More Information
ISBN: 9781839732263
Imprint: Langham Global Library
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 26
Publication Date: 31/12/2021
Pages: 508
Language: English

How Am I Going to Grow Up?

Congregational Transition among Second-Generation Chinese Canadian Evangelicals and Servant-Leadership


Second-generation Chinese Canadian evangelicals inhabit a complex liminal space, positioned between the world of their parents and broader Canadian society. In this study, Dr. Enoch Wong explores the “silent exodus” of these Canadian-born Chinese from their parents’ churches, tracing their journeys to negotiate their cultural, ethnic, and faith identities for themselves. Utilizing both sociology of religion and leadership studies, Wong’s research engages Robert Greenleaf’s concept of foresight in servant leadership to examine the role of church leaders in mediating (or failing to mediate) these transitions for children raised in immigrant churches. This multi-case inquiry offers insight into the concerns of Canadian-born Chinese evangelicals and the cultural and generational conflicts that prompt them to search for new communities capable of understanding their identities and supporting their yearnings – whether inside or outside of the church.

Author Bios

Enoch Wong

ENOCH WONG has a PhD in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, USA. He is Director of the Centre for Leadership Studies and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at the Canadian Chinese School of Theology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He also serves as Minister-at-Large with Christian and Missionary Alliance, Canada.


With an appreciative understanding of the idea of service in the tradition of Robert Greenleaf ’s Servant-Leadership, Dr. Enoch Wong sets out to comprehend the transitioning experiences of the second-generation Chinese Canadian Evangelicals (SGCCE) in the areas of ethnicity and religiosity. His research also surveys the Chinese Christian churches and their leaders’ handling of the transitional experiences of the SGCCE. The meanings of these experiences are revealed through Dr. Wong’s use of the qualitative case study method rather than the classical use of the phenomenological methodology. His work implies that Greenleaf ’s philosophy of the idea of being the “servant first” could be realized and embraced with appreciation by individuals and communities so that all can “become freer and wiser and become servant-leaders.” (p452)

Peter L. Lim, PhD
Headington Chair of Global Leadership Development,
School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary,
Pasadena, California, USA

Surely one of the greatest challenges and responsibilities of the church is “passing on the faith” from one generation to the next. This is always a challenge and always a responsibility, but it is particularly so for relatively new immigrant communities, whether it is Russian Mennonites or Cantonese Chinese, Filipino or Somalian. In this publication, Dr. Enoch Wong focuses on the Chinese diaspora communities in Canada; however, what emerges in this study is invaluable for all communities and churches that are keen to foster the capacity of the church to nurture faith in the children of the church.

Gordon T. Smith, PhD
Ambrose University and Seminary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Author, Beginning Well

Research on the “silent exodus” of second generation Chinese Christians in North America is long overdue despite the common recognition of its seriousness. Dr. Wong’s research is a real breakthrough. Grounded on solid socio-cultural understanding, all the data point to the complexity of the issue. Other than ethnic identity and a cultural paradigm shift, personal interviews of members who are a part of the exodus and reflective pastors reveal a deeper problem, the style of leadership is affected by an unconscious immigrant mentality. Reflection on leadership is therefore considered to be vital. By this research, Dr. Wong has indeed done a great service to the Chinese Church in North America.

Carver Yu, PhD
President Emeritus,
China Graduate School of Theology, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Abstract
  3. Chapter 1 Introduction
    1. Background
    2. Significance of the Study
    3. Personal Reasons for This Study
    4. Purpose Statement
    5. Conceptual Framework
      1. Ethnicity, Religion, Incorporation, and Congregational Transition Pathways for the “New” Second-Generation
      2. Leadership
    6. Research Questions
    7. Overview of Research Method
    8. Definition of Terms
    9. Overview of the Study
  4. Chapter 2 Literature Review
    1. Chinese Evangelical Churches in Canada
      1. The Era of Chinese Evangelical Church (1967–Present)
      2. Second-Generation Chinese Canadian Evangelicals (SGCCE)
      3. Summary
    2. Ethnicity, Religion, and Incorporation
      1. Ethnicity
      2. Ethnicity, Religion, and the Incorporation Process
      3. Incorporation Process
      4. Canadian Multiculturalism and Incorporation
      5. Summary
    3. Congregational Transition of Second-Generation Asian American Evangelicals in the Ethnic Churches
      1. Silent Exodus: The Emergent Phenomenon of Departure and Transition of the Asian North American Second- Generation from Their Parents’ Church
      2. Congregational Transition at the North American Ethnic Churches
      3. Summary
    4. Leadership
      1. Evolution of Modern Leadership Studies
      2. Greenleaf ’s Servant-Leadership
      3. Limitations and Challenges of Servant-Leadership
      4. Servant-Leadership Characteristics
      5. Foresight and Servant-Leadership
      6. Greenleaf ’s Servant-Leadership and Foresight
      7. Absence of Leadership Foresight
      8. Summary
  5. Chapter 3 Methods
    1. Research Methodology
      1. Epistemology and Theoretical Perspectives for Social Research
      2. Qualitative Research
      3. Research Approach
      4. Research Design
    2. Research Participants
    3. Data Collection
    4. Data Analysis
      1. Triangulation
    5. Bias and Bracketing
    6. Limitations of the Study
    7. Ethical Considerations
      1. Right of Privacy and Confidentiality
      2. Do No Harm
      3. Informed Consent
      4. The Right to Access the Results of the Study
  6. Chapter 4 Data Collection and Analysis
    1. Research Questions and Methodology
    2. Data Collection Summary
    3. Case One – Participants Attending Worship in a Second- Generation Chinese Canadian Church Setting
      1. Synopsis of Interview with First Participant: Martha Yeung
      2. Synopsis of Interview with Second Participant: Peter Fai
      3. Synopsis of Interview with Third Participant: James Chiu
      4. Themes for Case One
      5. Summary
    4. Case Two – Participants Attending Worship in a Pan-Ethnic Asian Church Setting
      1. Synopsis of Interview with First Participant: Eunice Chu
      2. Synopsis of Interview with Second Participant: Phoebe Lee
      3. Synopsis of Interview with Last Participant: Lois Yung
      4. Themes for Case Two
      5. Summary
    5. Case Three – Participants Attending Worship in a Multiethnic Setting
      1. Synopsis of Interview with First Participant: John Yang
      2. Synopsis of Interview with Second Participant: Nathaniel Lam
      3. Synopsis of Interview with Third Participant: Mariam Yeung
      4. Themes for Case Three
      5. Summary
    6. Case Four – Participants Attending Worship in a Mainstream Caucasian Church Setting
      1. Synopsis of Interview with First Participant: Mark Luk
      2. Synopsis of Interview with Second Participant: Matthew Ly
      3. Synopsis of Interview with Third Participant: Paul Ling
      4. Synopsis of Interview with Fourth Participant: Luke Lau
      5. Themes for Case Four
      6. Summary
    7. Church Leaders From the Chinese Immigrant Church (Triangulation Group One)
      1. Synopsis of Interview with First Chinese Immigrant Pastor: Silas Wong
      2. Synopsis of Interview with Second Chinese Immigrant Pastor: Adam Wang
      3. Triangulation Analysis: Group One
      4. Summary
    8. Church Leaders From the Congregations (Triangulation Group Two)
      1. Synopsis of Interview with First Pastor: Tim Conrad
      2. Synopsis of Interview with Second Pastor: Charles Ho
      3. Synopsis of the Interview with the Third Pastor: Isaac Gregorcic
      4. Triangulation Analysis: Group Two
      5. Summary
  7. Chapter 5 Findings and Conclusion
    1. Cross-Case Analysis
      1. Cross-Case Theme #1: Dysfunctional and Inept Immigrant Church Leadership
      2. Cross-Case Theme #2: Mutuality between Ethnic Salience and Boundary of Congregation
      3. Cross-Case Theme #3: Relationship
      4. Cross-Case Theme #4: Stagnation, Solid Teachings, and Growth
      5. Cross-Case Theme #5: Indictment of Ethnic Culture and Values
      6. Cross-Case Theme #6: Social Construction of Identity
      7. Outlier #1: Abuse as the Trigger to Find a New Church
      8. Outlier #2: Meeting Spiritual Needs of Children Is Paramount
    2. Findings
      1. Finding #1: Ethnicity retention and congregational affiliation: A function of cultural incorporation (Ethnicity and Socialization; RQ #1)
      2. Finding #2: Ethnic identity for SGCCE is an experiment in social construction and a function of the socialization process (Ethnicity and Socialization; RQ #2)
      3. Finding #3: All things being equal, SGCCE placed a high premium on relationship, and ethnicity played a
      4. significant role in it (Ethnicity and Socialization; RQ #1)
      5. Finding #4: Ethnic exclusivity and internecine conflicts contributed to the silent exodus (Ethnicity and
      6. Socialization; RQ #3)
      7. Finding #5: Stagnation and a yearning for growth and freedom motivated SGCCE to engage in the transition (Religious Identity; RQ #1)
      8. Finding #6: Religious identity reigns supreme (Religious Identity; RQ #2)
      9. Finding #7: Dysfunctional leadership and lack of vision and foresight at the Chinese immigrant church thwarted the SGCCE’s growth and search for autonomy (Presence/Absence of Leadership; RQ #3)
      10. Finding #8: Compelling vision, explicit foresight, and a narrative of inclusivity over ethnicity were big draws for the SGCCE (Presence/Absence of Leadership; RQ #4)
    3. Conclusion
    4. Limitations of This Study and Future Research
    5. Personal Reflection
  8. Appendix Semistructured Interview Guide
  9. Bibliography

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