Eugene Cho

pete hoekstra and cultural intelligence: why it matters to the church

Ugh.

Did you see Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra’s political campaign ad during the Super Bowl?

As you read in my previous post, I had some choice words about Go Daddy, Teleflora and other companies that continue to objectify and exploit women but I hadn’t seen Hoekstra’s ad.

Well, I just saw it…and I almost vomited in my mouth. Almost. Those chicken wings I consumed during the Super Bowl wanted to come back up. Check it out: Read the rest of this entry »

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You don’t have to be a celebrity _______ to be influential. Just be faithful.

How do you define a successful church?
How do we measure success as a pastor?

For that matter, how do we measure success in ______________?

As you read this post, I want to invite you to consider replacing ‘celebrity pastor‘ with ‘celebrity __________’.  Insert your area of profession or focus and consider the content of this post.

I’m come to realize that part of my calling as a pastor and leader is to be an encouragement to other pastors – but especially to those that don’t “measure up” to how we in the church subculture often directly or indirectly elevate stories of successful pastors – aka ‘celebrity pastors.’

This post isn’t a criticism of celebrity pastors. Hardly at all. Instead, it’s a post to accentuate the importance of all those who serve and lead in the church – but especially those pastors you’ll never hear of; Those that are not part of the preaching circuit; Those that don’t have publishing deals, etc.

I am not a successful pastor. I don’t pastor a mega-church or a large church. I don’t facilitate astronomical budgets, earn a huge salary, travel with huge entourages, fly on private jets, and have thousands upon thousands of sermon subscribers.

But nevertheless, I have influence.
We all do.

I’m simply trying to be faithful to the things, to the people, to the city, Read the rest of this entry »

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gender, church, and the art of alternate endings

* While I’ve written my share of posts expressing support for egalitarianism, justice, and women’s leadership in society (particularly in the Church), I’m no champion of gender equality. In fact, I make my share of goof-ups but what I’ve come to realize is that like everyone, I have my blind spots. One of my blind spots deals with gender or to be more blunt, I don’t always understand or see things from the lens of a woman for the obvious reason that I’m a dude (and thank God that I’m a man and not a woman!)

Several important remedies to our blind spots are to acknowledge them and to put ourselves in situations where we can learn. Additionally, we need courage to engage the conversation and grace to help sustain the conversation into transformation. And so with that in mind, today’s guest post, Gender and the Art of Alternate Endings, is from Dr. Michelle Garred – an independent researcher and consultant in international peacebuilding. She also worships at Quest Church and c0-leads one of our community groups. She asks some compelling questions:

Why does this distorted social setting appear to pit me in competition against my husband and best friend? Why can’t someone meet a couple and assume that these two inter-dependent individuals both have something to offer? Why should I be forced to wield my trump cards as instruments of power, making conversation into a contact sport? Most importantly, what about the many women who don’t have trump cards, but who do have boundless gifts to be shared with the Church? Who sees those women? And who hears them?

Take a read and let me know what you think.

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I love those children’s books that have alternate endings for the reader to choose from. What a sweet freedom to decide how a story will end!

My husband and I recently attended a denominational leadership conference, which prompted me consider my own alternate endings…

_________

“So, what do you do for a living in Seattle?” The man looks intently at my husband Brent across the lunch table, and the two become engrossed in a discussion of green building design. I sit and listen, enjoying the conversation, and anticipating that at some point the same question will be directed toward me. But that never happens. Our new acquaintance, who holds a lot of stature at this conference, does not appear to connect the topic of making a living with me as an individual. I don’t know why – the ‘gender vibes’ feel palpable, Read the rest of this entry »

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i am a pharisee

Don’t read the full post yet. First, take look at the above piece of art and share your thoughts:

  • What do you see?
  • How do you interpret this art?
  • How do you feel about this?

For me (as a “minister”), it is sobering to consider how we as “professional clergy” might – for various reasons – may have missed important aspects of what Christ desires us to see, know, and experience.  I look at the art and wonder, “Are we the blind leading the seeking?”

The turning point for me came through an epiphany couple years ago.

I’ve come to realize – not in a self-deprecating way – that as much as I have tried NOT to be…

I AM a Pharisee.

The difference – from moi – and from the Pharisees of the Scriptures – is that Read the rest of this entry »

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top 5 most challenging, convicting, mind-bending, face-melting books of all time?

I received this email from one of my blog readers a few weeks ago asking about my thoughts about the “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.”

Do you take requests for posts on your blog? If so…. I know that from time to time you do top 5 stuff, like favorite movies or songs or artists, etc. This isn’t anything novel, but I’d be grateful for a “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.” I guess I’m someone who learns a lot from books and I was just thinking about how I have roughly 5 books that I have read within the last few years that have truly changed the way I perceive myself and the world around me. It would be great to hear what others are reading -not their most favorite or enjoyable books (although this might be the case)- but books that have significantly reoriented the way they live. Maybe, you’ve done something like this before and I just missed it, but if not, something like this would be fun to be a part of.

Thanks! ~Ric

Asides from the Bible, what would you be on your Top 5 List?

I can’t list 5…I don’t even know know where to begin so I’m just sharing my list of most influential Christians books again. There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10. My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.

I hope 50 years from now, this list will change so that it also includes numerous female and non-Caucasian authors. Read the rest of this entry »

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how do you define success as a pastor? leader? church?

This upcoming Saturday is our church’s annual meeting – an important meeting as we look back and dream forward. Inevitably, one of the questions you think about (and are asked by others) involves the “health of the church.”

I have my answers (which I’ll share later) but I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  • How do you define success as a pastor or ministry leader?
  • How do you define success as a church?
  • What are the “metrics” we should consider?

Go.

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religion and women

Nicolas Kristof has an article in today’s NY Times entitled, Religion and Women, that’s worth reading. Unlike some of his other pieces, it’s not super long so it’ll take one sitting but hopefully, it’ll sit with you for a bit.

I’ve written about this topic numerous times and will continue to do so. If you’re interested in some of them, here’s several to check out:

It is the oldest injustice for the simple reason that men are physically stronger and thus, can oppress the “weaker” half. And then you mix in the combustion of various religions and world ideologies that seek to elevate one half and suppress the other half and you’ve got a cycle of great devastation and oppression.

I’m not an expert on all world religions so I can’t speak with full authority but this is one of the reasons why I am captivated by Jesus: He liberates; Not oppresses. If anything, he liberates that which has oppressed.  He turned things UPSIDE Read the rest of this entry »

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what exactly is a worshipper?

What is worship? And what does it mean to be a worshipper?

After teaching through the Book of Acts for the past two years, and relishing in the years we studied and taught through Genesis and Exodus, and seeing this Truth throughout the narrative of the Story of God in a book known to us as the Bible, it has become clear[er] to me what worship is.

Worship is acknowledging that not only is there a God but that this God, the one True God, the Infinite God…is not just merely propositional but personal. We know that this God is personal because we know that this God becomes personal when God chooses to be consumed by the very flesh and bone that consume our essence and chooses to become anthropos.

He chooses to become one of us though His Son, Jesus Christ, and in a world of constant and extravagant upward mobility, God does the unthinkable and becomes one of us, dwells with us, walks with us, and ultimately, dies for us.  Jesus…Amazing. Truly amazing.

Worship then is acknowledging that not only is there this Personal and Infinite God but Read the rest of this entry »

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the truth is…we’re not very sexy

The truth is that our church isn’t very glamourous or sexy. It’s not that we hadn’t tried but it’s just not us. I admit that via the internet, everything looks just a little more glitzy. I can’t tell you the number of visitors we’ve  had over the year – locally or nationally – who trek to Quest on a Sunday and usually send me an email with a hint of disappointment saying:

Wow.  Your church service was kinda plain…

Which is I guess another way of saying…”It wasn’t very sexy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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“america is not a christian, jewish, or muslim nation…”

courtesy of White House

What did you think of President Obama’s speech at the Turkish Press Conference?  And this quote from his speech:

…”American is not a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim nation…”

Here’s the above sentence in the larger context:

I think that where — where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation and a predominantly Muslim nation, a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents — that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions, inevitable tensions, between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important.

That’s something that’s very important to me. And I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

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