May 312007

Back in the 80s, one phone company tried to sell little video phone call devices with 2″ screens. People didn’t buy it. Now we have video calls via iChat or Skype video. But what if we could do video calls with more than 4 people at a time?

I’ve watched Chris Pirillo and and Robert Scoble on It’s a pretty nifty web app, and right now it’s being billed as “lifecasting”. Lifecasting can be a bit voyeuristic or exhibitionistic, depending on your perspective.

And dreaming big, I’d say is on the verge of the next wave of communication — where multiple people can video chat with each other! As affordable bandwidth increases, and computer hardware keeps up with throughput for smooth audio and video, this has got to be just around the corner. Next best thing to being live face-to-face.

I’ve watched a few minutes of Justin Kan too (but not sure what tech setup he uses). He lets people embed his video on other websites, like below:

May 292007

In January 1991, I put all my worldly possessions in my car and drove to Dallas for seminary. In June 2007, I’ll be putting all my worldly possessions in my car and driving cross country to California, somewhere in Orange County. This time with a wife and a son, but again with no moving truck.

We don’t have a date or a place set yet, but we’re moving in less than a month. Not motivated to plan it all out. Destination will be Huntington Beach, maybe borrow some space from in-laws, and then figure out school districts and housing options after we land. So while the exact details are sketchy, things are kinda randomly falling into place.

Since we’re going with fuzzy logic, let’s see if the viral power of blog buzz can help me out with a wish list of sponsors for this cross country drive. A guy can dream, right? I’ll commit to blogging this adventure so potential millions can virtually caravan with us — I’ll setup a new domain-named blog, make at least 3 posts a day, and leave the blog up for at least 2 years.

You never know who reads this blog, and knows someone who’d have the right connection to businesses that’d like webby viral exposure. So if you know someone, here’s the sponsorship opportunities for you to pass along, in order of priority:

  1. cell phone with internet plan to blog, to send photos and to post video – to share this ultimate road warrior experience, I’d like to make blog posts while going 65 mph, upload photos and videos right from the phone, even host chat hours via IM
  2. overnight stay at 3+ star hotels – candid reviews posted for free, but raving positive reviews + photos + links can be had for a comp stay
  3. meals at restaurants – candid reviews posted for free, but raving positive reviews + photos + links can be posted for meals on-the-house
  4. car-wrap advertising on a 2006 Nissan Xterra – yes, we’ll drive cross-country with your full-car ad
  5. web hosting – host the blog and domain name for 2 years with unlimited bandwidth and one-click WordPress installation – website launched at
  6. bonus: GPS navigation equipment — for driving directions and more, we’ll talk it up as we use it all the way across the country

We’ll be taking the southern route through the following cities: Washington DC, Blacksburg, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and end at Huntington Beach. We anticipate the leisurely drive to take at least 14 days. All sponsorship terms negotiable. Small detours from main route are negotiable. Sponsors get appropriate links and prominent exposure. I reserve the right to select the sponsors (or refuse). Contact me to begin the negotiations now!

And a final word from the dear wife about this moving adventure:

Headin’ West after 12 years!

1995: DJ & Rachelle get married in Dallas, TX
1995-1997: Raleigh, NC- Jeremiah was born
1997-1999: Vienna, VA
1999-2007: Bethesda, MD

Rachelle says besides being nearer her parents, it’s time to return to sunshine, In N’ Out Burger, Jamba’ Juice, Disneyland, and the Pacific Ocean. (DJ disputes the In N’ Out Burger vote and prefers Five Guys.)

We’d love for you to come and say goodbye on Saturday June 9th at our Picnic + Open House. From 11am to 4pm, we’ll be picnicking at Lynbrook Park in Bethesda, MD, and then Open House will be at our house from 4pm until whenever. Please contact me to get the evite and pitch in on the farewell picnic.

May 282007

I grew up in Winchester, Virginia, a small town of 20,000 (in 1980) about 75 miles west of metropolitan Washington DC. We disaffectionately called it “Funchester” because there was nothing to do except cruising. There’s one place I affectionately crave when I come home for a visit, Pack’s Frozen Custard, still there at the corner of Weems Lane and Loudoun Street. I got the medium purist vanilla cone last night, just minutes before the frozen custard stand closed at 9:00pm.

And this morning, I found a new Starbucks at 161 Suite 5 (not sure of the exact street address), where I am blogging this. It’s not listed in the official Starbucks directory, even though it’s been open since October 2006; it’s located just east of the interchange of I-81 and Route 7, on the edge of Winchester, amidst a giant strip mall with dozens of franchise stores. There’s another one opening in Winchester in a few months, followed by even smaller towns Stephens City and Front Royal in 2008.

It’s not really gentrification. It’s micropolitan. Winchester Virginia used to be a rural outpost where population was sparse and the economy sleepy, a stop for tourists travelling through the Shenandoah Valley corridor on the way to Florida for the winter migration or viewing the colorful Fall leaves. Now small towns like Winchester are filling the gaps on the map between major cities. The new term — Micropolitan Statistical Areas — recognizes that even small places far from metro areas are economic hubs that draw workers and shoppers from miles around. [cf. June 2004 USA Today article, Small-town USA goes 'micropolitan']

Unbelievable — all the big brands are here now, even newer brands: Borders, Olive Garden, Circuit City, Five Guys, Maggie Moo, Target, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Quizno’s, Red Hot & Blue, et al. Of course, Wal-Mart was already here years ago.

Starbucks in small town Winchester Virginia

May 242007

One of my life slogans is “seeing life change up close.” I’ve heard that for people with a concrete tangible specific kind of thinking pattern don’t know what that means exactly. Sometimes when I get incessant questions from people that want me to be less vague and more specific, trying to make me nail down the details, it feels like I’m getting nailed down like someone I know being nailed to a cross.

So this quote showing up on my coffee cup might be a more helpful to unpack my slogan:

It’s relationships, not programs, that change children. [I'd add, adults too.] A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.

Bill Milliken, Founder and vice chairman of Communities in Schools, author of Tough Love and The Last Dropout.

I’d add this: I am disappointed with those who only seem to relate face-to-face, as if that is the only means for human touch. I’m more of the persuasion that people can relate and connect with each other using any and every means possible: email, phone, blogging, handwritten note, voice mail, as well as face-to-face meetups. Granted that words alone via the written (or typed) word is flat and 2-dimensional, and voice adds tonal inflection that makes its 2.5-dimensional, and the face-to-face meeting does make it 3-dimensional and fully incarnational.

Relating well doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Even God uses the 2-dimensional written Word to relate with us. Good enough for God, good enough for me.

The Way I See It #237

May 232007

Didn’t get my name drawn on the standby lottery for the DFW-DCA 3:15pm flight. Now I have to wait for my original 4:20pm flight back home. That 7-point Calvinistic god musta wanted me to blog and check-in with my little audience readership and IM with 4 people simultaneously (Gid, Rudy, Peter, and Imei).

Still running on adrenaline, and probably hit the wall tomorrow or Friday. When I travel and get to meet with engaging people, I run high-octane on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, and have tons of energy all day. But on the normal days at the home office, it’s 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night. I’m not an extreme worker. Oops, boarding time. Gotta jet!

May 222007

Wow, what a day! The experience we called the Asian American Pastors Wild Challenge formally ended at 12 noon today. The 24-hour experience is unlike any other kind of “conference” or “roundtable” because of how the time is intentionally facilitated by a great team of professionals (Richard, Kim, and Keith) plus support from 3 coordinators who took care of the food, logistics, and materials. Their great work freed me up to be me, using my energy on being warm-fuzzy relational and hand off the tasks to others.

I ran on pure adrenaline, getting maybe 4 hours of sleep last night, having stayed up way past midnight talking with Jonathan Ro (Lakeview) and John Kim (Lighthouse) at their hotel poolside. Jon is my fellow church connoisseur and we love dreaming of new possibilities for ministry strategies. The 4 hours from 8am to 12 noon just hummed, even after my quirky morning devotional. Then I had meetings with different people until 9:00pm tonight, including sushi dinner with Peter Nguyen and Tommy Wong – 2 young guns with big dreams for a next generation church planting movement. Even made a visit at my alma mater seminary campus, 2nd time in 12 years, where they’re now serving Starbucks coffee and frozen custard on site. Wow, that almost tempted me to visit more often.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few things: the conversations opened up so quickly in less than hour after we kicked it off. We had pastors (and one accompanying church leader of that pastor’s choice) from churches from all over the country and of all sizes from 0 to 3,500, mostly of Chinese and Korean ethnicities. When there’s such a wide diversity with a majority who don’t know each other, it was risky for me to put so many different people together. I’ve often seen how long it takes for people to warm up and begin to open up. I’ve known people for years that barely takes a step to open up, and to see these pastors connect so quickly was way cool.

Everyone stayed engaged with the process, which can be tough without a provided agenda, so they really had to trust us and take cues well. They really dug into the discussion topics, surfaced priority issues like leadership development, being missional, and the church identity issue of being Asian American or multiethnic or third culture. We know with such a limited time that one can only scratch the surface, but the level + depth + speed + civility + fun of the discussions was off the hook.

I’m particularly proud of how our Asian pastors reached out to talk with and get to know our facilitation staff. That really blessed the non-Asian staff, who often serve many Anglo church leaders and don’t get invited into conversations over meal times. This really touched my non-Asian staff profoundly. This gives me a glimpse of hope that we Asian Americans do have a lot to give to non-Asians and we can take the initiative.

[update] Pastor Seth Kim of Harvest Mission Community Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, blogged about his experience as a participant:

As I am sitting here reflecting on my 24 hours in Dallas, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed (in a good sense). First of all, it is incredible to think that God would use imperfect people to build His Kingdom. Sometimes, I see myself messing things up more than anything else. But God is truly gracious and patient – truly amazing.

Secondly, to think that there are so many like-minded people (Kingdom minded) all over the States (and the world) is another overwhelming thought. God is truly moving and doing some great things in various churches. I was so encouraged to hear about some of the awesome things that God was doing across the nation.

Lastly, as I have downloaded some incredible discussions and dialogue about the Church with some cutting-edge (euphuism for people willing to take risks) pastors … It was a privilege to be with a group of people that have a huge heart for the Lord and a dynamic dream for the Lord. God is up to something.

Someone affectionately called him the “Asian Jesus.” I’m so delighted to have met with him. They loved the custom-built rolling whiteboard we used to facilitate our event. I asked Google about a rolling whiteboard, and found one for about $500 or $1000. Seth is pictured below on the left, me in the middle, Andrew Jun on right.

Seth DJ and Andrew

May 212007

Today starting at noon will be a 24-hour event that’ll be the “big dance” culmination of my work at Leadership Network in partnership with L2 Foundation.

I’ll not comment on the behind-the-scenes of this event to keep its mystique, but in short, what we’re doing is gathering 17 multi-Asian and/or multi-ethnic churches from around the country to provide them with a wide perspective of working ministry models and to facilitate the participants’ discussion of ministry strategies. It’ll be a fast-paced energetic time! Bruce Reyes-Chow and Seth Kim have already mentioned this event on their blog; it’ll be great to visit with them and the 32 others participating.

While I’ve been meeting one-on-one and doing phone interviews with more than 100 next generation Asian American churches, this is unique opportunity for these pastors and one of their associates to get face-to-face time to talk with each other (instead of just with me) about what’s happening in their respective churches.

Yesterday, had great conversations with Brian Kim, campus pastor at NewSong NOC, who’d arrived earlier for this event. He kept probing after what my best hope and outcome would be, and after several evasive maneuvers, I finally answered with: I hope I can continue doing this kind of work for years to come. Let me qualify that remark here — while I’ll probably be connecting pastors for the rest of my life, I’m not sure I’ll get paid for doing it for the rest of my career.

May 182007

I’ve been occasional conversational partner with the emergent church/ emergent village thing. I have no official roles or titles, never been to one of those secret meetings, but I have a handful of friends who are more on the “in” and even other non-Anglos got published in their latest book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. When my friend Steve Knight, a member of the National Coordinating Group for Emergent Village, affirmed what I said as a more concise summary of what the emergent church conversation is about. I’ve pulled it from the depths of the comment thread at BlogMinistry:

I think the first comparison of emergent being like abstract art is mostly fitting. “Emerging church” is a very broad label to describe the many kinds of new churches being formed in the 21st century that are different in small or big ways from the previous generations of church. “Emergent church” is not a definition, not a movement, not a theology. “Emergent church” is best described as a conversation about theologies and/or practices of doing life in the way of Jesus. So, “emergent” is a very broad umbrella that brings together people from all kinds of theological persuasions for conversations, imagination, and other kinds of things. The point is not to work at arriving towards a consensus for a statement of faith. It’s an opt-in conversation, so if you’re okay with having friendship and/or fellowship with other people who don’t share your same identical theological framework, you too can join the emergent conversation.

So rather than reading through verbose narratives about the history of emergent / emergent church / emergent village, maybe this summary above will be helpful to those who wish for a more definitional approach to all things church and all things theological. And, maybe I’ll one day get an (elusive?) answer to why their multi-author book got published by a big-time publisher, when most multi-author volumes are usually passed over.

May 162007

Arrgh.. I can’t find it. I remember reading a news article on the web about a church building that used to be a former mall or multiplex theater complex somewhere, and they’ve renovated it into a place where different churches could have worship services together in one location. Don’t remember the exact details whether the one church owned the building and rented it out to other churches, or if it was several churches that are sharing the deed or what.

But, I can’t find it in my bookmarks or my cache. And I sure won’t even try to find it in my physical filing system, which is becoming less and less effective for me to find things.

Does anyone remember reading this article and can link me up?

[update] This isn’t the news article I was looking for, but I did find the Peninsula Mosaic (Virginia Beach, VA), which is a multi-congregational campus. It’s a very creative approach to facility stewardship among smaller autonomous churches working together:

We are a multi-congregational church campus. As an expression of unity and financial stewardship, several churches have come together to develop a shared property that serves as a permanent home for us all. In addition we have developed a shared infrastructure to support the ministries of the various churches. Each church retains its denominational affiliation, polity, vision, and style. Where churches share common passions separate ministry partnerships are formed to expand ministry.

Also found these other articles about churches that share space / facilities/ buildings:

Mutual belief: Older churches share space as population shifts (Boston Globe, 10/5/2003) – describes community and demographics shifts; how mainstream churches have rented space to ethnic churches; how a Columbian pastor described their religious practice as part of their culture and is not necessarily theologically based

Breaking the language barrier, and the trend: Are We Growing?Though most U.S. churches are English only, an increasing number are launching programs in other languages (Christian Chronicle, 5/1/07) – multi-site and multi-congregation giving way to multi-lingual; multilingual churches vary in approaches to ministry – some use live translation, some have separate language services/ ministries [anyone using subtitles?]

From storefronts to sanctuaries: Strip-shop churches are incubators for diverse new congregations (Orlando Sentinel, 5/6/07) – storefronts ring with prayers and hymns in English, Spanish, French and Haitian Creole, as well as sermons in English delivered with Caribbean and West African accents

Three language groups to share same church (Tennessean, 6/19/04) – English, Spanish and Korean independent congregations share one church building

One church: Diverse congregations share space, resources, faith (Press Enterprise, 4/3/05) – Filipino, Hispanic and Korean congregations share rental at middle school

Sharing sacred space: Nationwide, established churches are offering a place to worship to other groups (Roanoke Times, 11/26/06) – fledgling churches are getting their start in the basements, fellowship halls and youth rooms of established churches; congregations are enriched with a cross-pollination of beliefs; many cross theological lines – one even crosses religious lines

Two in one: Faiths share space in ‘spirit of fellowship’ (Deseret Morning News, 9/4/04) – one older shrinking church temporarily hosts another denomination’s church undergoing extensive renovations

Churches share space by way of Grace: Congregations in the inner city (Durham News, 1/20/07) – 2 churches share building find mutual satisfaction in serving God from Durham’s inner city