Eugene Cho

You don’t have to be a celebrity _______ to be influential. Just be faithful.

How do you define a successful church?
How do we measure success as a pastor?

For that matter, how do we measure success in ______________?

As you read this post, I want to invite you to consider replacing ‘celebrity pastor‘ with ‘celebrity __________’.  Insert your area of profession or focus and consider the content of this post.

I’m come to realize that part of my calling as a pastor and leader is to be an encouragement to other pastors – but especially to those that don’t “measure up” to how we in the church subculture often directly or indirectly elevate stories of successful pastors – aka ‘celebrity pastors.’

This post isn’t a criticism of celebrity pastors. Hardly at all. Instead, it’s a post to accentuate the importance of all those who serve and lead in the church – but especially those pastors you’ll never hear of; Those that are not part of the preaching circuit; Those that don’t have publishing deals, etc.

I am not a successful pastor. I don’t pastor a mega-church or a large church. I don’t facilitate astronomical budgets, earn a huge salary, travel with huge entourages, fly on private jets, and have thousands upon thousands of sermon subscribers.

But nevertheless, I have influence.
We all do.

I’m simply trying to be faithful to the things, to the people, to the city, Read the rest of this entry »

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Why we should support #EndItMovement and why we must ask good, critical questions about fighting slavery.

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Like some of you, I’m sharing my support and partnership with #EndItMovement. It sickens me to even have such a day or movement for this purpose but such is the reality of our world. We can’t mince words: Slavery and Human Trafficking are evil.

But for those that don’t know about #EndItMovement, here’s a summation:

This February 27th, join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY. Draw a RED X on your hand. Tell your world that slavery still exists and YOU WON’T STAND FOR IT. Just use your influence any way you can to help us carry the message of FREEDOM so even more people know. Let’s make this SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY DAY even brighter than ever.

I support it and thus, I’ve taken the time to place an X on my hand…and to join with others in proclaiming that I don’t want this to be just merely a gesture, a red mark, a one time action…

I deeply appreciate Louie and Shelly Giglio – the founders of the Passion Movement and the instigators of the #EndItMovement. While it would be inaccurate to say that I know them personally, I’ve met Louis on couple brief occasions including at a meeting at the White House on the matter of human trafficking.

Since organizations, leaders, and influentials have done such a good job in bringing the issues of human trafficking to the view of the larger mainstream, it’s especially important to highlight not just that “Human trafficking is wrong” but the critical discussion of “How we engage this justice work…” Read the rest of this entry »

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What we can learn from Rick Warren, People’s Liberation Army, Humility, Listening, and Cultural Sensitivity.

Oh man. I don’t know if I should be writing this. I’m supposed to be busy writing the manuscript for my first book…which is already late. But hey, I need a writing break and what’s a better way to take a break from writing by writing. Ok, not really.

As I’ve checked my Twitter feed yesterday, there appears to have been a controversy surrounding Pastor Rick Warren and this photo below that he posted on his Facebook and Twitter (It has since been removed). The photo was posted this past Monday morning as a joke by Pastor Rick (or someone from his staff?) and was meant to make comparisons of his staff to the People’s Liberation Army aka Red Guard, aka Red Army, aka These Folks Did Some Scary & Cruel Stuff:

“The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.”

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Before I comment on this, let me first say that I have much love and respect for Pastor Rick. While I haven’t been a huge fan of his Hawaiian shirts, let he that has perfect fashion sense cast the first stone. So, I’ll drop my stones.

Seriously, Pastor Rick has been influential to many; He’s been a mentor to many – locally, nationally, and globally. And with the personal tragedy of the death of his son, he has been on the hearts of many. Like many other pastors and leaders, I took a moment to pray for Pastor Rick and Kay Warren at my church on that Sunday morning (the day after news broke of his son’s suicide).

Read the rest of this entry »

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a vision many years ago about a quest…

Over 10 years ago, God woke me up in my sleep. Literally.

The dream shook me up so much that I couldn’t go back to sleep. Over the next several months, I tried to resist the meaning of the dream but I knew that while I didn’t have full clarity, the Holy Spirit was stirring my wife and I to “get ready.”

The vision and dream I had was surreal because it was unlike anything I had personally seen or experienced. Minhee and I were then at a homogenous Korean-American church in the suburbs of Seattle but we were stirred to leave our comfort zone to plant a church in urban Seattle and invite people from diverse backgrounds to worship Jesus together, grow together, serve together, and be on mission together.

The calling for us was to be faithful in proclaiming and living out the gospel of Christ but in pursuit of a diverse church, it wasn’t merely to be post-racial, politically correct, or multiethnic, but in reality, to be about a faith community taking a step closer towards the vision and reality of the Kingdom of God.

The end goal isn’t the banner of a post-racialized world or even to have a multiethnic community. This post isn’t to boast or to indirectly point the finger at homogenous churches, white churches, suburban churches but rather to ask the question:

Are we taking steps towards the vision and reality of the Kingdom of God?

Read the rest of this entry »

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rob bell is going hollywood and i give him two thumbs up

In honor of the greatest movies critics the world has ever known (that would be Siskel & Ebert for you young folks), I am giving “two thumbs up” to Rob Bell and his news of going Hollywood to help create a new TV show on ABC called Stronger.  [click here for RSS readers]

Most of us are familiar with Rob Bell and his book, Love Wins, which was the single reason why Christian bloggers saw a huge spike in their readership this past February. I won’t lie. I jumped on the bandwagon and wrote an entry entitled - What the Hell? - and got 1,329,143,143 hits on that post.

And just last week, Rob Bell got more attention when he announced his resignation from his church, Mars Hill. I’m not linking to MH’s press release out of fear that it’ll crash their website again. My blog has that much power.

And like that fated incident when people were reviewing his book, Love Wins, without actually reading the book, I thought it was comical that people were criticizing, condemning, commenting on the reasons why he was stepping down from full-time pastorate

But now we know: Read the rest of this entry »

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our love affair with success

Many of have love affairs with “success” which is why we can so easily fall susceptible to a spiral of insecurity.

If we’re honest – no matter who we are and whatever discipline of work we’re involved with – we have some  perception of success.

That in itself isn’t bad but what if our perception of success becomes like a love affair; an obsession of value and self-worth? Check video below (for RSS feeds).

Pastors and leaders aren’t impervious to such pursuits of “success.” In fact, maybe we are more susceptible. And in these days of constant bombardment of various forms of new media, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others – other leaders, churches, ministries, non-profits, etc.

I am no different.

I’d like to think that as I turn 41 soon and coming upon 20 years in ministry, I would have outgrown such shallow comparisons but it’s still an ongoing struggle.

When we’re immature

…when our rootedness is not in the Gospel of Christ, then it leads us into dangerous and lonely places Read the rest of this entry »

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in memory of pastor ha yong jo

On August 2, 2011 (Korean time), Pastor Ha Yong Jo – founder and senior pastor of Onnuri Church in Seoul, Korea, passed away at the age of 65.

A life well lived…

While 99% of my readers will never have heard of this man. Pastor Ha was not only one of the most influential Christian leaders in Korea and Asia but perhaps (in a quiet and humble way), the entire world.

While many have influenced me, I have always seen and looked to him as my pastor and one of my mentors. It pains me not to be able to go to Korea directly to pay my respects…

하목사님과 대화했던 순간 순간을 떠올리게 된다. 늘 꿈을 꾸시고, 사랑하시고, 열정을 나누셨던 하나님 닮는 삶을 사신 목사님, 사랑합니다.

After my wife informed me of his passing, I just sat there in silence – mourning his passing and yet mindful and amazed by his legacy.  Minhee and I have deep respect for Pastor Ha for many reasons and one of them is simply because he was the pastor that officiated our wedding in 1997. Pastor Ha was also Minhee’s boss through a Christian company he founded called Tyrannus Ministry (Duranno in Korean).

In recent years, Pastor Ha had battled numerous health issues including an ongoing bout with liver cancer. But even despite his illnesses and what has been reported to have been 7 major surgeries in the past couple years, he continued to serve the Lord faithfully.

My Mentor

I first met Pastor Ha in 1994 when I joined his staff – first as an intern and then as one of the 35 full-time pastors (at that time). Pastor Ha – to be blunt – spoke firmly and directly into my life on several occasions. But he also always spoke lovingly.

Oh the stories I have…

Some of our conversations, truthfully, were painful at the time but as I looked back, I have grown to appreciate all of our conversations as I later understood how he was willing to invest and speak into my life.

When I joined the church in 1994, the church was then about 20,000 people. It has since reportedly grown to over 75,000 people.

But beyond numbers, I was always convicted by his passion for the one – both near and far. Read the rest of this entry »

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why president obama is and isn’t american

What is the deal with President Barack Obama? Or maybe we should re-frame the question:

What is wrong with America?

Why is it that we have such a hard time

His presidency is historical for obvious reasons and everyone knew that he was going to experience an uphill journey but the questions he’s had to endure are ridiculous: Read the rest of this entry »

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what the hell!? making sense of the fiasco with rob bell, john piper, and a book we’ve yet to read.

Sorry, I thought this was a funny and appropriate title for this post. Maybe not.

I am doing the world a huge favor because I know that no one has heard about the brouhaha that transpired this past Saturday over some dude named Rob Bell or rather, a book he’s written that is yet to be released and Gospel Coalition, John Piper, and the legions of “new-Calvinists” that see it as their convictions to defend and contend for orthodox Christianity. [Read Part 2, The Most Important Thing.]

So…this blog post about Bell’s upcoming book  pretty much declared Bell to be a universalist and that was the match that set off the firestorm. Perhaps, we should add Rob’s book to our list of Christian books that should NOT be published. ;)

What are your thoughts about the fiasco?

As usual, here are some of my random & vomitaceous thoughts:

Rob is a friend…

Now, let me go on the record and share that I like Rob. I’ve blogged about him – with praise and pushback. We’ve emailed several times. He’s shown some tweet support for One Day’s Wages. In short, I’m proud to call him a friend and a brother in Christ.

So, it pained me to see so much venomous stuff being written about Rob.

Me like the Universalist Post

This might be hard for some of you to believe Read the rest of this entry »

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defending whatchamacallit…

Apparently and unintentionally, I struck some nerves by referring to a Greg Laurie Seattle Harvest event as a “whatchamacallit.” In response to yesterday’s post, some responded with questions and good push-back and I can reassure you that I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or disparaging.

Let me explain to you where “whatchamacallit” came from. First, let me ask you this question:

How do you explain a “Seattle Harvest” to a non-Christian?

Seriously, I’d like to hear your words and thoughts:

How do you explain that?

I’m asking because I tried and I’m embarrassed Read the rest of this entry »

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harvests & crusades in a post-christendom world

When was the last time you attended a huge “crusade?

I’ve been to a couple including one that attracted about 700,000 people in South Korea. They said it was 700,000 people but then again, I’m not really sure how you confirm that sort of attendance. While I’ve never attended a Billy Graham crusade (which I regret since he’s such an iconic figure), I once attended a Greg Laurie Harvest.

Speaking of Greg Laurie (a megachurch pastor and evangelist), he was in Seattle this past weekend for the “Seattle Harvest” whatchamagacallit in Key Arena – former home of the Seattle Sonics. From their recent press release:

Seattle is the most technologically wired city in America, and although its residents are “connected,” Read the rest of this entry »

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redefining success

There’s so much more I can say but I tried to make my point in six minutes.

Couple weeks ago, I self-filmed this video for an online conference called The Nines. Unfortunately, my video didn’t actually make the cut that day but got archived as an “exclusive web content.”

Aren’t you special? Here’s access to the exclusive web content:

In this video, I was attempting to explain what I have been wrestling for a very long time: Read the rest of this entry »

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top 5 most challenging, convicting, mind-bending, face-melting books of all time?

I received this email from one of my blog readers a few weeks ago asking about my thoughts about the “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.”

Do you take requests for posts on your blog? If so…. I know that from time to time you do top 5 stuff, like favorite movies or songs or artists, etc. This isn’t anything novel, but I’d be grateful for a “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.” I guess I’m someone who learns a lot from books and I was just thinking about how I have roughly 5 books that I have read within the last few years that have truly changed the way I perceive myself and the world around me. It would be great to hear what others are reading -not their most favorite or enjoyable books (although this might be the case)- but books that have significantly reoriented the way they live. Maybe, you’ve done something like this before and I just missed it, but if not, something like this would be fun to be a part of.

Thanks! ~Ric

Asides from the Bible, what would you be on your Top 5 List?

I can’t list 5…I don’t even know know where to begin so I’m just sharing my list of most influential Christians books again. There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10. My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.

I hope 50 years from now, this list will change so that it also includes numerous female and non-Caucasian authors. Read the rest of this entry »

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pray for those liberals…

liberals

I remember being instructed as a new Christian many years ago to pray for influential Hollywood people.  I did as I was instructed and I still remember praying for numerous including Tom Cruise…umm, I should have prayed more. So, I kind of chuckled when I saw this article recently from the Christian Post entitled, Prayerful Americans Called to ‘Adopt a Liberal.’

I’ve been called lots of different names and labeled with different words including the ‘liberal’ word. I’ve also been called a ‘narrow minded fundy,’ ‘wanna be progressive’, ‘classic conservative’, ‘christian communist’ and the list goes on.

The positive about being labeled is that I might actually make it on someone’s prayer list and who doesn’t want prayer?  :)

I’m a fan of prayer. I’m a fan of civility. I understand the nature and necessity of politics. I don’t really like some of the views of the folks on the list but I also don’t know them as people – personally. And I know that while we’re instructed to pray for our ‘leaders’ but the ‘adopt a liberal’ thing sure seems weird.  How long before we get an “Adopt a Conservative” initiative? And thus, the perpetuation of the “otherizing” and worse, “demonizing” of others. Which leads us to the big picture question:

Is there another way?  What is the “follower of Christ” way?

Enough of me. What do you think?

Here’s the article: Read the rest of this entry »

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your favorite chick flicks?

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We’ve discussed some heavy issues recently on the blog so I’d like to change the pace and post something light and talk movies. Who doesn’t like to talk movies?

Last year, I asked a question about the movies that have influenced you the most and why and wow, there were some incredible comments and recommendations. I followed many of your recommendations and enjoyed many of them.

My wife and I have different preferences in films. Me like (grunt) Action and (beating chest) Sci-Fi films.  And so, she takes one for the team to watch those films but I guess I need to do my part so I ask you this important question in an effort to invest in our marriage.

What are your favorite chick flicks?

In addition to “regulars” sharing their answers, I am especially inviting the lurkers and quiet blog readers to chime in. This is your chance to join in and become one of the cool people.

Here’s what I can bear watching: Read the rest of this entry »

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your city and your ideal future home?

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In light of Seattle being named ‘City of the Year’ by Fast Company magazine (article below), let’s begin a new week with a community building post.  A ‘community building’ post is an invitation to get off the sidelilnes and write a comment.  Share your answer and a bit of yourself.

Here’s the question:

Where do you currently live?  Do you like your current city/town? And if you could live anywhere else in the world (not visit but actually live), where would that be?

My answer: Obviously, I live in Seattle.  We are heading towards our 12 year anniversary in Seattle this June.  It’s amazing to think that nearly 12 years ago, Minhee and I packed up our station wagon (about 5 months after getting married) and made our way to Seattle – not quite certain what the future would hold.  I shared more about why I love Seattle here.  Many of you also shared your answers for the world’s most beautiful city.

If I could live anywhere, my choices:   Read the rest of this entry »

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what happened to myspace?

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What in the world happened to MySpace?  Did Robert Murdoch make a bad investment when he purchased MySpace for 580 million dollars in 2005?  At one point, people were referring to MySpace as a potential Google killer.  Wow – how fast things change.

I never had a MySpace account but dabbled with Q Cafe’s MySpace account and wasn’t impressed.  But recents news [shared below] via the Guardian UK is not news to anyone, right?  MySpace – Web 2.0′s darling a few years ago is now less than half the size of it’s younger rival, Facebook, and now officically in decline.

So, here are my questions in an attempt to better understand the fast changing aspect of social media and post Web 2.0.

What happened to MySpace?  Will it be around 5 years from now?

We all know that businesses come and go; New trends come and go. But in light of our incredibly fast changing world especially via technology Read the rest of this entry »

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partnership with dr. cornel west

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After some thought and prayer, I’ve decided to move forward with a partnership with Dr. Cornel West. I really like the dude and enjoy reading his stuff and ruminating on his perspective of power, religion, politics, church, class, etc.  His book, Race Matters, is a must read but be warned that it’ll make you uncomfortable.

What’s the partnership?

Okay…I’m exaggerating a bit.  But I’ve joined Dr. West and a list of numerous others including John Perkins, Anne Lamott, and Walter Brueggemann as a contributing editor of Sojourners Magazine. There’s no salary, private jet perks, or other VIP benefits but just being listed alongside West, Perkins, Lamott, Brueggemann and others pretty much sold me.

And to be honest, Cornel or others don’t even know that we’re in this “partnership” since they have no idea who I am but hey, it just sounds great to say that I’m in partnership with Doc West.  Maybe, Jesus will love me more because of  my resume.  Maybe a perk might be to actually meet these folks.  Actually, there’s really not that much to the responsibility but to write couple articles for the magazine and that’s something I enjoy doing anyway.

Here’s one of the more compelling quotes from Cornel West.

Read it.  What do you think?  Reflections? Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

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Wow. Blessed are the artists that help others reimagine the Gospel. #HeIsRisen #questchurch Amazing Resurrection celebration service. Especially love celebrating Communion every Sunday. Today, hosted a super Feast with bread from many different countries. #HeIsRisen Don't rush too soon to the empty tomb. Reflect on the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life & love. Thank you, Jesus, for you have redeemed this day of injustice and violence to be "good." You are truly the Light of the world. #GoodFriday Layover. San Francisco. Having grown up here, my heart still flutters. No other city like it. A quick, busy, & meaningful 26 hrs in Wash DC but managed to go for an hour walk for this view. One of the greatest monuments in the world. A true American hero. #AbrahamLincoln

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