Category Archives: books

Raising up women leaders and voices

5 Asian American women InterVarsity ministry leaders put together this book, More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership And Faith, bringing out diversely rich perspectives about gender and identity issues through their personal narratives. Nikki Toyama, Tracey Gee, Kathy Khang, Christie Heller de Leon, and Asifa Dean shared the tasks of authors and editors, and they’ve been blogging over at morethanservingtea.blogspot.com, creating a space to dialog about the intersection of gender, race, and faith, particularly concerning Asian American women.

Nikki’s most recent blog wonders out loud about boundaries of the Asian American context:

I’m beginning to wonder if boundaries are the luxury of the middle class. Is there such thing as boundaries when you’re doing justice work?

I’ve wondered about boundaries, Asian American families, and Christian discipleship. What therapists call “enmeshment” is a common occurrance in Asian American families. Is it an issue that we need to fight against in the Asian community. Or is family therapy culturally bound.

What some might called “enmeshed” has great characteristics. There’s a wonderful sense of involving everyone, and a corporate identity that is a healthy antidote to a narcissitic individualized model. But it has its problems too.

From my limited vantage point, it comes across as parents who are very upset at a young person’s decision. A lot of emotional pressure lands on the young person to comply to their wishes. I’ve heard extreme cases of threatening suicide unless a young person changes their plans. More common examples are sleepless nights, extreme anxiety, etc. Are the young people just clueless and self-absorbed? Or is the older generation enmeshed? Both?

Is this just how things get done in Asian American households? What’s the Christian response?

Bo Lim has mentioned that an event may well be in the works specifically toward Asian American Christian Women in Seattle, possibly in 2008.

Crossing the Ethnic Divide

While here at Q, Pastor Ken Fong (EvergreenLA) showed me a copy of a new book, Crossing the Ethnic Divide Crossing the Ethnic Divide: The Multiethnic Church on a Mission by Kathleen Garces-Foley. I’m a little disappointed that the book description didn’t name the church, Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, by name:

While religious communities often stress the universal nature of their beliefs, it remains true that people choose to worship alongside those they identify with most easily. Multiethnic churches are rare in the United States, but as American attitudes toward diversity change, so too does the appeal of a church that offers diversity. Joining such a community, however, is uncomfortable-worshippers must literally cross the barriers of ethnic difference by entering the religious space of the ethnically “other.” Through the story of one multiethnic congregation in Southern California, Kathleen Garces-Foley examines what it means to confront the challenges in forming a religious community across ethnic divisions and attracting a more varied membership.

While religious communities often stress the universal nature of their beliefs, it remains true that people choose to worship alongside those they identify with most easily. Multiethnic churches are rare in the United States, but as American attitudes toward diversity change, so too does the appeal of a church that offers diversity. Joining such a community, however, is uncomfortable-worshippers must literally cross the barriers of ethnic difference by entering the religious space of the ethnically “other.” Through the story of one multiethnic congregation in Southern California, Kathleen Garces-Foley examines what it means to confront the challenges in forming a religious community across ethnic divisions and attracting a more varied membership.

In many respects, this book is the counterpart to A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church by Gerardo Marti, which is the book that deconstructed Mosaic LA led by Erwin McManus. Even though both are multiethnic churches, each church has very different vibe and DNA, and being Asian-led is different from Latino-led.

new review of L2 youth ministry book

Mark Oestreicher, President of Youth Specialties, just wrote a book review of L2 Foundation’s self-published Asian American Youth Ministry book (at his personal blog). We appreciate this particular review from a non-Asian and also professional publisher’s perspective, and touched that he’s read the book in its entirety. He rightly notes 2 specific audiences for the book:

clearly, any youth workers in an asian american church needs to read this book. but i think there are two other categories of youth workers who would benefit from reading it:

1. youth workers in even the most nominally multi-cultural of churches who have asian american kids in their youth groups. i can’t think of any of the churches i worked at where we didn’t at least have some asian american kids in our group. and i wish i had read this book then to have more of an understanding of some of the cultural realities that exist for them. (btw: i started reading frank wu’s yellow: race in america beyond black and white yesterday on the plane ride to orlando. wow, i sure wish i had read that book years ago!)

2. any youth worker (or, any person, really) who would like to grow in understanding about the uniquenesses of doing youth ministry in a particular cultural sub-set, or this particular cultural subset. in other words: i think i had assumed i knew the basics (not the complexities, but the basics) of what would make asian american youth ministry unique; but i think i also assumed the diffferences (specifically between asian american youth ministry and white, suburban youth ministry) were more similar than i now think they are. more on that below.

Read the full book review at ysmarko.com.

One editor’s thought I’ll mention in response: yes, there are weaknesses to self-publishing as Mark pointed out. We had a hunch that the book catered to a very limited niche audience, so it’d be an uphill pitch to a traditional publisher. We didn’t quite have the breadth and depth to select from a pool of highly experienced Asian American youth workers who’d be compelling writers. Yet, there are also many advantages to self-publishing: we used a print-on-demand publisher that had no setup costs; we carry no inventory; we have an online store that takes care of order processing; we’re able to offer the book at a lower cost to buyers; we retain the copyright on the compilation while the contributing authors retain rights to their own chapters.

So, to just get the ball rolling, we went the self-publish route. At the time of this writing, we have 518 copies of the book in print & in circulation! It’s better to have something than to have nothing. Our hope is that the book will not only help parents and youthworkers, but also inspire others to create richer and more in-depth follow-up volumes.

[update] You can now search the content of the Asian American Youth Ministry book via Google Book Search.

interview with Hoon Kim

I recently interviewed Hoon Kim, the author of a Bible study titled, Creative Bible Lessons in Genesis, published by Zondervan/Youth Specialities in the Creative Bible Lessons series. [view an excerpt here] He has also written a Youth Specialties article titled Ecclesiastical Pornography: The Danger of Popularity in Youth Ministry. I thought it was particularly notable for an Asian American ministry leader to be published with a large Christian publisher and wanted to find out about his publishing experience and learn about his ministry insights as well.

Q: Please introduce yourself and your ministry experience.

Hoon: My name is Hoon and I’ve been involved in youth and college ministry for more than a decade. I am a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and am currently serving at the Korean United Church of Philadelphia as the student ministries pastor. Shelly and I live in Philadelphia and have just been blessed with an addition to our family; our son Sean was born on February 5th.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Hoon: Well, I got to know some of the Youth Specialties people and wrote articles for Youthworker Journal and The Journal of Student Ministries. Youth Specialties was looking to complete their Creative Bible Lessons series and I connected with another one of the authors and began the conversation. The publishers were looking for something a little different from the earlier CBL’s; theologically more engaging and activities which were more geared towards postmodern, tech savvy kids. I was involved in the emergent postmodern church dialogue 8 years ago before it became the buzz topic it is today, and wanted to apply some of the lessons I learned!

Q: What was it like to get published with a major publisher?

Hoon: The whole experience was awesome and learned much along the way. Youth Specialties was recently bought out by Zondervan, but the people are still the same; same bunch of great people. I valued the fact that although they are very professional and thorough, they are still extremely personal and available. I very much enjoyed working with Jay (Howver) the publisher… coolest guy in the world, and hope to do more stuff with them in the near future. Bottom line, yes, they are a major publisher, but having said that, it’s ultimately a group of people whom I believe love the Lord deeply and are committed to the Great Commission…

Q: What kind of feedback have you heard about your book?

Hoon: From those who have reviewed the lesson, the feedback has been great. The studies have a redemptive-historical, biblical theology slant to them, and I tried to make each lesson as Christo-centric as possible. Also, I tried to make the activities as ‘un-cheesy’ as possible; activities include both projection activities, manga drawing, video scavengers (use your phones!) and what not…

Q: Any specific insights you can share about ministering with Asian Americans for over a decade?

Hoon: As far as ministering to Asian Americans, the basics are still the same… relational ministry, small groups, and prayer… I hope that we can unite the Asian ethnic churches (there is much talk about multi-ethnic churches… but yeah, one step at a time!) first and rediscover the process of discipleship. With ministry becoming professionalized more and more, I hope we always keep a simple love for Jesus as our fuel… trying new things and trusting in His power… I love what you are doing and writing by the way!

review for Conversations

Thanks to David Park for finding this 1st book review for L2 Foundation’s CONVERSATIONS: Asian American Evangelical Theologies in Formation from a Xanga blogger in his post titled, “read this book“:

Yea. the book is…. Brilliant. Two chapters I would double recommend would be:

Identity Formation in the Second-Generation Korean American Church – Peter Cha
Power Issues in Cross-Cultural Equality Pursuit – James Chien Zo

I think for most of the Young Adults I know; they really struggle with a sense of identity, pursuit and journey. I think the book does not give solid answers to those questions (nor do i believe any book will) but I think it will give people piece of mind when it comes to our culture, and how it’s affected the way we look at Christianity. no matter how white or yellow they might be. I’m sure the title gives it away, but the book reads as if it were a conversation. I kept identifying things that happened in my own life which the authors seem to to talk about, in some ways it’s therapeutic, collective in the sense that I hear them saying, ‘I’ve been through that.’ In some ways, metaphorically speaking *haha I thought of that small voice as my culture, screaming through the layers of my self inflicted oppression. Cause you know were collective like that. Maybe that’s a starting point in which we can all have a conversation about what is going on in our small AA world and places where we need to go.

Special thanks to the InterVarsity Press staffers and volunteers for making copies of our two L2 books available at the Urbana bookstore. At last count, our print-on-demand publication count has just surpassed 500 copies (of both books) in circulation!

Would love to hear your feedback if you’ve gotten one: what did you find helpful? What else would you like to have addressed in a future book or some other way?