English Ministry Crisis in Chinese Canadian Churches - A book review

Category: Views Published: Tuesday, 08 September 2015 Written by David Leung

Many bicultural Chinese churches are grappling with the issue of the “silent exodus” of Canadian-born Chinese (CBC). This book from Dr. Matthew Todd, based on the survey research for his doctoral thesis, is a great resource for pastors, church leadership and lay leaders. It provides insights on the leading factors affecting those who “dropout” and those who “remain-in”.

todd1Todd lays out a good framework for his research project by providing a comprehensive literature review, descriptions of the context of English ministry, and key theological considerations. He advocates a retention solution based on an associated parallel independent English congregation model. He further recommends an action plan based on various empowerment and transformational leadership principles.

While the empirical data from the research is valuable on its own, the survey did not include the comparative perceptions of the Overseas-born Chinese (OBC) on this topic nor the general reasons for people changing churches. The latter should be taken into account when considering an optimal English ministry model and a vision for change.

There is no “one size fits all” organizational model. Each church has its unique calling, history, demographics, values and past conflicts. Irrespective of how the English ministry model evolves over time, it is the change process that matters.

I concur with Todd that a prerequisite to address the issue of “silent exodus” is the commitment of a group of leaders to systematic and sustainable change. The change process should also respect the points of view of both the CBC and OBC. Since relationship has been identified as a key retention factor, it should not be overlooked when seeking ways to maximize mission/vision potential of bicultural churches.

David H Leung (Assistant Conference Minister for Chinese Churches, BCMB)
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