Eugene Cho

blogging, hits, traffic, numbers, ministry, and burma again

i’ve given myself 15 minutes for this post so excuse me for the choppiness.  many in the church, including myself, don’t quite know how to thoughtfully integrate the subject of ‘numbers’ into conversations.  the pastoral staff and i have never once spoken about how to increase the numbers at quest.  that’s why some recent criticism that i ‘only seem to care about numbers’ sting a little more than the other stuff i find in my inbox.  but isn’t it fair to say that numbers should absolutely matter but that numbers can grow to become an idolatrous obsession?  geez, that’s another post and i only have 14 minutes now. 

let me admit that i take occasional peeks at the number of hits i get on the blog…isn’t that ok?  we create, write, post, paint, compose, and engage in other acts of creative bursts – not simply for our own pleasure but also for the purpose of sharing with others.  and that’s good, right?  i guess the danger is when we allow the love of attention, hits, traffic, numbers, and such to influence us so much that it begins to taint, diminish, and compromise the actual process and product of what is created.  heck, i can easily post on the usual hot topics like driscoll, rob bell, and tim keller to get instant traffic in the christian blogosphere.  i read recently about a pastor in NC who wrote a post (ironically criticizing technorati) that basically thrusted him to the #1 most searched item in technorati – even ahead of paris hilton.  go figure. 

who doesn’t like traffic and hits?  so, how does that influence what we share?  what we create?  how does that influence our motivation?  how does that influence church and ministry?  is it possible that we begin to be mostly inclined towards subjects, sermons, and programs that we know will draw people back and build the numbers?  crap, now i only have 9 minutes. 

couple weeks ago, i looked over my ‘most viewed posts’ and they included pastoral health, significant highlight of ministry, stupid emerging church, and blah blah blah. what was most interesting was the least read post.  any guesses?  it was the post entitled, prayer for the nation and people of burma.  specifically, 54 hits on that post.  the lowest by far.  that’s in comparison to an average of about 800-900 hits on the posts i referenced above.   for goodness sakes, the casual post entitled, pho shizzle, got more hits in the first half day.

since we can all yield to the temptation of numbers, hits, and traffic – i wonder if churches (quest included) tend to avoid the topics that don’t necessarily encourage, affirm, and make people feel fuzzy all around.  it’s easy to avoid the conversations of racism, sexism, socio-economics, poverty, homelessness, genocide, pornography, mental health, and yes, subjects like what’s going on in burma.  would you do me a favor and read that post about burma?

couple hours ago, i received an email from a friend who’s working as a community development missionary in thailand.  he joined a group of us that trekked into burma from mae sot, thailand. we specifically visited a village called the 101 battalion.  i met many wonderful men, women, and children in my day visit and had the privilege of preaching at a church service.  the village was attacked yesterday by the burma army.  the report from free burma rangers:

Report Summary: On 7 April 2007, at midnight, the Burma Army, along with the DKBA launched a series of attacks against the Karen (KNU) along the Thai-Burma border north of Mae Sot. The attacks proceeded through the 8th and are ongoing as of 9 April 2007.          

On 7 April 2007, at midnight, the Burma Army, along with the DKBA launched a series of attacks against the Karen (KNU) along the Thai-Burma border north of Mae Sot. The attacks proceeded through the 8th and are ongoing as of 9 April 2007. Eight columns from at least three Burma Army battalions (355, 356, and 357) are involved in the attack. They are accompanied by two columns of DKBA Battalion 999, commanded by Chit Tu, and one element under ex-KNU 7th Brigade commander Htin Maung (who has made a personal alliance with the dictators’ army). The attacks occurred from south to north targeting villages and KNU positions along the River. On the 8th, two columns hit KNLA 101 battalion area at The Law They Hta twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. Also in the evening, the Burma Army attacked Thay Kai Yah, an IDP site.

The villagers had heard of the coming attack and had fled to the Thai side the day before (on 7 April 2007)…In support of these attacks, the Burma Army is using 81mm and 60mm mortars and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.These attacks have displaced more than 130 Karen families, who have all fled to the Thai side of the border. An estimated 30 families fled from Loh Di Tah, 50 families from Thay Kai Yah, 30 families from Tha Koh Klah, along with 20 more families from areas near the fighting. These numbers are low estimates and may still increase because of continuing attacks.

i’m very saddened as i read this report.  there’s horrible stuff going on all around the world – even stuff in our own back yards.  while traffic, hits, church growth and attendance, and numbers have a legitimate place in the conversation, i think the bottom line is very simple.  we’re all going to die – hopefully later than sooner.  so, let’s make a difference.  we’ve got one life.  if you have the stomach, you can view some pictures of another recent attack. 

the read on google earth and darfur is another compelling read.

Filed under: justice, ministry

8 Responses

  1. CV says:

    Dude,
    Thank you for your insight and reframing the “numbers” context.

    You rock!
    cv

  2. CV says:

    oh yeah,
    thank you for the invitation to deal with discomfort.

  3. Reyes-Chow says:

    tis true my friend, tis true. I have had more hits on my “Hottest Nerd Crushes” than the one on Racism. I think some of that is the nature of blogging and that many of these more intense conversations are better had face-to-face, but still I hear ya! Part of me also loves sharing the more playful side of myself as it integrates with more meaningful aspects.
    Blog on bro!

  4. e cho says:

    CV: good to hear from you bro. hope all is well in portland. see you in a few weeks.

  5. tn says:

    Thank you. What we were asked for by every group we met with last summer, was, “Please don’t forget us. Please tell your country we are here. Please tell your government. Please pray.” Thank you for helping to be a voice.

  6. sam says:

    so true. so true.

  7. […] is not meant to sound morbid or insensitive but as i shared in an earlier post, “we’re all going to die – hopefully later than sooner.  so, let’s make a […]

  8. btd says:

    very good thoughts here and worth thinkinga bout some more. much appreciated dialogue. thanks.

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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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