Eugene Cho

last sermon at quest…

I’m preaching my last sermon at Quest this Sunday – My last sermon before the beginning of my three month sabbatical which begins in couple weeks. 

I am really going to miss teaching at Quest especially because I’ve been really enjoying going through the book of Acts but just as much as I feel like I deserve this sabbatical, this is also my gift to the Quest Community for the summer.  They’ve earned this break from my long sermons – especially the folks at the 5pm service where I feel a little “too free” and sometimes go about an hour.  Enjoy this break Questers because I’ll be back with a vengeance.

People have asked about my “sermon process” so I’ll briefly share some thoughts here:

  • I love preaching through the Scriptures.  I’ve enjoyed topical preaching in previous years but find myself beginning from a more subjective [and dangerous] place.  I decide what I want to say or talk about and then fight Scriptures to support it.  Not good.
  • I love “Narrative Expository” teaching because it helps me to focus on the TEXT first.  Also, I don’t have to waste time thinking about what I’m going to preach on or about.  I just move from passage to the next passage.  This week, I’m teaching on Acts 9:1-19a and one of our other pastors preaches on the next section in Chapter 9 next week.  Nothing fancy but simply, the study and exegesis of the Revelation of Scriptures.
  • Because our church spends numerous months on a particular letter or book of the Bible, I have the advantage of reading and preparing for a sermon about two or three months in advance.  While I don’t do any extensive prep months in advance, I’m able to read ahead and have a “big picture” idea of where we’re headed.
  • While there’s nothing unique that I do in my sermon preparation, I do read the particular text at least 50-70x over the course of two months leading to the Sunday I teach from that text.  That’s been one of the most helpful aspects in establishing a level of “confidence” in my preaching voice.  Reading in so many times allows me the joy of reading it through different angles, perspectives, and experiences.
  • During the weekly leading to the Sunday, I put together a simple outline, access commentaries if necessary, ask for some feedback from the other pastors if needed, and put a few notes together so I can be able to teach freely and fluidly on Sunday – with my arms and hands flailing with great spiritual conviction.

These are the questions I ask during each preparation process:

  1. What does the Scripture say?  What is the context?  Who is it speaking to?  What is the cultural lens?
  2. What does it mean?  How do I interpret this? 
  3. How does this apply to the believer/church?  
  4. How does this apply to the current cultural landscape?  How does it affirm, rebuke, or speak prophetically against the culture?

In my opinion, teaching can be superficial if we start and focus on #3.  Rather than asking what the Scriptures are saying, we focus on “How do you FEEL about this?”  If we’re not careful, we end up simply as feel good “spiritual therapists” at best.

It’s a legitimate question but also should be asked in the context of the bigger picture.  I want to make sure that through each sermon, the church is a] learning about the Scriptures, b] being equipped in reading the Scriptures, and c] [hopefully] convicted by the Holy Spirit to grow as followers of Christ.

Last thought:  Exegesis [interpretation] of the Scriptures is important and not all pastors do it well. But equally as important in my opinion is the Exegesis of Culture.  How does the Scriptures engage, converse, dialogue, and wrestle with Culture – Locally and Globally?

What do you think?

Filed under: religion

15 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I would agree that in all things, balance is crucial. I don’t want the sermon that talks only to my culture about the pastor’s opinion but leaves out the authority of the Bible. I also don’t need a doctrinal statement or a history lesson that does not touch where I live. I am not saying that doctrine and history and Biblical culture are not highly valuable. But the body needs to know why, at the where-I-live level, is Trinity or justification or that the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 important. So, I would whole heartedly agree that exegesis of scripture and culture are a must. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. brother terry says:

    I also preach and teach in a “Narrative Expository” style. My mentor told me that a good sermon answers threee questions: What? So what? and What now? Those categories are pretty broad, but I think they should always incorporate the elements you listed. By the way, I not only flail my arms, I also pace quickly from side to side. LOL.

  3. MH says:

    Eugene,

    I’ve been coming out to Quest for about 3 months now. I’m disappointed you’ll be gone for the summer as I’ve been enjoying learning re-acquainting myself with “church” but do hope you have a great sabbatical.

  4. Jennifer says:

    PE

    Thanks for sharing some of your process!

    While I’m bummed that we wont get your preaching this summer – I am looking forward to hearing from some of the others that we dont as often. I love that we are a church that supports women in leadership – and love to hear the women pastors voices in preaching.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Eugene, I really appreciate your exegetical style-I have heard too many sermons that started with question 3, and I think we lose the depth of what God is saying in the Scriptures when we read and teach that way.

    Will miss you, but excited for you as you pursue the things God has called you to this year.

  6. Jack Y. says:

    Eugene,

    I left Seattle 3 years ago for New York when Quest was small but growing and Leah was a fairly new addition. I used to stop in to hang out at the Q cafe and use your internet terminals ^^ Thank you for that. You gave an outsider to Seattle a place to feel at home.

    Checking in years later, I am amazed at what you have built. This blog is interesting to me because it really shows how you approach your sermons with such intellectual rigor.

    As you predicted, I am still a skeptic, living in a skeptical place, but I really wanted to congratulate you and your staff on pursuing your passion for God’s work, and really creating something amazing. You are the modern, Type-A overachiever translated into the church, and your congregation is the better for it. Enjoy your sabbatical. It’s well deserved.

    Jack Y.

  7. ric wild says:

    I like everything you said. I too appreciate “narrative expository” preaching, but I also struggle with what we do as preachers/faith communities with the common lectionary. The lectionary is pretty cool and I think the church universal is better for having it. It weaves different passages together in interesting ways and the lectionary itself leads us on a sort of narrative journey–one that we can all join that for the most part transcends different faith traditions within Christianity and any barriers derived from denominations. I wonder if there is a good, creative way that honors the gift of the common lectionary while allowing for a long-term study of a single book of the Bible. Any thoughts?

  8. Eugene- I’m sorry and dissapointed that I missed your final sermon before the sabbatical. I hope the time off brings discovery, relaxation and peace. Lauren and I are keeping you and your family in our prayers.

    -ian

  9. eugenecho says:

    @ian: glad that you and family are at quest. look forward to connecting and hearing your story soon.

    @ric: good thoughts and questions. similarly, i think the lectionary has pros and cons. rather than being married to the lectionary, i try to honor the larger christian calendar and be mindful of those things. but for me personally, i very much enjoy going through the scriptures verse by verse.

    and if you have a chance, i would encourage you to take your community through genesis and exodus at least once. it was very formative for me.

    @jack: good to see you here on the blog. i remember you and thank you for the kind words.

  10. Jan Owen says:

    Eugene, I wanted to say congrats on the sabbat. I am currently halfway through my first one and it’s such an enriching (and for me emotional) experience. It takes some courage to acknowledge the ship won’t sink without you! I pray for God’s blessings on you as you take this time to make space in your life for more of Him, more of your family, more care for yourself. That’s been the biggest thing I’ve noticed, that my life is more spacious. And I love it. Let me know if you have any questions about this if you’ve never taken one before.

  11. […] very interesting blog post from Eugene Cho on preaching, I particularly found this quote interesting: "I do read the particular text at least 50-70x […]

  12. […] Preaching through Scriptures – Eugene Cho reflects on preaching through scriptures instead of topically (Thanks Scot) […]

  13. Steve says:

    Eugene,

    You mentioned the Narrative Expository Method and I was just wondering what books you would recommend that explain this a bit better?

  14. eugenecho says:

    @steve: thanks for stopping by the blog.

    anyone have some recommendations as i don’t. sorry.
    i just love the idea of teaching scriptures. and most of scriptures is in narrative form and i just find it difficult when we’ve deduced the teaching of scripture to several systemic and linear points to support a topic. but that’s just me. some people love that.

  15. Steve says:

    Yeah I understand what you are saying. I agree with what you are saying I was just wondering if you knew of any good resources that would help in bringing out a good narrative. Perhaps any book on story telling will do. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

my tweets

  • Wow. Go Huskies. We're. Officially. Back. Go Dawgs. Pac 12 Football. || 16 hours ago
  • It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small… instagram.com/p/BK_409Ohzr1/ || 22 hours ago
  • Life has its share of pain but don't get down and cynical. Stay engaged. Self-care. Keep learning and growing. Remain hopeful. Be steadfast. || 1 day ago
  • The Gospel, not social justice, is our identity as believers but the Gospel compels us to love God/love people incl. work 4 the common good. || 3 days ago
  • Folks often ask me, "What is social justice?" "Social justice" are fancier words for "Give a Damn". || 3 days ago
  • RT @EugeneCho: Just met Edna, a sister-in-Christ. She's 90 years old. She met Jesus when she was 85. You're never too young or too old to f… || 3 days ago

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK

advertisements

Blog Stats

  • 3,419,375 hits