Eugene Cho

pete hoekstra and cultural intelligence: why it matters to the church

Ugh.

Did you see Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra’s political campaign ad during the Super Bowl?

As you read in my previous post, I had some choice words about Go Daddy, Teleflora and other companies that continue to objectify and exploit women but I hadn’t seen Hoekstra’s ad.

Well, I just saw it…and I almost vomited in my mouth. Almost. Those chicken wings I consumed during the Super Bowl wanted to come back up. Check it out: Read the rest of this entry »

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You don’t have to be a celebrity _______ to be influential. Just be faithful.

How do you define a successful church?
How do we measure success as a pastor?

For that matter, how do we measure success in ______________?

As you read this post, I want to invite you to consider replacing ‘celebrity pastor‘ with ‘celebrity __________’.  Insert your area of profession or focus and consider the content of this post.

I’m come to realize that part of my calling as a pastor and leader is to be an encouragement to other pastors – but especially to those that don’t “measure up” to how we in the church subculture often directly or indirectly elevate stories of successful pastors – aka ‘celebrity pastors.’

This post isn’t a criticism of celebrity pastors. Hardly at all. Instead, it’s a post to accentuate the importance of all those who serve and lead in the church – but especially those pastors you’ll never hear of; Those that are not part of the preaching circuit; Those that don’t have publishing deals, etc.

I am not a successful pastor. I don’t pastor a mega-church or a large church. I don’t facilitate astronomical budgets, earn a huge salary, travel with huge entourages, fly on private jets, and have thousands upon thousands of sermon subscribers.

But nevertheless, I have influence.
We all do.

I’m simply trying to be faithful to the things, to the people, to the city, Read the rest of this entry »

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gender, church, and the art of alternate endings

* While I’ve written my share of posts expressing support for egalitarianism, justice, and women’s leadership in society (particularly in the Church), I’m no champion of gender equality. In fact, I make my share of goof-ups but what I’ve come to realize is that like everyone, I have my blind spots. One of my blind spots deals with gender or to be more blunt, I don’t always understand or see things from the lens of a woman for the obvious reason that I’m a dude (and thank God that I’m a man and not a woman!)

Several important remedies to our blind spots are to acknowledge them and to put ourselves in situations where we can learn. Additionally, we need courage to engage the conversation and grace to help sustain the conversation into transformation. And so with that in mind, today’s guest post, Gender and the Art of Alternate Endings, is from Dr. Michelle Garred – an independent researcher and consultant in international peacebuilding. She also worships at Quest Church and c0-leads one of our community groups. She asks some compelling questions:

Why does this distorted social setting appear to pit me in competition against my husband and best friend? Why can’t someone meet a couple and assume that these two inter-dependent individuals both have something to offer? Why should I be forced to wield my trump cards as instruments of power, making conversation into a contact sport? Most importantly, what about the many women who don’t have trump cards, but who do have boundless gifts to be shared with the Church? Who sees those women? And who hears them?

Take a read and let me know what you think.

————————————————————-

I love those children’s books that have alternate endings for the reader to choose from. What a sweet freedom to decide how a story will end!

My husband and I recently attended a denominational leadership conference, which prompted me consider my own alternate endings…

_________

“So, what do you do for a living in Seattle?” The man looks intently at my husband Brent across the lunch table, and the two become engrossed in a discussion of green building design. I sit and listen, enjoying the conversation, and anticipating that at some point the same question will be directed toward me. But that never happens. Our new acquaintance, who holds a lot of stature at this conference, does not appear to connect the topic of making a living with me as an individual. I don’t know why – the ‘gender vibes’ feel palpable, Read the rest of this entry »

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i am a pharisee

Don’t read the full post yet. First, take look at the above piece of art and share your thoughts:

  • What do you see?
  • How do you interpret this art?
  • How do you feel about this?

For me (as a “minister”), it is sobering to consider how we as “professional clergy” might – for various reasons – may have missed important aspects of what Christ desires us to see, know, and experience.  I look at the art and wonder, “Are we the blind leading the seeking?”

The turning point for me came through an epiphany couple years ago.

I’ve come to realize – not in a self-deprecating way – that as much as I have tried NOT to be…

I AM a Pharisee.

The difference – from moi – and from the Pharisees of the Scriptures – is that Read the rest of this entry »

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top 5 most challenging, convicting, mind-bending, face-melting books of all time?

I received this email from one of my blog readers a few weeks ago asking about my thoughts about the “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.”

Do you take requests for posts on your blog? If so…. I know that from time to time you do top 5 stuff, like favorite movies or songs or artists, etc. This isn’t anything novel, but I’d be grateful for a “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.” I guess I’m someone who learns a lot from books and I was just thinking about how I have roughly 5 books that I have read within the last few years that have truly changed the way I perceive myself and the world around me. It would be great to hear what others are reading -not their most favorite or enjoyable books (although this might be the case)- but books that have significantly reoriented the way they live. Maybe, you’ve done something like this before and I just missed it, but if not, something like this would be fun to be a part of.

Thanks! ~Ric

Asides from the Bible, what would you be on your Top 5 List?

I can’t list 5…I don’t even know know where to begin so I’m just sharing my list of most influential Christians books again. There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10. My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.

I hope 50 years from now, this list will change so that it also includes numerous female and non-Caucasian authors. Read the rest of this entry »

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how do you define success as a pastor? leader? church?

This upcoming Saturday is our church’s annual meeting – an important meeting as we look back and dream forward. Inevitably, one of the questions you think about (and are asked by others) involves the “health of the church.”

I have my answers (which I’ll share later) but I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  • How do you define success as a pastor or ministry leader?
  • How do you define success as a church?
  • What are the “metrics” we should consider?

Go.

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religion and women

Nicolas Kristof has an article in today’s NY Times entitled, Religion and Women, that’s worth reading. Unlike some of his other pieces, it’s not super long so it’ll take one sitting but hopefully, it’ll sit with you for a bit.

I’ve written about this topic numerous times and will continue to do so. If you’re interested in some of them, here’s several to check out:

It is the oldest injustice for the simple reason that men are physically stronger and thus, can oppress the “weaker” half. And then you mix in the combustion of various religions and world ideologies that seek to elevate one half and suppress the other half and you’ve got a cycle of great devastation and oppression.

I’m not an expert on all world religions so I can’t speak with full authority but this is one of the reasons why I am captivated by Jesus: He liberates; Not oppresses. If anything, he liberates that which has oppressed.  He turned things UPSIDE Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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the truth is…we’re not very sexy

The truth is that our church isn’t very glamourous or sexy. It’s not that we hadn’t tried but it’s just not us. I admit that via the internet, everything looks just a little more glitzy. I can’t tell you the number of visitors we’ve  had over the year – locally or nationally – who trek to Quest on a Sunday and usually send me an email with a hint of disappointment saying:

Wow.  Your church service was kinda plain…

Which is I guess another way of saying…”It wasn’t very sexy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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“america is not a christian, jewish, or muslim nation…”

courtesy of White House

What did you think of President Obama’s speech at the Turkish Press Conference?  And this quote from his speech:

…”American is not a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim nation…”

Here’s the above sentence in the larger context:

I think that where — where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation and a predominantly Muslim nation, a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents — that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions, inevitable tensions, between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important.

That’s something that’s very important to me. And I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is Read the rest of this entry »

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post-it note prayers

Post It Prayers

This past Sunday (Pentecost Sunday), Quest devoted the entire gathering to Prayer & Worship.  While I certainly enjoy teaching the Scriptures, it was very refreshing. For the first time, the staff chose to implement the idea of asking folks to share ‘anonymous’ prayer requests on Post-It notes and to stick them on the sanctuary walls.

I can’t speak for the other pastors or staff but I was blown away at the number of post-its on our walls.  And the stuff that folks shared.

I was again convicted of what I shared couple weeks ago that in the midst of “my stuff,” I’ve fallen short in praying for our church community.  This past Tuesday, our staff gathered (for our Tuesday prayer/devotional meeting) in our sanctuary to read and pray through the post-its and it was pretty overwhelming.

I was personally moved by a post-it (that led to a conversation) written by Quest woman who was born blind with glaucoma.  Over her life, Read the rest of this entry »

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prayer is often the first thing to go

prayer

It’s been a very busy and intense season – especially w/ the unveiling and soon launch of the grassroots poverty organization, One Day’s Wages. Not just with stuff to do but honestly, stuff on my heart and mind.  I’m not sure about you but I can acknowledge and admit that when I get busy, and my time and mind are scattered, the first thing to go is my rhythm, discipline, and joy of prayer.

I’ve been convicted of this again…particularly, in praying for the people of my church community.  The life and roles of a pastor continue to grow and evolve but one thing shouldn’t change: Read the rest of this entry »

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the church video venue coming near you

I ran into a fellow pastor/acquaintance at the Q Cafe yesterday.  He’s a good guy.  We ended up having a short but substantive talk since I haven’t seen him for several months.  When I last chatted with him, he asked for some advice about churchplanting and so I did the good midrash thing and asked him a few questions which he said he really took to heart and got him thinking. Those questions led him down a road where he eventually left his denomination and go figure, joined the Mars Hill Church network.  He’ll soon be pastoring one of their zillion “campuses.”   That’s just kind of funny to me that my advice got another pastor to join Mars Hill. 

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill has been on the national news a lot recently.  The NY Times published an article couple months ago entitled, Who Would Jesus Smack Down?  The reporter called last year and asked me for some quotes but I said, “No thanks.”  My ego was tempted since it would have been nice to be mentioned in the NY Times but not that way.  I’ve got my differences with Mark but heck, we’re still Facebook friends.  BFF  KIT  TTYL.  Meme me.

In previous entries on this blog, I’ve shared both the concerns and respect I have for Mark here and here.   But my conversation yesterday with this soon to be MH elder got me thinking [again] about the church video venue. Read the rest of this entry »

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my pastor is a janitor

During the first year of Quest, I was without salary and had tried so hard to obtain a job – any job - but I realized the painful truth that pastors [outside their jobs in churches] are useless in society.  I discovered that my Masters of Divinity degree…well…wasn’t really all that divine.   It was actually pretty useless.  After several months of looking for work, I finally landed a job as a janitor at a Barnes & Noble store in Lynnwood, Washington.

Not my idea of a “dream job.” It was one of the most difficult jobs and periods in my life - especially because this took place at a time when I thought I would be kicking ass in my “career” as a pastor.  Damn my hubris…

But I digress.  I want to introduce you to Jason Douros.  He’s sort of on staff at Quest Church as our custodian.  Why am I introducing you to our church’s custodian?  Read the rest of this entry »

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heart to heart letter

As the church moves into our seventh year, there is so much to be thankful for.  God has been immensely gracious in helping Quest be a presence to Seattle and beyond.  But I worry.  I wonder how many people truly understand the heart of our church – and are committed to it. 

The recent months have posed different challenges that have left me on occasions discouraged.  It’s never my intent but it sucks when you discover that you’re the source of someone’s pain, departure, etc.  It’s not what I had in mind as a pastor.  Or you begin to question if your leadership or preaching really matters?  Read the rest of this entry »

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christmas in community

I had intended to write my family’s official Christmas and 2007 Year in Review letter today.  But, as it turned out, there was no time.  It was an emotionally draining but yet, hopeful day on this Christmas Eve.  I will eventually get to the letter at another time.

Early this morning, I received word that the young couple in our church who we’ve been praying for some time had lost their baby.  Their son was born prematurely in the 24th week and three minutes later, the baby past away.  With heavy hearts, Minhee and I spent this afternoon with this couple to mourn and grieve with them and to offer a word of hope. 

The Hope I speak of is not one that I share lightly or flippantly in response tragedy, pain and suffering.  This Hope is the one testified in the gospel of the Scriptures and embodied in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This Hope is given to us – again and anew – in this Christmas season - in the Birth of Jesus Christ.  It is a Hope that passeth human understanding…Hope that cannot be separated even by death. Read the rest of this entry »

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stuff, connect, info

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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