Eugene Cho

all hell broke loose

“…What, we wondered, is going on in all those churches? What are they saying? What are they doing? What are they plotting?…”

The title is not a joke.  We received what I perceive to be the best press about our church – ever.  Bar none.  We’ve had our share of media from the local press.  Last week, there was a solid article and great pic of the merger story.  This past December, there was a dedicated “portrait” of my personal story  in the popular magazine insert called Pacific Northwest in the Sunday paper.  But this morning, someone sent me some info of a great article from The Stranger – the premier rebellious, hilarious, provocative, alternative, and very popular weekly newspaper [umm – in some circles].  They advertise themselves as the “only newspaper in Seattle.”  [It’s a good paper – minus the raunchy over the top sex ads near the back of the magazine.]

Seattle is infamously known as the most “unchurched city in America.”  The Northwest is the most unchurched region in America.  But it isn’t godless or spiritual.  It’s a beautiful place – full of life, questions, conversations, and such.  What I love the most about living in this city and this region is that you have to earn the right to have your voice in the larger marketplace of thoughts, ideas, and philosophies. 

Anyway, the Stranger staff sent 31 of their staff to visit 31 churches this past Sunday and they wrote up the most brutal and simultaneously, hilarious “reviews” of these churches.  Yes, all hell broke loose according to these authors.   I am so excited – honestly – that Quest actually made the list!  I feel so cool.  Like, I’ve finally been accepted as a true Seattle-ite.  Ahh, but this again confirms my point that people – more than you ever know – and more than they want to admit – are watching the Church.  They are watching to see our convictions, motivations, hypocrisy, compassion, or in our case, “insipid worship.”

What did they write?  Well, here are some of my favorite quotes: 

“With charges of clerical sexual abuse still being leveled at churches great and small, you might think a Christian pastor would err on the side of not encouraging congregants to hug their neighbors past their comfort levels. The getting-to-know-you process? More like the getting-to-sue-you process.”  [Thanks, Leah!]

“…sort of Mars Hill wannabe.” [OK.  I admit, that one actually hurt.]

“…Interbay voted itself out of existence and handed all of its property—its homely sanctuary (picture the Brady Bunch’s living room pressed into service as a church).” [Come back in September after our renovation.]

“There was some insipid singing, led by an insipid worship band, and then a sermon preached by what I took to be Interbay’s soon-to-be unemployed pastor.”  [Ray, welcome to the larger marketplace!]

“Then Quest Church’s pastor, Eugene Cho, tore a loaf of bread in half, we took Communion, and then we prayed. [I don’t want to sound defensive here but I want everyone to know that I also did pour wine as well.  I promise.  I did…seriously, I did.]

[Read the full article here.  We are review #31 – the best for last!]

I love Seattle.  I really do.  I want to be here until I retire at 40.

On another note, for those that were wondering, I finally heard back from the Seattle Times about their open columnist position on their “team of 4 or 5 religious voices.”  I was really hoping to the get the nod and after months of waiting, I thought I’d get it.  But, no go.  My one complaint:  I just wished they sent me an email.  Receiving that letter – that ominous standard thin letter with the vibe of “Thank you but we regret to inform you…” just reminded me way too much of a former season in my life.

Maybe I should ask the Stranger if they’ll hire me.  Seriously, I’d write for them for free.

Filed under: church, culture, emerging church, quest church, religion, seattle

32 Responses

  1. James says:

    You first make it on Angry Asian Man and now you get on the Stranger!
    How cool is that?

    Congrats…I guess.

  2. david says:

    your double negatives are confusing me! i think you mean either “most UN-churched” or “least churched”, right?

    regardless, i thought the article was hilarious and insightful.

  3. steve lewis says:

    I read the article this morning. Funny stuff in there. Overall, though, I found it disappointing, because with 30 different writers, it seemed like they were all competing with each other for the funniest line, and several of the churches they were supposedly reviewing barely got mentioned.

    My personal favorite line from the article was from a mega-prosperity-church review: “I’m an atheist, but [church name] brings Bible imagery to my mind. Standing in all the gaudy sound and tacky fury, all I can think of is the perverted temple that Jesus Christ ripped to pieces with his bare f#$%ing hands.”

  4. Wayne Park says:

    This line had to make me laugh:
    “In today’s emerging churches, you lift both hands up toward heaven, arms out, in what looks like a sort of double-armed fascist salute.”

  5. jessie says:

    interesting article. i thought there were some accurate insight, although it seemed that the primary focus of the writers was to be as snarky as possible…

  6. jklam says:

    those guys at the stranger are hilarious =)

  7. e cho says:

    david: yeah, sorry for the confusion. you know what i meant to say and corrected it.

    steve: well, i have a feeling they were told: “go to these churches. rip on them and make it as funny as possible.” that’s how i read it and thought it was hilarious.

  8. Jason says:

    Funny, just finished that article and then I see you’ve blogged it! My favorite line: “In an era when Christianity is marketed as a sort of rock concert meets Gatorade commercial…” Brings too mind so well the peppy, trying-to-be-hip, youth groups of my teenage years.

    I found it interesting how much press communion got in the reviews — it seems the Eucharist is seen as a wierd, still somewhat magical or at least mysterious, remnant of a bygone era. It’s what what determines if you actually did church. In fact the few aspects of the church that got positive nods are all things many churches seem to be outdoing themselves to put behind them: big, talented choirs (First African Methodist), grand old buildings (St. Mark’s), and you could even put communion on the list since so many churches minimize it.

  9. […] Best Press About Quest 14 06 2007 OK, I gotta rip this one off of Eugene.. […]

  10. e cho says:

    wayne: i like what you wrote on your blog as well.

    my comment there:
    wayne: my take on the whole article is that they sent 30 of their staff to go out the visit their list of churches and to do whatever they can to outwit and outrip one another. i read that article with that in mind and so laughed like crazy.

    but i do appreciate your thoughts about the aroma of christ. what encourages me about the article is that it confirms to me again that whether people like to admit it or not, they’re watching you [or smelling you]…

  11. Ben says:

    This was one of the letters to the editors of the Stranger and addressed to the mastermind of the article, Dan Savage.

    Dan, your whole religion-bashing schtick really gets old. You are as abrasive and intolerant as the people you profess to hate so much. With a Catholic mother, one would think that you would have deeper insight on these matters. Clearly, that is not the case. Your blather is as hard to listen to as an O’Reilly Factor marathon. Speaking of him, I’ll never forget that deer-in-the headlights interview of yours a few years back. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about – you are capable of conveying an intelligent perspective on these matters, but instead, you seem to let your anger get in the way and you come off like a hate-filled dipshit. Instead of being the anti-Falwell, you could be a much more persuasive public figure. You certainly have a broad enough audience to pull that off. It is just too easy for a lot of middle-ground people to write you off. Good perspectives; bad tactics.

    Your Friend,
    The Devil

  12. Jennifer says:

    Does it make me a bad person that I think the funniest line in the whole article was about Mark Driscoll : “Where’s that round-faced dude who blames infidelity on fat wives?” 🙂

  13. Santosh says:

    The coolest thing about all of this is that the writer was Dan Savage – if it is the same Dan Savage I am thinking of – he has a very sexually explicit advice column that runs in many papers around North America – including up here in Vancouver Canada.

    Savage was in your church – that is so cool!

  14. leochen says:

    Maybe it’s because I missed two Sundays at church cuz of work… but my first though was… (please pardon me)… that I wanted to beat the schits out of each one of them little @#%!. OK… I wouldn’t really do it… but man… stupid kids! It’s so hard to love people you just rather beat the crap out of… =)

  15. e cho says:

    jennifer: naughty, naughty. 😛
    santosh: yes, it’s than dan savage.
    leo: easy there. we need your hands for photographs. you know on the most part, i thought most of the 31 reviews were pretty funny but there were couple downright mean stuff. as couple folks emailed me, the comment about “interbay’s soon to be unemployed pastor” was simply mean. i checked in with ray and his response, “at least they didn’t say i was insipid…”

  16. the 'insipid' g... says:

    i think i finally found the perfect band name… ‘the insipids’!!! 🙂

  17. m@ says:

    RayBart is the bomb. 🙂

    Jennifer, that line and the dialogue one staffer had with an elderly woman on the cougar face-ripping scenario got me rolling.

  18. gar says:

    Funny article, but I think “The Stranger” too often is under the mistaken impression that constant insults and drug references are equivalent to edgy, good writing. “Seattle Weekly” is still the better free paper here in Seattle, and yep, that’s my professional opinion (BA Editorial Journalism, UW).

    The article’s concept was nice (regular folks reviewing church); execution was lackluster (the Baha’i reviewer didn’t even find the church!).

  19. Daniel Azuma says:

    George pointed me at the article this afternoon. Absolutely hilarious! Congrats for getting ripped on with the best (and worst) of them. I’ll be looking for “The Insipids” first CD!

  20. Rebecca says:

    After reading the full article, I can’t decide if I should be amused or insulted. Does this mean I have to cut down on the fascist saluting? I actually would like God to pick me up and hug me, thank you very much.

  21. layguy says:

    What ruffles me is that you actually get offended by the Mars Hill similarity – This shows arrogance on your part. A bunch of misfits write about the churches in Seattle, ok tongue in cheek – but dissing things like communion etc and one thing you like to highlight is that you were “hurt” by being compared to mars Hill.

    C’mon Eugene.

  22. […] never met, but still consider a friend) and pastor of Quest Church in Seattle sent me this link. Basically The Stranger-which is the alternative newspaper in Seattle sent reporters to 30 […]

  23. Jacob says:

    Hey Eugene – great you guys made the stranger’s strange list! What a read man – from start to finish the article in its entirety is pretty fascinating. Sure it’s the stranger… and its coming from a pretty sharp angle, but it is what it is.

    No use in attacking these guys even if the writers feel free to hit below the belt and entertain the world at the churches expense. I am sure most people in Seattle know what the stranger is, and what bias they bring to their press. Still, still we need to try and have ears to hear what they are saying and eyes to see beyond their nonsense.

    About the mars hill thing… well just be who you guys are. And keep doing what your doing… obviously God has knit you into your community and is doing his thing. Peace until the next time.

  24. e cho says:

    layguy: dude, i’m sorry to have ruffled you. i know that you’re a huge fan of driscoll. i have alot of respect for him as well. like you, i have defended mark in the past.
    the comment was written tongue in cheek but as you might know, mars hill and driscoll is a polarizing church/figure. while i have a great deal of respect for the ministry that they do, it’s not a good thing [at least in seattle] to be grouped with mars hill – especially if that’s not our intent. in addition, there are some distinct theological differences. we’re all in one team for sure but want to also let folks know that we’re different as well.
    hope all is well is australia…

  25. layguy says:

    Hi Eugene,

    Thanks for writing to me – twice. As you’ve checked out my blog, you can see that I like Driscoll. I like his passion and purpose. And I am over other Christians bashing him on the net.

    At the same time, I am willing to learn from you as you are in the city of Seattle. I am interested by what you mean Driscoll and Mars Hill being polarizing? Also I’d like to know what theological differences you have from Mars Hill.

    I’m asking this out of curiosity and don’t have any sinister intentions. I respect you for what you do and the fact that you take the effort to communicate with those who communicate with you.

  26. e cho says:

    laydude: i’ll email you offline.

  27. layguy says:

    ok – BTW – It’s LayGuy 🙂 Don’t like “dude” as it’s not that popular in Australia. 🙂

  28. […] newspaper [Seattle Weekly].  As readers of this blog know, he authored what I thought to be a witty review of Quest Church in the paper’s last edition.  I was surprised that he posted my personal email and his […]

  29. layguy says:

    Hi Eugene,
    Wanna see what they think of you at that misfit of a paper…
    http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/06/quest_church_good_for_women_bad_for_gays
    And what still sucks is that you’re offended at Mars Hill. Grow a spine and stick up for what you believe in and tackle these misfits head on.

  30. e cho says:

    Lay dude,
    thanks for the love brother.

  31. […] Links: All Hell Broke Loose; Listening; Gracious as All F#*k; and The Gay […]

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One Day’s Wages

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"He Makes All Things New." In other words, Christ is our eternal hope. I'm sitting in my swinging bench on the comforts of my front porch after an exhilarating and exhausting day at church. It never gets tiring, stale, or old to preach and proclaim the good news of the Gospel - not just on Resurrection Sunday but every week as we gather as the body of Christ.

But it was this picture of Coptic Christians in Egypt pouring into churches on Easter Sunday that deeply moved my heart...just a week after two churches were bombed by ISIS terrorists taking 45 lives and injuring hundreds.

Even in the face of persecution and suffering, I'm so grateful for the witness of these sisters and brothers in Christ. May they be comforted and strengthened...and wherever you are reading this post, stay encouraged. Be faithful and steadfast. Don't give up. May we keep running the race set before us as we fix our eyes on Christ.

It's not just there. It's all over the world...God is still at work. The Holy Spirit is still moving. God is not yet done. There's only one explanation: 
Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed! Jesus is alive! Hallelujah! #OneChurch Remember, there is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion; No Easter Sunday without Passion Friday; No empty tomb without the Cross.

So, before we move too swiftly to the celebration of the risen Christ, may we sit at the foot of the Cross...and consider the depths of His sacrifice and love. "Oh, what love is this..." Just when we think we get what it means to follow Him, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples including...the one He knew would betray Him,

and the one that would deny him,

and the others that would abandon Him in His greatest need.

What amazing love.
What amazing grace. Oh. What. Amazing. Grace. M(inhee) + E(ugene). Not taking anything for granted. 20 years = 7300 days = 175,200 hours. A flourishing  marriage doesn't just happen. The idea that two Christians who choose to get married will produce a Christ honoring marriage is a gigantic myth. Its also extremely dangerous. The truth is that it takes so much intentionality and work. Intimacy definitely includes physical touch but is not only about physical touch. We have to pray, read, listen, learn, mutually submit, confess, forgive, repent, laugh, dream, rest, play, and the list goes on.

In other words, we have to keep Christ at the center because it's inevitable, there's a lot of messing up. So much messing up. It's both beautiful and painful and without grace, it's impossible.

Grateful. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace. And thank you, Minhee...

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