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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

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Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

my tweets

  • Someone tell Steph Curry that he's the MVP because he's playing a lot like me in my rec league. || 8 hours ago
  • .@SeattleQuest recently hosted Kenneth Bae (Prisoner 103). He was detained in DPRK for 735days. WATCH his testimony: vimeo.com/167680426 || 1 day ago
  • RT @seattlequest: Suffering is a short cut to God's heart. Even if your circumstances don't change, God is always w/ you. - KennethBae http… || 2 days ago
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