WAYNEPARK.COM

Pastor, Writer, Contemplative

Archive for Church

How To Survive Church Planting

christ-in-the-storm-rembrandt01

As the hot summer season rolls around here in the suburbs of Houston, and many people take vacations and attendance dwindles at church, I find I have to check myself and maintain equanimity Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Let Justice Roll: Stirring Words to the Christian South From MLK

As a transplant, I have come to love the South, to make it my home, to be my place of mission and residence. Its problems I have adopted as my own. Its issues, mine. Its history… mine too. So I take part Read the rest of this entry »

On Being A Leading Korean Male In A White Christian Culture

I am cheering on Glen from the Walking Dead. (No spoilers, no worries).

Glen gives me hope. In a bigger sense, outside of the show. More in a societal sense. Ten years ago a leading Korean male on any show of TWD’s caliber would be unthinkable. But we saw the beginnings of it with characters like Sun & Jin on Lost:

Now, Glen, played by Steven Yeun, has proven to us a Korean-American leading male is not only feasible in our culture today, but can gain a very strong and loyal following. Of all the characters alive in a show that kills off its characters quite unceremoniously, Glen is repeatedly the one who shows us that people can get quite attached, and can really rally behind the idea of and cheer on a Korean male lead.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but as a Korean-American male, this is encouraging to me. As a Korean-American lead pastor in Houston, TX where most lead pastors are white males, I wonder if I will disappear into the woodwork, go unnoticed, or be relegated to “ethnic church leader” and generally go unnoticed. And it’s not that I’m hungry for attention, but I wonder from time to time if Texas, Houston, my city, my home, society at large, the South… is really ready for somebody like me.

And not as supporting cast either.

The church I am planting has no intention of being an “ethnic” community. I don’t want to be misunderstood a la Hershel as “that oriental pastor.” I want to tap into some of the larger market share around me. I want to be a prophetic voice to a larger culture. I want to plant a church that society recognizes as legit, be a pastor in a legitimately recognized lead role. Is Texas and the South ready?

Well in Glen’s case, Georgia is…

Really, what I am reflecting on is what it means to be a leading Korean male in a white Christian culture. And I think it’s feasible. I think the time is ripe for a church like Woven. That’s why I’ve dedicated the rest of my career to this calling and this place. It makes sense to me. Yes, I think Texas is ready. I think Houston is ready.

So amidst the ups and downs of church planting I am reminded with this thought; am I called? Yes. Am I called to this place for this time? Yes. Is this place ready? I really think, Yes.

Speaking of Faith & Race in Katy, TX…

FILM Oyelowo 091294

This week at Woven Church, we are embarking on a two-week discussion about faith & race thru the lens of Scripture and also the movie Selma. As I’ve lived in Katy TX, a suburb of Houston now for over four years, I’ve just begun to deeply understand the nuances of race and religion in Texas.

While on the one hand it is not as simple as some might believe – there are complex hues to the discussion of race down here – on the other hand, the city I live in falls victim to its own caricatures of what a southern city might be like when it comes to race & ethnicity; for example, nowhere have I seen a city more segregated on Sunday than here in Houston.

Some might think it fighting an uphill battle and swimming upstream to try to plant an intentionally multiethnic church here; what I see is a vast untapped and ignored demographic. I’d say “marginalized” but the notion is not in vogue here.

And I don’t entirely disagree.

Which is why people from ethnic backgrounds should get involved in the discussion about race, and not wait for the dominant culture to start it. We’re only marginalized as far as we stay silent and unengaged; and so this daring and bold attempt to start a discussion about faith and race in Katy and the suburbs of Houston – it might be the start of something… which I hope will better not just this “city of churches” we live in, but the entire community as well.

Celebrating Easter Week in Katy, TX

fortBendcounty

8 months ago, I set out with a group of 30 adults and 20 kids to plant an intentionally multiethnic church in the west suburbs of Houston, in Katy, TX. Why Katy? In the past year, the 77494 zip code has been recognized as THE fastest growing zip code in America. And Fort Bend county has been recognized this past year also as THE most diverse county in America (Fort Bend stretches in the north from Katy / I-10 to the south well through Sugarland, Missouri City, and Sienna Plantation. In the east it includes Fresno and stretches west past Rosenberg and Fulshear. While this may seem like a large geographic spread, it is relatively not. From my days back in the borough of Queens, NY, I don’t think this is that much larger.

Woven Covenant Church meets in the top right quadrant of Fort Bend county, well-within all of this growth and diversity.

When we started this church back in July, it was all I ever hoped for in a church when I moved to Houston over 4 years ago. This is a church I would go to myself, as an attendee, let alone shepherd as a pastor. It is a great privilege to lead this body of couples, families, young adults, children, teens, new infants. What started out as predominantly Asian is making sure strides towards diversity with no one ethnic group more than 80%, and that is shrinking as we draw more and more new folks who are appreciative of the emphasis on diversity.

Diversity for us is not a token word, a political ploy, or marketing strategy. For us it is Gospel. It is the very reason we planted this church in the first place. It is taking “love your neighbor” quite seriously.

This Easter won’t you join us?

We worship at 6161 S. Fry Road, Katy, TX 77494 every Sunday morning at 10:30am. This year our Easter will be especially fun for the kids (bounce castle, egg hunt), we’ll have free food, and will be kicking off a new, stimulating preaching series called GOD on FILM which examines the stories of our culture (on the silver screen) that evoke a significant conversation about faith and spirituality.

See you April 5th!

08THREADS

08Ashandkids

08prayer

08Chan

08comChris

08moreprayer

Looking For A Church In West Houston Suburbs?

woven0009

I’ve had the privilege of starting a new church with a great core group of people this past summer and we’re about to start a new phase in a new meeting location.

But rewinding a bit…

One of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, was just a few months ago – to come out of a safe, ethnic-specific context in order to plant a multiethnic church in a place where it is quite segregated on Sunday. It was a scary decision and I spent many a night counting the cost… literally.

But since then, faith has been blessed with fruit as I am witnessing this beautiful community called Woven take shape. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s high-collaboration, and I am learning to be a servant-leader among so many passionate, involved, gifted young people. (and some oldies like me too :)

I work in what has been called THE MOST diverse and fastest-growing county in America: Fort Bend County, Texas. It is a big-surprise that God is bringing such radical diversity to Texas, but it is true. Bigger than striking oil, we are sharing Jesus with this vast immigrant suburban population by planting one of the first multiethnic churches in the West suburbs of Houston in a town called Katy.

I feel like I am planting a church to give it away to the people. Since we are a suburban and unapologetically yuppie community of professionals who commute downtown, my passion is bringing faith to life for a people trying to bridge the disconnect between faith and the 9 to 5.

So if you are in the Katy area or the West suburbs of Houston, and are looking for a church, look up Woven: We are a church with a multiethnic mission and a missional message for the West suburbs of Houston, TX.

Peace out.

 

Join CAPA (Covenant Asian Pastors Gathering)

As I write this, a thousand pastors and church leaders are making their way back home from their annual trek and pilgrimage to Chicago for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Midwinter Conference. I left a day early to attend to responsibilities back home, but was thoroughly re-invigorated from those responsibilities I had in Chicago, from presenting the recommendations of the Ethnic Commission, to working sessions with the Board of Nominations, to serving as Vice Prez to the newly formed CAPA (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc).

Reporting on the Ethnic Commission

Reporting on the Ethnic Commission

ur very 1st CAPA Gathering (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc )

Our very 1st CAPA Gathering (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc ) serving not only Asian pastors, but pastors serving in Asian contexts

If you are reading this it may be a first exposure to the Covenant, or maybe you’ve been hearing increasingly more and more about it. Its dynamism is not in any secret formula, but that God has blessed a growing diverse ministerium with a collegial spirit of unity.

Unity in diversity. Go figure.

But it works.

And instead of fragmenting the denomination more, we are finding that difference brings us closer together around shared values.

I have to pause here and speak to my own Korean background and an observation I made @ Midwinter; it is visually apparent to me that more and more 2nd gen Korean-American pastors are coming to these meetings inquiringly, attempting to find a home for their “EM” congregations (whether independent or otherwise) and are leaving convinced; I have several friends older than myself who have only just recently discovered the Covenant as a great receiving “container” for their EM churches.

Of course, that leads to a LOT of talking shop in the pub after sessions, a lot of Korean (and other Asian ethnicities as well, pardon my exclusivism here) pastors trying to figure out how to navigate various transitions well, all of which challenging to varying degree; some much further ahead, some only beginning now. I am blessed to be somewhere mid-way, and to have been useful and an encouragement to my colleagues only now beginning the journey of envisioning 2nd gen Korean-planted congregations who are attempting to open up and broaden their mission.

There are more and more of us out there.

And there is a blessedness of a sort of farm-system; the big-league guys, the veterans, to those in the game now stepping up to bat, to the up and comers who are the next season’s superstars (forgive the less-than-perfect analogy here) but the point is, we all hang out. I won’t name-drop here, but we were all there together, and it was freaking awesome.

Greg Yee, our "dai lo."

Greg Yee, “dai lo” to many Asian pastors

So consider this an official invitation to check us out. Give me a shout and I’d be glad to talk shop, help orient you to the Cov, serve you, equip you. I will do my best.

FROM THE ECC PRESIDENT:

A Cord of Three Strands

In just a few days, more than 1,000 Covenant clergy will gather for our Midwinter Conference where we will seek replenishment from God as we worship, learn, laugh, cry, gain vision, and deepen friendships.

One theme I will touch on is the biblical principle of the strength of a cord of three-strands. We will look at those cords through the lens of local church, regional conference, and denomination. As we live committed to one another, seeking the flourishing of all, the mission of God is amplified and Jesus is magnified. Strength is reinforced when strands are intertwined. Of course, intertwining gone wrong is called a knot. It’s important for braiding to be done attentively.

I want to underscore my commitment that the denomination is not a disembodied bureaucracy pejoratively called “Chicago.” Along with your regional conference we seek to serve our churches and unite our churches in service together. All throughout your region, and all over the world, real lives in real places are being touched by the grace and mercy of God. And we know it is happening around the corner from your church as well. And so, for the sake of the world, let’s lace it up, and lace it up well … for the flourishing of all.

Follow ECC president Gary Walter on Twitter @ECCprez

In it together.