  • Not just debt, but donor trends also make this a challenge.  Increasingly, American missionary budgets seem irrational to supporters, especially when compared to the perceived inexpensive cost of non-Western workers.

2.  Learning how to empower and walk alongside global church partners, rather than race ahead with our own agendas.  Leslie Newbigin accurately depicts the global reality that the North American Church and this generation are wrestling with today:  “We are forced to do something that the Western churches have never had to do since the days of their own birth – to discover the form and substance of a missionary church in terms that are valid in a world that has rejected the power and the influence of the Western nations.  Missions will no longer work along the stream of expanding Western power… We [need to] learn afresh what it means to bear witness to the gospel from a position not of strength but of weakness.”

  • Working from a position of weakness has not typically been a strength for Americans, and I believe it is one of the most difficult challenges for American missionaries today.  After over 70 years, one major international agency recently appointed the first three non-expat country directors for their mission.  But shifting to these new models and structures which mobilize more non-Western workers and indigenous leaders is challenging for Americans.
  • Shifting North American identity and roles from being North Americans “drivers” of the global bible translation enterprise, to being “servants” that bring value when “supporting” indigenous leaders or when “invited in” by indigenous communities is challenging for us Americans.

3.  Increasingly dangerous persecution and violent global anti-Americanism. We certainly live in a time of growing global political unrest and violent terrorist activity.  Many believe that the number of Christian workers killed could mount up quickly for this next generation.

  • Not just limited to political unrest, but a growing anti-Americanism within certain places of the majority world church as well, as some are even saying, “send us American money, but not American people.”
  • This is a huge challenge for a Net Generation that values “playing and fun” in their work and “freedom and choice” in everything they do.  Going to these difficult places in the world might become increasingly less attractive among the menu of options that they have to consider (and they certainly do have more options than any previous generation before them!).

Having shared the above 3 challenges, I do have great hope in what God can do through the next generation.  As I interact with this student generation and see their passion and their love/compassion for the world, I can’t help but believe that they are more than equipped to meet the challenges that will certainly come there way.

Why Chinese churches grow

These excerpts from a 2008 report on Chinese churches in the San Francisco Bay area provides some reasons for why Chinese churches grow:

… Dr. James Chuck, Director of the Bay Area Chinese Churches Research Project and Senior Consultant for ISAAC … described the growth of the number of Chinese congregations in the Bay Area, from 15 congregations in 1950 to 158 in 1996 …

Reasons given for this growth included the rapid increase of the Chinese population, wider geographical dispersion of Chinese in the Bay Area, Chinese coming from more diverse points of origin, immigrant pastors and their overseas network, the contribution of overseas Chinese students who had been nurtured in Chinese Bible study groups on U. S. campuses, church splits, the planting of new churches, increased involvement by denominations who had not previously worked in Chinese in the Bay Area, and the leadership of some gifted and entrepreneurial leaders, and last but not least the leading and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bay Area Chinese Churches Research Project report can be purchased online. And, a April 2008 consultation in San Jose with area church leaders also identified top issues and challenges:

… various issues facing the Chinese churches in the Bay Area … The top priorities in the South Bay are: Spiritual Development and Leader Development. The second tier priorities are: Mission Outreach and Christian Education followed by Church Life.

Spiritual Development and Christian Education appeared also in the San Francisco and East Bay churches. Leader Development and Mission Outreach/Evangelism appeared in all four groups.

The concern for Church Life or Church Health only appeared in the South Bay and Alameda suggesting that in many of the newer churches, there are concerns about generational issues, communication, and church unity.

The churches perhaps older and historic in SF Chinatown and San Francisco expressed the priority of Retention of Members and Replenishment of Members.

10 Funding Models for Non-profit Organizations

Sustainability is the one issue that comes up time and again in operating a non-profit organization or ministry organization. While it is not easy to discuss funding and finances especially in faith-based endeavors, they are very much a real world necessity.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2009) published this very valuable article, Ten Nonprofit Funding Models, by William Foster, Peter Kim, Barbara Christiansen. Thanks to The Bridgespan Group for linking to it as a blog post. The original article is also available in PDF format. Here’s an excerpt that introduces the complexity of non-profits when compared to a for-profit business:

In the for-profit world, by contrast, there is a much higher degree of clarity on financial issues. This is particularly true when it comes to understanding how different businesses operate, which can be encapsulated in a set of principles known as business models. …

… The nonprofit world rarely engages in equally clear and succinct conversations about an organization’s long- term funding strategy. That is because the different types of funding that fuel nonprofits have never been clearly defined. More than a poverty of language, this represents—and results in—a poverty of understanding and clear thinking.

Through our research, we have identified 10 nonprofit models that are commonly used by the largest nonprofits in the United States. Our intent is not to prescribe a single approach for a given nonprofit to pursue. Instead, we hope to help nonprofit leaders articulate more clearly the models that they believe could support the growth of their organizations, and use that insight to examine the potential and constraints associated with those models.

… One reason why the nonprofit sector has not developed its own lexicon of funding models is that running a nonprofit is generally more complicated than running a comparable size for-profit business. When a for-profit business finds a way to create value for a customer, it has generally found its source of revenue; the customer pays for the value. With rare exceptions, that is not true in the nonprofit sector. When a nonprofit finds a way to create value for a beneficiary… it has not identified its economic engine. That is a separate step.

… As a result of this distinction between beneficiary and funder, the critical aspects (and accompanying vocabulary) of nonprofit funding models need to be understood separately from those of the for-profit world. It is also why we use the term funding model rather than business model to describe the framework. … A funding model, however, focuses only on the funding, not on the programs and services offered to the beneficiary.

Read the entire article for the 10 funding models.

14 unmet needs among Korean Americans and Indian Americans

According to this article in The Intelligencer, “Breaking down cultural barriers,” there are 14 basic “problem areas or unmet need themes” among Koreans and Indians in the northern Philadelphia area:

  • Concerns of the elderly
  • Mental health issues
  • Domestic violence and child abuse
  • Discrimination, lack of power and lack of trust
  • Health and medical issues
  • Health insurance issues
  • Immigration concerns
  • Intragroup conflict
  • Lack of awareness of community services
  • Language issues
  • Generational conflict
  • Poverty
  • Substance abuse and addiction problems
  • Transportation problems

The article also highlights top issues that are specific to the Korean and Indian communities:

The three key themes among Koreans were concerns of the elderly, language issues and mental health issues.

The three key themes among Indians were concerns of the elderly, mental health issues and domestic violence issues.

These findings come from interviews cited in a report titled “Koreans and Asian Indians in the North Penn Area”, compiled by Family Services of Montgomery County and funded by the North Penn Community Health Foundation.

Do you find similar needs in your Asian American community? What can be done to better address these issues?

The Dragon Awakes at San Diego Asian American Leadership Conference

On April 4-5, 2008, a group of San Diego pastors and ministry leaders (mostly from the area’s InterVarsity chapters) hosted the San Diego Asian American Leadership Conference. What stood out about this conference for me was the level of creativity, contextualization, and going above-and-beyond to serve the attendees (and to bring glory to God). For instance, Saturday’s buffet dinner had not only a wide range of pan-Asian cuisines but the dining room was decked out in beautiful candle-lit decor and ambiance! This really raises the bar for Asian American conferences!

L2 Foundation’s contributing writer, Cindy Hong, wrote up this excellent report about what happened there. This is an excerpt from “The Dragon Awakes”:

“Hoping to Awaken the Sleeping Dragon.” Such was the desire of the planning team in the conference brochure welcome message. For a generation that thinks, lives, and is inspired by metaphors, the image of a sleeping dragon waking up aptly describes the 2008 Asian American Leadership Conference. With 200-plus in attendance, the energy and excitement matched the fire of a roaring dragon: Asian Americans living kingdom-minded lives, making a difference for Jesus Christ, knowing that God has called and positioned them to change the world.

Read the full article online (in PDF format).

The audios from the plenary sessions are online for free listening and download, including talks from Dave Gibbons, Peter Cha, and Ken Fong. Also see the photo gallery.