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Celebrating 10 Years all through 2018

img_5384-700x475January has been a busy month.  My previous entry included a Vision Kick-Off for Saddleback Church.  I wanted to save a recent blog my friend, DJ, ran across on a national website: Juicy Ecumenism.  It was a friendly new year article on “Trashing the Megachurch”.  I found the writer to be playful, factual, and provided some reasonable insights to the mega church phenomenon.  At the same time, he proudly stated his preference for intimate worship styles and concluded with a positive encouragement to his fellow church brothers in larger contexts.  READ THE ARTICLE HERE.

But, that didn’t catch my attention.  The photo (above) was a photo of our home church campus in Irvine, CA.  That’s our stage: people, lights, and me!  At first, I was thinking how did this obscure blogger get our photo?  And, why is he associating our photo with his article on mega-churches? Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to ask my friend to comment on the blog with this below:

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Read More…

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Leadership Uplifter (Staff Training January 2018)

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I was attending our first-of-the-year “All Staff Training” at Saddleback Church with Dr. Rick Warren.  Our organization is in a season of refocusing our Purpose and redefining our Structure for the next peak we’re going to climb this upcoming season of growth.  We started the session with a reference to legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi.  It didn’t matter if you won a Super Bowl or went 0-16 the year before; he would start the next season the same way every year at pre-season training camp.  He would gather the old veterans and new rookie players and show them a football.  He would say, “Gentlemen, this is a football”.  For every player, they were going back to basics and fundamentals before they would go over the detailed game plans.

This January, everyone on our staff was going back to the basics and relearn the foundational pillars that have made this world-wide movement possible for the past 38 years.

Here are some of my gold-nugget take aways:

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  • 5 Areas we must continually RESHARPEN
  1. Our Purpose: WHAT we do and WHY we do it(cf Ps 33:11)
    our purpose determines our foundation
  2. Our Values:What we value SHAPES our work & relationships(cf Jb 34:4)
    our values determines our culture
  3. Our Vision: Where are we heading (cf Pr 29:18)
    our vision determines our future
  4. Our Skills: How well I do what God has called & equipped me (cf Ec 10:10)
    our skills determines our effectiveness
  5. My Personal Character: My spiritual habits and moral traits (cf 2 Pt 1:5-8)
  • Notable Quotes
    • The Culture in the Halls trumps the Strategy on the Wall
    • On Stewardship: “Energy Management is more important to master than Time Management”.
    • “Character is the sum total of all spiritual habits”
    • “Behind Public Successes requires Private Pains”
    • “God crushes the grapes to make wine”
  • Q/A: How do I identify future talent (leaders)?

cf Lk 16:10-13

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Have they shown faithfulness in…

  1. “little things”
  2. “under someone else’s property” (ex. vision, team)
  3.  “management of resource” (ex. stewardship)
  4. “divided loyalties” (ex. where will they consistently lean towards)
My fellow colleagues and friends, did I miss something?  Please comment below and help me with my memory.  

How do I Prepare for Sundays?

KN stage shot.jpgI recently finished up hosting a pre-conference gathering at a Missions Conference in So-Cal, hosted by Dr. David Platt and Francis Chan.  I was super blessed to have a chance to interview a once-in-a-generation type leader, David Platt (Watch the FB LIVE video)

However, my most memorable time was joining a panel with SUPER SHARP church gurus sharing to a room full of influencing church leaders.  We were invited to participate in a Q/A forum where we were asked a series of real-life-minsitry questions.  I absolutely loved the dialogue between the 3 of us.  I basically had front row seats and learn so many practical ways they served their church.  At one point, I began taking notes while sitting on the panel.  

Question #1: How do you prepare for Sundays?

At one point a thought provoking question was asked, “How do you prepare for Sundays?”  I could have given your typical and proper answer: pray, read your bible, and pray some more.  But, I wanted to be more helpful than some parrot-like response.  I wanted to take the time here to share how I responded.  Pretty much, this is my WEEKEND PRAYER as I’m driving to church.  While football players have their locker room ritual to prep for the BIG GAME on Sunday, this is my Sunday drive-time ritual.  Father, will you…

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  • Anoint me with the gift of PROPHECY.  Now, this is where I may get lit up by my reform brothers.  In short, I take the position that prophecy is the communication of Biblical truths in an eloquent, encouraging, and convicting manner.  (Listen to John Piper’s brief audio response on this topic).  

Before I speak, preach, or teach, I’ve already prepared ahead of time my talking points.  I’ve written it down and gone over them in my head.  Yet, sometimes the Spirit is leading me to say something else.  No, not something WAY OUT OF LEFT FIELD where it’s not in my vocabulary.  But, there may be a Bible verse, a phrase, or a story that “pops” up in my mind, just at the right time, extemporaneously.  And that “phrase” will probably be the one line someone remembers that week.  

Read More…

Slogans are Memorable, #PDChurch2016

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Sitting at a week long church growth conference at Saddleback Church with one of my favorite pastors, Rick Warren.  I’m figuring out how to bless others while I sit here for 4 full days.  This conference has been so enriching for my own leadership growth, staff team, ministry leaders, and my colleagues.  I’ll be posting some of these gold nuggets over the next few posts. May it bless you in your leadership development.

Day 1: Communicating Your Purposes

It’s not enough to define your purposes and create a purpose statement.  The leader’s #1 task is to continually clarify and communicate the purpose of the organization.

5 ways to communicate Vision & Purpose:

  • Slogans
  • Symbols
  • Scriptures
  • Stories
  • Specifics (Strategy)

Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.  Nobody gets it the first time.  Say it over and over in fresh ways.  Practice “Creative Redundancy!”

KN Commentary:

I want to focus on the SLOGAN point.  Slogans are short, memorable statements that people can recite.  No one ever remembers a 10 minute speech, 45 minute sermon, or even a lecture outline last week.  But, Slogans are powerful tools to help reinforce VALUES of an organization.  I went ahead and started making a collection of Saddleback Slogans.   CLICK HERE

If you’re at Saddleback, do you see any that I have missed?  For everyone else, comment below and give me some of your best slogans that reinforces a value.

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Advancing a Cause. Pushing the Urgency.

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blog contributionThis is a blog contribution to the Thirty.Network conversation.  Read more about the Dream and why I am passionate about it.  Below is my personal experience coming from the FIRST Thirty Gathering in So-Cal.  

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Not too long ago, I ran across this picture-only book, East Meets West by Yang Liu (YES, I am big fan of books with fewer words). The author attempted to depict intercultural dynamics between the Eastern-Asian culture versus the Western-Anglo culture. Some of the illustrations may be a bit exaggerated, I thought this picture (above) resonated most with me. Read more HERE and see which ones you gravitate towards.

After I wrestled through my own identity, God made it very clear that He gave me East and West experiences in order to prepare me for this season of ministry at Saddleback Church.

Being the first Asian-American campus pastor in a predominantly Western-Anglo church, I was received and accepted with open arms. It was liberating and refreshing to be invited into a church culture that was obviously anointed by God and pursuing His mission all the time.

However, it wasn’t always easy navigating a church culture that didn’t think like me.

Above, the blue picture represented how Western cultures deal with problems. On the other hand, the red picture, describes how “I” was indirectly taught to handle problems.

You can only imagine how one could struggle with leading staff, teaching members, resolving conflict with volunteers, or leading up to elders and pastors. Yikes!

But God is always gracious. There was saving grace in the loving people he placed around me at the church, and my awesome team that supported my leadership style.

I strongly believe that’s why I am so passionate about activating a new generation of Asian-American leaders who will wholeheartedly serve the church. The world’s population is changing fast, becoming more urbanized, diversified, and modernized. Especially in America, we are seeing the population becoming more Asian-ized. Recent census data and demographic research report a population growth of over 40% in the last 10 years, exceeding Latino Americans (see DJ Chuang’s article at edstetzer.com).

I’ve been privileged to receive mentoring from great leaders and organizations. Through this journey of learning, I am always reminded of King David, “For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died, …” (Acts 13:36a NET).

Before I die, I want to run as fast as I can in advancing Asian-American leadership for the ever-growing diverse churches in America. We are to be stewards of developing leaders to better pastor the next 30 years.

This February, I helped host the first Thirty.Network Gathering. 30 Asian-American church leaders, recommended by credible pastors, gathered together for 30 hours to listen, learn, and lead change in advancing Asian-American church leaders for the next 30 years. The intent was to provide a SPACE for healthy conversations in sharpening each other in cross-cultural communications, leadership development, and strategic planning in a peer-to-peer learning environment.

30 hours was way too brief, but I did walk away with 30 gold nuggets. I made 30 new friends and co-laborers who will help me better serve my local church and use my influence, resources, and time to help shape the future for the next 30 years.

My hope is that you can find your own fulfillment and identity with the Thirty.Network. Join the conversation and help shape the next 30 years.

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Incubation: Multiplication by Addition (Part 1)

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I love Ed Stetzer and my dear ministry partner, Ray Chang. Lots of gold nuggets in this article in Christianity Today. It’s something I strive to do with our church Saddleback Church Irvine South.

Was there anything you gleaned from this short read?

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Several months ago, we launched our first church planter cohort.[1] Seven church planters sat around tables, each one sharing his vision for launching a new church. As each planter shared his background and story, I began to hear a common theme around these church planters. Out of the seven, five had already planted a church, but the church was unable to sustain and flourish. Each story was filled with pain, frustration and helplessness.

One planter was given orders from his senior pastor to plant a church in two weeks. He could ask anyone in the two week time frame and was given a two months salary to launch a church. Another planter left a large mega-church where he served on staff as the youth and college ministry pastor. After expressing his desire to plant a church, the senior pastor let him go without support or help. The next planter shared the story of starting off at a local college campus, where they started reaching the campus, but they soon realized that without a financial base of families, the church began to shrink and resources ran dry. The fourth planter shared how he had departed from an immigrant church with a co-planter and began to wander aimlessly for six years with a core of 30 people. There was little outreach and all the core members lived 20 miles away.

Finally, the most heart-breaking story came from the last planter, who shared his vision of planting in one of the most difficult parts of the city… READ MORE HERE

Releasing Your Best for the Mission of God | Send Network | Resources and opportunities to help you and your church be equipped and mobilized in your local community and beyond

Releasing Your Best for the Mission of God | Send Network | Resources and opportunities to help you and your church be equipped and mobilized in your local community and beyond

Sometimes, I advise for the North American Mission Board for church planting strategies.  They are the mission division for the Southern Baptist Convention.

I wrote a recent blog about releasing your best.  At the moment, we’re going through that at my church as we are about to migrate our core ministries 8.5 miles away and leaving a remnant behind to continue the work.

Here are some thoughts about releasing your best.  I hope it encourages you.

Releasing Your Best for the Mission of God | Send Network | Resources and opportunities to help you and your church be equipped and mobilized in your local community and beyond.