Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ministery in an Asian American context

An interesting interview on the topic of ministry and Asian-Americans can be seen here. My comment is to say that instead of catering to Asian-American context, I think transcending the entire race issue is more preferable, plus the shedding of stereotypes.

As a Chinese Singaporean, and I realize that I am probably in the minority in my opinion, the last thing I want is "contextualization" (which goes both ways). It is ridiculous in my opinion to force assimilation of people from different cultures, which simply breeds resentment and conflict. What is pleaded for is understanding and toleration (originally understood as celebration of non-moral differences), and an understanding of both sides to dialog and engage the other in mutual respect.

I do not respect a minister who contextualized his message that he essentially alters the emphasis of his message to become a Gospel message filtered by culture, regardless of whether it is Chinese, American, Singaporean or other cultures. The Gospel message is meant to transcend cultures not to find its expression through the lens of culture. Will there be difference in messengers preached in different cultures? Sure, but the message is transcendent to the extent that the cultural elements can be easily removed and adapted to another culture if necessary. My two cents worth: If the message can only be understood within the culture and need to be extensively reworked apart from it, thus instead of the culture being mere points of contact for an eternal timeless message it is integral to it, the message is over-contextualized.

Put it this way, I am not interested in hearing pastors speaking "my culture". I am more interested in preachers bringing the transcendent truths of God to bear upon me and my culture.

The Church exists apart from the cultures of this world although present in it. Pastors and elders ought to reflect that in how they run the Church and preach their sermons.

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