Church planting in a cross-cultural setting: planting a Chinese Seventh-day Adventist church in Metro Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Unpublished Thesis (MTh)
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Canadian-Chinese are a heterogeneous people of diverse socio-economic backgrounds and cultural orientations. As most are first-generation immigrants, they experience problems in adjusting to the new environment. These problems surface in personal, family, and work difficulties. Many local-born Chinese experience identity crisis. The growth of the Canadian-Chinese churches is closely related to the demographic change of the community. The ethnic church also experiences acculturation. Different models of ministry and evangelism have been tried in the cross-cultural setting of Canada. The 1986 census reports that out of 414,000 Chinese in Canada, 35 percent resided in Metro Toronto. Of the 68 Chinese churches in that metropolis in 1990, not one was Seventh-day Adventist. The issue addressed by this thesis is the challenge of planting a Chinese SDA church in Metro Toronto. The Chinese work in Metro Toronto was first started as a Chinese Sabbath School class of fewer than ten members in 1973. It remained a fellowship group until May 1990. factors contributing to slow growth were: (1) absence of pre-planned church planting strategy; (2) lack of proper organizational or structural set-up to allow the group o develop leadership and financial responsibility; (3) lack of pastoral leadership to lead out in the church planting project. The first full-time Chinese pastor was assigned in September 1989. Under his leadership, the following steps were taken: (1) a distinct church identity with purpose and mission was gradually cultivated; (2) ties with the Willowdale Church were severed to enable the Chinese membership to develop leadership and assume financial responsibility; (3) the quality of worship services and facilities for the place of meeting were improved; (4) nurturing of members and evangelistic outreach were carried out; (5) a permanent church site was acquired and the building plan was implemented. As a result, the group was organized into a company with 37 members in May 1990 and as a church with 70 members in January 1992. At least five conclusions may be drawn from the Toronto Chinese SDA church planting experience. 1. A successful church planting must include pastoral leadership with strong church-planting intention. 2. The desire to plant a church must be cultivated and nurtured by the conference, the base church, and the congregation, in order to succeed. 3. A Chinese SDA church has a better chance of being planted if it is done among recent Chinese immigrants. 4. In each phase of its development, the congregation should take increasing responsibility of its own growth and development. 5. To plant a Chinese church in Canada involves reclaiming and recruiting Chinese immigrants from the Far East. To meet their need and aspirations is vital.
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