Archive for November, 2009

The glory of man

“They will come to you.”

A phrase that I have now heard from two men that gives me great encouragement and much hope. It calms my fears and gives me peace. It keeps me moving forward and helps me step back from my routine, a routine that often has me feeling insignificant and ineffective. It turns my eyes away from seeking present satisfaction and points it to future reward. A ministry, a friend, a promise…all in one.

Small business, small church 2

I was thinking more about the small business, small church analogy I mentioned a couple entries ago. I’ve been thinking about some new aspects of it, based on things I’ve learned recently.

It started out with a reflection on the big picture of the work I’m doing in my job. I’m doing what Jake used to spend a lot of time doing: paperwork with regard to daily business operations. Sometimes he would get snarled unexpectedly and a tiny mistake in data entry would cost hours of time. But now that I’m taking care of that, it has enabled Jake to concentrate his efforts on working out details for business development: thinking about how to expand our customer base and advertise beyond word-of-mouth, how to work out business deals with other companies, how to make operations more efficient now and more scalable for the future. I began to see, even if sometimes I am bored or feel like the things I am doing aren’t as “cool” or sophisticated as the things Jake does, I am still contributing in allowing him and other managers to concentrate on other aspects of the business, things that need to be dealt with in order for the company to grow.

I’m beginning to understand in small part how the poverty trap works in countries of extreme poverty, as the economist Jeffrey Sachs writes about. At extreme poverty, everyone is expending their energy and labor just to survive, just to fill their stomachs with food, just for that day that they’re living, that they have no time or energy to put into investing into the future. Even if Jake had all these plans for how to take the business to new heights (which he probably did), there was just no time for him to work on them, having to deal with all the annoying invoices and bills and bank reconciliations. But now that I can do it, he is free. Sachs mentions the kick start that the extreme poor need in order to escape the poverty trap. They need external monetary aid so they can stop worrying about just “getting by.”

There is a kind of trap like this at my church, I think. I feel like my work at church is only subsistence. I want so much to be free to do more than that. And based on the knowledge I’ve gained about my personality and spiritual gifts through handling my current responsibilities, I would even prefer to be the guy that does the grunt work and does it consistently so that another person can be free to do the visioneering.

A business needs capital to start something new. New ventures will require funding and float time until they get up and running enough to sustain themselves and produce a return on their original investment. Although the analogy isn’t perfect, the members of a church are like investors. The church needs their financial support to exist and to expand. In our case, expansion would be getting a full-time EM pastor. But there is a vicious cycle at work. Right now, there aren’t enough people in the KM and not enough giving to support a full-time pastor. And not having an established EM may be turning away seekers who are looking for a church that can take care of their kids (I could write another entry on how I hate that Korean parents expect the church to raise their kids for them). And so, we’re stuck, because if there are fewer people, there’s less giving, and there’s no pastor. If there’s no pastor, there are fewer people, which means less giving.

Do you see how the same cycle could apply, but in the positive respect for big churches? People are drawn to the bigger churches because they have more ministries and resources and because they are more established in their leadership. Reality LA is exploding right now, so much so that Pastor Tim Chaddick wants the church to stop growing so fast. Even though his preaching can be pretty intense and confrontational, and even though only a tiny percentage of the attendees tithe regularly, there is a solid core foundation of leadership that allows for vision building (from what I understand, at least). Bigger churches get bigger, and smaller churches get smaller. Rich countries get richer, and poor countries get poorer. It’s a sad reality.

One random bit I want to write about is that the more time I spend at my job, the more I realize how little street smarts I have. If I think long, I can come up with many specific examples, but this is getting long as it is. I know a lot of the knowledge some of my friends have is because they learned it from their upbringing. I don’t regret my upbringing, but when I compare it to kids who had parents in professional careers or blue-collar jobs or whose parents owned restaurants, I am lacking. But I have a knowledge that not many people have. The knowledge that I have from growing up as a pastor’s kid at a small church has given me a perspective that not many people know or understand. And I think it’s also something that a lot of Christians don’t appreciate. I think that’s why my blog has taken the direction that it has since I started it…because I feel like so many people are ignorant about the particular burdens that PKs (Korean American PKs?) face. Maybe a lot of PKs themselves don’t really know either, or at least how to get people to understand it. For me, it goes much deeper than the typical PK church drama. It was never drama for me. It was something else. I hope those who have kept up with this blog have a better sense of that now.

Much to learn…

Keep on writing

I felt rested yesterday for church, and it made such a difference. My prayers were more focused, my sermon wasn’t so disjointed, even my voice seemed “better” in singing and in projecting as I read and gave the message. I felt “in” it, rather than out of it. Such a difference from last week. I don’t care if people think I’m weird for sleeping early…it makes my life so much better. Better in a non-selfish, objective way. I actually feel like I am honoring God by getting good sleep, haha.

A few things I’ve been thinking about. Bullet-style this time. Many of these aren’t new, but it’s always good to write them down.

  • On weeknights and weekends – I wish could “have nothing to do” after work so I could take up other ministry opportunities besides preparing a message. I want to try something new and meet new people so that I can have opportunities to evangelize. But then I think, would I really take those opportunities? And my conclusion is: got to be faithful with my responsibilities now. Sometimes you have to state the obvious, as retarded as it makes you sound: the church is still a ministry. It sounds ridiculous to have to remind myself that, but it’s true. I just hope that soon we can actually have unbelievers to minister to. Hahahaha, and now I just realized that yes, there are unbelievers here…the PKs who’ve been coming for so long. It’s just that maybe it’s time to move on and put our energy to the plentiful harvest awaiting outside the church walls.
  • Wish I could have a dedicated group of servant leaders that have vision for other areas and can labor with me. Wish there could be someone to think of how to engage the elementary school boys more and someone else to think of how to engage the fob high schoolers more. Wish there could be more people with cars so that rides aren’t a problem. Wish there could be someone to think of ways to reach out to the community. Wish someone could think of something we could do for Thanksgiving and Christmas and lead it (because I don’t really have the motivation or energy to do so). Wish someone could do the church bulletin for us. Wish there could be a strong, solid sister around to lead in ways I cannot.
  • I am pouring out on Sundays but not being poured into. I’m thankful for all the ways I’ve grown despite not having that big brother at church around, but I would probably learn a lot with one. But I have been learning so much from Jake.
  • I’ve been thinking of how my voice may carry an emotion I do not intend. When I don’t make a conscious effort to articulate my words well (as in pronouncing syllables, not overall expression), I feel like the way my voice slurs might make my responses seem brusque or cold. You can tell so much about a person from the way their voice sounds. You can tell how confident a person is, how humble they are, how obnoxious they are, how kind they are. And sometimes I feel that my voice doesn’t reflect the way I actually am.
  • There are a lot of issues with the Korean American Christian bubble that I wish people would acknowledge. One of them is that, to be blunt, I think many Korean Christians I know need to grow up. The only thing about having this opinion is that it is nearly impossible to find the right time to rebuke and confront about these issues. It will never go over well…and it may cause more problems than fix them. It’s a pride issue. And I suspect that the fact that I am younger might sneak in there and foul things up more than they need to. Instead of seeing truth in it, they resent it. The better way for genuine change to happen, I think, is for people to see their own immaturity and shortcomings as they contrast their own characters with another person with a different perspective, someone not so similar (i.e. someone outside the Korean American subculture), someone who doesn’t have their own “history.” But the main obstacle to this is…the only people we hang out with are other Koreans. How do I write about this without coming across as having the same pride I say I can see in others? How do I write this without seeming like I despise the Korean church? I do not. But the Korean church gets really frustrating at times. We got some serious manning up and womanning up to do…