Eugene Cho

the beauty of diversity, community, and uniqueness

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Ministry has its up and downs. Such is life.

But one of the joys of planting and pastoring Quest Church is that it’s one of the most unique and diverse communities I have been a part of. This isn’t meant to be a slam against homogeneous churches.  In fact, I believe that every community is multicultural on some level – [Hint: think beyond race.]  While I miss (very much) the uniqueness of my experiences in Korean-American churches – food, generations, languages, etc. (and still am involved in KA/Asian communities), I now understand why God called Minhee and I to venture out from our homogeneous suburban church into the city to plant Quest and Q Cafe.

While we have a long way to go, we’re thankful that Quest is growing as a multicultural, multigenerational, and urban faith community – with a desire to be an incarnational presence both in the city of Seattle and the larger world – teaching and living out the Gospel of Christ.

Questions: What are ways that you encourage your community to grow in diversity, community, and uniqueness?

These are my encouragements to fellow leaders and pastors:

  1. Know the diversity of your community.  Simply, do you know their stories?  They may “look” the same but they represent different ‘cultures’ – if not ethnicities.  We all have diverse stories.  If you know their stories, are you making their stories known?  FWIW, this is my story.
  2. Nevertheless, have a vision of the larger Kingdom and the “future Church” and consider what it looks like to take “one step closer…” Even if your church community isn’t ethnically diverse, how are you personally building friendships and encouraging your congregants to live in friendship with neighbors and the  larger community?  How is your church serving  “other” churches and communities – especially those that don’t look like yours?  You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket and think that “worshipping together” is the only expression.  Think outside of Sundays and outside the building box.
  3. Be committed to the truth that each person is uniquely created in the image of God.  Consider the lessons learned from the story of Susan Boyle of Britain’s Got Talent and meditate on this quote from C. S. Lewis in The Weight Of Glory.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal , and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with , work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. and our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in sprite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

Why did God call us to plant Quest?  It’s hard to put into words but these are some images that show why and give us great joy.  We do ministry in hopes of loving and serving people so that we may all be drawn to the Gospel of Christ.

I’m thankful for the beauty of diversity, community, and uniqueness of each person because they give me a glimpse of a larger, deeper, and fuller God and Kingdom.  When I exclusivel hang with those that look, think, and view the world just like me, I’m prone to live with blind spots…  In short, I see what I see and what I want to see.  This is why I need others and yes, why others need me.

Much thanks to Leo Chen Photography for these great pics during a recent Sunday service.

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quest church seattle

Filed under: church, churchplanting, ministry, pastors, seattle, ,

14 Responses

  1. Derek says:

    Very cool pics, Eugene. Having visited Quest several years ago, I’m amazed at the wonderful things that God continues to do through your church.

  2. steve s says:

    I’m interested…

    I have had a hard time finding resources that are true to our values, and yet diverse in viewpoint…

    it seems as though most of the resources out there that include multicultural viewpoints are about multicultural issues, as opposed to simply being about Christ, church, discipleship, etc. yet written from diverse viewpoints…

    Where do you go for authors, and other resources?

    I haven’t devoted a tremendous amount of time to this, but I have devoted some…

  3. Mario says:

    Great post, can’t wait until we get rid of the words diversity, minority, and majority.

  4. Barb says:

    Short answer for my church–we don’t get it. There is a High School down the street from our church. The demographics of that school are:
    American Indian/Alaskan Native: 1.1%
    Asian: 14.7%
    Pacific Islander: 4.2%
    Black: 6.3%
    Hispanic: 3.8%
    White: 62.7%
    Qualifing for free lunch: 21.4%
    And my own stat: Age 14-18: 100% (duh)

    Our Church (on the same street) White: 100%
    with one or two exceptions.
    Average age: 58+
    Average income: well above average.

    When we attend any school function or youth sport event we see this amazing diversity–when we go to church it does not exist. WHY would any young people be attracted to our church?

    P.S.–this is in Kitsap County, WA–just across Puget Sound from Quest.
    My prayer is for us to somehow “get it.”

  5. gar says:

    Love the Sunday school pic of the teacher reading to the kids. Brings back memories from the days where the most important thing to me was getting a fluffy pillow and a good spot…

  6. Mike says:

    _beautiful_ in the true sense of the word!

  7. diane says:

    Love it, Eugene!.. and hope for the day when we can be part of a third culture church that embraces diversity like Quest!..keep on, di

  8. Good thoughts and incredible photos. The pictures seem to encapsulate exactly what you are talking about. I think it is essential for us to BE diverse, and not try to so hard to produce diversity. When our teams, friends and colleagues are diverse, what we produce will be diverse. It isn’t something you can create, you have to live it. And I agree, it goes beyond skin color, but even that is a tall order for most churches. When the focus becomes diversity, and not loving and engaging people, we have missed the point. Keep loving people in Seattle, you are doing a great work.

  9. Adin says:

    I certainly hope that the diversity also includes folks of minority sexual orientations.

  10. Wayne Park says:

    what beautiful photos, PE
    I’m struck by the diversity in age, status, ethnicity

    For me the number 1 thing is a willingness to go to somebody that’s different from I am. Simply put, it’s crossing cultural comfort zones. I love how Nouwen puts it:

    “ministry is going to the poor and building a home there”

  11. Kathryn says:

    That was a great service. We welcomed a family from Africa into our midst, dedicated two children to the Lord and I even remember something in your sermon!! 🙂 … You spoke about how it’s time to grow up. You said something about not being a brat anymore. That convicts me over and over again. I’ve been a Christian all my life and it’s time for me to be a changed by that. I need to grow up!!!! Like I said, a great service all around.

  12. sung kim says:

    this was a great post. thank you

  13. mar says:

    wow, what a beautiful church! this made my day.

  14. […] Eugene, on April 17th, you did a posting on your blog on the beauty of the diversity of our church and why diversity is so important. It was both encouraging and challenging to me. But there was […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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