Category Archives: chinese

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.

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worshiping in English at a Chinese church in Canada?

From the Project Contempo blog::

Project Contempo is doing a national online survey of the English-speaking congregations of the Canadian Chinese churches. This national survey is not primarily a survey of churches but a survey of individuals. These include all who attend the English service of a Canadian Chinese church, irrespective of their age, employment and ethnicity. All responses will be kept anonymous and the results will be tabulated and analyzed nationally.

… The deadline of the survey is May 31st 2008. It will only take 15 minutes to complete. Simply go to http://projectcontempo.ca and follow the link provided.

They need you to respond to the survey — and please spread the word to Canadian worshipers too.

Religiosity in Asian America: Spiritual Vitality, Secularism, and Racialization

Sat in parts of the Symposium on Religion in Los Angeles, a 2-day event jointly hosted by Cal State University Los Angeles and Claremont School of Theology. Fascinating conversations and presentations that exemplified the growing interest in the sociology of religion, and most of the presentations explored the inter-relationship of religions and ethnicities.

Russell JeungRussell Jeung, Associate Professor of Asian Studies at San Francisco State University, made an insightful presentation titled “Religiosity in Asian America: Spiritual Vitality, Secularism, and Racialization.”

With permission from Russell Jeung, we are grateful for being able to post yesterday’s talk online. Here’s the audio (mp3 – run time = 42:17) and slides from his March 6th presentation about Asian American religious affiliation >>


I thought slides #3 and #4 were most interesting, charting out the religious affiliation of Asian Americans, with respondents identifying as Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, other, none, or refused. These charts are very timely, as the major survey results by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life was just released last week, and has been highlighted in 300+ news articles. Several other conversations at the symposium responded and interacted with these Pew Forum’s extensive survey results. (also, see video overview about the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey)

Russell would very much like to get your feedback and thoughts about this presentation — please add a comment below.

North America’s Oldest Asian Church

The PANA Institute at the Pacific School of Religion hosted an exhibit about the Oldest Asian Church in North America, the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (San Francisco) —

Founded a century and a half ago, the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown is the oldest Asian American Christian congregation in North America. Designated a “foreign mission” by the Presbyterian denomination, the church opened its doors on November 6, 1853 with four members under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William Speer. It was not until 1925 that jurisdiction of the church was transferred from the Board of Foreign Missions to the Board of National Missions. After changing its name from the Presbyterian Chinese Mission Church, the congregation continued to be known as the Chinese Presbyterian Church until 1958, when the current name emphasizing the church’s recognition of its social context and its commitment to the San Francisco Chinatown community was adopted by its members.

From 1853 to 2003: One Hundred Fifty Years of Witness and Community is an exhibit of old and new photographs that depict life at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (San Francisco, CA) over the past fifteen decades. It celebrates the role played by this institution in gathering together a community, giving its life shared meaning, and enabling it to be of service to the world. One component of the larger Historical Documentation (HDoc) Project at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, the exhibit serves as the public education element of HDoc and comprises some seventy images chosen from among over two thousand in the archives assembled by the project.

The exhibit was on display at the church and at the Bade museum at the Pacific School of Religion in 2004.

English-speaking ministry in the Chinese church in Canada

This 11-minute video titled “English speaking ministry in the Chinese church” explores the differences between Chinese-speaking overseas-born Chinese and English-speaking Canadian-born Chinese, what is an English speaking ministry in a Chinese church, differences between English-speaking and Chinese-speaking congregations, as well as challenges and solutions for an English-speaking ministry.

According to the video::

In 2001, there were over 1 million Chinese in Canada, the largest visible minority group. 75% of them lived in Toronto and Vancouver.

Three languages — Cantonese, Mandarin and English — are commonly spoken among Chinese, depending on where they are coming from. As a result, parallel ministries in different languages — Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) and English– are becoming common in Chinese churches.

at Chinese churches consultation

Here in east bay (Oakland area) attend the ISSAC Bay area Chinese churches consultation. More info about that at http://bapcc.wordpress.com

I made a presentation at lunch time titled “how churches are reaching next gen Asian Americans”, which was adapted from my sept 2007 presentation. Will post my slides and audio here. Audio recorded from the 3rd of 3 sessions and Powerpoint slides are online. (Or, you may view the out-of-sync audio + slides over at slideshare.net.)

The 1st session was recorded on video too- will link to it when available.

alarming statistics about American Born Chinese

According to this promotional video for the recent Render Conference (near Houston), less than 2% of American Born Chinese (ABCs) attend church here in the United States.

I’m not sure where that statistic comes from, as I do not know of a comprehensive study that documents this demographics’ church attendance, but if it is anywheres near accurate, and it may be in certain localities, it shows us the urgency of reaching this next generation.

What is your sense of how many American Born Chinese and/or next generation Asian Americans attend church?