Mar 272013
photo credit ryerson

As the church adapts to serving a multicultural global village, some are developing ministries in multiple languages too. (cf. polyglot - someone who can speak multiple languages) Ethnic Asian churches and other immigrant churches have done that for decades. For some ethnic Korean churches, it’s ministering in Korean and English, for Chinese ones, it’s ministering in Mandarin, English, Cantonese and/or Taiwanese.

For more diversified multiethnic church, that could be at least 3 languages across multiple racial groupings. (Please add a comment – and I’ll do my best to keep this list updated.) Here’s a list of multi-lingual multi-racial churches:

Articles & resources about multilingual churches and worship

[nb: of course, it can be argued that there is only one race, the human race; yet in the context of the United States with a racialized history, there are significantly different social dynamics in a multi-generational Asian American context vs. a multi-ethnic context with Anglos, Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics]

Mar 252013

The percentage of multiethnic churches in America has grown from 7.5% in 1998 to 13.7% in 2010, based on 2 different survey-bases studies, using a 20% minority criteria. One of the leading church researchers, Dr. Scott Thumma (Professor of Sociology of Religion, Hartford Seminary), posted this on the Huffington Post blog, Racial Diversity Increasing In U.S. Congregations, alerting us to some notable progress in the desegregation of American churches:

Martin Luther King’s once said 11 a.m. Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. That statement seems to remain true today, 57 years later. However, the 2010 Faith Communities Today report shows a major shift toward desegregation is underway among the nation’s religious communities.

The study, which included more than 11,000 congregations, found the number of multiracial faith communities has nearly doubled in the past decade. Nearly 14 percent of congregations are considered multiracial, with at least 20 percent of members coming from racial groups different from the congregation’s majority race. The study also found 4 percent of America’s congregations are multiracial, with no racial group having a majority.

Researchers have been tracking these changes since the 1990s. Mark Chaves, in the 1998 National Congregations Study, reported that 7.5 percent of all congregations were multiracial. Another study in the late 1990s by sociologist Michael Emerson found 5 percent of Protestant churches and 15 percent of Catholic churches were multiracial.

When compared to this earlier research, our 2010 Faith Communities Today study… found the percentage of multiracial congregations (using the 20 percent or more minority criteria) had nearly doubled in the past decade to 13.7 percent.

Mar 042013

What may be emerging is a new role in the church: pastor of innovation. (Granted this may not become mainstream where every church would have one, since most churches have more pressing operational day-to-day needs.) I’ll do my part to keep this list updated. (Please do add to this list.)


How much of their job is pure innovation and experimentation? Would you like to know? Me too!

There are over 30+ definitions of innovation and over 6000+ definitions of leadership. Organizations, especially organized churches in the 21st century, need more innovation and more leadership, not less. What’s worked in the past is not working as well as it used to, so we as the Church capital-C must make room to develop new ways of doing things.

Peter Drucker has said, “Any time an organization fails to change at the rate of the world around it, that organization is doomed to failure.” and “innovation is change that creates a new level of performance” and “All organizations require one core competency: Innovation.

The chart to the right (from Leadership Network) illustrates how church innovations get adopted over time. As an experimenter, I’ve had very limited resources to experiment in developing innovations; I’m praying for more resources to do more. [disclosure: I do contract work with Leadership Network]

Rob Rynders makes a case for innovation in his denomination - Why The UMC Needs an Era of Innovation -

We need an intentional, grassroots, movement of innovators willing to put new ideas into action, fully realizing that many of those ideas will fail, but some will be successful. Even the failures will allow for immense learning, evaluation, further experimentation and adaption, ultimately leading to success. As successes and failures build, over time, we must apply those learnings from those models to other contexts and allow easy ways for others to learn, model, and adapt.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, there are 4 levels of innovation, so not all innovation has to be risky and be revolutionary game-changers. Pastor Karl Vaters provides a helpful list for key questions to consider when preparing a church for change (and innovation) @ 10 Questions Every Innovative Small Church Pastor Needs to Ask.

Mar 032013

Think outside of the box? How about creating a new one. This excites me big time! There’s a new emerging kind of role in the marketplace, and Wikipedia has a short entry for it: Chief Innovation Officer. This is so new the acronym for it isn’t settled yet — I’ve see it as CINO and CNO.

What kind of a role is this? — According to What does it mean to be a chief innovation officer? “Chief innovation officer: one part hacker, one part change agent, one part idea generator, one part creator of collisions“. Sounds like my kind of dream job.

And what is innovation? Mark W. Johnson describes in Viewpoint:The Role of the Chief Innovation Officer the need to be devising a language of innovation:

… A common language that is used across the entire organization helps frame a company’s principles of innovation. The starting point for that shared language is a practical definition of innovation. The definition I favor depicts innovation as something new: a product, service, process, business model, or combination thereof that can be commercialized because it solves the problem of a “job to be done” for the customer. Whatever language is used, it should distinguish between innovation in the core business and innovation that creates platforms for new-business creation. That distinction is critically important because the chief innovation officer’s raison d’etre is to lead new-business innovation that will ensure the company’s continued survival and growth.

Orchestrating-to-get-things-Done1What does s/he do? Gina Colarelli O’Connor explains in The Real Role of a Chief Innovation Officer that this person is an orchestrator, and it’s an exciting trend for 2 reasons:

First, it signals a recognition that innovation is distinct from other functions, including R&D, Corporate Strategy and Marketing. In other words, innovation is accepted as incorporating both invention and new business creation. Secondly, it shows there is a mandate for companies to build a strong capability for breakthrough innovation.”

However, research by O’Connor’s group shows this is only the hope and not yet the reality. “In several companies we have studied of late, the turnover in the role is high, and the role title is modified frequently. Some tell us that there is ‘baggage’ associated with the title, left over from its previous holder’s failure to make things happen, or that resentment is building in the organization among those not incorporated into the ‘innovation’ function.

Plus, I’d add that not all innovations are the big game-changers. Most look smaller. This chart from The Four Levels of Innovation: Assess the Time, Effort, and Resources Necessary to Join the Ranks of Innovation (Kris Miner, 2010) shows 4 levels:



Mar 012013

The campaign known as February is Fundraising has ended. Here’s a list of 28 things I learned in making a daily video update about my online fundraising effort to support my work as a Strategy Consultant for Ambassador Network – a new church planting network of multiplying, multiethnic, missional churches. (This list is in no particular order)


  1. Fundraising is not easy. I knew that going in. Doing this month-long campaign gave me a chance to experience it first-hand. And there’s a particular challenge for any person, especially one of Asian heritage, to be asking for help. Very humbling; very hard.
  2. Fundraising takes time. A staff-worker with a campus-ministry for over 25+ years passed along this insight based on his experience: “… it really is a process with tough critical mass (8-30 months of near full-time effort) plus 4-10 hours week afterwards (forever).
  3. I’m too much of a pioneering experimenter. I love trying new things that have huge potential for breakthrough results. But, I had a small “aha” by about day 25, that for my own livelihood, and sanity, maybe I have to pull back from pushing the envelope of innovation and more of doing things that meet people where they’re at, doing what they find value in, and answers the “WIIFM” question most other people ask, “What’s In It For Me.” Gotta play to the market.
  4. Funding for innovation is elusive. Where can I find financial resources for research and development (R&D) in the Christian ministry world? This is not the world of getting research grants for trying to find the cure for cancer or HIV.
  5. I’m glad I didn’t quit. I did finish all the way through 28 days of videos. Confession: I have a habit of quitting in many parts of my life. I’m not a Type A driven kind of guy, so I’m personally quite okay not reaching goals. But I know what it means to be responsible too; this ministry is not about me. It’s sincerely my best effort to serve the next generation of multi-Asian and multi-ethnic churches.
  6. People like tangibles more than intangibles. I’ve been told this feedback on several occasions, both before and during this campaign. Goes with the territory of my unconventional profile as a strategies- and ideas- guy.
  7. Some people have a hard time finding links on a web page. Someone told me they couldn’t find the “donate” link. If 1 person told me, maybe 10 others didn’t tell me. Even though that donate link is on the top of every page here at, in the top navigation menu, and there on the web pages for #FebruaryisFundraising, I didn’t make it big and loud enough for some. Not sure that I would.
  8. Google+ Hangout on Air streamlined the work flow. This was the technology I found to be the fastest way to get a daily video recorded and posted. It’s not the highest quality, granted, and to do more quality, would definitely take a lot more time – post-production, converting, encoding, uploading, potentially more equipment. Made do with what I got for speed-to-publish and near-real-time content.
  9. My Android phone (HTC Inspire 4G) is unable to post and upload a video. It’s supposed to be able to. A 3-minute video I made for day 24 only had audio captured for the 1st minute. #Fail.
  10. More technology is great, reliability not so much. Yes, I tried recording-and-uploading with a wide range of equipment: a smartphone, a webcam on a MacBook Pro, webcam on an iMac desktop, on a Flipcam. I used a wired earbud headset, built-in mic on the Mac, Blue Yeti USB microphone. I tried YouTube web-based video recording, Google+ Hangout on Air recording, QuickTime recording, Photo Booth recording, iMovie recording.
  11. Stable equipment setup can yield better results. When I was out-and-about like a road warrior, finding a reliable wifi connection with good upload speed was inconsistent. And I don’t have one of those MiFi hockey pucks. (So I made do with what I had.) Yes, having a studio setup would have been extravagant.
  12. It’s okay to go live and record a video on one take. Thanks to Seth Godin for the sagely words in his blog post: Will you choose to do it live? My answer = yes.
  13. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Not having all the optimal resources doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. Or, it’s been said: scarcity brings clarity, or limited resources + willingness to fail + increasing passion = exponential innovation.
  14. Advocacy has value for the long-term rather than short-term. My approach with the messaging these daily video updates were to raise awareness for the vision, need, and opportunity, rather than to keep making asks in an infomercially / televangelistic / telethonish style. My hope is that the content in these videos will be eye-opening for future viewers, especially Freedom & healing from guilt & shame for Asian Americans, Being generous is being Godly, why pastoring is the hardest job ever.
  15. Friends and family support is so very valuable. I did not do this campaign on a whim, and having their emotional and spiritual support helped me to persevere through the month. And, thanks coach Marc Payan, for the call to do something hard every day. Done.
  16. Some people give to people; some people give to vision. In my situation with this campaign, people gave to this more because of the person than the vision, per se. The vision for planting multi-Asian/ multi-ethnic missional multiplying churches and for me to do the work of ministry as a strategist seems to be too leading-edge bleeding-edge, maybe, too intangible, abstract, mushy, risky.
  17. Online fundraising has seen a lot more success for individuals with interesting projects, a la Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Projects are more tangible and many of those creative crowd-funded projects are like pre-orders of niche products.
  18. Crowdfunding works better because lots of people can contribute smaller amounts. My tiered giving levels were probably too high as a general online ask. With a target of 43 donors, I needed a lot more viewers with the interest and the capacity to buy-in and support the strategic role I have with the Ambassador Network vision.
  19. Fundraisers were more interested in this campaign than funders. I had a good handful of people give me good feedback, cheering me on, watching the videos, liking, sharing. Appreciated!
  20. The 29 daily videos had 770 views. I know there’s only 28 days in February, this year; I made a bonus video on Day 1, with Kevin Nguyen, Campus Pastor of Saddleback Church Irvine, that’s why there was one more.
  21. The #FebruaryisFundraising playlist had 115 views, with a total duration of over 4 hours and 20 minutes. That’s a lot of content. Maybe it could be repurposed into an e-Book or seminar.
  22. Landing page for “Donate Now” had 300+ views. Feedback I heard was that it was clear. But not enough specifics on results.
  23. Results? $2,320 of $90,000 raised. From a total of 4 donors. I’ll keep the thermometer updated at my ministry_support page and continue fundraising efforts offline via one-on-one meetings and personal outreach. I accounted for how the $90,000 goal was arrived at as the sum of the average Asian American family median income of $66,000 + ministry expenses + network infrastructure costs. [cf. see current funding status]
  24. Social capital doesn’t automatically convert into financial donations. I’m told I have a substantial network of relationships, and I’m grateful that I’ve had favor with many people who are church and ministry leaders. That doesn’t translate into funders, since many of them live on the generosity of those who support their ministry-based work.
  25. Too much talk about faith and not enough help about fiscal reality is not helpful. There’s this whole hidden business side of ministry life that doesn’t get much air-time. Having a theological training and credentialed with a degree didn’t give me the financial street-savvy necessary to run a non-profit enterprise. And my being much more interested in meaning over money doesn’t help.
  26. I’m too much of an idealist and impractical, not so much practical nor pragmatic. Not to be redundant and not to be beating myself up over coming up short. Money is such a pragmatic kind of thing, where the rubber meets the road, as the saying goes. Ouch. I’m much more skilled at finding and developing creative solutions and new ways of how things could be done.
  27. There might be a fine line between living by faith and living foolishly.
  28. I’m going to be bi-vocational for a while — months, years, or maybe the rest of my life. I’m available for hire as a freelance strategy consultant. Contact me.

There is much more to learn in this part of life in fundraising, and I’ll share it along the way as I journey on. Thanks for reading.