On Sunday mornings, congregations tend to focus on Scripture over current events, even after last month’s Lunar New Year shooting.
The morning after a mass shooting by a Chinese gunman killed 11 people in a predominantly Chinese suburb during Lunar New Year festivities last month, news and commentators buzzed about the weight of the tragedy for the Asian American community, but many Chinese churches in the US didn’t bring it up. Current events rarely make it into sermons or public statements from the pulpits at Chinese congregations, a reality that makes them outliers among American churches.
At James Hwang’s Chinese church in Southern California, the pastor brought up the shooting in the area only during the announcements, when he suggested that congregants pray for those affected by the tragedy.
“Most of the brothers and sisters didn’t seem to talk about it either,” said Hwang, a retired pastor and ministry leader.
The majority of Chinese churches in the US leave current events at the door. For some, it’s a deliberate decision to avoid politics in the pulpit for the sake of unity among their flock. They are concerned that discussion of current events may become a distraction or cause divisiveness. They believe that Sunday gatherings should focus on worship, God’s Word, and gospel proclamation, and it’s important to keep that a priority over what’s happening outside the church.
“Jesus’ focus was always on the gospel. He wanted to talk about sin and judgment,” said Kris Wang, who serves as an elder in a Chinese church in Lansing, Michigan. “He didn’t want to blur the focus of the gospel by talking about current events, theology, or political issues.
“I am not opposed to talking about current events in church, but I think we need to be careful about the negative effects …
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