May 302009
 

This set of question was posted in a recent email discussion, as Southern Cal ministry leaders are anticipating the upcoming lunch fellowship this Wednesday 6/3:

As an observer and advocate of ABC ministries since the 1970s and a former youth worker in a Chinese church, can anyone educate me as to WHY there are few(er) ABC’s committing themselves for full time Christian service these days? (a) Postmodern culture? (b) Options of going into Asian American/mainstream churches and ministries? (c) Others…? We have always had a shortage. Is the shortage growing?

abcpastor
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May 272009
 

// [update 6/3/09 4:30pm] Notes + video posted at the L2 Foundation blog //

Fellowship of American Chinese Evangelicals (FACE) has invited me as a special guest for an ABC/English Pastors’ Fellowship Meeting, next Wednesday, June 3rd, starting at 10:00am.
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May 262009
 

How many Catalyst’s are there anyways? I think event planners like the word “catalyst” because it connotes startup energy and something to trigger new things, but with so many of them out there, doesn’t that dilute its implicit energetic-ness? And what about the catalytic converter in my car?

First, there’s Catalyst, an InterVarsity conference in Missouri.
ivcatalyst-header

Then there’s the Catalyst Leadership Center[i]. It was launched in 1991 as Katalyst, and has provided resources and vision for established and emerging Korean/ Asian American ministry leaders over the years. Its most recent project was the Asian North American Theology and Ministry Consultation, which gathered about 100 next gen Asian North American leaders to discuss issues that’ll be used as content for something like a follow-up book to Growing Healthy Asian American Churches.

catalyst-mag-logoCatalyst magazine was founded in 1982 to keep its finger on the pulse of the rise of the “cultural creatives” — those who take a whole-systems approach to the world’s ecological, social and spiritual crises.

ldr-cat-headerLeadership Catalyst is now being branded as TrueFaced. Leadership Catalyst was founded in 1995 as a resource for helping readers, leaders and groups discover the many freedoms of their identity, by learning to live truefaced.

logocatalystCatalyst is a non-profit founded in 1962 to expand opportunities for women and business.

And, of course, there’s the biggie Catalyst conference in Atlanta that now has 12,000+ attending this largest gathering of next gen leaders in the country.

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May 172009
 

This week I’ll be in Chicago and have an opportunity to connect with old and new friends in the Kingdom. At something called the Asian North American Theology and Ministry Consultation, there’ll be maybe 100 or so Asian American leaders involved in various roles of leadership having structured conversations about critical issues. It’s co-sponsored by the Catalyst Leadership Center and the Carl F. H. Henry Center, with Peter Cha playing a vital role as point person on the whole initiative. The gathering’s aim is described as:

… to create an intentional space in which Asian North American theologians and pastors will gather and reflect upon the shared task of the ministry of the Gospel in today’s Asian North American context. As the result of this consultation, it is our hope that ANA theologians and ministry practitioners will be encouraged to collaborate with one another for the ministry of the Gospel.

It’ll be really great to hang out with David Park (nextgenerasianchurch.com), Soong-Chan Rah (profrah.com), and many others. I’d given them all more link love, but I think many do not yet have web presences. Yet.

Later in the week, I’ll be part of a meeting with a small group of next generation Asian American senior pastors, pioneering the way for a new generation of innovative churches that’ll shape the next evangelicalism.

Both of these events are sequestered. So that means there’ll be no live-streaming video nor live-blogging, and probably twittering would be minimal. [update] 4 others are twittering, using hashtag #ana@dpark75, @semaforic, @reginapchan, @profrah
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May 132009
 

I don’t find common sense to be that common. Okay, let me just confess that I find myself gullible and naive more often than I need be. And I don’t think of myself as a practical guy either.

I see the world as a place of new possibilities and unpredictability, and I dislike being in the driver’s seat or controlling time, things, or other people. Then I get called on it– that everyone has control issues.

Thinking back my educational life, there were many courses on reading, writing, and arithmetics. And there was a mix of science classes about how things work in the created world, history classes about what has happened in generations before us, and in higher ed, more specialized knowledge imparted in political science, communications, philosophy, sociology, theology, technology, law, medicine, economics, engineering, arts, architecture, music, business, and so on.

Notably absent: every day life in the areas of relationships, personal finances, housekeeping, using tools, cooking, life management. Let’s assume these topics don’t belong in academia, where topics of studies are mostly cognitive. If not in schools, then where do people learn this stuff of life?!

I can think of a few: at home, from media like television and movies, and how-to books.

In the world we live in, be it America or elsewhere, broken homes and domestic messiness, home doesn’t seem to be the best place to learn good things. Movies and television aim at entertainment, whether sensationalism to feed our warped sense of curiosity or storytelling about the human condition.

Maybe this is why book series like Idiot’s Guides, Books for Dummies, How-to books for do-it-yourselfers, and self-improvement take up more shelf space in bookstores and libraries. Books written by self-proclaimed experts.

The source of common sense remains a great mystery… God help us all.

May 112009
 

This article 19983-1medin American Way magazine caught my attention — and aggravated my personality confusion again. At the bottom of the article is this chart with characteristics of extroverts (outies) and introverts (innies):

Extroverts:

  • talk first, think later
  • seek out other people
  • are transparent, easy to read
  • tend to be “babbling brooks”: people often tune them out
  • draw energy from other people

Introverts:

  • think first, talk later
  • prefer going solo
  • show fewer facial expressions
  • don’t speak up too often: people tend to tune in when they do
  • are energized by time spent alone

outies-innies-chart

I highlighted my characteristics in BOLD above, i.e. seek out other people + transparent + draw energy from other people + think first, talk later + show fewer expressions + don’t speak up too often. So what am I? Extrovert or introvert? Being alone drives me NUTS.

More than enough to give me a personality complex.

Now I lay me down to sleep. Gotta get up for an early morning meetup.

May 052009
 

The non-profit world, in which I’ve spent the majority of my adult work life, is increasingly taking its cues from business techniques towards being more effective in accomplishing its mission.

One of the very valuable tools for developing a plan of action is called strategic planning. Strategic Planning for Nonprofit OrganizationsI recall a conversation where we were trying to explain what strategic planning was and how valuable it was to an organization, especially to warrant the pricey consulting fees.

I finally came across this fairly concise definition of strategic planning in Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations (Second Edition), by Michael Allison and Jude Kaye:

Strategic planning is a systematic process through which an organization agrees on — and builds commitment among key stakeholders to — priorities that are essential to its mission and are responsive to the environment. Strategic planning guides the acquisition and allocation of resources to achieve these priorities.

What makes strategic planning so valuable is having the commitment from stakeholders, e.g. staff, supporters, board members, AND having an action plan that is responsive to the current situation. Since there are limited resources, an organization would do better to think strategically and collaboratively to use its resources wisely and effectively.

What may have worked 2 years ago might not work tomorrow, especially in a fast-changing world. And, change is not going to slow down. Anyone know what Twitter was 2 years ago? Will people still use Twitter 2 years from now?

May 042009
 

I’ve just finished reading the new bookThe Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah titled, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity. Rah reviews the biases in American history that have now been institutionalized not just in mainstream culture, but also unknowingly embedded in evangelical churches and evangelical theologies. (cf. here’s a video of me reading the book’s acknowledgements and introduction)

I consider Rah’s effort to be a great companion to a couple of other books I’ve recently read, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church (by Shane Hipps, cf. the newer title Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith has very similar content, I’ve heard) and The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity (by Skye Jethani).

The above 3 books make a valiant effort at cultural deconstruction and show just how greatly our mainstream American culture has been influenced by theology, technology, and consumerism. And not only that, the typical American evangelical church has been embedded with values that do not represent the Gospel well. To quote Tim Keller, “Every culture is dominated by idols that is not dominated by the glory of Christ.

Sadly, in too many contexts, it is not safe to ask questions of our church culture and its embedded values. And even if those questions were to be asked, and discussed, to actually create change and transform an institution like the church is seemingly impossible.

So these (almost) prophetic truths are great to surface, expose, and discuss. Yet, could it be that we in the American church has been too enamoured with pragmatic results in church growth and evangelistic zeal? Could it be that by upholding values of excellence, efficiency, and effectiveness, we have lost sight of the more obviously Bibical values of justice, dignity, and diversity — God’s love of the whole world?

Rah’s The Next Evangelicalism has much more to say, and as others join the online conversation of the blogosphere, I’ll add more of my reactions to the book. [update 5/8 great discussion about Rah's book over at julieclawson.com, including comments from the author; cf. Greg Boyd's review "Only WHITE American Christianity Is Dying"; book review at Theological Grafitti; Soong-Chan Rah's blog is http://scrah.xanga.com]
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