Eugene Cho

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, , , , ,

“and american democracy is not my idol…”

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I can’t help but keep thinking about this quote from Cornel West again and again and wonder what it means to be a follower of Christ as a citizen of a great country that is simultaneously the most powerful empire in the world.  And then wonder if the [C]hurch is more in tune to the rhythms of this Empire rather than the songs of the Gospel.

People question why I keep saying we live in a great country.  Because people like Cornel West can say this. And people like me can write and share about it. Freedom is a great thing. It’s what God intended and while we can all agree that the US is not a perfect country, we have the opportunities that many don’t  have.

Read the quote from his book, Democracy Matters. Then, read it again.  What do you think?

“I speak as a Christian- one whose commitment to democracy is very deep but whose Christian convictions are deeper. Democracy is not my faith. And American democracy is not my idol. To see the gospel of Jesus Christ bastardized by imperial Christians Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, culture, Jesus, religion,

in our human finitude, we cannot fully grasp the infinitude of god…

We can try but we cannot fully understand the fullness, majesty, and glory of God.

But we try. It is our human nature – for better and for worse. We use words, metaphors, stories, images, songs, liturgy, and the kitchen sink to better understand the answer to the question: “Who is God?”

We try but

how can we possibly in our human finitude fully grasp the infinitude of God?

We can’t which is why it is so incomprehensible that God chose to descend, be consumed by flesh and bone, be born of a woman, and live amongst us.

While it is certainly good news that God died for us in Jesus Christ, don’t forget this amazing gospel: God walked amongst us!

Truly incomprehensible. Truly amazing.

Several weeks ago, my family took another spontaneous one night camping trip to Deception Pass State Park [Bowman Bay]. The weather was stunning [80s] and in the evening, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the skies so clear and the stars so bright in the Seattle/Puget Sound area. Eventually, the wife and kids went to bed in the tent but I couldn’t stop gazing at the stars. Just shaking my head, eyes swelled with tears, and simply amazed by the majesty and glory of God.

I recently saw this video Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, culture, faith, Jesus, pastors

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, , ,

the voodoo video i couldn’t show at quest

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Thanks to the collective wisdom of our larger staff, I pulled this “voodoo video” from last week’s Good Friday service.

But I still really like this video.  Very thought provoking so I’m now sharing and showing it here on my blog – for your viewing and commentary (video below).

It’s disturbing on several levels including the usage of ‘voodoo’ in it’s title which isn’t the best word in a church context but from an artistic level, this is an amazing video. The incredible animation is created by 26 year old artist Joaquin Baldwin.  I don’t know him personally but after watching this video, I suspect he may have been influenced by Christianity in some shape or another.  When you watch the film, you’ll see some Christian parallels.  Had I shown it, it would have taken some good explanation why I was showing the clip.

Here are the reasons this video really made me think: Read the rest of this entry »

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

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 »

Filed under: culture, ,

the atheist vs christian bus: war or conversation?

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One of my blog readers and now newly assigned European correspondent sent us this report from the the UK about the “escalation” of the “There is [Probably] No God” Atheist Bus that I shared about several weeks ago.  In response, a group of Christians have responded in kind with the “There Definitely Is a God” Christian bus.

Mary – my European correspondent [just writing that makes this blog seem that more impressive] writes:

I don’t know much about the group that has financed this response to the Dawkins “There is no God” bus campaign, but I think it is worth thinking about the way they chose to address it.

I find it interesting that the Time article (although being a bit overly dramatic calling it the “London Bus Wars”) mentions the spread of the atheist bus campaigns all over the world.

Does this sort of campaign matter to those of us who believe in God? Should we see it as an attack or a stimulus for dialogue about God? Why does it appear that Christians (as opposed to other groups who believe in God) seem to be the most up in arms regarding the campaign (and thus are the ones who have responded with their own adverts)?

Just some questions to think about…

Couple Pennies for your Thoughts:

What do you think? Is this good? Are these as the Time articles writes the “London Bus Wars?” – a la ‘culture wars?  Or is this good cultural engagement and conversation?

My Thoughts:  I don’t think Christians Read the rest of this entry »

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

video interview with phyllis tickle

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I had the joy of  having a great chat with Phyllis Tickle recently and she was gracious enough to shoot this video interview with me. Phyllis’ recent book, The Great Emergence, is making the waves amongst many people and it’s also on my ‘To Read’ list for 2009.  She is one sharp amazing lady and I don’t want to spread rumors but I’m pretty sure she’s on steroids too…just like Scot McKnight.  :)

Whether you agree with her premise of ‘The Great Emergence,’ I think it’s pretty obvious that one thing is inevitable:  CHANGE.  

Change happens and and will always happen and according to many, we’re in the midst of a historic change.  But lest we get think too much of ourselves in the ‘Church,’ this historic change isn’t just within christendom but one that encompasses the larger world. 

Here’s the interview with Phyllis and her bio from her website: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, emerging church, Jesus, ministry, pastors, religion, ,

going to jail for adultery

I’m not sharing this to propagate gossip.  There’s enough of it – both in the secular and sadly, christian community as well.  But, when I read this news of a famous Korean actress and her lover being “sentenced” this morning, it really intrigued me because even after living in Korea for several years as an adult and doing pastoral ministry for couple years in my birthplace referred to some as the Land of the Morning Calm, I had absolutely no idea that adultery was “illegal” and a crime.  I enjoy following Korean films when and IF they’re available here in the States but I don’t follow pop culture in Korea especially since my reading capacity is elementary.

In addition, you know that I’ve been posting thoughts and stories about government, politics, religion, morality and how they all engage together.  Simply, the question I keep coming to is,

“What is the government’s role in legislating morality?”

I vacillate back and forth regarding the government’s role and constantly feel conflicted.  I agree that adultery is “damaging to the social order” in addition to the clear damage to the SOUL.  For the record, I acknowledge that your assessment and/or criticism that I have inconsistent views about the government’s role have weight.  And there are days when I just think we should run everything by LAW all over again.  Why?  Because all of us have such an undeserving and under appreciated entitlement to freedom and grace. 

What do you think of the above and below?  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, culture, family, , , , , , , ,

a fast changing world

This is a must read for any person in leadership but I share this especially for pastors and church leaders for your consideration as you consider the uncharted journey ahead.  When people talk about the vision of being  a multiethnic or multicultural church, it nearly always comes down to numbers.  For a moment, don’t worry so much about getting to the 20% threshhold that enables your church to then “qualify” or pat yourself as a multicultural church.  It’s over-rated in my opinion. 

But we have the privilege and burden in influencing the ‘worldview’ of this and emerging generations of Christ followers.  Read this and consider how this impacts the way you see your church, neighbor, country and ultimately, your ministry context.  You will eventually grow extinct if you unable to adjust to a changing landscape where diversity IS the way we see the world. 

Read this NY Times entitled In a Generation, Minorities May be the U.S. Majority.  It’s not a matter of IF but WHEN: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, seattle

the gay dialogue

This was THE POST, entitled “the gay conversation” that got it all started.  One church visit led to one article which led to one email exchange which led to a blog response which led to 300+ comments and counting. It is probably the one post I’d recommend sharing with others – not because of what I wrote – but because of the dialogue that ensued in the comments.  It’s real, raw, and a glimpse of the conversation that rarely ever takes place.

This is certain. I am richer and deeper as a result of the conversation. It has led into a more continuous dialogue.  Over the last two Wednesdays, I hosted an open forum as a follow up because several folks inquired about getting together for a face to face chat.  Thus, the gay dialogue. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, religion

caring for the environment

It’s sweltering hot here in Seattle this week.  It’s also hot in many places.  How did Al Gore manipulate the weather to get more support for his cause behind Inconvenient Truth?

When I became a Christian at 18, I never heard anything about the moral dilemma of environmentalism until seminary.  I still wrestle with how to more organically speak of environmentalism and care of God’s creation within the context of a larger framework of ministry.  I’m constantly challenged by individuals at Quest that not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  Individuals that bike regularly to work, go hybrid and biodiesel, compost galore, and even taking steps to utilize solar energy.  Very cool.  I have much to learn.  I’ve always felt like I’ve done my part and even converted my wife who is becoming the recycling Nazi.  She recycles everything…

This leads me to some thoughts about the Live Earth concerts from last weekend.  Anybody watch?  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: culture, justice

new york times and war editorial

During my last couple years at Princeton Seminary, I began a tradition of picking up the Sunday edition of the NY Times and chilling/dining alone at a local [all you can eat] Chinese restaurant in Princeton.  It was nice to just take my time to read, enjoy good food, read, enjoy more good food, and drink good tea.

That’s a long intro to say that I miss reading the NY times regularly.  I still surf the NY Times on the web but it’s a different experience altogether.  Anyway…

Did anyone check out the editorial about the Iraq war in yesterday’s edition?  I want to be sensitive here.  There are many varying opinions about the war; we have numerous war veterans at Quest [through the church merger]; and there are couple families currently who have a parent in Iraq or are prepping to head off in the upcoming year.  In an earlier entry, I shared some brief thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: culture

undiscovered beauty and talent

By now, many folks have heard the story of Paul Potts.  If you haven’t, you need to see the video below! He has become an overnight sensation.  An incredible story of a 36-year-old British man who was making a living as a mobile cellphone salesman.  Check out the story line…it’s made for Hollywood:  Bullied as kid and consequently, resorts to singing; Has ambitions of being an opera singer but gives up his dreams; Wasn’t even going to audition for the talent show…But alas, he enters and wins the Britain’s Got Talent show [equivalent to 'American Idol' here in the Stateside]. It’s a little mushy but what a wonderful story of a hidden talent that is now uncovered for others to enjoy. I have a reputation of a tough man to maintain but I have to confess I got a little teary-eyed the first time I saw this video. The last time I cried was when the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl couple years back. That was painful but that’s another story.

While there was some “controversy” of some details that revealed Paul had some vocal training, the truth seems to be that he really is an average bloke. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: culture

i’m a sinister megalomania and another review

The infamous Dan Savage, the author of our church “review” in the recent Stranger article referenced this blog on the Stranger’s blog and bam – a spike in traffic and some interesting comments on their site. Here’s several for your reading pleasure:

[1]  I wouldn’t really call your 30 churches piece journalistic. It was more just “let’s make fun of christians”. 90% of your writers missed the point of church in the first place. I mean it’s understandable. Who doesn’t like a good church bashing from time to time. It’s so easy. Perhaps an intellectually challenging approach would have been a search for why these churches are either growing (the mega’s), or dwindling. and intellectual is actually why I have been an avid Stranger reader for 10 yrs. [merktuttle]

[2] In his review of Quest Church, Dan Savage mentions Jim Jones and David Koresh. Unfortunately — because of horrific tragedies like these — I always look at any new religious movements with suspicion. So, no matter how normal and hip and kind someone like Eugene Cho seems, I think: “Okay, where’s the dark side?” Maybe I’m pessimistic. But I just feel like people are too f%$##d up, in general, to do something like start a church — if they don’t have a deep and sinister megalomania. But maybe not. Maybe Eugene Cho and Quest Church are just good, spiritual people. [paul] Read the rest of this entry »

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

all hell broke loose

“…What, we wondered, is going on in all those churches? What are they saying? What are they doing? What are they plotting?…”

The title is not a joke.  We received what I perceive to be the best press about our church – ever.  Bar none.  We’ve had our share of media from the local press.  Last week, there was a solid article and great pic of the merger story.  This past December, there was a dedicated “portrait” of my personal story  in the popular magazine insert called Pacific Northwest in the Sunday paper.  But this morning, someone sent me some info of a great article from The Stranger – the premier rebellious, hilarious, provocative, alternative, and very popular weekly newspaper [umm - in some circles].  They advertise themselves as the “only newspaper in Seattle.”  [It's a good paper - minus the raunchy over the top sex ads near the back of the magazine.]

Seattle is infamously known as the most “unchurched city in America.”  The Northwest is the most unchurched region in America.  But it isn’t godless or spiritual.  It’s a beautiful place – full of life, questions, conversations, and such.  What I love the most about living in this city and this region is that you have to earn the right to have your voice in the larger marketplace of thoughts, ideas, and philosophies. 

Anyway, the Stranger staff sent 31 of their staff to visit 31 churches this past Sunday and they wrote up the most brutal and simultaneously, hilarious “reviews” of these churches.  Yes, all hell broke loose according to these authors.   I am so excited – honestly – that Quest actually made the list!  I feel so cool.  Like, I’ve finally been accepted as a true Seattle-ite.  Ahh, but this again confirms my point that people – more than you ever know – and more than they want to admit – are watching the Church.  They are watching to see our convictions, motivations, hypocrisy, compassion, or in our case, “insipid worship.” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, culture, emerging church, quest church, religion, seattle

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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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