Eugene Cho

an upside to the economic downturn

serve

The doom and gloom news about all things economy related can be paralyzing.  I know it’s impacting many individuals, organizations, and churches as well.  I’ll share later this week how it’s impacted my family but I wanted to share how Quest is trying to respond.  Last year, Quest was fortunate and just met our budget.  I’m not certain how since a) 2008 was the first year we hadn’t  numerically grown since the beginning of our church and b) 10% of our church have experienced job layoffs.  As difficult as the economic climate may be, this is also an incredible opportunity for the [C]hurch to be a source of care and grace to one another and the larger city and world.  Difficult times are when we can demonstrate our substance and convictions of Loving God and Loving People.

Let’s share some ideas and good news.  Question:

How are you or your church seeking to care for one another and the larger city & globe?

I recently wrote the following letter to our church sharing how we are stumbling our way to care:

Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently, you know that we’re going through a severe economic downturn. Every week, we hear more doom and gloom news about all things economy related. This city and our church community have also been impacted as well. We’ve seen many in our city affected by foreclosures and many in our church affected by layoffs and financial anxieties. To my estimation, at least 10% of our church have been laid off in the past six months.

But in the midst of this, we’re still called to maintain our faith in God. In fact, the invitation is actually bolder: Grow our faith in God. While it may be hard to see, there’s an immense upside during this economic downturn as well: It gives us at Quest more opportunities to be agents of care and grace to the city, world, and one another.

During our annual Giving Sunday campaign in November, you gave generously towards our goal of raising $50,000. While we didn’t meet the goal, we were darn close at $49,520.06. As we shared with the church community, we partnered with two local food banks at Ballard and White Center because of the food crisis impacting our fellow Seattlites. Couple weeks ago, I had a chance to visit the White Center Food Bank upon their invitation and learned that their clients have increased from 1000 families/month to 2000 families/month! Check out this video from the WC food bank:

Here are some other examples Quest have sought to do and be as agents of grace and care in the past couple months:

  • Partnered with a local Karen/Chin churchplant community with $3000 in grocery cards.
  • The To the Streets Ministry served 139 people from the ‘homeless’ community over Thanksgiving and continue to build their presence during their monthly distribution and relationship meetings.
  • We partnered w/ Q Cafe and Nickelesville for a benefit concert to encourage the Nickelsville Homeless Community and raised nearly $3k.
  • Global Market hosted by the Global Presence Ministry raised $3806.21 in December for global causes.
  • And each month, our co-conspirators Q Café, donates 10% of their sales to a local non-profit doing great work locally or globally. For this month, the proceeds go to Operation Nightwatch.

And this doesn’t include some incredible stuff that individuals and community groups are doing through the ‘Good Neighbor Fund.‘  The Seattle Times featured Quest in December about generosity.  In short, we want to thank you for your generosity and partnership.

But as we seek to love the city and the larger world, we’re also committed to caring for one another during this economic downturn. Hear this carefully and loudly: No one at our church should be homeless, hungry, without electricity, or not have access to certain basic but essential needs. You gave nearly $25,000 specifically to help Questers and we have additional funds in our budget to help those in need. And numerous have asked if the church community is doing ok because they’re prepared to give beyond their normal giving to come alongside those in this season of need.  We also have folks that have empty rooms and couches available for you just in case.

In short, this is an opportunity for us to care for one another as well. You’re not alone – We are family and the Body of Christ to one another. If Quest is your home church and you’re in need of some financial assistance, please email Pastor DeAnza at deanza@seattlequest.org. Your request will remain anonymous.

We also want to equip you with resources and community.  Last month, we hosted the Faith and Economics depth class and learned about topics such as Budgeting, Credit, Renting/Co-Housing/Buying, Simplicity, Faithful Investing, etc.  If you’ve been laid off recently, looking for work, or simply unsure about your vocation, Quest is hosting a ‘Vocational Revisioning’ group for two months on Sundays at 3-4.30pm (@ Q Café and beginning this Sunday). Simply, we want to remind people that they’re not alone. Join the facilitator, J.P. Kang, for fellowship, discussion, prayer, Scriptures, and encouragement. To RSVP or for more info: office@seattlequest.org.

pastor eugene

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church, ministry, quest church, seattle

10 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    side question. what would your church have done if you guys did NOT meet your budget? that’s our church every year….

  2. sakokassabian says:

    This is great Eugene.

    I really think this is our chance, as Christians, to step up to the plate, stand as one, and serve our community. Churches in the community need to start talking to each other now and instead of each church doing their own thing, we need to work together and use our resources.

    Oh and thanks for inspiring me at the Idea Camp to finally start my blog.🙂

  3. Tracy says:

    This is one of the reasons why I am so blessed by Quest and pastor Eugene, their hearts are in the right place!

    I love this blog entry. Our church here in Maryland is struggling financially but is committed to giving to a local food shelter. The interim pastor spoke on our need to pray for our church members and to ask God for wisdom on how we can care for each other.

    WE need to care for the poor, period. No excuses.

  4. erin claire marcus says:

    thank you for your acts of kindness in a sometimes harsh world. i am a single, bi-polar, homeless, jobless, pregnant 36 year old woman in eugene, oregon. despite the hardships i have faced and face now, i am supremely optimistic. i do believe situations can improve with love, kindness, sharing and sensitivity to our own needs and those of the people around us. i love hearing about acts of generosity and love. thank you for sharing yourselves and your resources. you are the people who make the statement true that “love makes the world go ’round.” thank you for brightening my day. peace.

  5. Rachel says:

    Wow. Thank you for encouraging the church.

  6. Tom says:

    The churches I know best are panicking like everybody else ;^). Glad to hear you’re trying to lead people down a more fruitful path.

    Wrote the following to friends and supporters just before Christmas:

    “Dropped by a downtown deli I like here in Denver a few weeks ago with my son Andrew and his friend Eli.

    While placing my order I noticed that next to the cash register they had a largely empty ‘tip’ jar labeled ‘Our 401(k) Account’ with just a few dollars in it.

    I pointed to the couple of bills and the small pile of loose change in the jar and told the young guy with dreads behind the counter, ‘Don’t feel bad, after the past 6 months that’s about all I have left in my own retirement account.’

    He laughed. Andrew and Eli laughed.

    I laughed too, but only because I’ve always enjoyed a little dark humor now and then. :^)

    Don’t worry. I’m not going to launch into doom and gloom about how much the economy sucks right now. We all know it and feel it. Enough said.

    Those of us who follow Jesus also know that we don’t have to fear for our financial future like those who put their trust in money. So no mini-sermon about that here either.

    But I did want take a couple of lines to encourage you to join me in what I’m calling an Emmanuel Challenge. Basically, I want to act on my faith that ‘God is with us’ during dicey economic times.

    I’m making extra financial contributions this month and early next year beyond our normal giving, even though—like pretty much everybody I know–our own income stream has already taken some hits and may take some more.

    I believe God will honor that kind of risk taking in my family’s financial future and will use it as a witness to neighbors who are struggling to fight off the fear.

    In many ways, that’s what this whole financial crisis has become—people acting out of fear in large enough numbers that it creates a kind of systemic paralysis.

    If fear is the disease right now, faith is the cure.

    I can’t think of a better Christmas gift to ourselves and to others than to act faithfully with our money in a fearful season.

  7. Just Meee~ says:

    I love your graphics… where do you get ’em? I’d love to steal this one… it’s truly beautiful !

  8. eugenecho says:

    @matt: i don’t think much would have changed. in fact, i’m pretty certain that we would have proceeded with these things. it’s just part of our culture.

    having said that, if we didn’t meet our budget, we would have cut some stuff. the issue is where since we run a pretty lean budget. we also have savings that we could have dipped into if necessary.

    @just meee: purchased this particular one from some company years ago. it was like 1K images for $50 or something like that.

  9. […] a collapse or a spiritual recession in the West?  Well, these are certainly challenging times but just like the current economic recession, I see this as an opportunity for the “evangelical church” to re-discover their […]

  10. […] weeks ago, I shared about how our church is being affected and how we’re choosing to respond.  Thus far, the trend continues:  more layoffs and only […]

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One Day’s Wages

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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. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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