Book Review: Growing Healthy Asian American Churches -- By: KeumJu Jewel Hyun

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 21:4 (Autumn 2007)
Article: Book Review: Growing Healthy Asian American Churches
Author: KeumJu Jewel Hyun


Book Review: Growing Healthy Asian American Churches

Edited by Peter Cha, S. Steve Kang, and Helen Lee (InterVarsity Press, 2006)

Reviewed by

KeumJu Jewel Hyun

KEUMJU JEWEL HYUN is Founder and President of Matthew 28 Ministries, devoted to empowering women to become disciple-makers. She has more than fifteen years experience ministering to second-generation
Korean American congregations. She holds M.A. and D.Min. degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jewel and her husband have two adult children and four grandchildren and reside in North Billerica, Massachusetts.

This book reveals the significance of the impact of Asian cultural values on Asian American church life. The editors—Peter Cha, Steve Kang, and Helen Lee—and the six contributors take real church life episodes from their firsthand ministry experiences and analyze them thoroughly. The primary target audience of the book is pastors and lay leaders who are currently involved with or interested in doing ministry in the Asian American church.

Peter Cha, Ph.D., is associate professor of pastoral theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. An author of many books, he has a wealth of pastoral experience as a youth pastor, as a church planter, and as a senior pastor. S. Steve Kang, Ph.D., is associate professor of educational ministries at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. A coauthor of A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation, he has pastoral experiences in ministries to young adults and families and in church planting. Helen Lee has M.A. and M.B.A. degrees and is a freelance writer. She pioneered the first Asian American small group Bible study at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where she worked on staff. Lee has also written about ethnic identity and faith issues in numerous publications.

In chapters 1 and 2, the authors emphasize how a healthy church must embrace grace and truth as the basic foundation of church ministry. The authors believe that, because of the cultural expectations of high standards and external righteousness, Asian American Christians focus more on disciplines than on inward transformation. Thus, they have difficulties openly sharing their shortcomings with acceptance and forgiveness. In addition, while the churches emphasize strong doctrinal beliefs, Asian American Christians tend to neglect to exercise the grace and forgiveness that the doctrine teaches. The authors urge Asian American churches to be more forgiving.

Chapters 3 and 4 describe how Confucianism shaped the Asian leadership style and the leaders’ thought processes. Lee states in chapter 3 that “Confucian-based perspectives,” “false humility,” “face-saving, shame-based approaches,” and “in...

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