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

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 exactly is a worshipper?

What is worship? And what does it mean to be a worshipper?

After teaching through the Book of Acts for the past two years, and relishing in the years we studied and taught through Genesis and Exodus, and seeing this Truth throughout the narrative of the Story of God in a book known to us as the Bible, it has become clear[er] to me what worship is.

Worship is acknowledging that not only is there a God but that this God, the one True God, the Infinite God…is not just merely propositional but personal. We know that this God is personal because we know that this God becomes personal when God chooses to be consumed by the very flesh and bone that consume our essence and chooses to become anthropos.

He chooses to become one of us though His Son, Jesus Christ, and in a world of constant and extravagant upward mobility, God does the unthinkable and becomes one of us, dwells with us, walks with us, and ultimately, dies for us.  Jesus…Amazing. Truly amazing.

Worship then is acknowledging that not only is there this Personal and Infinite God but Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, seattle, , , , ,

couch surfing is not what i envisioned

Eights years ago, I endured through one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I left my (then) current pastorate in hopes of planting a church called Quest but everything I had envisioned didn’t immediately come to pass. Instead of planting a church, I was working as a custodian scrubbing toilets, vaccuuming and struggling to provide for my (then) one child and pregnant wife. I still remember bitterly sobbing in my room one night and saying  a few choice words to God:

I am so angry at you. I feel like I lost control of my life.
(the PG version)

I learned through that experience that (again) I don’t have ultimate control over my life and prayed I would never go through anything like that again…

Well, I guess life has its seasons of unexpected turns. Nearly two weeks ago, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It was a painful decision but consulted with my wife, and then informed our kids that because of some financial situations (and investment with One Day’s Wages), Dad & Mom had chosen to sublet our furnished home for couple months to some strangers and within 72 hours, we’d have to pack up some stuff and stay with some friends.

And for the past couple weeks, we’ve been “couch surfing” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: faith, seattle, , , , ,

visionaries are crazy

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If you’ve got a crazy idea, please do not dismiss it and please do not dismiss the crazy vision and ideas of others.  Read the whole entry.

Take a few minutes to consider the difference between the concept or difference between a million and a billion. How would you explain that? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: justice, non-profit, seattle, social media, , ,

i really dislike these people

westboro

I really dislike these folks from Westboro Baptist Church – the folks behind the hideous website GodHatesFags.Com (I don’t even want to link it).  Hate is way too strong of a word. And inappropriate in light of the sermon I preached this past Sunday about the sin of hatred. For the past two years, I’ve been teaching through the Book of Acts and while Paul had his issues and shortcomings, I spent some time talking about the “religious” folks that become the adversaries of Paul – that while they sought to defend their ideas of truth and proper doctrine, resorted to the ammunition of hate.  Hate that leads them to plot murder.

I don’t care who you are. No matter your religious affiliation or allegiance (or lack thereof) or if you are a self-professing Christian:

If hate is your motivation, you are far from God. And you need to repent.

And while it may be easy to dismiss “hatred” to others, I would contend that ‘hatred’ can seep into all of our lives and impact our relationships – those far and even those in our inner circle of relationships.

Why am I talking about WBC and giving them press on my blog?   Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, religion, seattle, ,

$700,000 in debt and never been so excited to hear from the IRS

eugene matrix

Last week, I shared a post about fear entitled, Do Not Be Afraid: Dream, Pursue, & Jump.  And one of my readers, Matt S., doctored one of my photos to give me Neo-like skills.

For the past year, my biggest fear has been this burden and conviction that I feel God has placed upon my soul to engage the fight against extreme global poverty through the birth of a new organization.

I have been kicking myself for going public with the vision about a year ago. There’s been hiccups, setbacks, criticisms, and plenty of self doubt but after a year since sharing our vision and starting a group on FacebookI’ll finally be sharing the name of our organization, current logo, and our vision and fundraising letter this Friday.

As usual, I’m both excited and scared and covet your prayers.

I came home yesterday having doubts if I was ready to share the vision but lo and behold, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: seattle, , ,

do not be afraid: dream, pursue, and jump

We are people with the gift of hope and the capacity to dream. The minute we stop dreaming is the moment we begin the process of death. So share your answer to this question:

What is one of your dreams you want to pursue in your life?

I’m 38.  Married over 12 years.  3 children.  Planted two churches. Currently pastoring my dream church.  Love the cafe and music venue.  I’ve taken plenty of “risks” in my life but “the fear” never gets old.  I feel like I constantly wrestle with ‘fear.’  In fact, I think this thing called “the fear” is actually growing in my life. It’s getting worse.

Maybe, it’s because I feel like I have so much more to lose.  When I was single and roaming around the country all alone in my VW Bug or Toyota Camry, taking risks was really no big deal.  But now, I’ve got stuff, mortgages, car payments, kids, a wife, a staff, a $5000 espresso machine, responsibilities, hair products Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, faith, seattle

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, , ,

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, ,

“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, , , , ,

27 million reasons

call-response-banner

There are 27 million reasons why you should give a frack about Human Trafficking. I want to invite you to join us for a special film screening of Call + Response.  And if you’ve seen it, see it again and bring someone along.  If you’ve already seen the film, can you share some of your reflections so that others might be encouraged to watch this film or screen it on their own?

We’re not here to bait and switch, ask for your money, or get you to come to our church or buy more cups of coffee.  We simply want to partner together to love mercy and seek justice.  

Join Quest Church and Q Cafe for a screening of the landmark film on human trafficking in our world. Following the film screening, join us next door at Q Cafe for an advocacy fair with local and global partners in the fight against human trafficking to learn how you can be involved. All profits go to World Concern and Break the Chains/International Justice Mission to support their work against human trafficking.

Human trafficking is considered the third largest industry in the world and despite our advances as a human society, there are more slaves today than any point in human history.  That – folks – is the essence of human depravity.  Tickets are only $5 and all proceeds go to benefit the fight and cause.  Seats are limited so purchase your tix now.  Help us spread the word by sharing this post or share the Facebook Event.

Two articles I want to share with you.  The first is a recent article from the NY Times/blogpost

Anyone who thinks it is hyperbole to describe sex trafficking as slavery should look at the maimed face of a teenage girl, Long Pross. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: justice, seattle, , , , ,

the blog post no one wants to read

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Let’s be honest.  There are some posts you naturally want to read and there are others that just don’t interest you at all.  I can post about Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, talk politics, or the uber traffic magnet – Mac computers – and attract at least 4000 reads/post.  But bring up something like homelessness and I might be lucky to get 200 readers.  That’s 5% for those that don’t have my mad math skills.  

So, I’d like to challenge you to do your good deed for the day and read this post about homelessness.  

There are two main things I have learned over the years of living and engaging in the urban context.

  • Homeless is a very broad word that unfairly is used to portray the totality of a very diverse group of people.
  • Homelessness is a very complex and real problem that will only increase in light of the economic downturn.

I don’t have all the answers but it’s simply not acceptable to not do anything.  Several weeks ago, a group of pastors I meet with regularly hosted a representative from the mayor’s office of Seattle to ask, push back, and learn about what the city is doing.   It was actually pretty helpful.  We learned that the city devotes 38 million dollars in various ways to serve the homeless and displaced.  But is it making an impact?

But how is the [C]hurch responding? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: quest church, seattle,

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

pc vs mac: what laptop should i get?

Last year, I indicated that I was in the market for a new laptop and asked folks which way I should go:  PC or Mac?  The discussion was pretty spirited.  I also got some additional hate mail for my post entitled Why the Iphone Sucks which pretty much demonstrates my envy of iPhone users.  I never got a new laptop then but now I actually need to get a new or used laptop.  Our family is selling some stuff to help us get through some financial situations but thankfully, the church is supplying a laptop I can use.  Another big reason why I need to get a new laptop is the Dell m1210 [12.1 in screen] I was using [which I really like] was causing some painful traces of carpel tunnel  because of the cramped keyboard and that’s not good.

While I’d love to hear what your honest recommendations are. I’m not going to get a Mac simply because the budget I have from the church is $800 and well, we all know that Macs cost a pretty penny.  

  • What laptop & model would you suggest for that budget?  
  • What do you personally use?  I’m curious to see the numbers between PC vs Macs.  If you use a PC, what brand?
  • How many of you have made the move to a Netbook?

I have four reasons why I won’t get a Mac – even though I’m a fan of Steve Jobs: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: seattle, technology, , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

  • 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 hour 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. || 19 hours 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. || 20 hours 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 || 21 hours 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. || 1 day 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 || 1 day ago
  • A quick and meaningful 26 hrs in Wash DC but managed to go for an hour walk for this view. instagram.com/p/m0mg5AyWZE/ http://t.co/YJsuPqzmL1 || 1 day ago
  • There's a huge difference between empty fatigue and gratifying tiredness. Life is too short. Invest in the things you deeply care about. || 2 days ago

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