Archive for the 'leadership' Category


Choosing Who Runs With You

So Obama’s decided who the next VP would be and he had this to say;

He said he was looking for not just a partner but a sparring partner. “I want somebody who’s independent, somebody who can push against my preconceived notions and challenge me so we have got a robust debate in the White House.”

Quick Thought:
What if OBC/Senior Pastors used the same philosophy for how they consider and partner with EM/ABC pastors?


Wanted: Chinese Creatives [ii]

What can creatives offer the Church?
Most companies and churches that use creatives primarily solicit them for help with something graphically oriented to deliver a product rather than for lack of better words a solution. Management and leadership use, misuse and abuse them. They just don’t know how to include them from the very start but only recognize them mainly for their physical craft and skill. What creatives also offer is their ability to be able to take a step back to look at the larger picture, brand or entity. They can be and mostly are problem solvers, idea generators, and storytellers. They look at the heart of what they are doing and create to evoke something in themselves and the user. They create and cultivate culture. The good ones that is. Not all creatives are created equal.

Moreover, this act of creating and cultivating is not limited to artists and designers. There are many different forms of creatives who are at heart, communicators to a community of individuals offering to help make their lives better. When those in the chruch realize a divine posture of creating and cultivating in all that they do, the church will be like a city on a hill.

Andy Crouch of the Christian Vision Project says this,
The church is called to maintain a posture of cultivating (Gen. 2:15) and creating (Gen. 2:19).
These are two separate roles, an artist creates new things not in the world to make the world better, while a gardener takes the beautiful things of the world and cares for them that they might be their best.
Instead, we have made our posture one of condemning, critiquing, copying and consuming.
Each of these are appropriate and often necessary but should remain GESTURES
– not become our overall posture.
There are two basic ways we present ourselves to the world as believers: gestures and postures.
Gestures are the things we do, and postures are the way we carry ourselves.

We have creatives and individuals that have great ideas but not all are able to bridge their ideas with the creative end or are able to articulate their ideas either verbally or concretely. It’s like vision and implementation. Most falter in implementation. Then we have some creations that are so radical that the majority is not yet ready to embrace it. Judgment and harsh criticism is often cast. We have these dynamics in nearly every walk of life.

We have those who create exactly what they were asked to do or replicate something already out there that works. They often end up as copy cats. They’ve got the mere skill but often lack depth. We end up with results that may look pleasing to the eye but are usually temporary, unoriginal, generic, and lifeless. Those who copy well are able to improve upon the original. I think that’s a mode of inspiration. But most of the stuff that we have out there are merely imitations whether it’s a product (i.e. the ipod vs the zune) or companies (pepsi vs coke). How about churches, and even people? They promise something different. Something better. There are subtle differences and we do need many different choices of which to choose from even though in the end it’s all pretty much the same. That’s a very utilitarian view. The difference in what matters then is the experience and the value. OK that’s enough of that. Let’s get back to the need of creatives in the church.

Working With Creatives in the Church
Leaders should include creatives right from the start or at least begin to find out who they are in their congregations. I understand that generally it can be difficult to work with creatives who tend to be non-linear out of the box thinkers, idealistic and emotive especially when most church leaders are very linear thinkers, results driven and often lack the ability to communicate what they want in the creative sense. You’ll hear it’s too dangerous, ridiculous or impractical. There’s bound to be conflict. That’s ok. Messy but ok. Nobody likes messy whereas artists tend to dwell or get stuck there. For many leaders this type of conflict can be viewed as roadblocks to getting results. It could just be God’s way of refinement for our lives and shaping our character. However, quite often leaders are more interested in a working and results driven manufacturing process rather than deal with the risk of creation. It’s like a paint by numbers set versus a blank canvas. In some of the ways we do church we churn out people like a paint by numbers set. Life and community is much more organic.


Asian American Leadership Conference Announced

just a heads up. MESA (Ministry for English Speaking Asians) announced recently the 2nd Asian American Leadership Conference for 2008 in LA. the last one was back in 2004. there’s not a whole lotta details on the site but i’m looking forward to what may come about from this conference.


the Q event

i’m completely sad about missing out on the Q event in atlanta, georgia. it’s quite a unique undertaking from the minds behind catalyst. i would be there but alas it is my wedding anniversary.

djchuang is liveblogging the event and is doing an incredible job catching the voices for change.

with hip hop being under fire lately (imus, al sharpton, nytimes, wsj, oprah, russell simmons) i appreciate jeff johnson (BET producer) and his take on hip hop as an authentic voice and vital creative force

tired of talking about Imus? Imus wasn’t really the issue.. small piece of the issue of race.. in America, people are racist.. we speak of multicultural churches, because we just love Jesus.. [as if] Jesus wouldn’t see our color, our ethnicity..

we become like those people who excuse race and ethnicity.. they’re racist but they love Michael Jordan.. b/c he’s just a great basketball player.. they’re racist, but they love Condi Rice..

desensitized to racist messages, whether they’re really racist or not.. Russell [Simmons] doesn’t care about the language being used, he cares about being paid.. there are those in this room that know absolutely nothing about hip-hop..

“G-unit” scrawled on a wall in Liberia(?).. people know this around the world even in places that don’t have BET or MTV.. in China, I’ve seen B-boys and B-girls (that is, breakdancers) better than those in New York.. hip hop has infiltrated cultures that have had nothing to do with the forming of the art form..

hooking up 2 turntables.. was the beginning of hip hop.. change the feel and atmosphere in a room.. those who were disenfranchised.. thus, they had no voice.. hip hop became that voice.. the voice of music..

instead of fighting with chains.. battle thru breakdancing.. slow evolution of this culture…

worst thing that happened to hip hop is someone figured out that they could make money with this.. people would buy it.. this destroyed hip hop.. no longer is it a voice of the disenfranchised.. now it is about selling urban American imagery to the rest of the world..

juxtapose this with the first post-soul generation.. no one went to church.. 40 yr grandmothers go kickin’ it with granddaughter to the club.. complete disconnected from church, but connected to the club… the church should be on the front of dealing with racism, and punks out.. we need to speak prophetically.. when does that conversation take place?

hip hop is relevant to this discussion for 1 reason.. because it has been able to transcent ethnic and cultural communities.. in a way that Black, Latino, and Asians can come together, without shedding our culture… what brings up together is b/c we love Jay-Z..

so many times I’ve seen urban ministry is just suburban ministry with black face..

“I am us.” that’s what hip hop does..


crisis of leadership part ii

i had previously posted about the crisis of leadership that the immigrant church faces with regards to losing second gen leaders. i think this article orginally published in the gospel herald (from the L2 foundation blog) a month before the la times article spells out the real crisis of leadership. while the recent article points to the dearth of new leaders, the gospel herald article calls the immigrant church out. i very much appreciate rev. jeffrey lee of gointnl beckoning first gen leaders to be humble and support the second gen to serve God.

Furthermore, first generation church leaders tend to have unreasonablely high expectation for the second generation ministers. Due to language barrier, the first generation church leaders cannot communicate well with them to point out their problems and give guidance. Church members also do not respect the young leaders very well.

Lee suggested that understanding of other church members and mentorship by the senior first generation church leaders are the two important keys to resolve conflicts.

Parents should be able to appreciate the heart of serving of these young second generation ministers, teaching their children to learn to love God from the role model, Lee said. First generation church leaders must understand that the second generation ministers grow up in a very different culture. and try to adapt to their ways of doing things. They must also embrace the insufficiencies of the young ministers.

Lee explained how mentorship is important to support second generation ministers. First generation church leaders and members must take imitative to show concern to them. Building up a close mentorship network enhances communication so that they can understand each other better and to avoid conflicts. Young ministers can also receive guidance and advices.

“Chinese churches with dominantly first generation immigrants should become humble and support the second generations to serve God. By fulfilling God’s will, we glorify God and benefit many people on this world. The number of second generations that are willing to dedicate in serving is very few, so they are very precious. We must encourage them, understand them with patience, so that they can keep their heart firm to love God and serve God,” Lee concluded.

i had commented on the L2 Foundation blog with this:
This is the real crisis of leadership. I’m thankful Rev. Lee beckons first gen leaders to become humble and support second gen leaders to serve God. Isn’t humility is a must for pastoral leadership regardless of generation? The opinions that each generation have of each other must change. However, second generation leaders often by default are stuck in the position of having to earn trust because they are considered young. Trust is pivotal for church leadership and growth. Whether it’s the first or second generation someone has to make the first move towards a real relationship. I think many times it feels unnatural for young second gen leaders to take the lead to go to first gen leaders in pursuit of building a relationship and make things work. This context of ministry is usually one of severe perseverence, not just for facing the refular demands of ministry but having to face this tension. While God does refine young leaders through that process, I don’t think it’s healthy. It is a failure of leadership and responsible discipleship. We need first gen leaders to be like loving fathers who don’t just tell us what to do but look upon us with eyes full of grace and trust that the Gospel is able to change us.

young leaders struggle with which direction to move in. stay or go?
i think it boils down to an issue of leadership. it’s a personal crisis of leadership. it puts in view the leadership of the immigrant church. is there room to lead? how do we lead?

paul chou shares his view to encourage young leaders on a previous entry in the L2 Foundation blog:

I constantly pray for them with the hope that they would step and start to consider to “plant or to start NEW Asian American churches” to serve their generation. Why continue to manage “pain” and “frustration”?

please chime in.


crisis of leadership

check out this timely and recently published la times article on, asian american churches facing a crisis of leadership.

the outlook for the immigrant church, or at least the Chinese immigrant church does appear to be pretty dismal to many. i think the problems are much more complex than we realize. i won’t reveal any more feelings or thoughts just yet.

Asian American churches are going through a “crisis of leadership” because seminaries are not preparing a new generation of pastors to work in multi-generational and multicultural settings, Asian American Christian leaders say.

Pastors, seminary professors and lay leaders said at the session and in later interviews that generational schisms in Asian American churches are causing clergy attrition and turnover among pastors born or reared in the United States. Some young pastors experience so much frustration that they start their own English-speaking, pan-Asian churches. Others become so disillusioned that they leave the ministry, experts said.

also see: peter ong‘s article, exit wounds, a nice followup to helen lee’s landmark article in christianity today a decade ago, “the silent exodus”


personal tempering ::.

i spent the holiday weekend at a leaders forum in chi-town interacting face to face, mano-a-mano with high-level leaders across a spectrum of fields. i am truly humbled. and yes, i finally got to meet DJChuang. the man is real. (thanks dj!) i learned new dimensions in leadership and the larger asian-american church. modeled for me was an unconditional positive regard for others, the importance of embracing those we interact with. they embraced me in my foolishness and immaturity and pointed me to act with moral courage. now that classes begin again, here’s wisdom from my new hero and friend to start this academic year with:

“Classes will test your mind, but life will test your very self, Let no one violate integrity on your watch.”
Gus Lee

forging ahead ::.
i watched the us open during my last days in my visit to chi-town. increasingly, i am fascinated by this incredible competition of talent and skill. one of the reasons i admire athletes so much is the amount of effort taken to fine tune their bodies to make them faster and more accurate. they are forged. the athletes i believe we all love deepest are those who are not just highly talented but those we know to have put in hours upon hours of that fine tuning, what we may call practice. players like jordan, or even more recently, the olympians we cheered for in athens.

having talent and a hard work ethic truly goes a long way. great talent alone only gets you so far. time and strenuous effort as well as heart are necessary ingredients to achieve high goals. i am reminded of anna kournikova. she had great talent. she worked hard enough to get into the professional tennis circuit. however, she did not put in the time, effort and heart to win any tournaments. she got sidetracked with being a pretty face in the sport.

now, i think the same goes for those of us in the church. we go by the name Christian but in practice our muscles have not been accustomed to the forging process. many Christians are missing out on living fully because it takes sweat and often, times of discomfort. what keeps us from moving ahead, and becoming whole in our self and in our relationships? — fear, we lack the courage to move forward. the forgery is a hot place.

“I’ve been taking all these philosphy courses, and we talk about what’s true, what’s important, what’s good. Well, how do you teach people to be good?” And, she added, “what’s the point of knowing good if you don’t keep trying to become a good person?” (a frustrated student asks in the divine conspiracy 4)

there are so many extremely gifted and talented individuals in the chruch body. i am now thinking of those who are particularly called to be pastors and teachers among others. leaders. i know many young leaders who rely heavily on talent or their call. there is just average disciplined study of scripture, or excellence in other matters, doing enough just to get by. they are full of ideas. ideas are powerful and often mislead those who listen. there are ingredients missing in the forging process. i am not simply talking about performance. too much emphasis is placed on that. asian-americans know all about that. i’m talking about the process.

some living truths :: the fear of the lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding (job 28:28). let the word of Christ dwell richly in you as you engage one another (col 3:16) meditate and uphold the ways of God (ps 119). know that persecution and defending the truth test us (james 1:3), our faith and living hope sustain us (heb 11:1) and that faith needs actions (james 2:17). celebrate transformational living – becoming wholly mature children of God together (eph 4:13).

[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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