Biola University's Talbot School of Theology hosted the second annual Asian American Ministries Conference (AAMC) last week from November 6 to 7, this year focusing on the theme, "Lessons on Leadership."
"There is such a void in the area of leadership all throughout society," said Dr. Benjamin Shin, the director of the AAMC Committee. "For this reason, we wanted to equip the saints to be effective in leading the home, the marketplace, and the church like Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit."
As such, the conference was divided into three "mini-conferences," as Shin called it. With the exception of the opening and closing plenary sessions, all of the plenary and breakout sessions were separated into three tracks: leadership in the home, leadership in the church, and leadership in the marketplace. Steven Chin, the senior pastor of Boston Chinese Evangelical Church and a council member of The Gospel Coalition, led the track for leadership in the home; Alexander Strauch, most known as the author of Biblical Eldership, led the track for leadership in the church; and Brian Chan, CEO of Liferay Portal, led the track for leadership in the marketplace.
"Our hope is that as you strive to be godly leaders in the home, that you would also bring that into your leadership within the church. And as you lead in the church, that you would take that and become leaders in the marketplace as witnesses for Christ," said Shin.
The three different tracks explored more nuanced details of what leadership entails in those specific contexts. Steven Chin discussed what leadership could look like in marriage and in parenting, and breakout sessions discussed more in detail the father's and mother's leadership in the home. Brian Chan discussed how Christians in the workforce could point people to Christ through taking risks and even in the everyday mundane routine, and a breakout session discussed specifically what a Christian witness could look like in the education system. Alexander Strauch discussed the role of elders and deacons during a pre-conference on Friday, and delved into how the Old Testament and New Testament show that Christian leaders must be radically different from the leaders of this world during the conference. A breakout session in the church track discussed the hiring process in the church -- how the search committee should conduct the process, and what candidates should look out for.
Though the tracks discussed very different details depending on the context, there were several qualities of leadership that speakers particularly emphasized across the board.
For example, several speakers noted that a leader must prioritize his or her personal spiritual growth. Steven Chin said that he considers "not praying enough" as one of his most significant failures in leadership, and emphasized the need for leaders to invest time in genuine prayer, not just "lip service prayers," as he put it.
"If leading is taking [people] somewhere," said Brian Chan, "then as you draw closer to God, that will naturally allow you to lead them closer to Him as well."
Leaders must also show humility and serve those who they are leading, speakers emphasized.
"A lot of people are attracted to leadership because they have self-esteem issues," Chin said. "But leadership is not about you -- it's about God. You're just a piece of what God is doing ... Our whole job [as leaders] is to point people to Christ and get ourselves out of the way."
"When Jesus comes back, he himself will serve us," Chan said, saying that when being witnesses and leaders in the marketplace, Christians must exemplify that servanthood and humility to others as well.
Finally, speakers emphasized, leaders must love.
Alexander Strauch, who wrote the book, Leading with Love, particularly emphasized this aspect and dedicated an entire plenary session on love.
"The Corinthian church was proud of their spiritual gifts and their accomplishments," Strauch said, referring to the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3. "But Paul was telling them, there is something even more excellent than that, and that's love."
The Asian American Ministries Conference was started in 2014, and organizers aimed to provide resources and support for Asian American leaders and churches through the conferences. The first conference focused on the theme, "Mentoring for a Lifetime," and explored how Asian American Christians could receive mentorship and become mentors in various contexts. Next year's conference will take place on November 5, 2016, and is themed, "Worship & the Word."