Jan 272014
 

I confess that I have an uneasy relationship with money. And having spent a decade of my life preparing for being a pastor, I’ve given these related topics more than the average Joe or Jane. (This blog post is more of a stream-of-conscience thinking-my-confusion-out-loud, so the ideas here may not be entirely coherent and should not be quoted as such in publications or what have you.) And, granted, I live in a privileged first-world context where I have been blessed with the luxury to contemplate about money, instead of having to use all time and energy living from paycheck to paycheck, or worse.money

With recent media exposure of pastors making a lot of money from churches and Christian ministries and books and conferences (cf. Preachers of LA reality television show, scrutiny about Pastor Steven Furtick’s new home, Pastor Ed Young Jr.’s reality TV show in the works, ad nauseum), it stirs up my own discomfort with money, and what I mean by that is, those examples tend to reinforce my discomfort and dislike for money. And it’s also been noted by our US government: Large churches have come under severe criticism for being impersonal and motivated by money. In 2008, several megachurches came under IRS scrutiny due to the wealthy lifestyle of the pastors, and some of those pastors resisted investigation.

I’ve realize that many (or most?) people who like money, or love money, and want to have more of it, even working hard for it, or whatever it takes, even in ministry. But that’s not me. That’s not to say I don’t need money; I do need money because I have bills to pay and I am not financially independent.

The Bible has a lot to say about money, how the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Timothy 6:10), how a person cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13), and your heart will always be where your treasure is (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34). Those don’t resolve this dilemma for me, the desire to have good motives and then what to do with money.

There is clear biblical justification for a person to do the work of Christian ministry and earn money from it, by being financially supported by others, as it is written: “… the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14) There it is, it’s biblical to have paid pastors.

Getting paid for doing ministry is a right, a good thing, but it’s not a necessary thing. The minister can choose to opt-out. First example of this is the bi-vocational Apostle Paul, who did the work of ministry (and it is work, hard work) while funding it by himself in the tent business. He explained it in 1 Corinthians 9:15-18, “But I have not used any of these rights… that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

And when a minister does opts-out and does ministry without getting pay, that’s commendable, and it gets unusual attention from everyone. Newsweek (in 2005) noted that Pastor Rick Warren returned ”.. his own salary back to his church, retroactively, for the past 25 years… and to “reverse tithe”: he gives away 90 percent of what he earns.” (Disclosure: I attend his church, Saddleback Church)

When money is taken out of the ministry equation, it’s a whole different game. Getting money out of the way is one way to ensure altruism, or at least, to get the motive of greed crossed off the suspect list. Money does muddle motives but it doesn’t have to. There you have it: one way to unmuddle motives, the money motive anyways, is to opt-out of getting paid for ministry. A second way, is to take a reasonable salary commensurate with the average member in the congregation. And then there’s Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. Since its formation, the church has paid all of its staff members the same annual salary, which is currently $26,400. The only difference in pay is compensation for dependents.

What do you think? Add a comment with other good ideas to keep the money motive in check, both for the spiritual health of the pastor as well as a more effective public witness for Gospel proclamation.

Aside: Recently, Cameron Lee (Professor of Family Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary) posted a more thorough treatment in his blog series “Money and Ministry” with 4 posts– part 1, 2, 3, 4.

(photo credit: thomashawk)

Jan 212014
 

Whether on a second screen like a slide show or projected on a big screen for adding an interactive element to your event, the photo-sharing phenomena of Instagram can be much bigger than the tiny screen of a mobile smartphone. Here’s the web apps (aka websites) that can show photos from Instagram, in an auto-advanced slide-show fashion:

instagram

cf. on Quora – How do I stream Instagram photos on my tv/monitor/larger screen as a running feed? Does this work for geo-tagging and hashtag streaming as well?

Know any others? I’d love to be able to display my Instagram home feed in an auto-scrolling fashion on a second screen…

[update] also see http://searchinstagram.com for live wall + http://instagramers.com/links/ for links to great instagram web apps

Jan 182014
 

Leadership in the Asian American church and ministry context requires you to stay sharp and keeps you on your toes. One of the best, and highly-valued, ways of doing that is through formal education. When you successfully graduate from this D.Min. program, you’ll have the title of Doctor, just like Dr. Rick Warren, Dr. Tim Keller, and Dr. Ben Shin; they too have Doctor of Ministry degrees.

drbenshinTalbot Seminary (formally known as the Talbot School of Theology) launched its 3-year Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program with an Asian American Ministry Track last summer, and I was privileged to be invited as a guest lecturer last year and will be there again this June 2014. Dr. Ben Shin is the Faculty Mentor and primary instructor, and he’s engineered the program to allow for rolling admission by new students! This means you don’t have to wait 3 years for the next cycle of the D.Min. cohort to convene, you can enter the program any year!

The dates for this year’s summer residency is June 2-13, 2014 with a focus on Asian-American Leadership Challenges:

Asian-American leaders can expect particular challenges in ministry. These issues will be explored with the goal of preparing a proactive plan to overcome these challenges. This will include biblical training in conflict resolution, conducting a healthy staff, building a resource network for crisis situations, and developing a personal support system.

Application deadline is January 20th. Request free information @ talbot.edu/dmin/request-info/ to let Dr. Shin know of your interest and give me a call @ 949-243-7260 to get my unofficial no-pressure perspective about this program.

Overview, goals, and more details for this Asian American Ministry Track of the Doctor of Ministry program at Talbot School of Theology is @ talbot.edu/dmin/asian-american/ plus 6 videos of Dr. Ben Shin explaining even more. And one more thing, watch this video for first-hand stories from 3 of the first cohort’s students (Daniel Eng, Thomas Lee, John “JP” Park):

By the way, Daniel Eng re-energized his blogging after last year’s cohort at aapastor.com. Aside: popular and/or famous pastors with D.Min. degrees: Dr. Rick Warren, Dr. Tim Keller, Dr. Ben Shin, Dr. Leith Anderson, Dr. John C. Maxwell, Dr. James MacDonald, Dr. Mark DeYmaz, Dr. Raymond Chang .. (others? add a comment)

Jan 092014
 

Spontaneous combustion of ideas are so much more exhilarating than a predictable routine to me. And the conversations lit up my switchboard and I want to share one of them with you.

Yesterday I’m chatting over late afternoon tea with a couple of new friends from connections via Telos Ventures (and I’d venture to say you’ll be hearing more about them in the years ahead, or sooner) and the conversations overflowed to dinner from a gracious family’s hospitality. And there was something wonderful and cozy about being in a home instead of a restaurant. The chance meeting was quite a divine appointment, as that echoed the host’s devotional that morning.

I have greater hope for this next generation of Asian Americans than ever (and that’s where I want to give of my time and energy). I believe that being Asian American is more, not less, than being either Asian only or American only.

Being bicultural had been perceived as a liability, because it felt like not fitting in anywhere. Perception doesn’t have to define reality. Let’s reframe that.

In a fast-changing world that we find ourselves in with global travel and increasingly accelerating connectivity via mobile and social, bicultural means built-in agility to adapt into more contexts than someone monocultural.

And becoming culturally adaptable is not something you can acquire through the education of book learning or get training for. I’ve been pondering that it can only be developed through life experience. The ones that have to live in multiple cultures before age 21 will have innately honed skills via nurture that post-21 people will be notably lagging.

The wealth of life experience, educational attainment, and financial status of accomplished Asian Americans could in due time do so much more good than ever, a bigger dent in the universe, a bigger difference, a greater contribution, or whatever metaphor that calls out this percolating potential. Gaining for oneself is far less satisfying than giving of oneself for the blessing of many.

James Choung has noted this prediction:
Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe studied American generations as far back as 1584. Based on their findings, they took some guesses at what future generations would look like. … In their book Generations, they predicted that Asian Americans would be “a major cultural and intellectual force” by 2025 — like the German descendants in the 1880s and 1890s, and their Jewish counterparts of the 1930s and 1940s.