my only mega-issue with megachurches

mega church

I really don’t have an issue with megachurches themselves per se. In fact, there’s much to appreciate; it’s amazing how so many people are able to gather in one space – to hopefully – takes steps deeper in the larger mission of both that local church and the larger Missio Dei. If people are coming and growing in Christ, I’m encouraged and excited.

While people may have various issues with megachurches, I think it’s best to simply see them for what they are: another expression of the body of Christ. And we need different expressions that are faithful to the proclamation, declaration, and incarnation of the Gospel.

And while people have their opinions on them including the angle of ‘consumeristic,’ we should all acknowledge that each and every single person is a consumer on some level.  Every one of us.  And the folks that deny that apparently struggle with lying.

And so each church and ministry – no matter what size –  have to wrestle with the balance between catering to the consumption of the flesh and the ministry to the soul.

Having been on staff of a church of 25,000 people for couple years, I grew a deeper appreciation for this church, its senior pastor, and its ministry (Seoul, Korea).  Since my departure from this church in 1996, its since grown to nearly 70,000 people and still as missional minded as ever. Continue reading “my only mega-issue with megachurches”

why is everyone leaving the church?

nm_youth_church_090506_mnTalk about a string of bad press! In addition to a write up in the Christian Science Monitor [The Coming Evangelical Collapse], a cover article of the Newsweek Magazine entitled “The End of Christian America,” a more readable and short article popped up last week on ABC News entitled, “Young America Losing Their Religion.”

While these articles aren’t great news, I must be a bad pastor Continue reading “why is everyone leaving the church?”

generations of faith and salvation

Last Sunday, couple folks were baptized at Quest. Their stories of coming to faith in Jesus always moves me. With permission, here’s the story of Rosalind – one of only 30,000 Karaite Jews in the world and now one of two Karaite Jew believers.  I want to encourage you to read it and be blessed.

quest church baptism

“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” Genesis 12:1-4

It feels like my faith journey began before I was born. I guess that’s why my testimony might feel more like a history lesson than a story about God’s grace, but the fact that I’ve made it here is almost testament enough.

I am a Karaite Jew; a sect of Jews that has been around since God passed down his laws to Moses. Originating in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris-Euphrates river system (present day Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc.), only 30,000 of us remain in the world today, 4,000 of which reside in the U.S.

My parents were born in Egypt and, like many of the Karaite Jews, were also imprisoned, and then expelled, Continue reading “generations of faith and salvation”

we should all be enraged about bullying especially to gay/lesbian students

I received my share of taunts, slurs, beat downs, and bullying – particularly in elementary and middle school.  But when I hear my kids come home and speak of some taunts or bullying, I can’t help it:  I get enraged.  It pains me immensely.

And so when I read this news from the NY Times about two young 11 year old boys – Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera – who hung themselves because of “gay” taunts at their schools, I was enraged.  There’s couple issues here:  bullying and specifically, the bullying and abuse specifically targeted to gay and lesbian students.

What does it all mean?

And if we have 11 year old kids committing suicide, we have to ask the question: Are we doing enough to protect kids and punish those that bully?

Locally, (as I’m sure nationally), there are pastors and others leading, organizing, and encouraging parents to not send their teenagers to schools on (the now passed) Day of Silence – a peaceful demonstration representing the silence many gay and lesbian students feel they must maintain to avoid harassment and bullying at school.

While I can understand the anxiety that some parents may have in our homophobic culture, I completely disagree with the action to boycott school and in recent years in Seattle, for rallies against or taking out full page ads encouraging parents to keep their kids out of school.

What is the message we are conveying?  Can’t this be an opportunity for parents – while one honor their personal convictions – for a teaching moment to their kids?

So, while Christians and churches should certainly have the right to exercise their freedom with their views, all Christians and churches should be enraged at the bullying and verbal, emotional, and at times, physical violence against our gay youth.

For those that have read my blog, you know where I stand on homosexuality, but without any reservation, Continue reading “we should all be enraged about bullying especially to gay/lesbian students”

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. Continue reading “the beauty of diversity, community, and uniqueness”

the voodoo video i couldn’t show at quest

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Thanks to the collective wisdom of our larger staff, I pulled this “voodoo video” from last week’s Good Friday service.

But I still really like this video.  Very thought provoking so I’m now sharing and showing it here on my blog – for your viewing and commentary (video below).

It’s disturbing on several levels including the usage of ‘voodoo’ in it’s title which isn’t the best word in a church context but from an artistic level, this is an amazing video. The incredible animation is created by 26 year old artist Joaquin Baldwin.  I don’t know him personally but after watching this video, I suspect he may have been influenced by Christianity in some shape or another.  When you watch the film, you’ll see some Christian parallels.  Had I shown it, it would have taken some good explanation why I was showing the clip.

Here are the reasons this video really made me think: Continue reading “the voodoo video i couldn’t show at quest”