Mar 272014

Watch the free webcast for The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church held on 3/28/14, noted as the nation’s first religiously backed conference to address mental health issues


/ [update] Watch/listen to the recordings from The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church All of the plenary session videos and workshop audios are online for free. /

Traditional media mentions, most recently:

I’m most eager to hear of the next steps and sustained efforts at keeping the conversations alive and ongoing, raising awareness, shaping and changing perceptions, breaking stigma over time. It won’t happen overnight. I do pray that a bunch of good things will birth from this event. And I hope the event organizers will record the webcast videos and make those available as a very valuable resource.

Aside: I haven’t yet found discussions online leading up to the event, though I did find a few blog posts. (My attempt to contact organizers about follow-up next steps got a reply of: “… decisions have not been made yet.”)

Mar 152014

March 28th, 2014 is the day when the world could have more safe communities for people with mental illness. The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church is convening on 3/28 from 8:30am to 9:00pm (Pacific Time, UTC-7) Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and word is that there will be a FREE livestream webcast. See website for more event info and if you’re local to Southern California, please come – and don’t let money be a barrier. Event hashtag = #hope4mh


Here’s your personal invitation from the organizers:

Studies show that one out of every four adults in America will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. The first place many go for help is to their priest or to their pastor because the heart of Jesus and the Church has always been for those who suffer.

You are invited to The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, a one-day event designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any faced with the challenges of mental illness.

Join Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and NAMI-OC (National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County), and other faith and community leaders on Friday, March 28 for a hope-filled and inspiring event, as together we call the Church to action on behalf of those living with mental illness, equip lay and pastoral leadership, and stand side-by-side with those who suffer.

The headline on this Christian Post article, Rick and Kay Warren to Host ‘Mental Health and the Church’ Summit; Organizers Hope to Wipe Out Stigma of Mental Illness, is quite an overstatement, in my humble opinion. One event will not wipe out the stigma, as the headline suggests (or it could be read that way, I did). It will take a long sustained effort to change things, with the social stigma pervasive in societies and families, faith communities and churches alike.

I’m personally very grateful for this one influential church taking a first step to start addressing this. I’m eager to see what the second step will be, and the many steps ahead that many others will begin to take. It all starts with the first step, and I sincerely hope it’s the first of many, not only for Saddleback, but many many others.

kaywarren313postAnd, one more thing. I’ll be there in person myself. Please say hello if you can come too, I would be happy to connect. (personal disclosure: Saddleback Church is my home church)

cf. also read Kay Warren’s poignant blog post (Facebook calls it a “story”): ‘… shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to “move on.”‘

Mar 082014

Though I’m not at SXSW 2014 in person, I can peek in with the lively conversations there all over social media. This gathering is the largest convergence of cultural-shaping streams of film (movies, videos) + interactive (digital, social media, online, mobile) + music (soundtrack, poetry, arts) and still the place-to-be for connecting into the currents of the latest vibe in today’s popular culture.

Faith is very much a part of the human condition, though not at the center of pop culture, it is featured at 2 #sxsw sessions and embedded in the bio’s of several speakers:

Is Facebook Making Houses of Worship Go Extinct? @ Monday 3/10 11:00am CT #sxsw #faithbook

  • Rebecca Saidlower (Dir of Mktg & Communications, The Jewish Education Project) @RSaidlower
  • Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse (Social Media Coordinator, NJOP – National Jewish Outreach program) @susqhb + @JewishTweets

#sxsw #MLK2BAKER

Black Church Activism in the Digital Era @ Tuesday 3/11 9:30am CT #sxsw #MLK2BAKER
“As social media begins to democratize communication and give voice to the voiceless; What will be the impact of social media on the future Black Church activism in the digital era?”

  • Jamye Wooten (CEO/Publisher, Kinetics Communcations) @KineticsLive
  • Ralph Watkins (Assoc Prof of Evangelism and Church Growth, Columbia Theological Seminary) @ralphbasui

And here’s other people of faith in the #sxsw 2014 mix ::

  • Catherine Woodiwiss (Co-Founder, Trestles Creative Agency) @chwoodiwiss@trestlestweets
    Catherine is a journalist, start-up founder, musician, and community-accumulator… Catherine is also a columnist and editor at Sojourners, a leading faith-based social justice blog and advocacy group in DC. Presenter at session: Do It Together Is the New Do It Yourself #sxsw #DIYalive
  • Beth Katz (Founder & Exec Dir, Project Interfaith) @bethkatz + @ProjectIntrf8th
    Beth is the Founder and Executive Director of Project Interfaith ( Her passion for creating a world where people of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures are valued…
  • Greg Stielstra (Engagement Strategist, Healthways) @GregStielstra
    Greg is a marketing professional with over 20 years of experience and special expertise in behavioral economics and how influence spreads through human social networks… He is the author of two books: PyroMarketing (HarperCollins, 2005) and Faith-Based Marketing (Wiley, 2009) and was the marketing director for The Purpose Driven Life, the fastest selling hardcover book in American history. Presenter at session: Transform Community Behavior with Digital Design #sxsw #LiveBetter
Feb 112014

Would you believe Catalyst would dare go off-script? I couldn’t believe my eyes either. Here’s the roster of main stage speakers for Catalyst West Coast 2014:: Francis Chan, Christine Caine, Jason Russell, Simon Sinek, Robert Madu, Henry Cloud, Lysa TerKeurst, Charles Lee, Bryan Loritts, Rachel Cruze, Mike Foster. (Gasp, Craig and Andy are missing!)

This lineup doesn’t look like the same-old usual fare.. could it be that Catalyst is turning a new chapter, going into a new season? Whatever the case may be, it’s a good thing to be hearing from a plurality of voices and different mix of perspectives. From here it looks like the most compelling talk will be coming from Simon Sinek, and then there will be undoubtedly be some surprise A-Ha’s. (And, personally, I’d brace myself for a curve ball from Charles Lee.)

Check your calendar for April 2-4, 2014 and put Catalyst West Conference there. After you register, make your travel arrangements to be there at Mariners Church, Orange County, CA. You know what to do.

Not only is the lineup refreshingly different, the theme is powerfully striking at the core of who each of us are: identity, calling, legacy. I think this green banner about leading from who you are is more legible than the venn diagram below.

Catalyst_West_Coast_2014__ Catalyst-4

Lowest Discounted Rates on Catalyst West tickets are ending this Thursday 2/13, so please REGISTER NOW. Call 888.334.6569 to speak to a Catalyst Concierge, or register online at Use Rate Code BLOG to receive a special rate of only $209 per person (regularly $300 minus $1).

Catalyst_West_Coast_2014__ Catalyst-3

(#satirealert The title of this blog post is written in jest, tongue-in-cheek. I’d anticipate both Craig and Andy have much to say and will have many opportunities and platforms for years to come. Regrettably, I will not be there at Catalyst West myself, due to having a previously scheduled event. But knowing how hard the Catalyst crew works to capture the content and package the experience, there’ll be the DVD kit and other goodies available for purchase during and after the event happens.. )

Nov 022013

Around 1,000 church leaders will be gathering this week for the 2nd national multiethnic church conference, hosted by Mosaix Global Network! It’s happening this Tuesday and Wednesday, November 5-6, and free livestream video was just announced, so there will likely be 1,000+ joining in online too! Is this exciting or what?! The conversations are already streaming on Twitter using hashtag #mosaix2013 + here’s a list of active bloggers who are coming to #mosaix2013

I also know of some people with inactive blogs, and many people who aren’t blogging yet, coming to #mosaix2013. If you’re blogging about #mosaix2013 and/or this historic event could launch (or re-launch) your own blogging history, please do add a comment so I can add you to the list! Your voice is important and there’s no faster way to get it out to the world than blogging!

// [update] articles + blog posts about the amazing #mosaix2013 gathering::

My Time at the Mosaix Multi-Ethnic Church Conference: Being multi-ethnic is intrinsic to Christianity. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. by David Swanson at Leadership Journal’s Out of Ur blog

Multi-Ethnic Ministry Takes Center Stage by Lindy Lowry for Exponential Network

Mosaix 2013 ~ quotes and reflections – Kelly Soifer

Contextualizing Not Franchising – David Swanson

Multi-ethnic for the sake of the gospel: Mosaix 2013 Conference – David Drury

#audio 180 with Karl Clauson was broadcasting live at #mosaix2013 Day 1 + Day 2 (1160 AM Chicago Christian Talk radio) – interviews with many speakers!

My Experience at the #Mosaix2013 Multi-Ethnic Church Conference – Danny Slavich

#article Pastors Take on the Biblical Challenge to Reflect the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth in the Multi-Ethnic Church at Mosaix 2013 (Christian Post)

National church conference focuses on ethnic, economic diversity by Bianca Ontiveros for The Clause, student publication of Azusa Pacific University

This Means War: A Pastor’s Wife Speaks – Carla Hendricks

Dangerous Act: Hoarding the Grace of God – Natasha Sistrunk Robinson


[disclosure: I'm a board member of Mosaix Global Network and you can be a member too]

Oct 292013

Here at the Raw Church unconference yesterday and today, and boy have the conversations and topics been RAW. Covering quite the gamut of the human condition (and some would prefer to use the term human depravity) and the brokenness we experience — rawchurch-v2-w-bg-300x65 adultery, sex abuse, divorce, multiple divorces, unexpected death, mental illness, terminal disease,  race & faith, scandals, addiction, sexuality, shame, pride, self-righteousness, judgementalism, religion, power, gender, bigotry, parenting, prisons, healing, relationships, recovery, restoration, redemption, and so many more… heavy and intense things that you don’t hear talked about in most churches. Here’s the thing, if you can’t talk about brokenness and healing in church and it’s not a safe place, where can you? Where can people truly experience the gospel of grace if not for the healing that must come from community, the body of Christ?

So this little unconference had 50+ people participate, with no speakers paid nor did attendees pay. Thanks to Sandals Church for the space to gather. Thanks for Tony Ferraro and Scott Overpeck for partnering and collaborating with me to pull this gathering together. (the 3 of us, Tony, Scott, and I were the core team coordinating this, and many others gave of their time and effort to participate)  Through the generosity of everyone involved and getting free of the entanglement of “value exchange,” quite a number of transformational conversations happened.

Can you imagine how much more good could happen if people collaborate, and money didn’t matter and money wasn’t a constraint because it’s a non-issue? Some things just need to happen; we can’t let money get in the way and we can’t wait for the market to catch up. (Yes, I realize most of us have to pay the bills, and I do too; and with the bills paid, many of us still have time & energy that can be used for something beyond conventional volunteering for existing non-profit ventures, though of course that’s needed too.)

It’s my hope that the Raw Church unconference is an example of new non-profit innovations; my Social Media Church podcast is another example. I talked about this wild idea of innovating without money on a recent episode: What can you do with $0 budget?

What do you think? Is there something to this, or am I off my rockers?

Oct 102013

I love the Church capital C and all of its complexity, flavors, and even occasional messiness. During the past few days I was invited to teach 2 workshops, an overview of the multi-site church revolution and the Future of the Asian American Church. I love being with church leaders, affirming them, supporting them, connecting them with resources, and dreaming about a better future. So energizing for me!

This has been more than just an event; I’ve also been invited to the table, participating in several meetings of next-generation Asian American pastors during the Exponential West planning process — cf. A Vibrant Future for Asian and Hispanic Church Planters: Facing Opportunities and Challenges @ Exponential Blog. The intentionality, the genuine learning posture of learning I’ve experienced with the Exponential key leaders, Dave Ferguson and Todd Wilson, along with their team, have been particularly refreshing, hopeful, and empowering. (Having been around my share of majority-culture-wanting-to-diversify strategy meetings, I’ve experienced the disappointing let-down of quick discussions that get factored into short-term goals and getting tasks done.)

As we American evangelicals learn how to become a multiethnic church, we are venturing into uncharted territory and there will be turbulence at times. (Actually, becoming multiethnic is just plain messier but also more rewarding.) Unexpectedly, we hit turbulence on conference day 1 when the comedic element of a parody video based on Karate Kid unintentionally triggered uneasiness and offensiveness for some attendees, in particular, Asian Americans, because of its portrayal of Asian stereotypes like bad accents and kung-fu fighting. (I use the ambiguous term “some” to avoid quantifying or marginalizing because every person’s perspective and voice is significant in the Kingdom of God methinks.) Concerns and frustrations were voiced thru email, in-person conversations, as well as the public square of social media.

I started working the back channels to bring about a better resolution to this incident than “a quick apology and let’s move on.” I commend the Exponential team for attending to the feedback, while upholding their immediate responsibility of running a conference for 2,000 people, and making room in their busy schedule to meet, to learn, and to begin working towards healthy change.

Let me give a brief update to open up healthy communications and how we’re working towards a better long-term resolution. After the end of the conference, a meeting of 4 leaders from the Exponential team met with 4 Asian Americans and myself (so that makes 5 Asian Americans). We met for almost 30 minutes and the Exponential leaders held a sincere posture of listening and learning, not defensively rationalizing, and I believe everyone felt heard. What’s confusing for non-Asians, perhaps, is the diversity of reactions to the very same video – some were offended, not so much for themselves but for the sake of the Gospel witness if an Asian American who was not a Christian were to see it, while at the same time, some Asian Americans were not offended at all and found the video hilarious.

As the conversations wrapped up in prayer, there was a genuine consensus for all parties involved to stay engaged conversation to work out a new redemptive story that’s different from the past, to deepen mutual understanding, to keep a learning posture, and to stay on mission together for the sake of the Gospel.

I’m anticipating this will be the first blog post of several, or even many, as this is a multi-layered conversation with lots of history, frustrations, offenses, and strained relationships. As much as I love social media, it’s too easy a place to air dirty laundry and escalate misunderstandings; it’s a terrible place to work out lasting reconciliation and institutional change. This is a work in progress.

To my Asian American brothers and sisters – I kindly ask you to not to respond to this incident by venting more of your hurts and frustrations from this and past incidents all over social media, but do find a good & safe place in real space with people to express those hurts where it can move towards healing, and learn with us and seek understanding; stay tuned as we continue working on this incident. I sincerely invite you to add a comment here so we can have constructive conversations that will craft a new future together. You may also give me a call at 949-243-7260 so I can unpack more of this with you in real-time, and I will do my best to be a good listener; my doors are open for dialogue.

And to my Anglo and non-Asian brothers and sisters – empathy is hard work and the role that media has in powerfully shaping and distorting our perception is particularly hurtful to minorities in a majority culture. You have no idea, granted. I’ll say this for starters as someone actively engaged in multiethnic relationships and dialogue: Anglo cultural humor is comparatively much less sensitive, thus insensitive, than minority culture humor. Only in Anglo culture can you have a comedian that gets laughs by insulting people. Offensive everywhere else. Hello. Unheard of in any other cultures. This is a huge opportunity and open door to bear with one another’s burdens, hear one another stories, choose love over cheap laughs… And I confess, I’m not as sensitive as more high-context culturally shaped people, so I’ve made my share of unintentionally offenses, even refraining from communion for a whole year (cf.Mt 5:23-24) to show my contrition.

The internet opens all our churches and ministries to public view of the entire world. How we carry conversations online bears much witness to what God can do when we take the time to listen, connect, and stay engaged.

Forgive me for words I’ve chosen imperfectly to express my encouragements; if you have better words to carry us forward together, let me know graciously. I’ll gladly receive all the help I can get.

[update 10/12/13] Exponential Addressing Asian-American Leaders’ Concerns
Exponential Addressing Asian-American Leaders’ Concerns

Oct 092013

Thanks for all who came to our workshop session on the Future for the Asian American Church at Exponential West 2013. Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in America today, and exponential numbers of next-gen multi-Asian churches are being planted that better reach the next generations of not just Asian Americans but also multiethnic America. Here’s the slides and links to references mentioned and a some bonus links too:

Pew Research Report – The Rise of Asian Americans
#article “O.C. exports Asian American churches to the world” (OC Register, January 2013)
Ambassador Network -  launching multiplying, multiethnic, and missional churches