For those of us who lead ministries in Asian American contexts, we have become experts at making theological Sullungtang. Sulluntang is a Korean soup dish that requires a proper treatment of raw beef bones to create the base of the soup, a milky white bone broth. The process includes boiling bones along with a continual straining of excess fat and nonessentials until the desired milky white color is achieved. Asian American pastors and ministry leaders make theological Sullungtang with almost every mainstream book and Christian teaching we attempt to digest. We’ve become masterclass chefs, taking the raw beef given to us by the “experts” of Christianity, butchering it down to the bones, boiling away the impurities and excess, then adding our own cultural ingredients to make a ministry meal that will suit the appetites and palettes of our congregations.
But growing questions raised by many Asian American church leaders are, “Do we have to keep doing this? Must we continue submitting ourselves to publishers, authors, and church leaders who make blanket statements regarding the pulse of ministry in America?”
The answer is no. We are beginning to see an influx of Asian American Christian media content that brings contextual wisdom into the blossoming theological spaces we occupy, benefitting the entire body of Christ simultaneously.
The English Ministry Podcast is a prime example of this trend. Rev. John Sungyak Kim hosts this podcast, and his experience in English ministry contexts spans two decades, three states, and three different countries. According to his own podcast description, Rev. Kim intends to “amplify (Asian American) voices far and wide.” His unique addition to the podcast landscape is that he meets his guests in person, and their face-to-face conversations are almost unedited, with episodes ranging from one to two hours. This format allows Kim’s thoughtful insights to be paired with an intentional pace, resulting in episodes that are easy-listening in all the best ways. It’s a quintessential stream-of-dialogue podcast.
A particularly noteworthy episode is his conversation with Rev. Danny Kwon. Recorded during a recent KALI National Gathering, John and Danny discuss a wide range of topics, from Danny’s time serving as a youth pastor for almost 30 years, to their ranking of all-time sports movies. The 80-minute episode is educational, endearing, and most of all, accomplishes Kim’s goal of “featuring real people and stories from the Korean American immigrant church context.”
The future of Asian American Christian media might be uncertain, but the English Ministry Podcast is another step toward a growing menu that might cater to all but is specifically crafted for some.
About the Author
Daniel Jung is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He lives in Northern California, where he serves as an associate pastor at Home of Christ in Cupertino.