Eugene Cho

a fast changing world

This is a must read for any person in leadership but I share this especially for pastors and church leaders for your consideration as you consider the uncharted journey ahead.  When people talk about the vision of being  a multiethnic or multicultural church, it nearly always comes down to numbers.  For a moment, don’t worry so much about getting to the 20% threshhold that enables your church to then “qualify” or pat yourself as a multicultural church.  It’s over-rated in my opinion. 

But we have the privilege and burden in influencing the ‘worldview’ of this and emerging generations of Christ followers.  Read this and consider how this impacts the way you see your church, neighbor, country and ultimately, your ministry context.  You will eventually grow extinct if you unable to adjust to a changing landscape where diversity IS the way we see the world. 

Read this NY Times entitled In a Generation, Minorities May be the U.S. Majority.  It’s not a matter of IF but WHEN:

Ethnic and racial minorities will comprise a majority of the nation’s population in a little more than a generation, according to new Census Bureau projections, a transformation that is occurring faster than anticipated just a few years ago.

The census calculates that by 2042, Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Four years ago, officials had projected the shift would come in 2050.

The main reason for the accelerating change is significantly higher birthrates among immigrants. Another factor is the influx of foreigners, rising from about 1.3 million annually today to more than 2 million a year by midcentury, according to projections based on current immigration policies.  [read full article]

And a video to give you an idea how fast our world is changing.   How do you communicate and convey the unchanging message of the gospel to a constantly changing world? 

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, seattle

8 Responses

  1. elderj says:

    well yes, this is happening… but I wonder how many of these new immigrants and other ethnic minorities will still consider themselves so in 2042 and how many will become “white” through out-marriage. Many of the varied European ethnic populations that are now subsumed under the category of “White” were initially considered non-assimilable in the first generation, but by the second and third generation, were definitely white. Might the same thing happen with Asian and Hispanic immigrants?

  2. Jim Chen says:

    Diversity is the new multicultural!

  3. Chris Scott says:

    Big time. In our area the fastest growing ethnicities are East Asian, and South Asian immigrants but our church continues to hire and reach out to white suburbanites. I’ve watched as our church stagnates and plateaus in leu of the recent demographic shifts. Whenever I bring up our need to reach out, understand, and love the changing community in our area I get written off as a young idealistic leader. In my mind this multiculturalism MUST be modeled from the top down. If a church will only hire white suburban staff, the church will only relate to a white suburban people. Unfortunately this is the dwindling demographic in our area. This opportunity should be celebrated as a way to understand ourselves and God in a much deeper and broader vocabulary, which will only only serve to enrich the church as a whole. I really hope this reform happens fast, thanks for bringing up this point Eugene!

  4. Tom says:

    While I think there will always be a place for mono-ethnic congos no doubt an openness to diversity will create whole new kinds of churches and organizations. Actually, while mono-ethnic will still work in some congos, I don’t see how it has much of a future in Christian organizations/non-profits.

    My brief answer to elderj is, in general, no, I don’t think the offspring of most of these new immigrants who intermarry with whites will consider themselves to be ‘white’ in a couple of generations. Latin American immigrants are a more complicated case, but I think most new immigrants who intermarry will produce kids who identify strongly as multi-racial or will identify with the original immigrant racial identity, if for no other reason than our longstanding social convention in the US that only people who are supposedly of ‘pure’ European stock can be referred to as white. That’s obviously a legacy of slavery, but it’s still pretty powerful. I hope you’re right about the potential future flexibility of racial identity since I think the whole concept of race makes little sense other than as a social convention.

    Here’s an example I ran across that shows the power of our historical American ideas of racial identity but also probably illustrates the underlying flexibility of racial identity.

    I recently heard a journalist interviewed in Ghana who is multi-racial (black dad and white mom) and apparently looks a lot like Obama. He said that in Ghana if the average person–white or black–met Obama on the street and didn’t know who he was, they would all consider him ‘white.’ He himself is considered ‘white’ in Ghana. He went on to say that Ghanaians consider Obama ‘black’ only because they’ve heard the western media repeatedly refer to him that way.

    Here of course, Obama is automatically black even though his mom is white and he was raised almost exclusively by whites.

    At least in this example looks like assigned racial identity is pretty flexible indeed. Just depends on where you are. But the fact that everybody considers Obama black may tell us that the days of flexible racial identities may be more than a few generations into the future here in the US. I hope not, but I think probably so.

  5. Debbie Ahokas says:

    I am an Asian marrying a “White” guy from the Bronx. We met and married and moved to Japan (5 years), Singapore (2 years) and eventually returned to U.S in 1996. I have so many stories with regard to the “Race” and “cultures” issues because I am so naive to believe that “race” should not be a problem here. Any problem between “Black” and “White” should be over. But I deal with them in person. It sometimes really hurts. My husband will never understand. He is open minded but lack of understanding.

    And for the church and future issue, I believe in the future, another 10-20 years, the “Race” issue will become minmum as the next generation, we have more multi-cultural marriage and children born to different race. It will dilute the issue and hence the problem. That is my hope. Funny, my children are regarded as “White” when they visited Asia but they are regarded as Asian in America, in School, in church and in college.

    I am attending a “Chinese” Church right now. There is another kind of situation where most of the leadership, even though living in America for decades, still hanging on to their culture and belief. There is a lack of “out-reach” to the communities and the “White” neighbor even we are surrounded by them. So, we all have our issue and hopefully, in next generation, we can overcome some. All these talk will become so “Yesterday”.

    Pastor Cho, I just want to mentioned about your website. I first come to your website when I search for the Best Korean Movie. After reading your review over and over again for about 4 months, I finally realize that I shall learn more about the person who wrote all these review. They are so special to me. I watched quite a few of your movie suggestion and they provided me with more insight of your thinking. Then, I come to read about your blog and know about you. I thank God that you are writing all these blog and provided me with my daily “Bread” and stimulate my thought. Thank you so much. Please keep on doing so. And for your call to fight the proverty. I am trying to organize my resource. My husband and I both lost our job recently. This is not end of our lives. I just need to re-organize our lives and live differently. Once I organize all our resources, I will love to email you with my pledge. Keep up with the good work and keep on writing all these meaningful blog.

    Thank you so much.


  6. elderj says:

    Tom – thanks for your response to my question. I appreciate your assessment of the racial dynamic. It is something I live with everyday. Yeah, and I appreciate the Ghanaian example. I just was there this summer and as the journalist indicated, Obama would likely be considered “white” in Ghana, as would any other fair skinned Black person. “White” functions as a descriptor more than as a racial category in Ghana, though of course there is some overlap.

    As for Obama’s status in the US, it is true he is consider “Black” but this has always been the case as you note. The same is true but to a lesser extent by far for other ethnic minorities. White in the US has not been based really on being of pure European stock as much as being – not Black – which is why Asians and Latinos are often overlooked in the race conversation. For a long time though, Latinos were not really considered a separate category, and still are not in terms of “race.” They are an ethno-cultural group and can be of any “race.” Mostly though they were considered White – like Ricky Ricardo on “I love Lucy.” There is no way in a million years you would have seen a Black man married to a White woman on a TV sitcom. So even though Ricky was clearly Hispanic – he was still considered White; so there is precedent.

    The fact is it is much more likely for a Hispanic or Asian woman to “outmarry” than a Black woman. The children of those unions are much more likely to be accepted as White or at least as “potentially white” in society and are therefore far likelier to marry Whites than a biracial Black person. I hate to put in those terms but we are dealing with the pernicious reality of race here.

  7. eugenecho says:

    @debbie: thanks so much for your comment, for reading that entry on korean films, for returning to the blog, and your words of encouragement. you have encouraged me much with your words.

    don’t feel obligated with the pledge. you’ll have a simple opportunity to help when we launch the org next year. you and your husband are in my thoughts during this job transition.

  8. Patrick says:

    Hmm. How to communicate the gospel to a constantly changing world? I think we need to have a theological framework/meta-narrative that is broad enough to include all people, yet orthodox enough to remain distinctly christian. Obviously, we have this framework, but I would argue that it is not being conveyed through churches, and it is certainly not what most Christians refer to when describing their faith. Rather, we focus on “principles” and “lessons,” and describe our faith in terms of disconnected sound-bytes.

    In order for a church to truly minister to a diverse group, it must refocus on teaching a larger theological framework through the worship services and sermons. In order for this framework to be multicultural and multiethnic, it must be informed by authentic interactions between cultures and ethnicities.

    I guess I would hope that churches are capable of creating and communicating a framework that allows flexibility within it, and is therefore able to deal with a quickly changing world.

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One Day’s Wages

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Grateful for the 24 hours in Santa Barbara to encourage local churches ... and to enjoy such views. 
Lord, are you calling me to Santa Barbara? :) I hate you, Santa Barbara! About 6 weeks ago, I had the best 10 hour layover in Seoul, Korea. 4 meals, 2 outdoor markets, 2 museums, and some beautiful tourist sites in winter, crisp weather. 
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