Jan 312007

The annual PCA English Ministry Pastors’ Conference ended today after a lavish lunch. The hospitality at Sarang Community Church surpasses lavishness! A note of welcome to the EM pastors I got to meet in person!! Was going to write up a few highlights, but had a good surprise visit with Jeff Jue while sipping on a iced venti cafe con leche. Now I have to be off to a meetup, and a visit with extended family (read: in-laws), then off to Long Beach airport for a red-eye flight overnight back east to DC.

[update] 48 hours later, here’s a few highlights worth noting and I feel okay writing about:

  • uniquely valuable gathering: more than 100 English-speaking Korean/Asian-American pastors, good to know they’re out there ministering on the front lines
  • tons of food: the most incredible hospitality by the host church Sarang, plus free WiFi internet + power strips at every table in the main meeting room
  • tons of content download: 6 keynote lectures + 2 sermons focused on evangelism and the Gospel-centered church, great “back to the basics” but kinda generic theology that most (if not all) of the seminary-trained attendees knew already; a missed opportunity – to address the specific issues of being an EM pastor (cf. Ministry Demand and Stress Among Korean American Pastors)
  • I’m hearing a little more desire for a conference that’d intentionally gather English-speaking ministry leaders from different Asian American ethnicities
  • my prayer was to talk with the right people there for my research, but in hindsight, found out that I still didn’t get to meet (at least) 2 people that I wanted to
  • best unverified rumor: comedian Robin Williams was spotted attending a worship service led by one of the pastors at this conference
Jan 302007

Here at the 8th annual English Ministry Pastors’ Conference in Anaheim, California until Wednesday noon. I’ll blog about it more at the L2 blog, but I will not be live-blogging out of respect for the conference organizers and participants. From my estimation, 99% of the attendees are of Korean descent, with 2 of us who are Chinese, and 1 attending today is Japanese. Met (yet another) pastor who reads this blog but hasn’t yet commented, and maybe will meet Billy Park in person too — he’s on the registered attendee list, but hadn’t seen him yet.

The host church, Sarang Community Church, is providing great hospitality and excellent perks for the techies too — every table has a power strip (for laptops, of course) and free wireless internet is turned on in the conference meeting room!

My sleep patterns have been erratic, so I’m going to have to pace myself instead of running on adrenaline. Will meetup with my in-laws for dinner on Wednesday.

life is a video game

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Jan 272007

Not a box of chocolates. Not a highway. This morning was a rapid pace of errands, energizing to me, overwhelming to some. So the day began with a brief planning session, but more things happened than anticipated. During one of my drives, all this felt like a video game where I’m running things from here to there, doing tasks, mapping out the most efficient routes, trying to beat the (imaginary) clock.

What I’ve done so far: cup of french press coffee, accompanied by a breakfast bar. check email. left 1 blog comment. upgraded Roo’s website to WP2.1. returned 3 videos to public library. called my afternoon rendez-vous xeroxing a flyer 65 times and cutting them into half for bulletin inserts. drive to church. drop off inserts. pick up CDs. passed along 2 free calendars. login to get phone numbers for Roo. drive to bank. signed some papers. grocery run at Korean store. back home. unload groceries into fridge. instant noodle for lunch. off to my rendez-vous with Tommy Dyo to drop in at Epic Conference.

Jan 252007

Had a good week in Dallas. We embarked on our maiden voyage as a facilitation team and helped a group of churches explore new possibilities for doing recovery ministry. People who have worked a recovery program are very attractive to me because they seemed to be way more relational, more transparent, and more in touch with their brokenness and humanity. These few days gave me a glimpse into this subculture, and a part of me wished I had a debilitating addiction so I can work recovery too. Most people do have addictions — just that many are socially acceptable, and many are not debilitating. As one participant rightly commented, the non-recovery people, “earth people” he called them, live in a culture that is not transparent. Bummer. This experience tapped into my awareness and insatiable need for transparent relationships. This to me is (a part of) being real + authentic.

Hung out with Ray Chang at DFW airport as we waited for our respective departing flights. I worked along side of Ray as executive pastor in the early years of Ambassador Bible Church from 1997 to 2000. Next month, that church will celebrate its 10th anniversary. We veered onto the topic of self-awareness. Personality tests have never been all that helpful to me for self-awareness, except for StrengthsFinder.

Life coaching was very helpful to me to discover more of my self-awareness. I took a 2-day personal retreat with a life coach (Craig Chong) in the summer of 2005. This life planning process reviewed my past life story as an indicator to what God had created me to do for the future. Self-awareness wasn’t just to give me enlightenment. It gave me much needed insight to pull together my skills and talents, my interests and passions, so I could do something I was good at AND enjoyed doing. As I approached the age 40, I was tired of working just to provide for myself and my family. I needed to make provisions by doing something I not only value but can enjoy. Now I’m working at my dream job.

Jan 242007

Innovation 2007 presents the largest compilation of ideas and insights about North American churches ever undertaken by Leadership Network. It captures the current state of how churches are creating and inventing–and constantly innovating to remain faithful to God’s redemptive message to the world. With 104 graphics, diagrams and charts; 46 real-world church examples; nearly 60 resources and more, Innovation 2007 helps Christian leaders quickly grasp insights and identify what is most useful in their individual context. Just $10 each + shipping is included! Order your copy online now >>

Innovations 2007

This is hot off the presses, but not yet in my hands. I will be getting one soon as an employee perk :) I did see an early galley mockup, and anticipate the final edition to have a few adjustments. And when I get one, I’ll share more details about it here. There’s a limited run on this book, so once they’re sold out, they’re sold out. [disclosure: I work for Leadership Network]

[update 1/26/07] there’s more info about this book here; excerpted below:

Innovation 2007, which makes its debut on February 9, is guaranteed to spark lots of discussion for a long time to come. The 64-page glossy book is the single biggest compilation of ideas and insights about North American churches ever undertaken by Leadership Network.

“We serve a God who is constantly creating and inventing — and churches need to be constantly innovating to remain faithful to God’s redemptive message to the world,” says Dave Travis, Executive Vice President of Leadership Network and the driving force behind the project. “Innovation 2007 captures the current state of this process in the North American church.”

Encouraging innovation in churches is nothing new to Leadership Network. Since its founding in 1984, its activities, programs and publishing partnerships have dramatically accelerated innovation in churches. Innovation 2007 is the next step in this process — and it is a very big step, indeed.

“Innovation 2007 is not a statistical analysis, research paper or encyclopedia, but rather a helpful and easy-to-read executive summary,” Travis says. “Each year, we send highly skilled teams out to discover what is happening in God’s Kingdom work. Innovation 2007 is a short visual and verbal summary of this year’s findings.

The book is designed to help Christian leaders quickly digest current topics of discussion in churches of various traditions, regions, and size — and clarify what is most useful in their individual context.”

Jan 232007

Learning the ways of a road warrior, as I’m in Dallas during my 6 weeks in a row of weekday travels. Traveling does have its own subculture that has its own habits and vibe, or lack thereof. I’m feeling it in the sense of disorientation (I turned the wrong way from my hotel room to the elevator 3 times already), daze and gaze of people at airports, and other soul-emptying feelings. Now when I actually arrive at my destination, and I get to line up meaningful meetings with people, those are great.

Last night I hung out with Xangans Edward & Christina Lee and felt replenished. The conversations went on for hours, and was only cut short b/c I needed to get some sleep last night for my work today. And tomorrow’s work will be a longer day. So it’s not for lack of ideas that I’m not blogging more, but it’s for lack of time and finding a consistent source for me to get replenishing and energizing for myself.

For example, I’d to write more about the Next Gener.Asian Church Skypecast (up to 100 skypers), which became a Skype conference call (limit 9 skypers) b/c none of us could get into the skypecast b/c of server load or something. Host/moderator David Park wrote up a recap along with two others on the call, and we did get it recorded. On the call I mentioned the “big umbrella” label of “Asian Americans,” and I’ve found more Asians than not disassociate themselves from that label, even though they fit the bill. And then today’s USA Today had a piece, Evangelical: Can the ‘E-word’ be saved? Again, another label from which increasingly more people are disassociating themselves.

Back to the skypecast. It’s new technology, it’s free, but it’s not working too smoothly and reliably yet. So I’ll propose this solution to David and Next Gener.Asian Church — let’s use a conventional conference call service. This will open participation to normal phone users, and Skypers can dial the landline number too. Plus, many people have free weekend minutes on their cell phone calling plans, so cost to participate can be kept essentially free. I’d recommend freeconference.com that I’ve used on several occasions, and have been pleased with their service. Another one with a very similar name, similar services, but different, is freeconferencecall.com, with the added bonus of offering a free recording service, but I haven’t used it before.

Jan 202007

TomorrowTonight is Sunday January 21st. At 9:00pm Eastern, 6:00pm Pacific, and whatever that translates to your locale, I’ll be on the Next Gener.Asian Church Skypecast, where we will explore the question: “Is the Asian American church – necessary, optional, or simply an unhealthy diversion?” At this moment, I’ll be presenting about it as being “optional”, and a good one at that, b/c we need all kinds of churches for all kinds of people. [live update: bummer, the skypecast server isn't working well, so we're reverting to a Skype conference call - invite only, sorry!]

The skypecast is free, all you need is Skype and a good broadband Internet connection. We’ll try to record it for posterity.

[update] We got it recorded, listen below (mp3 audio):

Side note: our family is again subscribing to a DVD-by-mail service, this time with Blockbuster. We’re one of the 700,000 newbies. Their Total Access program really is the best of both worlds, and makes sense for their retail stores: you get up to 3 DVDs by mail, and you can also exchange those at the store for free in-store videos, when that movie impulse itches. This NYT article describes the market’s response, Blockbuster Marries Stores to Internet:

Q. You recently started a program that competes directly with Netflix called Total Access, which gives customers the option of returning DVDs through the mail or exchanging them at a store. How is that going?

A. We launched Total Access on Nov. 1, and in the last two months of last year we added 700,000 subscribers.

Q. You are giving customers a two-week free trial. Do you know how many are staying on and paying for the service?

A. We believe it�s somewhere between 70 and 75 percent. And that�s a much higher conversion rate than any of our previous programs.

reaching Vancouver

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Jan 182007

* cross-posted at the L2 Foundation blog *

Got to catch up with Jeff Wong of Point Grey Community Church out in Vancouver, British Columbia; that’s north of the border in Canada. Jeff’s a gifted musician, worship leader, and pastor I met at L2 Foundation‘s inaugural event back in 2001. I recorded a part of our phone conversation– listen in as Jeff shares about a spiritual revival in Vancouver, where Christian leaders from churches and organizations are coming together, finding new unity in Christ, and worshiping together in a powerful way at a youth rally called One Life, described as “Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Highschool, Multi-Region, Multi-Denominational… Multi-Everything”, reaching over 1,400!

What do you think? We’d love to hear what’s happening in your city, too!

Jan 172007

Steve Jobs and Apple’s “iPhone” is popularizing this kind of fingertip technology to the masses — it’s an LED computer screen that can recognize 2-finger gestures, akin to what the Tom Cruise character did in that Minority Report movie. Purely intuitive! Fast Company’s February 2007 issue features this conceptual breakthrough by Jeff Han for a computer screen user interface managed by fingertips. The article “Can’t Touch This” explains the concept and the exclusive demo video at fastcompany.com/keyword/112touch shows it in action. Don’t click-thru just yet — the demo can be conveniently viewed below, since they provided the HTML code to embed it.Now, this may be old news for those of you already tuned in to the TED Blog, where innovative ideas flow faster than an open fire hydrant on a humid summer sidewalk. This technology was first demo’d in February 2006, and video below was released in August 2006: