Eugene Cho

people come and people go

People come and people go.  Quest has grown fairly significantly the past couple years and and many people have also moved on the past couple years – for various reasons.  But for whatever reason, it’s much easier to focus on the folks that move on rather than to enjoy the folks that choose to stay.  Why is that?

Over the years, I’ve learned to not take people’s departures too personally but it still sucks and at times, hurts…because ultimately, they’re people I care for.  Here are couple [edited] emails from folks in the recent years.

Hi Eugene: I just wanted to finally get this out and let you know that I have decided to leave Quest permanently. To be honest I have been struggling with Quest for a long time and I just needed to do something about it…I do still feel close to the core Quest family but have lost touch with this new community of attenders, so much so that I no longer have the desire to attend. I have been struggling with the way Quest has grown and felt very impersonal on Sundays and to be totally honest I don’t really share in the vision of Quest any longer.

So, yes, being a pastor can get discouraging because while these decisions aren’t meant to be personal, how can one not take it to heart to a certain level?  This is why it’s so encouraging to occasionally hear the voice from the other spectrum:

I also wanted to express to you how great it has been to have Quest as my home church over the last two years.

It has meant so much to me to be able to take part in a community like Quest, that is so dedicated to not only strengthening and challenging the faith of the people who attend, but also to reaching out into the community and serving the physical and spiritual needs that are so prevelant. This has been an important period of time in my life and your ministry at Quest has had a huge impact on my view of what it means to be a Christian in today’s society. I will never forget the time that I have been able to be involved with Quest and the influence that it has had on my own journey with Christ.

People come and people go.  There are times I wished that it had no effect on me at all but I’m realizing that the minute that happens, I will truly have lost the heart of being a pastor and shepherd.  It sucks and hurts but am realizing that is much better than not caring at all.  Apathy is the death to the soul.

And through all this, just trying to be faithful…and feeling like I’m failing.  Thank God for grace.

Filed under: church, emerging church, religion

11 Responses

  1. Scott says:

    Thanks for the reminder Eugene. I’m a small struggling church plant who just lost a key family this weekend. They made it a point to remind it that it was nothing I did but they felt the need to return to the church of their “roots”. Another key family in the church is close to them and is now wanting to meet with me this week, likely to tell me their doubts about the church and wanting to find a way to leave also. I dread the meeting but am pushing it to get it over with. I try to not take it personal but I do. I’m hurting this morning and my wife is fearful for the fallout. All of this and we were told repeatedly it had nothing to do with us!

  2. don says:

    After 27 years of doing this, this is still where I pray for thick skin because it hurts so much when a person or family you have invested love and time into elect to go somewhere else. Our egos get so enmeshed. yeah, we need to pray for grace.

  3. Dustin says:


    First of all, I’d like to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. Some people have a hard time dealing with church growth and the dynamics of their church changing. You guys have a good thing going and have been faithful to your call to reach this city.

    (member of big church across Salmon Bay)

  4. Kacie says:

    Eugene, I watched the same things happen at my church in Chicago over the past six years. As the church grew, the incoming new attendees were very excited about the church, and those who had been around a couple of years often became disillusioned and decided to switch churches. This stung until I found myself doing the same thing. I think it’s like any relationship – after being in it a while the newness and romance of it all wears off and you find out that your church, like all churches, is flawed and that building relationships is never a completely easy process. Staying with a church is a rare thing these days, especially in the city, and I think that it rarely actually has something to say about the quality of the church itself.

    I came back to my church after a couple of months, as did several of my friends who ventured out church hopping for a while. I realized that the problems I saw in my church were normal issues and were there because the church was filled with people…. and therefore were the same in every other church. I’m so glad I stuck around!

    Also – I really appreciate your blog. Thanks for writing!

  5. Sue says:


    Thanks so much for this post.. My father was a pastor and I grew up seeing him with many endless nights. People who aren’t in ministry will never understand what pastors go through.

  6. Karis says:


    You have a hard job. You have a unique congregation. You have vision beyond yourself. You love Jesus. All these add up to complexity. I, for one, am glad to have stuck around for a while. Quest is a good place. I think ( & pray) that people are meeting Christ there. Thanks for sticking around in this messy business of pastoring.


  7. rk says:

    after moving to a bigger venue, our church just exploded. i joined them just about that time. it was also my first and only church. so i have never really experienced being a part of a small community and then growing to be a megachurh. i was born-again right into a megachurch. but during those early years when the church is growing so rapidly i hear a lot of unpleasant comments. some from inside but most from outside. people have a hard time adjusting to change. i did affect me for a while and i did have my doubts but at the end of the day i decided to stick around because Jesus and his finished work is always central in all that we do and preach and that’s what matters most to me. you can never please everyone and i think god uses every churches to serve different purposes, different needs and for different people. i am more comfortable in a big church than a smaller one where everybody knows everybody. i know most people complains about the lack of personal feel in a large churh but i actually like it that way. it’s got to do with my own personailty. i will feel out of place if forced to interact and mingle with people i hardly know. in a small church i will feel like i have to act up sometimes. i also hear a lot of people complain that there is hardly an opportunity for them to know their pastor personally. i don’t have an issue with that either. in a large church the pastors main focus should be delivering god’s word faithfully. i don’t need him to be best friends with him. i think my church has got it’s priorities right and my pastor has got his focus right. those who want more intimacy can always join a cell-group anyway.

  8. hey eugene, i liked a previous post of yours a lot… the one on paul potts, and how we should be people who bring people’s gifts and callings out and empower them to bless those around them. perhaps your own words are words of comfort when you see people leave for good reasons, empowered, sent, seeking to live out God’s call on their lives wherever they need to be next…

  9. Dan says:

    So the question is, how easily do we let people off the hook? I’m a firm believer that God calls people into a community – so is he calling them out of that community into another? Or is it just their preference in the moment? Do we say “Thanks for the memories, hope God blesses you?” Or do we say “Your letter is all well and good, but the one thing you haven’t told me is that God is calling you out of our midst into another Body. And unless you can tell me you truly sense God calling you away, then leaving is wrong.” I know – we shouldn’t guilt or shame people into staying, but on the other hand, if we let them go that easily, aren’t we just enforcing the consumer mentality that says “If I tire of the cheeseburgers at Wendy’s, I can just go to Dicks, since it’s all about my choice”?

    When people move away from the area, I always ask them to let us bless their departure. If people leave because of a significant theological issue, I ask them to have the decency to let us pray for them as they go. But when they remain nebulous, using the “I just don’t feel all that much at home” (as with your quoted letter), I have a harder time letting those go without some challenge. But don’t think I have this figured out. I’m still trying to decide how much to push the issue.

  10. e cho says:


    For me, it’s a case by case situation. There are instances when I feel the need to have a deeper conversation but as I’ve learned, it takes two for a conversation to take place.

    I am at ‘peace’ in knowing that someone has prayed and processed through a decision. I may not fully understand it but have realized that I don’t always need to.

  11. Steve Santos says:

    October 04, 2007


    The post “people come and people go” reminded me of my friend’s experience in shepherding a church which had a very strong and incomparable intimacy among the members. The church shared their blessings with one another, loved each other more than real brothers, and took care of each other.

    The members grew tremendously as if it won’t stop growing. But like many relationships, it was also prone to be broken and inclined to be uncaring. This happened because people in the church are not perfect. Each should understand that this imperfections is a blessing in disguise—that people come and people go to let us know that there’s nothing permanent in this world. Everything and everyone changes.


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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.


my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease… || 1 day ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 1 day ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 4 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 4 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 4 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago