The infamous Dan Savage, the author of our church “review” in the recent Stranger article referenced this blog on the Stranger’s blog and bam – a spike in traffic and some interesting comments on their site. Here’s several for your reading pleasure:
 I wouldn’t really call your 30 churches piece journalistic. It was more just “let’s make fun of christians”. 90% of your writers missed the point of church in the first place. I mean it’s understandable. Who doesn’t like a good church bashing from time to time. It’s so easy. Perhaps an intellectually challenging approach would have been a search for why these churches are either growing (the mega’s), or dwindling. and intellectual is actually why I have been an avid Stranger reader for 10 yrs. [merktuttle]
 In his review of Quest Church, Dan Savage mentions Jim Jones and David Koresh. Unfortunately — because of horrific tragedies like these — I always look at any new religious movements with suspicion. So, no matter how normal and hip and kind someone like Eugene Cho seems, I think: “Okay, where’s the dark side?” Maybe I’m pessimistic. But I just feel like people are too f%$##d up, in general, to do something like start a church — if they don’t have a deep and sinister megalomania. But maybe not. Maybe Eugene Cho and Quest Church are just good, spiritual people. [paul]
 In reflection I don’t think that Mr. Cho necessarily has a good sense of humor. I suspect the pastor thinks Dan Savage was joking when he described the music as insipid, the sanctuary as homely, the prayer position as a “double armed fascist salute”, or the church as a “Mars Hill wannabee”. But he wasn’t. His phrases were glib but I’d guess honest. Mr. Cho finds these things hilarious. I do think that “establish rapport with edgy urban media” is on Mr. Cho’s marketing to-do list. Mars Hill had the Paradox venue as its subtle youth outreach. Quest has it’s Q Cafe and, now possibly, the Stranger. [dirge]
 It is possible for Christians to exist outside of your preconceived ideas. There are actually churches and pastors out there who don’t insist that you agree with them on everything. You can actually explore spirituality and journey alongside others who are doing the same. I would be the first to acknowledge that I don’t want to be associated with the vast majority of Christianity, but Eugene is the real deal. [dean]
Well, I’m sure Dan Savage wasn’t joking but I still thought the writing was hilarious. Some of their stuff on the other churches were also pretty funny as well. Every now and then, it’s nice to laugh at yourself. “Deep and sinister megalomania?” Yes, yes, yes…buhahahahah. Did that sound sinister?
Well, couple folks that I know did take a little offense at the reviews. C’mon, it’s not that “insipid” at Quest. Is it? I’m trying to imagine what Mr. Savage would have written if I was preaching for the usual hour that I normally do at the 5pm service. I’m pretty certain he would have ripped my hand movements and gyrations. Anyway, to give another perspective, I’m sharing a random review [from 10/06] from a Seattle dude that visits different churches and shares his reflections on his blog…the things that you find via Technorati…
“…I made my way over the Fremont Bridge to Quest Church. Outside were a handful of twenty-somethings dressed about like I was: not formally, in the classic Sunday sense, but with flair, because maybe this was a place to be seen. And not by God. I stepped inside and this trend was confirmed. This was as much a hip spot as it was a place of worship. I chatted briefly with a pleasant young woman and meandered over to a seat. I was prepared for any number of things.
What came next was a much more intimate, and therefore honest variant of the rock concert format you will remember from Mars Hill. Imagine a Bright Eyes show at Neumos as opposed to Sufjan Stevens at the Paramount. The song leader was passionate, and there was a heartfelt acoustic quality to all of his selections that hit the right chord with me. OK, I thought, after this will come a little sermon that could go by the name of telling everyone what to think and do. This assumption was only reinforced by the text for study, printed on the front of their program, Exodus 34:10-17, which includes choice portions like: “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going” and “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles”, or my favorite, “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
I respect pastor Eugene Cho (who has a blog, if you’re interested). One of the first things he emphatically proclaimed was to “understand context”. I was intrigued and surprised by the way he deemphasized the political/moral implications that a literal reading of the passage might encounter and looked much more closely at the notion of our place in a larger global/cultural context. He spoke of Quest (and the whole body of Christians, really) as a “missional” church, devoted to honoring God’s sending. For us, in our middle-class Seattle routines, there is a “danger of being rooted”, and God’s call is for a “freedom to move”. “Jesus would have a MySpace account,” he said, “I’m sure of it.” But not–he was quick to clarify–to shove a belief system down anyone’s throat. Like my dad, pastor Cho subscribes to a “Don’t force it” philosophy. The missional project of the church is to bring its values out into the larger community in a way that is complimentary to various cultures present within it.
What pastor Cho wanted to highlight in the text was love. That’s right, God’s message here in Exodus could be construed as a narrow-minded genocide against foreign cultures, but in this reading is an expression of His love in a context where the pressure to stray was great. Jealousy according to pastor Cho (and coincidentally the therapist whose book I have been reading) is an integral element of passionate devotion. The irrational, vigorous desire that we feel for a beloved is inflected by jealousy because it is all-encompassing, unyielding and uncontrollable. So God is looking for recognition.
Whether I agree with this interpretation or not, Cho’s focus on loving relationships and a respect for a multi-religious community that Christianity can operate within was refreshing. It was that much more refreshing as a call going out to a bunch of young people–many of whom probably grew up in less inclusive religious settings.
Reading the statement of faith that represents Quest and its congregation, I see parallels both with communities like Mars Hill and some of the emergent churches like COTA. I would be curious to hear more from pastor Cho and assess the direction their beliefs take these fellow pilgrims.”