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Asian NexGen Network to discuss family discipleship

Southern Baptist Asian NextGen leaders at a meeting earlier this month.

INDIANAPOLIS – The third annual gathering of the SBC Asian NextGen Pastors Network is set to be “the best ever,” leaders say.

Including a luncheon for pastors, leaders and their wives, the event is set for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, June 10, in Rooms 143-145 of the Indianapolis Convention Center.

“The theme of this luncheon is ‘Family Discipleship,’” Terrence Shay told Baptist Press. Shay, family pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in Walnut, Calif., is national co-coordinator of the group started by Filipino leader Peter Yanes in 2021.

“Family Discipleship was the focus of this year’s online Book Club that connected our pastors from all over the country,” Shay continued. “We will have Dr. Jeremy Pierre of Southern Seminary teach, followed by a panel of Asian NextGen leaders and wives to expand the conversation towards real life. There will be times for singing, sharing and networking as well.”

Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin is the name of the book discussed over the last nine months during the Asian NextGen book club’s monthly Zoom call.

Pierre is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Register for the event at sbcasiannextgen.com. Cost: $5/person until June 1; $10 until June 9; $15 at the door.

The NextGen group provides a place and a way for second- and third-generation Asian, English-speaking pastors and church leaders to “encourage and equip one another through friendship, collaboration, connection, mentoring and resourcing,” according to the Network’s website.

“There is an affinity that is experienced when we know another person knows what we have been through and understands our cultural priorities, inherited or developed,” Shay said. “For example, when we talk about the importance of filial piety or academic achievements, they are often experienced in similar contexts across Asian ethnic groups. Certainly, we are not monolithic but there are fewer barriers to break down towards contextualization in this Network.”

The benefit of the Asian NextGen Pastors Network “is the genuine friendship and collaboration among pastors from all over the U.S. who are serving in an Asian ministry context,” Dillon Le told Baptist Press. Le is senior pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in Phoenix. “Pastoral friendships are really underrated and overlooked but can be so helpful for healthy longevity in ministry.”

The Asian Collective (instigated by Yanes in 2018) was implemented to bring together the SBC’s 2,000 Asian churches speaking at least 27 languages in the U.S. and Canada. The vision for a distinct network connecting English-speaking pastors from the SBC’s 10 ethnic Asian fellowships gave rise to the Asian NextGen Pastors Network in 2021.

“We lean into the shared reality and experiences of living as Asian American/Canadian church leaders in North America within the white majority culture,” Hyung Lee told Baptist Press. National Co-coordinator of the SBC’s Asian NextGen Network, Lee, of Korean ancestry, is pastor/elder of Living Rock (multi-ethnic) Church of Pasadena, in California.

“We believe embracing the diversity of Asian backgrounds brings value and wisdom to the SBC at large,” Lee continued. “We are not just defined by our ethnic group, but by our commitment to make disciples among all NextGen ethnics.”

Mentors for the NextGen regional and national teams are leaders of the SBC’s Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Myanmar, Vietnamese and Thai fellowships.

We embrace our cultural differences recognizing that there are commonalities among the various Asian ethnic groups but also a shared immigrant experience that binds our histories,” Shay said. “We are definitely more diverse than how we look, in the same way that various European peoples do not have the same languages, cuisines and customs.

“Our pastors’ network brings together the various ethnic fellowships represented in the Asian Collective so that by the friendship and trust we share, we are able to demonstrate the unity across ethnic groups that illustrates the oneness of the Body of Christ,” Shay said. “Simply said, when people in one ethnic group in our network serve and love people in another ethnic group with Christlike humility, we offer compelling evidence toward the power of the Gospel to build bridges and transform hearts among otherwise distinct people groups.”

Le, a father with young children, said Pierre’s talk will be relevant as he is “just beginning this journey of disciple-making for my own family,” he said. “I want to hear and learn from the experiences of others.”

“I want to hear and learn from the experiences of others,” Le continued. “Then, hanging out with old friends and making new ones is a big part of the NextGen meeting for me as well. Being from Arizona, I’m really looking forward to meeting new people from this region of the country and the local churches of Indianapolis. The annual meeting can be a really great place to make friends and care for each other long after the meeting ends.”

John Paul “JP” Arceno, senior pastor of Union Community Bible Church in Union, N.J., also talked with Baptist Press.

“Since I began pastoring an SBC church in New Jersey, I have been looking for a way to connect with other NextGen pastors who at least share a similar context with our ministry,” said Arceno, of Filipino ancestry. “I have seen through this group that my experiences in ministry are not that different from theirs.

“This group encourages and helps me resolve my ministerial queries about NextGen and this year through the book club, family discipleship topics,” Arceno continued. “Indeed, friendship, connection and cooperation are vital in the Gospel ministry for pastors who are just beginning their ministerial journey.”

Stephen Yee, family pastor of Northwest Chinese Baptist Church in Phoenix, told Baptist Press he attends the SBC annual meeting each year to “do my part in support and participation as a messenger of a cooperating church with the Southern Baptist Convention.” The Asian NextGen luncheon is a bonus.

“The luncheon is a great time of encouragement and equipping as we not only share a meal together, but we will also focus in on the topic of family discipleship and seize the opportunity to encourage those in attendance to grow in leading their families to know, love, and serve Jesus,” Yee said. “As a pastor of an Asian ethnic church, it is a blessing to connect, collaborate, and celebrate with other pastors that lead in a similar context. This collective gives us an opportunity to walk alongside each other in ministry even though we may be ministering thousands of miles apart. We share with one another, we pray with one another, we encourage one another, and we grow together.”

Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.