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, , ,

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

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, , , ,

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

our church’s response to the H1N1 – swine flu

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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

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, ,

“new calvinism” as 3rd most powerful idea – according to time magazine

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Time Magazine created a list of 10 new ideas that are impacting the world right now and #3 on their list – incredibly – is an old but new movement called Calvinism or “New Calvinism.”  Listed as some of the movers behind this new movement are John Piper from Minneapolis, my neighbor Mark Driscoll from Seattle, and Al Mohler.  I find it encouraging and phenomenal that this was on the list but think we’re missing something if we think the Holy Spirit is working exclusively through the “new Calvinists.”  Despite our cynicism and reports of the collapse of the evangelical church, the Holy Spirit is working…

Mark – on his Resurgence blog – listed the distinctions between Old and New Calvinism.  He cites four main differences:

  1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

While I personally roll with the Covenant denomination, I am advocating that we never be an island to ourselves.  I spent most of my early years in Reformed and Presbyterian Churches including two years in Korea at what I perceive to be one of the most influential [but completely unknown to Westerners] churches called Onnuri.  I received my Masters of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary so I have a good deal of exposure and understanding of Calvinism and Reformed Theology.  It’s clearly shaped a portion of my theology and ecclesiology.

So having said that, I like to think that we’re really all part of One Larger Team called the Kingdom of God.  Thus, if those four traits are the characteristics and commitments of New Calvinism, we should all be BIG fans.  I would certainly be and would genuinely love to see my co-laborers in the New Calvinism team be committed to being Missional, Urban Minded [and not just the Suburbs], led by the Holy Spirit, and Bridge Builders. 

How about you?  Thoughts about the article?

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

Filed under: christianity, church, Jesus, ministry, religion, seattle, , , , ,

Christian books that should NOT be published.

Is it ok to sometimes poke fun and laugh at ourselves? I hope so because if not, I’m in some big trouble. As in, I might get blacklisted by the Christian evangelical subculture.

In reponse to the question about the 10 Most Essential Christian Books, I received some fabulous and interesting suggestions. But I also started getting a list from people regarding the most anti-essential Christian books or in other words, books that should never be published so I’ve taken the liberty of listing some of them here.  And if you’re gonna get offended, I have two things to say:  1) It’s not my list or umm, it’s not all mine.  Don’t kill the messenger! and 2) Relax. It’s okay to make fun of ourselves sometimes. I hope.

If you want to laugh even more, check out 10 reasons why men shouldn’t be ordained.

I’ll share my list of essential book soon but for now, enjoy this list of the Christian Books that should NOT be Published from various commenters from this blog.  You folks are mean!

And dare I ask:

What would you add to the list?

Update: I’m adding the American Patriot’s Bible to this list.  The crazy thing is that it’s a real book unlike the list below.

  • Everyone Is Going To Hell Except Me – John MacArthur
  • There’s No ‘U’ in Ministry: A Woman’s Guide – Mark Driscoll Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church, ministry

an upside to the economic downturn

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The doom and gloom news about all things economy related can be paralyzing.  I know it’s impacting many individuals, organizations, and churches as well.  I’ll share later this week how it’s impacted my family but I wanted to share how Quest is trying to respond.  Last year, Quest was fortunate and just met our budget.  I’m not certain how since a) 2008 was the first year we hadn’t  numerically grown since the beginning of our church and b) 10% of our church have experienced job layoffs.  As difficult as the economic climate may be, this is also an incredible opportunity for the [C]hurch to be a source of care and grace to one another and the larger city and world.  Difficult times are when we can demonstrate our substance and convictions of Loving God and Loving People.

Let’s share some ideas and good news.  Question:

How are you or your church seeking to care for one another and the larger city & globe?

I recently wrote the following letter to our church sharing how we are stumbling our way to care: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church, ministry, quest church, seattle

video interview: dave gibbons & ‘the monkey and the fish’

gibbons21I want to introduce you to Dave Gibbons. He’s known in some circles and not in others but what he has to share and offer is important to the larger Church – especially as the World changes in a way that the majority of the Church cannot see or [want to] acknowledge.  I first met Dave about 14 years ago on a tour bus in Seoul, Korea [a long story].  This was before he planted NewSong Church and before Quest Church was even a thought in my heart.  

One of the things that’s most impressed me about Dave – in his various roles – is his vision as a ‘social entrepeneur.’ And honestly, I’m also encouraged that he’s one of the handful of Asian-American faces that’s recognized in the so called ‘mainstream subculture of Western Christianity’.  Truth be told, he’s half Korean and half Irish but we’re going to go ahead and claim him.

As my readers know, I’m working through my list of books I want to read this year and his new book, The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership in a Third Culture Church,is on that list.  I had a chance to sit down Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: asian-american, christianity, emerging church, ministry, pastors, 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, ,

why sundays still matter…

worship at quest

In conversations with people about the state of [Western] christianity, people can be all over the map.  And at times, I think it’s because we’re really that desperate, that upset, that disillusioned, or that [insert word here].  And then, there are times we just want to make a crazy statement to sound edgy and prophetic.  Yo, it’s pomo, bro.

One of those crazy conversations surrounds the topic of the corporate worship gatherings known to most people as ‘Sunday worship services.’  

I want to contend –  that whether it’s on a Sunday or another day – that gathering as a unified faith community is very important and healthy.  Or more accurately, it is one aspect of a healthy faith community.

Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying.  I’m not a big fan of big productions, fancy shows, gift giveaways, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, ministry, quest church, seattle

video interview with scot mcknight

One of my goals this year is to read 23 books and many of you shared some of the books you’re hoping to read this year in an earlier post.  I had the cool privilege of running into Scot McKnight recently – author of Jesus Creed and The Blue Parakeet [which is on my list].  He also happens to be one of my favorite bloggers although I suspect he may be taking steroids.  How else can he produce so many posts for his blog?  Random test, I say.  

But stupidity got the best of me Read the rest of this entry »

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

from the trenches: no idea where to get food

Quest has had the privilege of helping facilitate a new churchplant in the Kent, Washington area.  But it’s likely that these folks have never even heard of the word ‘churchplant’ and the numerous technical words that pastors like myself like to throw around.  And to be honest, these folks probably don’t care.

But they do care about one another, family, community, justice, their children, their people, and of course, they care about their faith in Christ.

Over a year ago, a group of friends including Rich and Teresa from Quest helped start a church community for refugees from Burma including the Karen and Chin people.  The group has since grown to over 100 people the last time I heard including tons of young children. I’ve had the privilege of visiting and preaching there and I’ve been immensely encouraged by this community – even though I know there are numerous hardships and struggles.  I was even greeted by a man who recognized me from my visit to Burma several years ago.  I’m glad to report that this community has moved to another location that better accomodates their growing community.  The last time I visited them, the kids were meeting in the janitor’s room.

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This isn’t an official Quest plant but we are supporting them through our Quest Churchplanting Foundation.  Years ago, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: churchplanting, ministry, quest church, seattle

resting, growing, freezing, and jazzing in chicago

Jet lag sucks.  I can’t seem to get over it.  I sleep at a normal time but have been getting up around 2 or 3am – every day.  I look at Jason, one of my church staff, sleeping in the other bed in our hotel room like a peaceful lamb and want to punch his head.  But, I remind myself that Jesus wouldn’t do that so I let him sleep since he probably doesn’t get much at Seattle with their 4 month old baby.  But I digress.

RESTING:  I’m here in Chicago trying to get my body up to speed.  I don’t care how holy or spiritual you are:  If you don’t get sleep, everyone turns into a jerk.  Actually took a great nap yesterday and woke up like this:

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And interestingly or annoyingly, many folks at this conference have been telling my how ragged and “gray” I look. I tell them to ‘shut it!’  But it is true, I am getting some serious white and gray hair everywhere.

GROWING: Anyway, I’m also here learning.  Have enjoyed hearing from some of the featured speakers like Phyllis Tickle and will be hearing from Gary Haugen of International Justice Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ministry, travel, ,

left [my heart] in san francisco

San Francisco View

As we embark on a new year, I’d love to ask a simple question to my readers in hopes that many of you would join in on the blog community. In addition to “regulars” sharing their answers, I am especially inviting the lurkers and quiet blog readers to chime in and de-lurk. This is your chance to join in. So, here’s two simple questions:

Question: What’s the most beautiful city/place you’ve visited thus far in your life and why? And share one place in the world you’d like to visit at some point in the future?

My answers: Future visit – I’m excited that I get to visit one of the places I’ve always wanted to travel in the next couple weeks. I’ll be flying to South Africa (including Capetown) to do some research, praying, and relationship building for our poverty organization – One Day’s Wages (We were recently featured in the New York Times!)

As for one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, ministry, religion,

know and love your city

Minhee and I moved to Seattle in 1997.  We are entering our 12th year in Seattle but it was only about 8 years ago when I really began to grow in love with the city of Seattle.  I was kayaking in Lake Union when I just gushed over the beauty over the city.  And I just started praying for the city and the hope – someday – of being able to plant a church in the city.  God honored that prayer and on occasion, I’ll trek over to Kerry Park [few mins from Quest] and lift occasional prayers for the city and people of this city.

It isn’t a perfect city by any means:  I wish there was more diversity; city remains ethnically divided;  the road systems are wacky; a subway system would be nice; our sports teams are dreadfully cursed, we need more sun, etc.  But there are also some amazing things about this city:  the topography is absolutely breathtaking; the local music scene is alive and well; everything is green and wet; the city is a creative force and is the hub of numerous companies, etc.

How about you?  Where do you live and what do you like or dislike about your city or town?

One of the regular chats I give when I’ve had the privilege of speaking at conferences or churches has been the importance of knowing, loving, and engaging your city.  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, family, leadership, ministry, quest church, seattle, travel

stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

What a joy to celebrate Dr. John Perkins' legacy this week. Like many others, he has been a deep inspiration to me. 
When I finished the first draft of my upcoming book, OVERRATED, he was one of the first folks I showed it too. 
He wrote back with the following endorsement: "We are called to give ourselves to our generation, and Pastor Eugene's work here in OVERRATED is exactly that. This deeply personal narrative takes readers on a lived journey of wrestling through the realities of being a justice fighter today. I've given my fifty plus years to this fight, and his story is my story. I believe it may be yours as well. I encourage all believers to read OVERRATED. It lays a course for how we must proceed as humble but faithful justice leaders in an unjust world." Needless to say, I'm humbled by his endorsement and words of encouragement. It was painful to complete (and I'm still working on final edits)...but I CAN'T wait to share the book in September when it releases. 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.

my tweets

  • "Don't mistake God's patience for His absence. His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He's always with you." - Deut. 31:6 || 58 minutes ago
  • Beautiful. 29 churches have raised $128K. Amidst the Oso Mudslide tragedy, humbled by collaboration and generosity: wp.me/pT6R-2WC || 1 hour ago
  • About to preach in Minneapolis. Pray that in proclaiming the Gospel, I may honor God, be led by HolySpirit, & simply direct people to Jesus. || 4 hours ago
  • Be humble. Stay humble. Walk humbly. And kick butt. Then give God all the glory. || 16 hours ago
  • The book was painful to complete (and I'm still working on final edits)...but I CAN'T wait to share the book in September when it releases. || 19 hours ago
  • I nervously showed @JohnMPerkins a draft of my upcoming book, OVERRATED. He wrote the following endorsement: instagram.com/p/nJoXdUSWQy/ #Humbled || 19 hours ago
  • "Waiting time is not wasting time. Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life." ~ Henri Nouwen || 1 day ago
  • Bummer. Those Google glasses didn't help Krik Henrich with the free throws. #NBAPlayoffs || 1 day ago

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