a day in the life of djchuang
How many Chinese churches are in the USA?

Statistics are useful for strategic planning for the future of churches and ministries, or any organization for that matter, even if they’re estimates.

I had researched the number of Chinese churches in the United States and Canada 5 years ago in 2009 and they’re posted at: How many Asian American churches in the USA with sources footnoted. In 2009, the estimate was 1,200 ethnic Chinese churches in America. A related list of the Largest Chinese churches in North America is dated 2007 but I have kept that updated when I am contacted with new info. (cf. 華人教會)

Since that time, we’ve had a Census taken in 2010, the population projections continue to grow. Currently, these online directories show numbers of entries listed for Chinese churches and ministries/organizations in the United States (at the time of this blog post; and my Chinese literacy is insufficient to research in Chinese):

1,679 churches in the Chinese Christian Churches and Organizations Directory (managed by 中華基督教網路發展協會; redirected here via Ambassadors for Christ‘s Chinese Church Online Directory link)

1,873 churches and organizations @ http://ift.tt/1nIZIWv (managed by Immanuel.net)

Baptist Press’ Chinese Baptists strive for multiplying churches noted: “In 2010, the Chinese Baptist Fellowship made church planting a priority, with a goal of planting 600 new churches in the United States and Canada by 2020. About 55 churches have been planted since the initiative’s beginning…”

While there are not many events that bring together Chinese church leaders and pastors, there are these I’m aware of:

#aside About nomenclature: I’ve refrained from using the phrase “Chinese churches in America” because it could connote Canada and other countries in North America, or even the entire continents of North America and South America. I do typically use the term “Asian American” when referring to Asians in the United States, with implicit inclusion of Canada, to keep the word count lower than “Asian North American” or or “Asian Pacific Islander” or “Asian American & Pacific Islander”.

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Does character and integrity still matter in the 21st century?

David Brooks unpacks a counter-culture to the pursuit of happiness, using rich words like: depth, soul, virtue, character, integrity, love, sacrifice, obedience, grace. David Brooks is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, a journalist, and culture commentator. And thanks to Bob Buford‘s email update “Museletter,” he included (some of) his notes from Aspen Ideas Institute 2014.First, Bob shared his musings about that talks by David Brooks and then a link to the video to see for yourself:

Personally: Losing Our Moral Core

David Brooks never fails to dazzle. Rallying ideas from a surprising list of thinkers such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Dorothy Day, Augustine, and Rabbi Soloveitchick (who coined the Adam 1/Adam 2 dichotomy that Brooks loves to refer to), Brooks built a fresh and humbling case to balance worldly success with personal significance-or as he put it, to spare the moments in a publicity culture to build our souls.

Wait, souls? Brooks’ word was core. “Some core piece of yourself, when you make a decision,” he said, “you make it slightly better or worse. If you make disciplined and selfless decisions, you reinforce core tendencies in the self. If you make selfish or short-sighted decisions, you’ll fragment or degrade that core piece of yourself, even if you’re not hurting anybody else.”

As he did last year, speaking to the cream of the top 1 percent, Brooks warned of losing our moral center, which, in that crowd, took me aback.  Ennobling ideas of suffering, internal struggle, obedience and acceptance-he urged us to make the time to acquire real depth.

“I’m calling it depth,” he said. “You can call it holiness.”

As it happens, I do call it holiness, and Brooks’ talk brought to mind Peter Drucker’s saying America cannot survive without its foundational values, and that churches are vital to our nation in particular.

One of the questions that Brooks presented is: what do we admire about people of depth? The David Brooks’ talk at Aspen Ideas Festival is titled– The Road to Depth: Thinking about what Character Is and the video is online:

Description of the talk: “Some people seem to lead inner lives that are richer and more substantive than the rest of us. How do they do it? This talk is a survey of some of history’s most substantive characters. How love, suffering, struggle, surrender and obedience lead them to their depth.”

Do you aspire to be a person of depth? What can possibly motivate someone to do the actions that are right and good and lasting? Can you see how character and integrity is truly the hallmark secret sauce to making the world a better place?

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Orange County is where many Asian Americans live

Orange County, California, affectionately known as the O.C., has the third-largest Asian American population in the United States. This statistic recently got some attention (in LA Times, NPR, Cal State Fullerton, press release) from the publication of a report titled “A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Orange County, 2014” produced by Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.2014 A Community of Contrasts, Orange County

“With over a half million Asian Americans, Orange County is home to the nation’s third-largest Asian American population. Asian Americans make up 20% of the county’s total population, the largest concentration of Asian Americans in California outside of the Bay Area.”

… “Yet Asian Americans and NHPI have not realized their full potential as participants in the political process.”

This is not new news per se; in May 2011, OC Register had already reported 2010 U.S. Census numbers that O.C. has third highest Asian population in U.S. : Orange County has one of the highest concentrations of Asian residents in the nation, according to new census figures. And, to round out the ranking, the top 2 largest Asian American populations by county are Los Angeles and Santa Clara.

Demographics are destiny. With any group of people, and especially large concentrations of a group of people, will have need for more leaders. Not just more Asian American leaders reaching their potential, but also Asian American leaders who can serve beyond an Asian American demographics. Excerpted from an article, Asian-American Leadership Programs Tackle The ‘Bamboo Ceiling’ (NPR, July 2014)::

It’s not that Asian-Americans aren’t a part of the companies at all, in fact, they’re usually the biggest non-white demographic outside the tech division (at Yahoo, they’re 57% of the tech sector). But when it comes to leadership roles, their numbers shrink, along with those of other minorities; about 70-80% of the top management across the board is white.

There are many kinds of leadership roles, in the corporate management world, in the immediate community, and in the broader national and international communities. Each leadership opportunity and context requires unique gifting, skills, and perspectives. One experienced leader cannot lead equally effectively in every context.

As I age into my late 40s, I’m exploring how I can do more of my part to raise up a next generation of Asian American leaders. For other 15+ years, I’ve heard the recurring theme, the top need, from young Asian American leaders wanting to find a mentor and role model. I’m incubating on how I can do that more intentionally and virtually as well as locally. If you are an Asian American in your 20s or 30s, I’d love to hear from you.

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Why is there so much low quality Christian stuff?

Sometimes I talk with people who are serious Christ-followers and they share with me their disappointment and frustration about how Christians produce work of average (or worse) quality. The work could be in the arts (movie, media, music, song, painting, drawing, t-shirt design, posters, signs); the work could be a non-profit initiative (community service, social cause, service project, building maintenance, after-school tutoring); the work could be a ministry initiative (church worship service, evangelistic event, Christmas program).

And, yet because these works are done out of a sincere Christian faith, or for the Christian cause, somehow that makes it okay and beyond critique? Somehow, Christian zeal for doing something gets that person an immunity card. It’s as if because you’re in the Christian family-of-God that you have have to stay loyal to the home team, even if they’re never going to win the World Cup (a timely reference to the current event in sports). The Bible does say, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Where is the hunger to win, to produce the best quality goods to the glory of God?

Why can’t more Christians do better than mediocre? This frustration over low-quality Christian work is most often noticed and noted in the arts; perhaps it’s little safer to critique art. I searched for an answer using the popular search engine, and came up with a few insights and exhortations:

The credibility of our message comes into question when we do mediocre work.” – Kyle Cooper @ Christians Making Movies – Up The Ante (Jay Caruso, ChurchMag, October 10, 2011)

“Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. — quoting Jon Foreman @ Why Switchfoot won’t sing Christian songs (Dave Browning, December 5, 2013)

The term Christian film has become synonymous with substandard production values, stilted dialogue and childish plots.” @ Why Are Christian Movies So Bad? A call for Christians to get serious about being artists. (Scott Nehring, Relevant Magazine, October 26, 2010)

And here are some other finds::

A couple of my personal thoughts, as I ruminate and wrestle with this topic (not that I have arrived at an answer; these are a snapshot of my tentative thinking at the moment of this blog post):

First, all of humanity, both Christian and non-Christian, are created in the image of God, the Creator of the Universe, and I believe God the Creator is the source of all the great creative human accomplishments of recent history, seen in Pixar movies, Steve Jobs’ vision for the Apple iPod and iPhone, Tesla smart cars, Peter Drucker‘s wisdom on managing social capital, and of history past with the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo’s art, Handel’s Messiah, and there are many many more. Greatness and excellence is self-evident. I’d like to think that Christians who have a “personal relationship” with the Creator God would have more creativity flowing through them, but it hasn’t been my overwhelming experience thus far.

Second, maybe a bell-curve distribution shows how any group of humanity has its share of talents and skills. A majority of people are just plain ol’ average, in competency and creativity and intelligence. And that’s okay, they’re still worthy of dignity and have intrinsic value. There’s a minority that are below average, and they too have just as much intrinsic value and dignity. There’s a percentage that are above average, and they have more giftedness and developed their skills better, but with no more intrinsic value for their humanity than the less gifted. I’d say these 3 groups (average, below average, and above average) account for 99% of the population.

And then there is that (less than) 1%, that are exemplarily gifted with smarts and skills and talents far beyond the norm, a la Steve Jobs, Michael Phelps, Pele, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and I already mentioned Michelangelo and Da Vinci. Yes, these “elite” have had to work hard and overcome adversities; yet I do believe they have something innate by nature took their lives beyond what nurture could.

Third, who are the Christians enabling these mediocre expressions of creativity in the name of God? For big movie productions and other costly endeavors, it takes some high net-worth donors to fund those projects. While wealthy people may have a certain high quality standard in their business life, it doesn’t seem to apply in the Christian world, the ones that are okay funding mediocrity. This ought not be. Integrity would be better lived with consistency in both the secular and sacred, as it is all one world, all under God.

Fourth, I think I’m realistic enough to realize that perhaps a majority of people do not understand the enduring value of quality. Granted, part of that is most of us can’t afford high quality stuff that’s typically expensive. Nevertheless, as a Christian family, it bothers me that we too often appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Fifth, (and I do have more thoughts on this, but wanted to get this published sooner than later,) for good Christian people that get flustered with mediocrity, I’d say, don’t waste your time and energy frustrated by those who don’t value quality like you do. Invest your time and energy with those who do care about and strive for quality. I think of the principles of stronger vs. weaker brethren is informative, cf. Romans 14-15. While a majority of people don’t have the training or talent to know how to create great quality stuff, even the untrained eye or palate instinctively and intuitively knows when something is beautiful and awesome and high quality.

What do you think? What can be done?

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Looking for 2nd Generation Korean American or Chinese American Parents

Julie J. Park is Assistant Professor of Education at University of Maryland, with research interests in racial diversity and equity in higher education, religion, Asian American college students, affirmative action and college admissions, social and cultural capital. She is looking for Asian Americans that would be interviewed for this project below:

Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park are interested in learning how “second gen” Korean and Chinese American parents approach education and child-rearing for their “third gen” children. We are looking for people who fit the following criteria to participate in a one-time interview:

  1. Your parents are immigrants and you were born in the U.S. or immigrated before age 7
  2. You are of Korean or Chinese descent
  3. You have at least one child over the age of 6
  4. You reside in the DC metro (DC/MD/VA) or LA/OC area.

We’d like to understand your experiences as a parent, your memories of your own experiences with education, and reflections on education in the Asian American community. You will receive a $10 gift card for participating in an hour long interview. If you are open to being interviewed and/or have questions, please contact Assistant Professor Julie Park at aaccstudy@gmail.com. Thank you!

(Editor’s note: I personally didn’t qualify for the research, since I immigrated to the U.S. at age 8. I did get 3 out of 4..)

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Ideas that shaped Western and Eastern cultures

Scholars have noted the major thoughts and philosophies that have influenced Western civilization and Asian cultures.

The 3 major influences of Western civilization are Greek culture, Roman culture, and Christianity.

“The Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions are the two principal components of Western civilization.” — in Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Volume 2 by Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James Jacob, Margaret Jacob, Theodore Von Laue, p. xxiii)

“Christianity, no less than the Greek and the Roman legacy, has been chosen by many historians as the most important cultural “foundation” of the West.” — in The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Ricardo Duchesne, p. 461.

The 3 major influences of (many) Asian cultures are Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

“Many Asian cultures are influenced by the philosophies of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Among the values that appear common to many Asian cultures are those of harmony; humility; and respect for family, authority, and tradition.” — in An Introduction to Multicultural Counseling by Wanda M. L. Lee, p. 104.

“… Buddhism and Taoism represent two other strong influences, alongside Confucianism, on Chinese culture and society. These three streams of thought fused together to form the Chinese view of man’s place in society and influenced Chinese character and personality development.” — in New Asian Emperors: The Business Strategies of the Overseas Chinese By George T. Haley, Usha C. V. Haley, ChinHwee Tan, p. 1964.

Here’s the question, then: What would it look like if Christianity were to influence Asian cultures more?

Church of the Holy Mother. Sheshan. Shanghai, China

[photo credit: santochino]

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Not all web hosting servers are alike, some are faster

As Internet adoption continues to ramp up at a brisk pace around the world, people want faster websites and search engines do too. With WordPress running nearly 22.4% of the Internet (at the time of this post), having a compatible and speedy web hosting server to run a self-installed WordPress site/blog is essential. 3 web hosting companies are suggested by the makers of WordPress — Bluehost, DreamHost, and Laughing Squid.

During the past 15 years of blogging, djchuang.com had been hosted on DreamHost for a season, then on Site5, and then on Bluehost most recently. Now it’s time for a new season. I did a bunch of research for a faster web hosting server (2 of the most often recommended WordPress hosting services were WP Engine and Media Temple).

On June 9th, I made the switch to a faster web hosting server = A2 Hosting. As the chart below illustrates, djchuang.com is now running almost 100% faster! (response time monitored by pingdom.com)


What tipped it for me to go with A2 Hosting was its Solid State Drive (SSD) Hosting option; as I was fine-tuning the site speed for SocialMediaChurch.net (my podcast site, also running on the same shared account), I even got faster speed by turning off the caching plugin! Wow! Yes, faster web hosting servers do cost more money, it will make you and your website visitors happier.

And, a special word of thanks to Leadership Network for being the first sponsor of djchuang.com!

Become a monthly sponsor — there’s 2 more spots for your 300×125 banner ad at the right sidebar of djchuang.com, above the fold for greatest visibility. See advertising info at beaconads.com » Use discount code JULY for 50% off 1st month rate when you sponsor by 7/31/14.

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No more sexually explicit Google AdWords soon

Policy changes are being made to Google AdWords some time between late June 2014 and around September 2014 to prohibit sexually explicit content, aka “adult content.” Very few in mainstream media and tech blogs have drawn attention to this (yet?), except for:

Conservative media and faith-based media have noted this upcoming policy change:

What’s actually changing on Google searches and ads? According to the Policy change log entry titled Adult content

The AdWords policies on adult sexual services, family status, and underage or non-consensual sex acts will be updated in late June 2014 to reflect a new policy on sexually explicit content. Under this policy, sexually explicit content will be prohibited, and guidelines will be clarified regarding promotion of other adult content. The change will affect all countries. We made this decision as an effort to continually improve users’ experiences with AdWords. After the new policy goes into effect, the adult sexual services, family status, and underage or non-consensual sex acts policy pages will reflect this change.

According to the entry Adult-Oriented Content in the upcoming Policy Center –

The policies here will not go into effect until around September and are subject to change. To see the policies in effect until then, visit the current Policy Center.

We’ll be adding more sections to help you comply with the updated policies, so check this page again around September.

Our policy:

Google restricts the promotion of the following types of adult-oriented content:

  • offline adult entertainment
  • adult merchandise
  • dating services
  • international bride services
  • sexually suggestive content
  • images containing exposed skin and nudity

Google AdWords’ has advertising principles defined for: user experience, safety and security, accurate ads, transparency and privacy, restricted products and services, Google’s brand, and trademark, copyright, and counterfeit. 3 of the restricted products and services are related to sexuality –

Restricted Products and Services

The back story? Here’s one report of how this policy change came about, referring to pornharms.com, a website of Morality In Media:

The policy revision came after a May meeting in Washington, D.C., between Google and anti-pornography advocates including Morality in Media, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family. “We are grateful that they are realizing that their profits from porn are not worth the devastation to children and families,” Morality in Media said in a statement released last week. The group said other organizations, like Facebook and Comcast, have also taken steps to clean up explicit content on the internet.

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What Peter Drucker said about pastors and churches

Peter Drucker has a living legacy as the father of modern management for his keen insights and observations about people and organizations that have revolutionized the for-profit and the non-profit sectors. Many multitudes of organizations have accomplished more results and become more effective by applying Drucker’s principles.

One commentary about the most difficult leadership positions is often attributed to Peter Drucker. It goes something like this:

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are the president of the United States, a university president, a CEO of a hospital and … a pastor.

The earliest mention of this quote that I could find was back in 2006. However, I have not yet been able to find the source, unable to confirm or deny the truth of this quote. Someone else is also wondering if it’s an urban legend.

What I did find was this first-person narrative from Steve Sjogren about what Peter Drucker said:

… With his noticeable Austrian accent he said, “You know Steve, over the years I have made a career out of studying the most challenging management roles out there. After all of that I am now convinced the two most difficult jobs in the world are these—one, to be President of the United States, and two, to be the leader a church like yours and Rick’s (Warren) – where you start it then lead it to serve others in greatness. This week, after spending some quality time with you all, I am convinced of this—the most difficult job is being one of those kinds of pastors.”

Apparently, Peter Drucker did deeply consider the valuable role of churches and pastors, under the category of making a better society. This recently published book by Bob Buford, “Drucker & Me: What a Texas Entrepreneur Learned from the Father of Modern Management,” tells more of the back stories. I just downloaded it on my Amazon Kindle, eager to read it. 2 chapters directly relate to the topic of this blog post: Chapter 9 titled, “Peter and the Preachers” starts with this quote: “The function of management in a church is to make the church more church-like, not to make it more business-like.” And, in chapter 13, “The God Question,” Peter does succinctly reveal his faith in his last interview.

And, this lengthy article in Leadership Journal (Spring 1989) [subscriber-only] “Managing to Minister: An interview with Peter Drucker” drips with more sagely Drucker wisdom:

Second, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the other way around: I became interested in management because of my interest in religion and institutions. I started out teaching religion, and all of my personal experience in management has been with nonprofits-working in academia and serving on boards of everything from Blue Cross to museums.

… On the supply side, more and more churches are what I call “pastoral churches.” Their purpose is not to perpetuate a particular liturgy or maintain an existing institutional form. Instead, they’re asking what my business friends would call the marketing question: “Who are the customers, and what’s of value to them?” They’re more interested in the pastoral question (“What do these people need that we can supply?”) than in the theological nuances (“How can we preserve our distinctive doctrines?”).

These churches are growing partly because the younger people need pastoring and not just preaching, and partly because, very bluntly, people are dreadfully bored with theology. They can’t appreciate the subtleties. And I sympathize with them…

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