Aug 312007
 

I know it’s Labor Day weekend. I’m scrambling for something fun for the family to close out the summer, even tho’ the weather here in the OC won’t actually change at all. Maybe a Saturday Fun Roll or Greek Festival or the Orange Intl Street Fair, who knows, but no road trips away.

For 60 minutes, join NextGenerAsianChurch.com as we talk over Skype about this burning question: “What role could / should / does ethnicity play in the Asian American church?” This isn’t like Cramer’s Lightning Round or Rush’s Open Line Friday or Hannity’s Insanity to Trash the Lines. We’ll have a moderated conversation where everyone participates, and who knows, it may just get a bit lively and exciting.

[update 9/04] Skypecast didn’t work, so we improvised and used a free conference call service and brought 4 of us together (David Park, Josh Deng, Joshua Settles, and myself) for an hour discussion. Listen to it below or download the MP3 (27 MB) — it took me a bit of rambling to get the conversation rolling, and it gets good towards the 2nd half.

Use the free software Skype to join the skypecast on Sun 9/2 at 9:00pm Eastern / 6:00pm Pacific. [update] Skypecast isn’t working; we’re using a free conference call — dial-in to 218-486-1300, conference bridge # is 890537 (long distance charges may apply, or use SkypeOut, or better, use your free weekend minutes on your cell phone).

Here’s 4 sound-bite kindlings to get your mind revved up::

Aug 302007
 

Mark DeYmaz pastors Mosaic Church over in Little Rock, Arkansas, and it’s very ethnically diverse. Goes to show — your church doesn’t have to be in a cosmopolitan top 10 population density center to be diverse. His new book, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church : Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation, is being published as we speak, and it’ll be released in October 2007 or so. I was invited to endorse it, and they’re using my quote on the back cover and at amazon.com too:

This book unpacks theological and practical principles for local churches interested in truly serving their neighboring communities in an increasingly diverse America. It paves the way for the future of the local church and the next generations of its leaders.

And just in time for the book release, Mark DeYmaz is blogging now at www.markdeymaz.com . Mark is a part of the Mosaix Global Network, which has 4 regional conferences this October and November chock-full of inspiring speakers and workshops to explain and show how to build a multiethnic church. Details for the Northeast regional conference in Pennsylvania is online at mosaixglobalnetworkne.blogspot.com.

David Park and the Atlanta Emergent cohort had some very intense conversations about racism that lasted for hours, even past closing time of where they were chatting.

Racism and the church isn’t supposed to be an easy topic. So while I was pleasantly surprised to see 9 Marks Ministries dedicate its entire Sept/Oct 2007 issue of its eJournal to discuss issues related to the problem of racism. The 13 articles and book reviews are organized under 3 headings: Is there a race problem? Reflections on the problem, and Overcoming the problem.

I found most of their articles to barely scratch the surface of the embedded problem of race within the American church. While upholding the imperative to think theologically about all things, and perhaps due to the limited space of addressing such a complex and multi-layered problem, all the energy gets spent on theological abstractions and doctrinal priorities with little consideration for strategic moves to make long overdue systemic and structural changes. So let’s get to the fresh thinking about racism already, rather than concluding with the same song to get more theological and get more thinking about the racism problem. And let’s really dig deeper and recognize how culture shapes theology, and the lens by which theological constructs were put together may need re-examination and itself re-considered in a more multicultural context.

Note the 3 Asian voices in the mix: Sam Lam wrote about 10 lessons he got from reading Frank Wu’s Yellow, and Jeremy Yong & Geoffrey Chang both wrote book reviews on Growing Healthy Asian American Churches.

What I’d like to see: someone from the “gold-standard” Reformed theological camp write a book that does articulate how a Reformed kind of Asian American church would look like and address that cultural milieu. And, why is it that just thinking rightly about theology, the Gospel, and the cross, and supposedly living out of that faith, has not resulted in Reformed churches being any more ethnically-diverse than non-Reformed churches.

[update 8/31] Good grades means less friends for Blacks and Latinos. cf. The Fryer-Torelli paper, An Empirical Analysis of Acting White (PDF), has gained much attention and buzzworthiness among scholars in The Academy as of late, which found an inverse relationship between good grades and popularity among Blacks and Latinos. [ht: 8asians.com]

[update 9/4] The Baptist Standard weighs in race issues in the church too:

And, Ed Stetzer has a good discussion going at his blog post titled Racism and 9 Marks.

Aug 292007
 

Good news, hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!

[update 8/30/07 15:56:02 GMT] According to Reuters, witnesses have confirmed Afghan Taliban free 4 more Korean hostages and TALIBAN FREE THE THREE REMAINING KOREAN HOSTAGES IN AFGHANISTAN! AP wire reports Final South Korean Hostages Freed.

[8/29/07] 12 South Korean hostages have been released! 41 days of captivity. Sigh. This excerpt from CNN, quoting the AP wire:

Taliban militants have released 12 out of 19 South Korean hostages held in captivity in Afghanistan for more than a month.

The hostages were released into the care of officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross at three separate locations in central Afghanistan close to the city of Ghazni, according to The Associated Press .

The first group of three women were released in the village of Qala-e-Kazi. Several hours later, four women and one man were released in a desert close to Shah Baz. As dusk approached, four more hostages were freed on a main road around 31 miles from Ghazni.

Go right to the source and check the AP wire for the latest >>

According to this video, all the hostages will be released in the next 2 to 3 days. Also see this video from AP about the 12 hostages’ release.

dining with Daniel Eng

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Aug 282007
 

Good meetup with Daniel Eng this afternoon over coffee and spilling over into dinner. (We went for the bottomless fries at Red Robin.)

DJ and Daniel

Daniel made an impression on me for his active pursuit of interviews with Asian American ministry leaders during the past year, and lived to tell about it on his blog. He’s very open to learning and soaking things up like a sponge. Good guy.

And he gave me a green light to grab a couple of free mugs from Talbot‘s welcome table. :)

2 free mugs

Aug 282007
 

There seems to be a huge surge of church planting activities since my seminary days a decade ago. Sometimes I wish I could be a church planter, sorta like I’ve long wished to be a comedian, or tried to be a pastor. But in the real world, I just gotta be me.

Aaron Flores has been forming a church community in Santa Ana, more organic and missional, rather than the high-risk low-success-rate of typically organization-driven church plants. Aaron writes in Church Planting on a Dime about how to plant a church on the cheap — low risk because of low cost, covering topics like facilities, communications + marketing, finances, legal, staff, office, etc.

What about old church buildings? Donate Church Group has some great ideas and possibilities for older churches and older church buildings — instead of cashing them out into residential units, banks, or offices, it’d be such a better legacy to have the building gifted to bless a new church plant.

What about logo design, for church plants or whatever business or organization startups? Here’s a bunch of ways I quickly found for getting one done with a set price-point rather than custom design (note: this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, since everyone has their own terms and limitations) ::

Another helpful list of tips from SEOish experts — How to market a website on $100, answering the question, “What would you do if you only had 100 dollars to market your website?”

[update] Get free web hosting from Dreamhost if your church (or nonprofit) has a 501c3 IRS determination letter. ht: superhua and GeekandGod

Aug 262007
 

I got the itch to watch video podcasts. But they’re not easy to find. The iTunes Store has audio and video podcasts all lumped in together, and I want to look beyond new release videos or featured videos, while avoiding the assault of videos that step over decency and propriety, which iTunes label as “explicit” and other directories use a misnomer “adult.”

These web-based directories are good attempts, but none stand shoulders above the rest for comprehensiveness and usability, but good for starters to possibly find video podcasts (the word “vodcasts” hasn’t gained vernacular use yet):

  • pluggd – good-looking podcast directory with audios and videos
  • Podcast Salad – good searchable directory but not categorized or tagged
  • Vodstock – good video podcast directory but ran into a few glitches
  • PodcastAlley.com has a section for video podcasts – all in 1 big ranked listing
  • PodGuide.tv – great guide, separates out the obscene stuff but leaves out spirituality/ religion [dormant since June 2006]

I’ve subscribed to these vodcasts, for their entertainment and/or informative value::

I’d add Seacoast Church [iTunes], but they’ve got audios and videos all included in their podcast feed at the moment. Have to remember to drop their tech guy a line to see if they can get ‘em separated.

Aug 252007
 

[update 8/28] Taliban says to free all 19 South Korean hostages (Reuters) 28 Aug 2007 14:54:21 GMT

Taliban insurgents said on Tuesday they would release 19 South Korean Christian volunteers they have been holding for nearly six weeks.

Earlier South Korea’s presidential Blue House issued a statement saying the agreement was on condition it withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within the year and stopped its nationals doing missionary work there.

Taliban representative, Qari Mohammad Bashir, confirmed a deal had been struck. But the Taliban demands did not include their main previous condition — the release of a group of militants held prisoner by the Afghan government.

“By the end of 2007, they will withdraw their forces from Afghanistan,” Bashir told reporters, standing side by side with Korean negotiators in Ghazni province.

“They will not send to Afghanistan those they sent for promulgation of … Christianity and will ban others from coming again for promulgation of Christianity,” he said.

“All Korean nationals in any field working in Afghanistan will leave Afghanistan by the end of August,” he said.

He said the Taliban would start releasing the hostages on Wednesday.

[update 8/26] correction- agreement not yet reached:: 08-26-2007 22:26 Direct Talks on Hostages Release to Resume:

KABUL _ After several days of hiatus, Taliban militants and Korean officials are set to resume talks on the fate of the remaining 19 Korean hostages, who are about to complete their sixth week of captivity in war-torn Afghanistan. … Zabeehullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told The Korea Times that the militants were ready for the next phase of talks to amicably resolve the issue. …

Mujahid denied that there had been any mediation by the Saudi Arabian government, however, he said they would not reject any such move for a peaceful resolution of the problem. He said they had not come to any settlement with Korean officials when asked about a report carried by a local news agency, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), that an agreement had been reached.

The spokesman said their leadership had ordered them to initiate a fresh round of talks with the Korean delegation provided the latter comes out with some solid proposals for a solution. “It is no use if the other side has nothing new to offer to the Taliban during the talks,” said Mujahid.

Pray that this would come to pass! Unconfirmed news from The Korea Times, 08-25-2007 18:16:

Taliban Agree to Free 19 Korean Hostages

The Taliban militants holding the 19 Korean hostages agreed with the Korean governemnt to free them, according to a report.

Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported Saturday that the agreement came with the mediation of the government of Saudi Arabia.

AIP said the governments of Korea and Saudi Arabia will officially announce Sunday the agreement in Ghazni Province where the Taliban kidnapped the Koreans on July 19.

Meanwhile, the Korean government didn’t confirm the report.

Song Min-soon, minister of foreign affairs and trade, left for Saudi Arabia Friday night.

Aug 252007
 

Soularize is another one of those emerging/emergent church kind of conferences, this time set for the Bahamas end of October 2007. To promote the event, they put together this compelling comparison chart:

soularize-comparison-chart

Save $50 for early registration to Soularize before September 1.

What was conspicuously missing from the above chart was The Emergent Gathering in Glorieta NM this October, which only costs $75 per person. Big value here is NO main speakers, lots of unstructured peer-to-peer conversations, lots of free-flowing options. There’s a 59% forecast that I might make it to Glorieta myself this year (for the first time at that), since it is very close to Santa Fe.

Aug 232007
 

As summer draws to an end, people will be getting back into a more normal routine without scattered vacations getting mostly everyone out of sync. One conversation that’ll be picking back up is the Next Gener.Asian Church Skypecast Conference call, scheduled for Sunday, September 2, 2007 at 9pm Eastern /6pm Pacific. Yes, folks, that is during the middle of Labor Day weekend. I haven’t scheduled a vacation weekend there, so I should be able to join the call.

You can join the call by using Skype, a free download and a free call. For the curious, the Skype outage that lasted for almost 2 days last week had been resolved, and the network is more reliable than ever. You can read their techie notes on what happened and further clarification about the Microsoft connection or lack thereof.

This month’s conversation topic: What role could / should / does ethnicity play in the Asian American church?

In addition to the quotes already posted as conversation starters, I’d add this reflection from David Park:

In our churches, we emulate White America to the extent that if I closed my eyes and went into any given EM in the country, I wouldn’t even know that it was a non-white congregation. None of the content or presentation is tied to our ethnic identity. To add to the madness, if we actually take what we’ve learned to heart and abandoned the ethnic church to attend white churches, it becomes a huge crisis in our parents’ churches while at the same time we get token seats for increasing diversity at newly minted “multi-ethnic” churches. But at the same time, our white friends will say something as inane as, “I don’t even think of you as Korean.”

So many of us have been slaves for so long, we’ll take any master as long as he doesn’t look like us because we can hardly stand to be ourselves, much less to be concerned for ourselves. Why? Because every good slave knows that a child of the master is more valuable than the child of another slave.

In my work and hobby of networking with Asian Americans, there are some who believe ethnicity plays absolutely no role whatsoever in the church. And ironically, those who say that ethnicity plays no role would tend to attend a church that is majority Asian Americans.