Eugene Cho

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

everyone needs critics…

Some of my readers have too much time on their hands. :-) While I do appreciate some of you sending me interesting materials for my blog such as funny videos, interesting articles, other blogs to check out, and topics you’d like for me to address, I also get a few readers that send me stuff…about me.

Seriously. I know that I have stuff I need to work out in my life and I’m constantly trying to live in the tension of “I must decrease and He must increase” but I am no megalomania.  I don’t need folks to send me stuff about what others are saying about me, my ministry, blog, sermons, articles, blah…

But when someone sent me the stuff below regarding my comment in the NY Times about mixed martial arts, I just had to chuckle: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, leadership, pastors,

“what seminary should i go to?”

Someone asks me this question once every couple weeks:

What seminary or grad school (theology/religion) would you recommend?

It’s hard to give a simple answer without understanding a person’s context:

  • Who are you?
  • What’s your biblical and theological worldview?
  • Do you want to go into vocational ministry or into academics?

But for the sake of this blogpost and because the majority of these emails I get are from folks wanting to go into pastoral ministry:

  • What would your recommendations be for someone that is seeking to go into pastoral ministry? Why?
  • Where did you go to seminary or grad school? Would you recommend it to others or not?
  • Where are you currently at? And…?

My experience: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, pastors, religion, ,

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, , , ,

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

does the responsibility of God’s glory fall upon men?

A post with Fabio as the lead image is worth reading.

In response to my post yesterday about the pending death of the TNIV version of the Scriptures, one of my readers, Joe Louthan, contributed a comment that I thought was worth posting as a separate post and he was gracious to let me share it today. I very much appreciated the tone and manner he shares both his thoughts and presents some straightforward questions so I am obviously asking my readers and commenters to do your usual thing and engage in thoughtful, engaging, and civil engagement.

Here’s his comment:

To you, Eugene and those from the gender neutrality/inclusive camp, may I ask this:

You want the Bible to address both brothers and sisters equally. Yet, the vast majority of the weight of responsibility falls on the men. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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, ,

the coming evangelical collapse?

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Some of you may have already seen this article entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse [@Christian Science Monitor].  There are certainly some good things for ruminations, discussions, and considerations but like many things written for the purposes of drawing attention, it makes some grandiose statements.

I’d love to hear from you regarding your thoughts and commentary about the article [below].  Do you agree? Disagree?  What stood out to you?

And if you believe the Western church is in trouble, here’s the million dollar question:  Why and what can be done?

Is Christianity in trouble?  It really depends on how you look at the situation.  I have shared for some time that we live and have lived in a Post-Christendom Western world for a long time.  But because we dominate the resources of the world including information, we think we still remain the cradle of all things vibrant Christianity.   Having spent some time in other countries and pastoring two years in Korea in the ’90s, the Western world is NOT the center of the world.  I’m not trying to diminish the work of the Church in the West as it’s clear that it’s still influential but the Gospel is flourishing in many places outside the Western world especially in places around Latin America, Asia, and Africa.  Furthermore, while Christianity – in its various forms – are struggling in the Western world, we should also point out that it’s not the case in every situation. For example, ethnic churches, on the most part, are still flourishing in the West…

So, are we in the midst of a collapse or a spiritual recession in the West?  Well, these are certainly challenging times but just like the current economic recession, I see this as an opportunity for the “evangelical church” to re-discover their identity and grow deeper in our mission.  What I’m saying is that decline and talks of death aren’t necessarily bad things since sometimes, those very things will wake us up.  And perhaps through ‘death,’ we see the possibility of life anew.  

In fact, perhaps this collapse ought or needs to take place in order for us to discover ourselves once more from all that which have lured us away from our identity:  both as individuals and as a larger community.

And what’s the solution?  Not enough time and energy to share all my thoughts now but this I will share:  For me, Western Christianity have become victims Read the rest of this entry »

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

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, ,

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, ,

the next president?

Alright folks, let’s do it.  It’s time for the Beauty & Depravity’s Presidential caucus.  The election process is moving to the State of Washington this weekend.  While the results WILL matter this weekend, the Democratic nomination is going to be long time coming.

But I’d love to hear from you about who you’re leaning towards/supporting and why?  Don’t be shy about commenting.  Let’s try to have a healthy and engaging dialogue here.  It doesn’t matter if you’re from the States or not.  Please share:

  1. Your current residence [state or country]. 
  2. Couple reasons why you’re voting or supporting a particular candidate for president.  Please don’t mention something fluffy like “hope.”   What are some of the bigger issues you’re wrestling through?

Feel free to post anonymously if you feel inclined.  We’ll tally up the votes by the end of next week and I’m certain that the winner of this blog’s caucus will ultimately be elected.

From the get go, I’ve had my sight on three candidates:  Clinton, McCain, and Obama.  I am still undecided Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: pastors, religion

pastoral health redux

I’ve been meaning to post [some repost] much of this statistical information about the ministerial calling and career.  I “work” 2-3 hours/month as a representative of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program of my denominational tribe.  This program was funded by about 1.7 million dollars through the Lilly Foundation in response to growing and alarming statistics and stories about the decline of the health of pastors –  emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and physically.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let my picture below speak for itself: I am pooped.  As pastors and church leaders, it helps to understand some of the challenges ahead; to not always be reactive but proactive.  Since many have asked for a summary of my presentation, here it is… Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, emerging church, leadership, ministry, pastors

community that once existed?

When my wife and I planted Quest six years ago, there were some good things we did and some poor things I did.  It stayed a VERY small group for many months and really, for the first 1.5 years.  We struggled immensely to get to any sort of critical mass – which at that time, we discerned to be about 50-75 people.  I spoke, taught, and preached a great deal about being organic, a true community, intimate, etc.  Those are things I still teach about but wished I could have spent more time preparing people for what would happen if we actually came close to achieving those things.  It becomes attractive and it actually grows.  Acts 2:42-47 is a beautiful portrait of the early church community.  It must have been so attractive and the Holy Spirit was at work and the church just grew.

So, Quest has grown the past couple years.  This past year, we were running three service [mainly because of our small intimate cafe space] and had couple Sundays where we hit 500 folks [including children].  It’s not my goal for Quest to grow to be a mega church or even a large church.  That would actually pain me but I’m more at peace to just let that be Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, emerging church, pastors, quest church

ministry is messy

Ministry is never pretty.   More poignantly, life is not pretty.  It’s messy. Our idealism will never be met.  It’s the simple and brutal truth.  The reality:  Quest Church is a failure.  It sucks.  The reality:  I am a failure.  I suck.  But the good news – it’s OK.  Everyone just breathe. God is gracious.  God’s grace is sufficient.   As for Quest:  it’s too big, too small, too disorganized, too institutional, too Asian, too White, too educated, too young, too modern, too postmodern, too emerging, too un-emerging, too biblical, too liberal, too conservative, [insert your thoughts here].  After six years, while I can honestly acknowledge that Quest is a failure of sorts and has disappointed many people, I can also rest in knowing that it’s beautiful and has ministered to many people – by the grace of God.  I feel so very privileged that God called my wife, Minhee and I, to be the visioneers of this church and hopefully, a movement to come.

So, while there are disappointments and I might will never please each and every single person, I’ve learned that there’s great value in just showing up.  There’s great value in simply DOING ministry, sharing life, and just trying.   While the product might not be polished and the process is messy, it’s humbling – even if it’s very rare – to know that redemptive things can and are taking place.  Here and there, I’ve wondered to myself if the church, the cafe, the programs, the sermons, the counseling, the Live Music, the community groups, the whatever…does it matter?  Now, more than ever before, I’ve realized that being messy is where the gospel is often  manifested. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, justice, pastors

silent racism – there’s hope


the fact is we are all biased and prejudiced; all depraved [and beautiful] and jacked up. we’re certainly all ‘racialized’ in many ways. long story short, i’ve been following some drama with the folks at Youth Specialties (Zondervan) over a book published by YS called, skits that teach. well, one of the skits is outright racist as it parodies asians.   and yes, this is supposed to be educating the youth of america.    i re-posted the above video entitled, ‘silent racism’ because it is so appropriate.  it was created for an assignment during our church’s 2006 faith and race class.  for me, it speaks so much to the systemic racism that exists and how we’re all guilty and must seek to see the beauty and dignity God gave to each person, each tribe, and each ethnicity. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: asian-american, christianity, church, emerging church, Jesus, justice, leadership, ministry, pastors, quest church, religion

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.

my tweets

  • There is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Before we move swiftly to the celebration of the risen Christ, may we sit at the cross... || 2 hours ago
  • Thank you, Jesus, for this day. For Holy Friday. For your obedience. For the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life and love. || 3 hours ago
  • In his final days, Jesus washed dirty feet, ate with misfits (including a man who he knew would betray him), and forgave his enemies. #grace || 1 day ago
  • Can't stop crying. Grieving the tragedy of the South Korean ferry. Praying for miracles. Nearly 300 are still missing. Lord, in your mercy. || 1 day ago
  • Don't be so quick to jump to the celebration of His resurrection. Take time. Pray. Reflect. Journey with Christ in his final week & moments. || 1 day ago
  • What would we do if we only had one week to live? Jesus borrowed a donkey, washed dirty feet, and got crucified. - wp.me/pT6R-2N7 || 1 day ago
  • Hope is not that God guarantees a life of bliss and blessings but that in all seasons & circumstances, God is with us. So, never lose hope. || 2 days ago
  • Layover. San Francisco. Having grown up here, my heart still flutters. No other city like it. instagram.com/p/m09meKyWbO/ http://t.co/rhIL25xBNe || 2 days ago

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