While I was reading The Next Evangelicalism, which is a must read for every North American church leader, I was deeply impacted with the profound truths that Rah put forth regarding the current state of our churches and the way forward (Click here to read my review of the book)
Like Rah, I am a second-generation Korean immigrant, the only difference is that I am Korean-Canadian, and not American. As a result, for the past 10 years, I have been reflecting on issues of ethnicity and the second generation, but I have never heard someone state the importance of my experience and the potential of my role quite like he has. For example, “in the next evangelicalism, the second generation, with their unique ethos and strength…will be the ones best equipped to face the next stage of the church” (181).
I knew that God has shaped me to be a bridge builder in the body of Christ, but I did not realize that this was due, in part, to my upbringing as a second-generation immigrant. In the depths of my heart, I long for a church where the dividing walls of hostility have been broken down (Eph 2:14), and where we can represent that ultimate heavenly vision of every nation, tribe, tongue, people and language worshipping together (Rev 7:9).
This is why I have currently chosen not to pastor in an English ministry within the context of a Korean immigrant church – I cannot see how a truly multi-ethnic body of Christ can be built up in that context. However, I do see the absolute need for immigrant churches; after all, I grew up in that context and my family was supported through our Korean church. But when I think of the second generation and beyond, I cannot see how they can flourish in an immigrant church. They can survive…but not flourish.
I also see how it is oftentimes difficult and uncomfortable for second-generation immigrants to integrate into white churches. This is why my desire is to serve and pastor in a multi-ethnic church, and to provide a place for second-generation immigrants to belong, whilst not excluding anyone else. This is not just solely for their sake, but for the whole body of Christ to be integrated together.
Rah puts it well in his envisioning of the second-generation immigrant’s role in the future of the church:
The second-generation immigrant, therefore, has the great potential to reach a Christian community in decline: white evangelicals. The second-generation immigrant has the potential to relate to the secondary culture of middle-class, suburban, white Americans, while possessing the primary cultural experience and the triple consciousness that embraces spirituality and faith (193).
Thoughts to ponder…what do you think?