Eugene Cho

Palm Sunday: He’s Jesus. He’s Lord. We’re not. We’re just the donkey (or ass). Remember, it’s not about us.

Palm Sunday.

I’m very fond of this season in the Christian calendar because I can mention the word “ass” during my blog post and sermon and still keep all the fundamentalists off my back. ;)

But seriously, the message of Palm Sunday is very significant. True, this fulfills the prophecy of the Old Testament and that’s very significant but there’s more:

The image of Jesus riding on a donkey – aka “an ass” – during Palm Sunday is a great paradox.

In some ways, it’s when things go downhill really fast for Jesus and for anyone and everyone associated with Jesus that had a different agenda about “the Kingdom” than Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, Jesus, justice, leadership, ministry, , ,

everyone needs to read this because maybe, this is actually about YOU and ME

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Everyone needs to read this.

Every Christian needs to read this. Every Christian, pastor, leader, community organizer, and influencer needs to read this.

Whatever tribe, denomination, or team your roll with; whatever term or word you’re comfortable with; small church or mega church; organic or online; reformed or monastic; conservative or liberal…blah blah blah.  You need to read this.

Why?

Because many of us think that God was addressing someone else when we read or preach Amos 5:21-24. You know…the other person, group, team, church;  That other misguided and self-righteous quasi-Christian, borderline heretic, and religious legalist; the other person on the fence on that hot theological issue; the other liberal or conservatives; that feminist or ultimate fighting Jesus lover, and on and on. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, religion

one of the greatest sermons…

It passed quietly this year but as I’ll likely do each year, I want to share about one of the greatest sermons I’ve ever heard. It didn’t come from a pulpit but rather through the stories of about 50-60 folks from a church community that no longer technically exists continues to make an impact through their lives, legacy, stories, and friendship.

Three years ago (June 2007), a 65-year-old church named Interbay Covenant Church (our landlords for several years) chose to “die to themselves” and gift themselves and all their assets to Quest Church.

These amazing folks gave away more than property and assets worth about $5-6 million dollars. More courageously, they shared their lives, stories, and legacy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote:

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons…

I am so humbled and blessed to have witnessed Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, faith, leadership, ministry, pastors, seattle

ash wednesday primer and gathering

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This is from last year but still helpful for those who are not familiar with the purpose of Ash Wednesday.

For 2010, Quest is holding their ASH WED service on Wednesday, February 17 (7-8am). There is also a Family Ash WED event that same night from 6.30-8.15pm. All the info can be found at http://seattlequest.org

Depending on your background, you may or may not be familiar with Ash Wednesday or otherwise referred to as ‘Day of Ashes.’  It marks the beginning of the Lent season as we journey towards the Holy Week in the Christian calendar.  The Lent season culminates with Good Friday [Dark Friday] and Resurrection Sunday.

And a simple primer from Beliefnet: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, faith, Jesus, quest church, seattle, ,

i don’t live for the jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer, and beats on other men

Several weeks ago, I had an extensive phone interview with a reporter from the New York Times about the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the wide and nebulous net of “evangelical churches.” The reporter had come across one of my previous blog entries and contacted me.

The NY Times article came out today (February 2, 2010). You can click here or the image above to read the full article.

My hour interview was reduced to basically one quote:

“I don’t live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men.”

Let me clarify since I have a feeling I’ll be getting my share of visitors over the next couple days who have no idea who I am or the context behind that one quote. But first, some initial thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, Jesus, seattle, , , , ,

what do you see?


I saw this photo somewhere (not sure where) of Jesus, a rifle, and a Nazi (Hitler?) and couldn’t stop staring and reflecting upon it. I’m sharing it here as I’d love to hear your thoughts:

What do you see? How would you interpret this picture? Does it confirm or challenge?

The image perplexed me for so many reasons. It made me recall a conversation I had during my seminary years. During one lecture, we were discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who was a Lutheran pastor and a pacifist faced with the dilemma of Hitler and the Nazi regime: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, faith, Jesus,

water the da*n grass on this side of the fence

water your grass

We’re all familiar with this phrase:

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

It may or may not be true but often times if not most of the times, it’s because we spend most of our time dreaming, coveting, envying, complaining, wishing, stop caring, and before you know it, we stop watering the grass on your side.

You may eventually get to the other side of the fence but for now:

Water the da*n grass on this side of the fence.

Here’s the sermon from this past Sunday about 10 things that Build Community. This is the sermon in response to the Things that Destroy Community. This goes about 58+ minutes long and I wished I could have gone a tad longer to flesh out a few more things but I made a pact in blood w/ our other staff to end at a responsible time. And I barely made it this Sunday.

And a short clip about ‘Watering the Grass on This Side’:

Here are the 10 contextual points I shared: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, Jesus, pastors, quest church, , , ,

how do we respond to the prosperity gospel?

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The prosperity gospel is a sham for the very simple reason that the emphasis is not on the gospel but on Prosperity. In fact, any movement that’s not focused on the GOSPEL is a false teaching as far as I’m concerned.

So, while I can acknowledge why some folks would be captivated by this movement, I’m more curious about how those who oppose prosperity theology should respond.

The NY Times published an article yesterday entitled, Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich, and it’s worth your read.

But back to my question:

How do we respond? Do we simply say that “We’re against it” or should go further to teach against the movement; to specifically cite preachers behind the movement?  How strongly do we voice our opposition?

Or maybe you disagree with me entirely and believe the Prosperity Gospel is legit…

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FORT WORTH — Onstage before thousands of believers weighed down by debt and economic insecurity, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and their all-star lineup of “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted the crowd with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, , ,

jimmy carter leaves the southern baptist convention: “losing my religion over equality”

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I read this piece from former President, Jimmy Carter, over the weekend explaining his decision to sever his ties with the South Baptist Convention – after being an active member for six decades.  While I don’t agree with everything he writes, I agreed with the crux of his column: Enough is enough.

Most of you are aware of my hermeneutics and convictions pertaining to the issue of equality of women and my full support for women in all levels of leadership in the Church. I’ve written numerous posts about the issue but here are some worth checking out:

I hate to admit it but it still seems lonely with that “position” so I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a woman – called by God – but seen not only as “unqualified” but in essence, “living in sin” for being deceived…a la Eve all over again.   Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, Jesus, leadership, ministry, , , ,

“win over” or “love on” for jesus?

I’m currently rockin’ in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have the privilege of being one of the morning teachers of an event called CHIC2009 – a gathering of 5200+ high schoolers from all around the country. I’m simply teaching one message but 8x to 600+ students at a time (twice/day).  I’d really appreciate your prayers.

I was asked to speak on the topic of  ‘my relationship with others.’

Simple enough but it’s clearly one of those things that seem much easier said than done.  My sermon – through various points – seeks to explain this:

…more and more Christians are falling in love with the idea of loving and serving our neighbors…than actually loving and serving our neighbors.

And one of the most important ways we love and serve our neighbors is if we build relationships with people.

And this is where I get a lot of push back from people. By building relationships with people, we need to let go of the agenda of “evangelism” and “let’s convert this person to Jesus Christ.”   Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, emerging church,

my only mega-issue with megachurches

mega church

I really don’t have an issue with megachurches themselves per se. In fact, there’s much to appreciate; it’s amazing how so many people are able to gather in one space – to hopefully – takes steps deeper in the larger mission of both that local church and the larger Missio Dei. If people are coming and growing in Christ, I’m encouraged and excited.

While people may have various issues with megachurches, I think it’s best to simply see them for what they are: another expression of the body of Christ. And we need different expressions that are faithful to the proclamation, declaration, and incarnation of the Gospel.

And while people have their opinions on them including the angle of ‘consumeristic,’ we should all acknowledge that each and every single person is a consumer on some level.  Every one of us.  And the folks that deny that apparently struggle with lying.

And so each church and ministry – no matter what size –  have to wrestle with the balance between catering to the consumption of the flesh and the ministry to the soul.

Having been on staff of a church of 25,000 people for couple years, I grew a deeper appreciation for this church, its senior pastor, and its ministry (Seoul, Korea).  Since my departure from this church in 1996, its since grown to nearly 70,000 people and still as missional minded as ever. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church,

why is everyone leaving the church?

nm_youth_church_090506_mnTalk about a string of bad press! In addition to a write up in the Christian Science Monitor [The Coming Evangelical Collapse], a cover article of the Newsweek Magazine entitled “The End of Christian America,” a more readable and short article popped up last week on ABC News entitled, “Young America Losing Their Religion.”

While these articles aren’t great news, I must be a bad pastor Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, culture, emerging church, faith, Jesus, ministry, religion

to twitter or not to twitter…at church

twittering at church / time magazineAs you know, I joined Twitter (@eugenecho) about two months ago after asking you for Twitter advice. I’m convinced that it’s very useful – particularly because it is what you make of it. I do find it comical when the Twitter critics chat about how much they dislike Twitter – and yet, they’re updating their Facebook statuses every other hour. Huh?

But why do we tend to go overboard?  For example, I was reading the article below from Time Magazine entitled, Twittering in Church, and while I fully embrace the changing mode of technology, communication, and language (and the church’s need to learn and engage in this language), I’m uncertain about the church encouraging people to twitter through the different elements of a church worship service: singing, sermons, communion, etc.

Maybe, I’m getting old fashioned.  Heck, I joined Facebook after the majority of my church joined and finally caved in to Twiiter. But I’d like to hear your opinions:

  • What do you think of encouraging people to twitter through a service?
  • What are the boundaries?  How far is too far?

I liken this to my post months ago about video venues coming near you.  I support using technology, utilizing videos, and having them available as a resource but think we’re crossing unhealthy boundaries by replacing live and local pastors with somebody on a jumbo screen – even if they’re on high definition!  Just because one can respond “we do it for the glory of Jesus” to everything seems dangerous to me.

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

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, emerging church, religion, , , ,

you are not alone: an interview with jim wallis

Recently, I had the privilege of spending some time in Washington DCwhere I also announced my entrance (and short lived) into politics. There, I met some old friends, made some new friends (will post my interview with The ONE Campaign next week), and was also able to spend some time and interview Jim Wallis. For those that aren’t familiar with Jim, he is an ordained minister, evangelical Christian writer, activist, and also the founder and president of Sojourners.  The mission of Sojourners is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Jim’s most prominent books are entitled, God’s Politics and The Great Awakening.

In the interview, I attempted to break him down, reduce him to tears, talk trash Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, culture, emerging church, pastors, politics, , ,

our church’s response to the H1N1 – swine flu

communion at quest

I just sent out this note to our church email database in response to the growing concern of the H1N1 Virus (aka Swine Flu).  In addition to some cases in the larger country, there have now been seven new cases of what is likely the H1N1 virus.  Six of them involve children which explains why six schools are now closed.

With the impact of media and social media, news of the ‘Swine Flu’ is going literally viral.  While there clearly isn’t ONE response, we should not err on the extremes: Panic or Ignorance.

Leaders: No need to propagate fear and panic but don’t ignore the fact that some of your congregants are genuinely worried for themselves and their families. In Seattle (article above), six schools have temporarily closed their schools in response to the virus. There’s clearly no need to cancel church but we should take measures and precautions to reassure our congregants.  Remember: Pastoral Care.

Having said, our church staff made the following precautionary decisions that impact our church worship

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, ministry, quest church, religion, seattle, , ,

generations of faith and salvation

Last Sunday, couple folks were baptized at Quest. Their stories of coming to faith in Jesus always moves me. With permission, here’s the story of Rosalind – one of only 30,000 Karaite Jews in the world and now one of two Karaite Jew believers.  I want to encourage you to read it and be blessed.

quest church baptism

“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” Genesis 12:1-4

It feels like my faith journey began before I was born. I guess that’s why my testimony might feel more like a history lesson than a story about God’s grace, but the fact that I’ve made it here is almost testament enough.

I am a Karaite Jew; a sect of Jews that has been around since God passed down his laws to Moses. Originating in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris-Euphrates river system (present day Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc.), only 30,000 of us remain in the world today, 4,000 of which reside in the U.S.

My parents were born in Egypt and, like many of the Karaite Jews, were also imprisoned, and then expelled, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, faith, Jesus, ministry, quest church, religion

we should all be enraged about bullying especially to gay/lesbian students

I received my share of taunts, slurs, beat downs, and bullying – particularly in elementary and middle school.  But when I hear my kids come home and speak of some taunts or bullying, I can’t help it:  I get enraged.  It pains me immensely.

And so when I read this news from the NY Times about two young 11 year old boys – Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera – who hung themselves because of “gay” taunts at their schools, I was enraged.  There’s couple issues here:  bullying and specifically, the bullying and abuse specifically targeted to gay and lesbian students.

What does it all mean?

And if we have 11 year old kids committing suicide, we have to ask the question: Are we doing enough to protect kids and punish those that bully?

Locally, (as I’m sure nationally), there are pastors and others leading, organizing, and encouraging parents to not send their teenagers to schools on (the now passed) Day of Silence – a peaceful demonstration representing the silence many gay and lesbian students feel they must maintain to avoid harassment and bullying at school.

While I can understand the anxiety that some parents may have in our homophobic culture, I completely disagree with the action to boycott school and in recent years in Seattle, for rallies against or taking out full page ads encouraging parents to keep their kids out of school.

What is the message we are conveying?  Can’t this be an opportunity for parents – while one honor their personal convictions – for a teaching moment to their kids?

So, while Christians and churches should certainly have the right to exercise their freedom with their views, all Christians and churches should be enraged at the bullying and verbal, emotional, and at times, physical violence against our gay youth.

For those that have read my blog, you know where I stand on homosexuality, but without any reservation, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, pastors, religion, seattle, , , , ,

the beauty of diversity, community, and uniqueness

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Ministry has its up and downs. Such is life.

But one of the joys of planting and pastoring Quest Church is that it’s one of the most unique and diverse communities I have been a part of. This isn’t meant to be a slam against homogeneous churches.  In fact, I believe that every community is multicultural on some level – [Hint: think beyond race.]  While I miss (very much) the uniqueness of my experiences in Korean-American churches – food, generations, languages, etc. (and still am involved in KA/Asian communities), I now understand why God called Minhee and I to venture out from our homogeneous suburban church into the city to plant Quest and Q Cafe.

While we have a long way to go, we’re thankful that Quest is growing as a multicultural, multigenerational, and urban faith community – with a desire to be an incarnational presence both in the city of Seattle and the larger world – teaching and living out the Gospel of Christ.

Questions: What are ways that you encourage your community to grow in diversity, community, and uniqueness?

These are my encouragements to fellow leaders and pastors:

  1. Know the diversity of your community.  Simply, do you know their stories?  They may “look” the same but they represent different ‘cultures’ – if not ethnicities.  We all have diverse stories.  If you know their stories, are you making their stories known?  FWIW, this is my story.
  2. Nevertheless, have a vision of the larger Kingdom and the “future Church” and consider what it looks like to take “one step closer…” Even if your church community isn’t ethnically diverse, how are you personally building friendships and encouraging your congregants to live in friendship with neighbors and the  larger community?  How is your church serving  “other” churches and communities – especially those that don’t look like yours?  You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket and think that “worshipping together” is the only expression.  Think outside of Sundays and outside the building box.
  3. Be committed to the truth that each person is uniquely created in the image of God.  Consider the lessons learned from the story of Susan Boyle of Britain’s Got Talent and meditate on this quote from C. S. Lewis in The Weight Of Glory.

“There are no ordinary people. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, ministry, pastors, seattle, ,

stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

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 I may stand on different sides on several issues with this man but I'm committed to praying for my President.

Honored to be joining Christian pastors and leaders today for the White House Prayer Breakfast. The great wheel of Seattle. Cloudy on top. Sunny on the bottom. Such is life sometimes. Taking a walk in one of my fav Seattle spots before a busy month. Embracing the calm before the storm.

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