I have a lot of thoughts going through my brain right now, and chances are very few of them are going to get out. As usual, Dave spurred on a lot of them. Has everyone been noticing the titles (I mean the title bar on Netscape) of his thought pages? They are hilarious, if you understand them. Well not hilarious, but interesting.
I saw Susan… what’s her last name? I can’t remember at all. But she has been (at least I thought) teaching English with Dave in Korea, but she was at KCPC yesterday. I thought about asking her how Dave is, but then I remembered that I have not spoken a word to her in my life. It is very strange. I mean, I am pretty sure that we know who we are, and we’ve probably had to refer to each other to other people before. I have probably even asked people how Susan is doing before. And yet I have never spoken a word to her. So I didn’t yesterday either. But what I really wanted to ask was, have you fallen in love with David Hong yet? Ooh – gotta stay away from that 5%. Oh well.
Second thing is, you can never ever use Keren Ji as an example of anything. That is, she’s was not a typical socal girl, not a typical girl, not a typical grad student, not a typical anything. She was pretty much remarkable in every way, so it is improper to cite her as an example for anything. Maybe I’m just wussing out but I don’t think anyone can be like her, least of all me.
Next thing is that while David is somewhat correct about the parachurch church thing, he is also incorrect. The biggest thing is looking at our class as an example. Here are the people from my class that are still at KCPC: Me, Dave Choi, Ben Hur, Phil Kim, Lucy Liew, Connie Chung, Nari Cho, Harry Chang, Peter Chung, David Kwon, Frank Na, Frank Kim, Jang Bae, Peter Nam, Arthur Kim, Hyunsoo Ra, even bus driver Jason came back. I don’t think anyone left that stayed around the Bay Area except for Terry Fu. But I don’t really know my class that well so I can’t totally say. But most of them stayed. The point is, that’s possible, whereas at a parachurch that is impossible, unless you want to totally be a loser.
3 things happened yesterday, all of which were significant. The first was our church general meeting, which was mostly about the new church building. I’ll save thoughts on church for later.
After church me and Jieun had dinner with this girl we met named Kumiko. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned her before but I think I will. Jieun came with me to my relatives’ place for Thanksgiving (bold) and we met a friend of my cousins (my cousins are almost never my cousins; they are either my dad’s cousins or my mom’s cousins, as they are both the firstborn of the firstborn of their respective families. But it’s just more natural to refer to all of them, like Julie Chai, Susan Cho Van Riesen, and Ann Kim[!] as cousins). He’s in massage school in the city, and his classmate that he invited is Kumiko. Anyway, Jieun is taking Japanese so they hit it off really well, and they’ve kind of been keeping in touch.
So, you know, we invited her to church but that hasn’t worked out, but Jieun sent her a Japanese Bible and we’ll see what happens. I think we (or at least I) just want to get to know her, no pressure or anything, just for it’s own sake. Anyway, she lives in the city, near Japantown, so we went up there after church for dinner. It was great.
The greatest thing about conversations with her, both at Thanksgiving and last night, is her perspective on things. So in Japan, you know, the family always stays together. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the other thing is that people get married, I think, a lot later than in America. On the average. So those two things together make it weird. So like, she is what, 26? She has two older brothers, maybe 27 and 29, and they’re both not married, and both not wanting to right now, neither is she, and they all live at home. Isn’t that strange? But I guess that’s normal in Japan. You’d almost never see it in America, though.
So the topic of religion of course came up and I learned something a little bit frightening. You remember that cult? The one that released like poison in the Tokyo subways. Well I always thought that you know, it was pretty small, but Kumiko says that they’re actually a pretty big group. That really frightened me.
Anyway, she was very impressed that we went to church every week. She kept saying, every single week? That’s like every 7 days! It impressed her. I thought that was interesting.
Anyway, dinner last night was good. I don’t want to say too much about it, though. What encourages me is how God just always puts people in your life through circumstances that you might never have anticipated.
Dinner ended pretty late, so I wasn’t able to attend this shindig that was happening so instead we caught a late show of Shakespeare in Love. I just have to say that I was thoroughly entertained. The best thing about this movie is the language. I don’t think people realize this but I am really a fuzzy at heart. Like, I love words, I like to read, I’m into Philosophy, music, all that crap. I mean, how much more fuzzy can you get? The thing is I am analytical, so it’s kind of a strange combo. Basically, I’m a perfect balance, but you’ll never hear me say that because it sounds too cocky, as true as it may be. Ha.
Anyway, this movie has the dopest dialogue of maybe any movie I have ever seen. I love great dialogue. Emma also had good dialogue. As of course did Casablanca. I also like the dialogue in some other movies that people might not agree with, though. Like Shawshank and Dragon, the Bruce Lee story. “Water. It can fill any container. But it can penetrate rock. Be like water.” At any rate, yeah, it had some amazing, amazing language. And it brought out the meaning of Shakespeare so much it really impressed me. Honestly, it made me want to go out and study Shakespeare more. And go be a writer, just study how words go together. Anyway, I was thoroughly entertained.
Okay, I guess I’ll talk about church now. If you don’t want to be stumbled, you had better leave now. Just kidding. Well maybe. I don’t even know what I’m going to say yet so whatever.
So yesterday we had our general assembly meeting. And it made me think a lot about church and stuff in general. First of all, I am very glad that Pastor Ryan was doing the translation. He was seriously hilarious. Oh here’s what happened – they used these wireless receivers, so you could listen to the translation on headphones. Pastor Ryan was doing the translation and he was killing me. He actually said during the proceedings, “It’s almost like watching a soap opera, isn’t it?” Very funny man.
Oh wait, something just came into my mind. You know that they postponed Urbana by a year, right? It’s supposed to be in ’99, but they postponed it a year. I found out from Susan why that was. It’s because of Y2K. As you know, Urbana lasts until New Years Day, so it would coincide with the calendar changing to 2000, which is supposed to be accompanied by possible widespread disaster, including power grid failure, pestilence, and disease. Not that the organizers were worried about it, they just found that many churches would not allow their people to go because they were worried about it. So they postponed it a year. So now you know.
Anyway, my problem with church is that I know beyond a doubt that I’m not going to stay at KCPC long term. The thing is, I hate feeling that way. The reason I’m not leaving now is because I just don’t believe in leaving on bad terms, or at least not trying to change things for the better, you know? So my feeling right now is that I’ll be there for a while, to make the changes that I personally think would be beneficial and necessary, but I’m not gonna be there forever because there’s just too much structurally with it that’s wrong.
Here’s one big thing. I realized at the meeting yesterday that the Korean elders make all the decisions for the EM. And that just totally sucks. For a lot of reasons. The thing is, I know that they always mean the best, the problem is, they just don’t understand our situation at all so they are never in a position to make the most well informed, good decision for us. And that’s a huge thing. I’m very much a believer in autonomy for the EM. In fact, most of my thoughts on the 2nd generation church can be encapsuled in Ken Fong’s seminar at Urbana. That is exactly how I feel, and honestly, anything else will just suffer.
So that elder thing is huge for me. In fact, the structure of KCPC has been set up so much that the EM is just totally under the Korean congregation. That just totally sucks. But whatever.
Here’s another thing I think, though. I think that the members of the EM deserve very little say in what happens with the building. I say this because we’re not paying for it at all! All the offering information came out yesterday and I realized that the EM contributes almost nothing financially to the church and that really, the Korean congregation supports us totally. So I am grateful for that. As much gripes as we might have with the Korean congregation, I personally at least have to remain grateful that they remain a congregation that is willing to support the EM financially. Like paying most of the pastor’s salaries and stuff. I think there are few congregations that would be willing to support a college group like that, because a college group is one big financial suck. But I digress.
Anyway, another thing that came up yesterday is that the size of the EM shrank last year. Not that numbers matter, but this was sad to me. Because the numbers shrinking is indicative of something else to me. This is the biggest thing that Ken Fong said that stuck with me in his seminar. It was this – if a church isn’t reaching, all it’s doing is trying to keep people from leaving, and that’s basically a dead church. Anyway, the problem with most 2nd generation churches is that all they’re trying to do is keep people from leaving the church, and I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. We’re actually working through this issue with our Bible study group. It’s like, do we want to limit it and concentrate on building up believers? Or do we want to evangelize through it? I think we realized last week that you can’t differentiate like that, but you always have to be reaching, in some sense, or the group will be dead. So that’s my feelings on that.
At any rate, KCPC isn’t reaching, it’s whole philosophy is about keeping people from leaving and that’s why it’s dead. Ouch. I mean that, though. Just structurally, that seems to be the intent. This bothers me to no end. OK, maybe that isn’t fair. I’m writing this because I’m afraid that Daniel will show this to Pastor Eugene, or even worse, that he’ll read it himself. Oh well. I can get excommunicated.
Maybe I shouldn’t say structurally, but there are things that bother me about it. But I shouldn’t say structurally because I was specifically encouraged by Pastor Eugene on 2 or 3 occassions last year when he went out of his way to say that we need to be a more welcoming church. It was so very uplifting to hear that from a pastor. But I haven’t heard Pastor Eugene speak in like forever. But I digress.
Anyway, every church needs a vision or else it just runs on inertia, but running on inertia is just keeping things going, not reaching, if that makes any sense. I just don’t believe that you can do that, just run on the mentality that we should keep things going the way they are. To me, you just gotta constantly question and change the things you are doing to make sure they are in line with the vision of the church. And it’s not like the vision has to be some huge thing, like we are going to saturate the Bay Area with Biblical Christianity, although that’s cool too. But it’s gotta be something. And the thing is that our church’s (yes I do mean our church because it’s my church and I’m proud to be a part of it) problem is that it doesn’t seem to be well articulated in any way.
If there is a philosophy, it seems to me (although I may be wrong) that we just want to keep people from leaving, in general. We grab freshmen, then we want to keep them from leaving. We want to keep things going so people don’t leave. It’s the same with the YAG group too, I think. And that’s just the wrong philosophy to have. So is doing everything to continue doing it.
Anyway, there are tons of things I would change about KCPC. But hey I’m just a peon. More importantly, it’s not like I demand that my will be done, but I’ll willing to follow whatever the leaders do regardless of whether I agree. I interviewed Phil Sung for the word but it hasn’t been published or antyhing, but one thing he said gave me a lot of insight. He was just saying how hard it is, because everyone has an idea of how things should be, and everyone tells him, and no one is totally happy about it. That just sucks for him, and any leader, I guess. So the best thing for us I guess is to voice our views but be happy with whatever happens, I guess. Or at least with what is decided. So that’s my take on KCPC leadership. I just haven’t voiced my views really. I don’t even know if I can. Whatever.
But I would change things. Here’s one thing I would do. I would split up the Friday YAG meeting at church. Just ditch it, and instead form groups that meet in people’s homes on Friday nights, based on geography. If this sounds kind of like a cell church idea that’s because it is. It’s the way to go, baby. Anyway, I think the reason Friday night meetings continue is because of the legacy thing. It’s just always been done. I think maybe Pastor Dave was big on it too. Definitely the old guard was. On how important it was to meet altogether at church. It is totally unequivocably lame, though. I mean, it’s cool if you want to never be reaching. But it’s retarded in general. What is the idea, anyway? That’s it’s important to be a unified YAG? I don’t know. I think this unity thing in general can be overdone. I just dislike it a lot when “unity” is pursued to no end and in the end what happens is the strong or involved members of the individual groups are unified but it comes at the expense of maybe other people in each group. There are more important things than a show of unity, because I mean, hey, we’re already unified in Christ. We shouldn’t sacrifice things just for the show.
I’m getting controversial here but who cares these are my own heretical thoughts not yours. Anyway, I think the interfellowship class retreats at KCPC aren’t really ideal. Just my personal opinion. I just think the interfellowship unity thing may be overemphasized. So you have these things, and some people get to know each other, some well, but these are mainly the more involved people, and they don’t really get to know each other well anyway. So in my mind, it’s mainly for show. I mean, when you come down to it. And they’re always good, but I think they could be better. Because the thing about these retreats is that they’re always a little bit uncomfortable, because people will never know each other. And that uncomfortability limits things. Here’s one small example. When everyone’s uncomfortable, it’s impossible, or at least a lot harder, to make someone who’s kind of new more comfortable. The best situation is when it’s a group of people who are comfortable with just a handful of newer people, because then those comfortable people are best able to ease the new people, because they already have that comfort level with others. This is big for me because in my mind it’s always gotta be about reaching someone. Even if whom you’re reaching is someone who’s in the fellowship, just isn’t totally at home there, you know? Of which there are a lot of in FiCS. People we gotta reach like that. Anyway, it bothers me that the retreats are set up so that it’s hard to make people like this welcome and comfortable. I would much rather keep it within each fellowship if it meant – 1) it would be easier to get less involved people to come and feel comfortable and 2) this general comfortability would allow us to get more out of a retreat. Because comfort is a good thing. Anyway, that’s my thoughts on that. The only exception to what I’ve said is when the group who’s comfortable with each other is me Henry or Dave, because I’ve seen that the comfort of any combination of us comes at the expense of the comfort of others, most notably Linnea Kim, who so often when me and Dave are being dorks wants to laugh but can’t because she uncomfortably perplexed by us.
Anyway, so that’s the unity thing applied to classes in KCPC. Just in general, I don’t like pursuing “unity” when it may come at the expense of the strength of the group, and like I said, I think class retreats can do that. Of course, the funny thing is, I have loved my interfellowship class retreats immeasurably, and am so so grateful for them. Kind of strange, huh. Maybe even hypocritical. I guess what it means is that I don’t have everything figured out, I just have feelings about things. Which is why, in general, you shouldn’t listen to me. A lesson which has led to the prosperity of most of my friends.
One thing I do think that was different about my class though is that we actually did achieve a level of comfort, so it didn’t become just a show of unity, but real unity, you know, people who are comfortable with each other and don’t get to spend a lot of time together hanging out. So it’s different. My bold claim is that no other class besides ours has, or will have, that level of interfellowship comfort. But you know, I say that out of ignorance of other classes so I know I’m probably wrong. But our class had some unique things going for it. One was that FiCB was way way bigger than FiCS, so we had to meet them on their terms, which is a whole lot easier than 2 big groups having to meet each other on some sort of terms. So like, frosh year, you know, Linnea would go to Berkeley from time to time and got to know some people, in particular Nari, pretty well. The big thing I think was our class worship team. I mean, we got to be real friends, and we would visit each other on various occassions. It had to be us knowing them because we had to work on their terms, but it happened, and just a few individuals paved the way for others. So meeting them on their terms I think made things easier. And that’s never gonna happen again. So ditch class retreats the way they are. My bold claim.
Anyway, that unity thing shows itself in the YAG, like, if we broke off we wouldn’t be unified anymore or something. My claim is that there are more important things than this show of unity, and I think these more important things would be achieved if we had area based groups meet on Fridays. One, it would be a lot easier for people to go, because it wouldn’t be a long drive, but you know, you’d go to someone’s place that was nearby. Sure, it would be better if we could all meet together, but it would be better if splitting up meant people who are less inclined to go would come. Reaching. Also, small groups are just better for getting to know people. You gotta start with little steps, and it’s better for small groups to get to know each other first than trying to have the whole YAG know each other. And it’s really hard to get to know someone from your Bible study although it’s small, because it’s once a week. OK so now you’re saying how would these Friday night meeting be any different from Sunday Bible studies, since they would also meet just once a week? The key is that they would be location based. So although you would only meet once a week, once you got to know each other, you could hang out other than then, because they all live relatively close by. And organizing group activities is a whole lot easier too, because again, everyone lives close by. Location is the key. I mean with my Bible study, am I ever going to get to hang out with Peter Chung, who lives in Berkeley? That’s just a really hard thing to do. Which is why location based Friday night groups would be so much better.
Anyway, another big thing is that the YAG group acts like it’s subservient to college group. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that the YAG I think sometimes has a college ministry oriented mindset to a situation that’s really different. The big thing is that the vision has got to be more long term, because that’s the way YAG is. It’s more long term than college group. I think this is related to the above, because thinking that people won’t get to know each other if we don’t have a Friday night service at church is really short sided and more college-oriented. I mean, yeah, for college, I think that’s cool and important, because there’s not that much time. But YAG is so different. First because we don’t have small groups that allow us to get to know each other as a first outlet. But I do believe it will happen given time, so we gotta look long term, what is best. And I really believe if we met in area groups on Fridays, that would be best. We get more interaction, more personal fellowship, a lot of things. So I feel sometimes like we think like a college group, not as a church. I mean, how do big churches get to know each other without a unified Friday service? I mean, it happens, with time. And it will happen with YAG too, with time, so ditch the Friday service, divide it into groups by area: SF city, Berkeley, Oakland, North Bay, Peninsula, maybe even a South Bay? This just makes a whole lot more sense to me.
It would take some more work, because then Pastor Ryan has got to meet regularly with the leaders of each house church, and visit a different one every week, but I’m sure he’d be up to it if it lead to a stronger group. And I think it would. I’m so big on this idea. And maybe no one will know about it except you, my faithful readers. teehee :9
So that’s the biggest thing I would do with the YAG. And that’s actually related to college group. OK, the lamest thing KCPC does is force people to leave the college group, even if they’re out of college. I don’t know any other group that does that. And here’s the reason why we do that. It’s because people don’t want to join YAG and will do everything to avoid it. So the YAG doesn’t get good people to come. So KCPC (us) kicks them out of college group so they have to come. That is totally the wrong approach. It should be looking in the other direction – instead of making people go so YAG gets better, you gotta make YAG more attractive so people will want to go. I believe house churches would be great for YAG. And that would make people want to come to YAG. So there would be no need to kick people out anymore. In my view, you should let people be in the college group as long as they want, as long as they are in college. It just makes more sense, because, I mean, they’re in college, so they should be in a college group, pure and simple. If they’re out of college that’s something else, but yeah.
Which is related to grad students. See how it all comes together? But it all starts with YAG. Anyway, grad students are in a strange position, because they’re not exactly college, but not exactly YAGish either. So here’s what I think about that. Like I said, if people want to be in the college group, let them. And for a lot of grad students, it makes the most sense. I mean, you’re on campus, you’re taking classes and all that; it just makes a whole lot more sense to build relationships here than anything else.
But it doesn’t make sense for all grad students. But it’s good for grad students to be with each other sometimes. And having Friday night house churches facilitates this, because then you can just have a group that’s composed of grad students. This is preferable to how it is now because it doesn’t put them in limbo with the church. Like now, do grad students go to YAG? That doesn’t totally make sense, because we’re on campus and everything. But it’s kind of strange how we just go to FiCS. Because that’s not officially what the church would want, I guess. But with a house church, there’s no more limbo. That church is where our church (KCPC) wants them, so it’s cool. And if they want to be involved with the college group, that’s cool too, because we wouldn’t keep anyone from doing that anymore. Anyway, I think it all makes sense but it’s just my opinion.
There’s so many other things I would change, also; some of them small. One is that stupid offering time. It’s just way too much uncomfortable time. We’ve got to fill it with something. I mean, no other church I’ve been to has a time like that, where everyone just kind of sits there and nothing else goes on. I see a couple options. Either sing one of the hymns during that time, or have special praise consistently. Or switch off. I mean, that’s what other churches do. But to me that long doing nothing time is ludicrous.
Eliminate one of the hymns. The reason I think we sing hymns is because it links us to the Christian body throughout the world. Hymns are one of the common things that link believers worldwide, and for this reason it’s good to know them. Plus it links us with tradition, which is also good. So it’s good to sing hymns. The thing is, have you noticed how different it is at church when we sing hymns versus contemporary songs? During beginning praise, people are into it, closing their eyes, hopefully feeling the weight of the words. With the hymns, honestly so very few people are into it. Not that no one is, but just few. And it’s worse when the hymn is unfamiliar. Then no one is into it at all. Sometimes we’ll sing a strange hymn and we just come across a bold line, and I just go whoa and sometimes look around to see if anyone got the same response at all. And usually not. My bold claim is that people when singing hymns just sing the words but don’t think about it at all, especially because the music is so regular and repetitive. So many people say how hymn lyrics are so much better. But that’s meaningless because most of the time, no one thinks about the lyrics during the hymns.
The strangest thing is, when we sing hymns during praise time, people are way more into it. This is a judgment call, but it’s what I feel. Seriously, people are just way more into it than during service. So it’s obviously not the hymn itself that’s boring but the way we insist on doing it, with a boring piano that often plays the 2 argh you don’t do that with hymns. By the way, Pastor Dave had wanted worship team to play during hymn time. He didn’t feel the need to stubbornly just have piano and he wanted us to spice things up. So why do we sing hymns during service that way? It’s inertia, baby. And it’s bad. We always need to question everything. We do it just because we’ve always done it. So we gotta think about why we do it. And if it’s for the reason I stated above, we have to reconsider it, I think. Either don’t make it just the boring piano (i.e. let me play) or just eliminate it, at least one. Because the need for it is lessened because we sing hymns during praise time frequently. So get rid of it. I’m sure there may be other reasons for why we must sing hymns the way we do in service, and not anything else, any other way, but I don’t know it. So get rid of it. Why not sing a praise song? It would help us “prepare our hearts for the message” more, I think. My claim.
Are you with me on the hymns during praise vs. hymns during service dichotomy? Is it just in my head?
Reinstate coffee fellowship. Dave will hate me for this. But I honestly think that a time just to talk with people you haven’t seen all week is an important time at church, and I’ve noticed it more this year since we haven’t had it. Anyway, we gotta figure out a way to make newcomers more welcome in any case, not just ditch coffee fellowship.
Anyway, like I said, I’ve got a lot of ideas about what I want to see in a church. The only thing that holds me back is I haven’t found a pastor in the Bay Area that shares the same vision, that’s in a position to be able to do so. That is, has the vision and the Korean church he’s involved with has the same vision. So here’s the crazy thing that’s been going through my mind, having talked with John Yoon a little bit. We don’t need a pastor. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us, you know, a group of friends, just started a church? I mean, we all know each other, so there’s a level of trust that would enable us to work well ministry-wise. And my guess is a good number of us share similar visions. If you don’t, I’m sure I could conform you to mine because it’s the right one. Just kidding. But yeah, that’s how a lot of churches form. So let’s do it. Let’s form a church. What do you say?