Eugene Cho

better than an open letter to derek webb

I want to know:

What is all the controversy about Derek Webb?

He’s gifted. He’s talented. Great song writer. His wife, Sandra McCracken, is even more talented. He’s seeking to live out his faith in Christ. He looks good bald. And he’s my 5’7″ height so bonus points for that.

Why such controversy?

  • So, he says the occasional “sh*t” word in a song.
  • He’s sympathetic to the LGBLT community.
  • He’s calling the Christian community to take up love in the pursuit of Christ.

This is controversy?

…Resulting in open letters here, open letters there; boycotts; criticism; blah blah blah.

Even people as going as far as threatening to “unlike” and “de-friend” Derek on FB and lots of Twit-buking going on.

Wow. It’s on now…

I’ve got something better than an open letter:

We’ve invited him to visit us in Seattle and do a show at Q Cafe – our non-profit community cafe in Seattle. If you’re in the area, come and join us:

  • Saturday, January 22.
  • Advanced tix are $15. Doors open at 7pm. Show at 8pm.
  • I’m giving you the heads up before we start blitzing next week. We’re only selling 200 tix and it’ll sell out.

And yes, in case you were wondering:

I’ve already received couple notes from peeps that will now boycott Q Cafe.

Huh? Whatever.

I don’t care who you are; what tribe, denomination, group, association; left, right, centrist; Democrat, Republican, Tea, and Coffee Party; I don’t care what theological bent you have…

The truth:

We need to all be more loving – certainly more respectful. You know, the whole…”slow to anger, quick to forgive, abounding in love…”

Hear this:

I’m all for contending for the Gospel but nowhere do I read, “Contend for the Gospel as a Jerk.”

Seriously, there are better stories to follow. How about that Ted Williams and the story behind his voice?

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37 Responses

  1. Kevin says:

    The message/cause/love of Christ is offensive — even to many Christians. Wish I lived in Seattle so I could catch the show.

  2. says:

    Sounds interesting. Can you elaborate on some of your goals for hosting D. Webb? Specifically, I am wondering what event(s)/act(s) you’re trying to respond to and why? I haven’t been keepin’ up with this story. 😦

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Honestly, I haven’t kept up much w/ the story as well. It’s easy to get engrossed.

      I like Derek.
      I run a small non-profit music venue. We like playing good music from mostly local artist and occasionally, national artists.

      That’s our goal.

  3. jadanzzy says:

    With you 100%, Eugene. Ludicrous.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho and others. Eugene Cho said: My open letter to @DerekWebb is better than your open letter to Derek Webb. – […]

  5. sims says:

    not sure who derek webb is but he sounds a lot like that jesus dude. 😉

  6. adam says:

    Wish I could be there. I love the fact that he’s shaking things up. Its exactly what the church needs.

  7. danderson says:

    What’s the point? That one can say the sh*t word and it’s ok? That marriage between a man and a woman is just not 21st century? Sounds like we’re becoming part of the word here….

  8. danderson says:

    Oops. I meant to say “part of the world.” Because political correctness would have us believe that LGBTs if just another lifestyle….

    • Andy M says:

      Loving and being compassionate for the LGBLT community is not political correctness. It is Jesus’ command to love our neighbors, even our enemies.

      While there are issues with “political correctness”, Today, in my opinion, it is mostly an effort to “play nice” as we would tell our children.

      And whether someone uses a curse word here and there isn’t exactly a measure of their faithfulness.

      Being “of this world” should not be confined to whether someone curses and considers a different perspective about homosexuality than previous generations.

      I don’t know much about Derek Webb, but him promoting “love” definately should not be controversial.

  9. Steve K. says:

    Rock on, Eugene. Rock on.

  10. Lisa Domke says:

    You go, my brother.

  11. seth says:

    I agree with you that people that the controversy has ballooned and is a bit ridiculous.

    However, there are a lot of people who have politely thrown up some questions not to attack Derek Webb but to really examine and criticize some comments that he made.

    I think by grouping together both honest criticism and idiotic banter against Derek Webb isn’t right and doesn’t take into account honest questions that people have about him.

    • Eugene Cho says:


      great comment. and yes, i wholeheartedly agree.

      it’s not my intent to paint a broad and universal stroke over everyone.

      and yes, i agree that there are good questions that have been asked and need to be asked – not simply of derek but for all of us.

  12. pastoralan says:

    I love this blog. I don’t know who Derek Webb is. I’ve stated this before on here … will state it again: just because I believe the scriptures concerning issues related to the LGBT stance, does not mean I don’t love them. UNREAL how that card is often played. Truth in scripture is not from Seattle or Dallas. It’s from the middle east. Ultimately, it’s from God Himself.

    I used to not have control over my language … I still slip … but it’s easier to understand … AND … the consequences are far worse with LGBT than they are for an occasional slip.

    • Sue says:

      I tell my kids all the time, vulgar language isn’t a sin, it’s just vulgar. Sometimes it appropriately describes vulgar realities. Sometimes it’s merely a bad habit that doesn’t contribute anything useful to communication. I don’t think, in and of itself, that it (or the lack of it) should be a benchmark of Christian behavior.

    • Andy M says:

      I believe the scriptures, and yet I question the traditional take on the LGBT issue. Not to make a fuss, but I just think it is necessary to be careful about what “I believe the scriptures” must mean.

      I agree that there seems to be no room in public discourse for people to be loving AND disagree. For most people it is an either/or decision, which is definately unfair.

  13. Frank Turk says:

    I have to admit something: when I wrote my open letter, I had no idea that:

    1. there was a subculture of Derek Webb enmity already out there.

    2. that objecting to his interview with Chris Stedman would actually create an interweb meme

    3. that people (not Eugene Cho per se, but all of the e-mail I have gotten on the subject so far, and all of the drive-by responses) would be from people who didn’t even read the letter.

    So that said, I’m an open book. As the guy who took the first lightning strike here, feel free to find out if I’m sponsoring boycotts of Eugene Cho, if I hate LGBT people, if I am a caricature of a human being, if I’m selling a book (that was my second-favorite accusation since this started — I want to read the book I’m allegedly selling) or anything else people would like to discover.

    Just sayin’.

    • Andy M says:

      From a fairly quick look at your blog, I would accept that you are a well intentioned person, and you have some valid points to make. I don’t think anyone here wants to caricature you or accuse you personally because of your opinions, though I have no doubt that you have received much of that kind of criticism. Stereotypes and caricatures are the easiest form of criticism to follow, and unfortunately we humans most often take the easy road.

      You may never come back here to read this, but all I’d really like to point out is in your open letter you take issue with Derek not presenting the “Gospel” but rather that he jumps straight to “love” in his interview with a secular reporter.

      Maybe Derek Webb understands that most of our society sees Christians as hateful, judgemental people, rather than being recognized by our love and compassion. I would say most educated modern people have heard the “Gospel” in one form or another, but what they haven’t seen is love.

    • jasdye says:


      My problem with your Open Letter is that it was pretty apparent that you never actually read the interview. Or, rather, that you read *into* it things that were never said. And then trounced because certain other things were never said.

      It was as if you have a vendetta against Christians for not giving the Four Spiritual Laws (or what you describe as “The Gospel”) every time they have the opportunity to.

  14. How to say this without getting pulled into the “there’s only one way to interpret the Bible” fray? Guess I can’t.

    Derek Webb is one of those guys who scandalizes my friends in certain camps of the evangelical community, is prophetic to others in other camps of the evangelical community and is, to be as kind as possible, still a bit behind the curve to my friends in other (broader? bigger? more historic?) parts of Christendom. I don’t like to use words like liberal or progressive to describe serious people of faith whose journey with Christ has lead them to places off of the traditional evangelical grid, because that cedes language about faith (and even about the broader Christian tradition) that I’m simply not willing to give up. It falls in line with the belief many churches and ministries taught those of us coming to age together in the 90s: there’s only one way of being Christian, which is to say there’s no salvation outside of evangelicalism, since Christian and evangelical were so often (and are so often still) used as synonyms instead of noun/adjective and qualifier.

    I know people who still believe that there are only one or two ways of really being Christian. I love lots of those people, even if I don’t agree with them. I have a harder time loving those who aren’t brought to a serious tension when it comes to the hard questions that their beliefs about Scripture would seem (to me) to require of thoughtful, generous pilgrims.

    I’m not here to say yeah or nay about Derek Webb, but I will say that pushing the discussion of these issues within his faith tradition is something I do admire.

    As readers of your blog know, Euguene, not only are there many ways of being Christian, but there are also many ways of being evangelical. That’s another word that we’ve used out of context for far too long. There’s an awful lot that’s evangelical about Christian communities who don’t define “evangelicalism” by an adherence to certain meta ways of viewing scripture or other purity tests that seem to have more to do, to me, with 20th century positivism than with mystical encounters with God in Christ and the ancient witnesses of others who have had them.



    • James says:

      I’m a little confused, are you saying that being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to act the same as other Christians? Or are you saying the definition of a Christian, in its simplest terms, is open ended?

      • Well, certainly, on a basic level, being a Christian doesn’t mean having to act the same as other Christians. Think of all those Christians from across traditions who have agreed to stop calling each other heretical over differences in things like ordinances, spiritual practices, church structures, etc. Or think of an evangelical Methodist who might perceive that she has more in common with an evangelical Baptist than with a mainline Methodist, even though their respective traditions disagree about something as seemingly fundamental as baptism. So I’m not sure what it would mean to say that being Christian means acting like other Christians. Which Christians? And with regard to what? How we read Scripture? and how we act because of that? But even people who agree on cussing and sexuality because of “God’s plain word” might still disagree on baptism, female ordination, etc. etc. etc.

        On a deeper level, yes, I’m saying that the definition of a Christian is open-ended, though it does seem to require walking humbly and doing justice.

  15. jchenwa says:

    ha-ha, quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

    quick, slow, slow – isn’t that like a cha cha move or something?

  16. Haley says:

    Loved this post and can’t wait for the show!

  17. Emily Jones says:

    I’m not familiar with any controversy surrounding Derek Webb… last I heard he was pretty “cool” with the young Christian crowd. I only have his first album, but I love it and am totally excited that he’s coming to the Q Cafe! I hope to be there!!!!

  18. Kyle Reed says:

    Thank you for writing this

  19. […] better than an open letter to derek webb I want to know: What is all the controversy about Derek Webb? He’s gifted. He’s talented. Great song writer. His […] […]

  20. DanW says:

    Derek Webb leads to sin. I know, because I am now fighting the sin of covetousness, jealous that he’s playing your place and not mine.

  21. chad m says:

    dude i’m there. already bought my tickets.

  22. Ben says:

    Ted Williams is the man.

  23. Justin Whelan says:

    I think it’s sad that, all these years after Campolo’s ‘shit’ quote, someone as excellent as Eugene feels the need to put an asterisk in, presumably to avoid offending good Christians.

    I think it’s really sad that a single Christian would boycott Webb because he said ‘shit’, in an obvious reference to Campolo. Because that’s what Christianity is all about, right?

    I think it’s off-the-charts-sad that all the talk about the ‘What Matters To You’ song is Christians defending their attitides towards homosexuality, thereby proving the song’s point.

  24. […] some great photos (via Leo Chen Photography). Some of you may know Derek Webb as he’s been in some controversy recently but regardless, great show with a sold out […]

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One Day’s Wages

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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 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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