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Evangelization Across Cultures in the United States:
What to Do With the World Come to Us?

by David F. D'Amico

IV. Analysis of Selected Cultural/Ecclesiological Enclaves

In this section I wish to highlight some features that may explain the effectiveness of three ethnic groups in the United States in their efforts at cross-cultural evangelization.


Chinese congregations in the United States have the following general characteristics. They are mostly evangelical-ecumenical. This feature is probably related to the fact that no major denomination, mainline or evangelical, has predominated in the evangelizing and congregationalizing of Chinese. In addition, the Communist persecution has forced the Chinese in mainland China to agglutinate into a united church body. Denominational lines, therefore, are not that important to Chinese. Pastoral leaders circulate from denomination to denomination depending on convenience. A significant consequence of this feature is the potential lack of denominational loyalty by some Chinese congregations.

Another characteristic of Chinese congregations in the United States is that they are lay-governed, managed. In the U. S. there is always a scarcity of Chinese pastoral leaders. As a consequence they must be imported from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. A further characteristic of Chinese enclaves is that their leaders seek the highest theological education level attainable. In addition, those congregations that have been in existence more than one generation are accommodating to the second generation. They are seeking pastoral leaders for the ABCs--American Born Chinese, in contradistinction to the FBCs--Foreign Born Chinese. The larger urban Chinese congregations have assistant pastors who minister to the "Baby boomers" in Chinese enclaves.

Another characteristic that helps Chinese congregations grow are full time pastors with long tenure. In addition, pastoral leaders with formal theological training receive more respect from their congregations. Chinese congregations have effective Bible study and discipleship by means of home Bible study units meeting during the week. Furthermore, the congregations that have been started by faithful and well founded believers from China have grown steadily.26


Korean evangelicals are the most evangelistic and fastest growing ethnic group in the U. S. They are becoming leaders in world-wide cross-cultural evangelization. In the United States, Korean congregations are repositories of Korean culture. This cultural/ecclesiological enclave, more than any other group, is one of the most persistent in transferring their cultural modes of "doing church" to the U. S.

Korean congregations have strong pastoral leadership. Korean pastors provide the leadership that by cultural standards Korean people expect. A related feature, therefore, is that in Korean cultural enclaves, Korean congregations have a propensity to divide. People follow a leader who may not agree with the established leader's way of doing things and thus form new congregations.

Also, Korean pastoral leaders will seek the highest level of theological training. Moreover, Korean cultural/ecclesiological enclaves have a world-wide network with their own mission program and strategy. Korean congregations in the U. S. and Canada have sent missionaries to Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Other characteristics of Korean congregations that assist them to grow include having more emphasis on worship than Bible study, holding daily prayer meetings in homes, and making significant efforts to minister to the second generation by providing English speaking services to youth and young adults.27


Hispanic cultural and ecclesiological enclaves are scattered throughout the United States with the largest concentrations in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, reflecting the population patterns of Hispanics in the U. S. Because of the continuous flow of legal and illegal immigration to the U. S. this type of enclave is the most connected to the cultural roots.

One characteristic of Hispanic congregations is that of strong pastoral leadership. Hispanic congregations generally do not employ associate pastors. If they have them, they must be persons considerably younger than the pastor to be effective. Also, Hispanic leaders in the U. S. will be trained to a lower or middle level in theological education.

Thirdly, Hispanic congregations will transfer the modes of worship from their country of origin. It is common to observe in major urban centers of the U. S. congregations that recognize their "matrix" as being Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Salvadoran. In addition, Hispanic congregations emphasize preaching more than religious education. Oral communication among Hispanics is more effective than written communication. The commercial world has recognized this feature with creative television programming in two major Spanish national networks in the U. S.

According to various polls, more than 20 percent of Hispanics in the U. S. are Protestants. Serious Roman Catholic scholars lament the fact that because fewer than 23 percent Hispanic Catholics are practicing, and because three times as many Hispanic Protestants are enrolled in Protestant seminaries and schools of theology as are enrolled in Catholic seminaries, the defection of Hispanic Catholics to Protestant churches is occurring at a pace of 60,000 a year or a million in 15 years.28

I. Evangelization Across Cultures in the United States

II. Understanding the Context

III. Selected Data of Cross-Cultural Evangelization

IV. Analysis of Selected Cultural/Ecclesiological Enclaves

V. Envisioning the Future: Theological Issues

VI. Envisioning the Future: Missiological Issues

VII. Envisioning the Future: Ecclesiological Issues


26. American Asians, p. 68.

27. Ibid.

28. Andrés Tapia, "Viva los Evangélicos," Christianity Today, 35: 12, pp. 16-22. See Alan Figueroa Deck, The Second Wave: Hispanic Ministry and the Evangelization of Cultures (New York: Paulist Press), pp. 92-119, for an analysis of Roman Catholic Mexican and Mexican-American enclaves in California. See Oscar I. Romo, ed., The Challenge of American Hispanics (Atlanta: Language Church Extension Division, Home Mission Board, SBC, 1991) for an analysis of the Hispanic enclaves in Southern Baptist churches.

(c)Review and Expositor, 90 (Winter, 1993): 83-99; Used with permission.

Please send comments, questions, responses to the author at: 103063.3542@Compuserve.com

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