DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

KOREAN AMERICAN CHURCHES: FIRST-GENERATION CENTERED

 

 (new.gbgm-umc.org)

 

The Korean American church is commonly known to be for, by, and of the first generation Korean Americans.  A majority of the 1.5 and 2nd generation Korean Americans leave the church.  There is a huge gap between the attendance of the first and second generations in the church.  The growth and success of the Korean American church is due to the first generation of Koreans.  Korean American churches are able to continue to grow because of the steady flow of Korean immigration to the U.S.  This factor has shaped the pattern and style of the Korean American churches.  This has all lead to the fact that Korean American churches have not significantly changed for a century in terms of language, style of worship, and theological stand which is all natively Korean.  It is this continuation of the first generation pattern that has lead Korean American churches to be even more conservative than actual Korean churches. 

 

First generation Koreans perform the most important functions of the congregation and also contribute the most financial support, allowing for the church to be designed to appease this population.  Most ministers of Korean American churches grew up in Korean and are trained in Korean seminaries.  Korean American pastors learn about what is going on in the U.S. through Korean media such as Korean newspapers, radio, and TV. They also read biblical commentaries written by Koreans or interpreted by Koreans.  This leads to Korean American congregations being more conservative and slower at catching up with America than Korean Churches in Korea. 

 

Korean American Christians practice their religion the way they would in Korea.  Church life has become a haven of familiarity for them.  These churches have become a “ghetto” in American society by secluding Korean American Christians from America culturally and intellectually.  It is interesting that immigrant communities have a tendency to preserve native cultural traditions better than those in their homeland.  The most authentic Korean culinary culture exist outside of Korea and Korean language used by immigrants in the U.S. is old fashioned and an outdated version of the one used in Korea. 

 

All this has led to second generation Koreans to feel that first-generation Korean American Christians are not flexible and unwilling to embrace their generation and run the church with bureaucracy.  The first generation Koreans also complain that the second generation is too Americanized and unable to understand Christianity the way that they do.  

 

 

Five reasons why first generation Korean Americans go to church:

 

  1. Fellowship and comfort
  2. Preserving ethnic culture
  3. For counseling and advice on social services
  4. Reinforcing social status and position
  5. Sharing information for match-making and business opportunities
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.