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. Read the rest of this entry »

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

why sundays still matter…

worship at quest

In conversations with people about the state of [Western] christianity, people can be all over the map.  And at times, I think it’s because we’re really that desperate, that upset, that disillusioned, or that [insert word here].  And then, there are times we just want to make a crazy statement to sound edgy and prophetic.  Yo, it’s pomo, bro.

One of those crazy conversations surrounds the topic of the corporate worship gatherings known to most people as ‘Sunday worship services.’  

I want to contend –  that whether it’s on a Sunday or another day – that gathering as a unified faith community is very important and healthy.  Or more accurately, it is one aspect of a healthy faith community.

Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying.  I’m not a big fan of big productions, fancy shows, gift giveaways, Read the rest of this entry »

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

from the trenches: no idea where to get food

Quest has had the privilege of helping facilitate a new churchplant in the Kent, Washington area.  But it’s likely that these folks have never even heard of the word ‘churchplant’ and the numerous technical words that pastors like myself like to throw around.  And to be honest, these folks probably don’t care.

But they do care about one another, family, community, justice, their children, their people, and of course, they care about their faith in Christ.

Over a year ago, a group of friends including Rich and Teresa from Quest helped start a church community for refugees from Burma including the Karen and Chin people.  The group has since grown to over 100 people the last time I heard including tons of young children. I’ve had the privilege of visiting and preaching there and I’ve been immensely encouraged by this community – even though I know there are numerous hardships and struggles.  I was even greeted by a man who recognized me from my visit to Burma several years ago.  I’m glad to report that this community has moved to another location that better accomodates their growing community.  The last time I visited them, the kids were meeting in the janitor’s room.

karen-church-2-1-09-001

This isn’t an official Quest plant but we are supporting them through our Quest Churchplanting Foundation.  Years ago, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: churchplanting, ministry, quest church, seattle

know and love your city

Minhee and I moved to Seattle in 1997.  We are entering our 12th year in Seattle but it was only about 8 years ago when I really began to grow in love with the city of Seattle.  I was kayaking in Lake Union when I just gushed over the beauty over the city.  And I just started praying for the city and the hope – someday – of being able to plant a church in the city.  God honored that prayer and on occasion, I’ll trek over to Kerry Park [few mins from Quest] and lift occasional prayers for the city and people of this city.

It isn’t a perfect city by any means:  I wish there was more diversity; city remains ethnically divided;  the road systems are wacky; a subway system would be nice; our sports teams are dreadfully cursed, we need more sun, etc.  But there are also some amazing things about this city:  the topography is absolutely breathtaking; the local music scene is alive and well; everything is green and wet; the city is a creative force and is the hub of numerous companies, etc.

How about you?  Where do you live and what do you like or dislike about your city or town?

One of the regular chats I give when I’ve had the privilege of speaking at conferences or churches has been the importance of knowing, loving, and engaging your city.  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, family, leadership, ministry, quest church, seattle, travel

not your typical church sleepover

I’m stumbling my way as a quasi “project manager” for our church remodel. Ahh, add more lessons learned via planting Quest six years ago.   Ready or not, we’ll cross the parking lot and return back to our new “traditional” church building on Sunday, September 23. 

We’re about 70% done with what we need to do.  This would have been a far easier thing if we had the money to simply HIRE OUT for the entire thing but so goes the law of economics.  With 70K, we’ve needed to basically remodel the entire church building that was built almost 40 years ago: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, quest church, religion

churchplanting assessment

I was out in Detroit last week for several days participating as as assessor in a Churchplanting Assessment or Bootcamp for the Evangelical Covenant Church [which also explains why the week was so crazy].  While I am part of the large “C” hurch, this is the “team” I have chosen to invest much of my energy and time as well as place myself in accountability.  While I still have friends that rib me for joining this denomination or a denomination altogether, I am at peace and conviction that I do not want to be part of a church or a pastor as an island to myself.  Exactly five years ago, Minhee and I were participants as “candidates” in a similar assessment.  Last week, it was a little surreal to be on the other end – working with a team of twelve other pastors/churchplanters assessing 10 churchplanting candidates and their spouses [there were two single pastors] from around the country.  I felt very burdened with the responsibility… Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, ministry

ministry is messy

Ministry is never pretty.   More poignantly, life is not pretty.  It’s messy. Our idealism will never be met.  It’s the simple and brutal truth.  The reality:  Quest Church is a failure.  It sucks.  The reality:  I am a failure.  I suck.  But the good news – it’s OK.  Everyone just breathe. God is gracious.  God’s grace is sufficient.   As for Quest:  it’s too big, too small, too disorganized, too institutional, too Asian, too White, too educated, too young, too modern, too postmodern, too emerging, too un-emerging, too biblical, too liberal, too conservative, [insert your thoughts here].  After six years, while I can honestly acknowledge that Quest is a failure of sorts and has disappointed many people, I can also rest in knowing that it’s beautiful and has ministered to many people – by the grace of God.  I feel so very privileged that God called my wife, Minhee and I, to be the visioneers of this church and hopefully, a movement to come.

So, while there are disappointments and I might will never please each and every single person, I’ve learned that there’s great value in just showing up.  There’s great value in simply DOING ministry, sharing life, and just trying.   While the product might not be polished and the process is messy, it’s humbling – even if it’s very rare – to know that redemptive things can and are taking place.  Here and there, I’ve wondered to myself if the church, the cafe, the programs, the sermons, the counseling, the Live Music, the community groups, the whatever…does it matter?  Now, more than ever before, I’ve realized that being messy is where the gospel is often  manifested. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, justice, pastors

what to do with church buildings

here and there, i get listings of churches forwarded to my inbox from friends who are real estate agents.  churches that were once thriving but left with very few choices.  most will sell off their properties and within a year or two, you’ll see condos, retail buildings, office spaces, and my worst fear – another starbucks store.  the sad part is that the while the Kingdom’s future is not contingent on that property, that ‘physical’ space will never return to be used for the Kingdom.

and the reality is that this is a very common story.  a scenario happening all around the country – especially in urban location.  this morning, i read about the long drama surrounding the building of seattle first united methodist church.   after what seems to be at least couple years of conversations, discussions, and drama, a decision has been made to preserve the actual sanctuary but demolish the church annex.  eventually, a 40 story tower will be built to add to the already very busy seattle downtown landscape. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, seattle

stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. 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.

my tweets

  • RT @micahchallenge: Our books Live Justly & Overrated are tools used to be moved to change the world! bit.ly/1s3DKI2 https://t.co/… || 10 hours ago
  • Another challenging & life giving message by @RevDocBrenda. Such a privilege to teach with a team of women & men that love the whole Gospel. || 10 hours ago
  • It's been years since Seattle Sonics "became" the OKC Thunder. Still stings. Seattle deserves a team before OKC gets a title. That is all. || 1 day ago
  • That time when nearly everyone laughed at @KlayThompson when he said he was the best shooting guard in the NBA. || 1 day ago
  • The best part of wanting to change the world...is being humbled, learning you're not the savior of the world & being changed in the process. || 1 day ago
  • Cheer up Toronto & Canada. Great season. Also, you have free health care, toonies and your political candidates are not as crazy as America. || 2 days ago

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