Not too long ago, I ran across this picture-only book, East Meets West by Yang Liu (YES, I am big fan of books with fewer words). The author attempted to depict intercultural dynamics between the Eastern-Asian culture versus the Western-Anglo culture. Some of the illustrations may be a bit exaggerated, I thought this picture (above) resonated most with me. Read more HERE and see which ones you gravitate towards.
After I wrestled through my own identity, God made it very clear that He gave me East and West experiences in order to prepare me for this season of ministry at Saddleback Church.
Being the first Asian-American campus pastor in a predominantly Western-Anglo church, I was received and accepted with open arms. It was liberating and refreshing to be invited into a church culture that was obviously anointed by God and pursuing His mission all the time.
However, it wasn’t always easy navigating a church culture that didn’t think like me.
Above, the blue picture represented how Western cultures deal with problems. On the other hand, the red picture, describes how “I” was indirectly taught to handle problems.
You can only imagine how one could struggle with leading staff, teaching members, resolving conflict with volunteers, or leading up to elders and pastors. Yikes!
But God is always gracious. There was saving grace in the loving people he placed around me at the church, and my awesome team that supported my leadership style.
I strongly believe that’s why I am so passionate about activating a new generation of Asian-American leaders who will wholeheartedly serve the church. The world’s population is changing fast, becoming more urbanized, diversified, and modernized. Especially in America, we are seeing the population becoming more Asian-ized. Recent census data and demographic research report a population growth of over 40% in the last 10 years, exceeding Latino Americans (see DJ Chuang’s article at edstetzer.com).
I’ve been privileged to receive mentoring from great leaders and organizations. Through this journey of learning, I am always reminded of King David, “For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died, …” (Acts 13:36a NET).
Before I die, I want to run as fast as I can in advancing Asian-American leadership for the ever-growing diverse churches in America. We are to be stewards of developing leaders to better pastor the next 30 years.
This February, I helped host the first Thirty.Network Gathering. 30 Asian-American church leaders, recommended by credible pastors, gathered together for 30 hours to listen, learn, and lead change in advancing Asian-American church leaders for the next 30 years. The intent was to provide a SPACE for healthy conversations in sharpening each other in cross-cultural communications, leadership development, and strategic planning in a peer-to-peer learning environment.
30 hours was way too brief, but I did walk away with 30 gold nuggets. I made 30 new friends and co-laborers who will help me better serve my local church and use my influence, resources, and time to help shape the future for the next 30 years.
My hope is that you can find your own fulfillment and identity with the Thirty.Network. Join the conversation and help shape the next 30 years.
Kevin Nguyen is lead campus pastor at Saddleback Church’s Irvine South campus in California. Kevin also contributed the essay, “Reloading the Leadership Team: Mission means sending (and replacing) your best.” in Leadership Journal’s State of My Pastorate series (October 2015).