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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


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.  


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

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.



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?


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.

9 Reasons You Should Make the Most of ‘Big Days’ for Growth

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During our strategic Easter planning meeting at Saddleback Church, Pastor Rick shared great insights on Church Growth strategies.  My biggest gold nugget comes from the power of stretching our faith by showing a picture of possibilities to our members.  As leaders, we must articulate our confidence in God’s plan by showing the people a glimpse of a future reality through Big Attendance days.  Here are Pastor Rick’s top list of why we do what we do on these days, written in a recent article.


Easter is coming! And it will be one of the most well-attended Sundays for churches this year. Wise church leaders will take advantage of the opportunity to present the simple but profoundly hopeful message of Jesus’ resurrection to all of the extra guests who come.

One of the secrets to Saddleback’s growth over the years is big days. There are three holidays we’ve used powerfully – Easter, Christmas Eve, and Mother’s Day – and then a few other weekends such as the kick-off or celebration of a big campaign. We plan for those days and we use them as an evangelism tool and as a stimulus to motivate our members on to growth for the rest of the year.  These days are big high points and there are some real advantages to planning big days with a special emphasis, particularly around Easter.

Here are nine reasons why high attendance days can be so meaningful. 

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1. Big days build morale.

Without a doubt, people enjoy being a part of something big, something exciting. It develops unity and pride among our people. When people work together, there’s just a sense of excitement. It’s hard to motivate people consistently over the long haul but you can always get them up for a particular project or particular day. Big days create a “winning team” feeling.

2. Big days draw interest from the community.

No doubt at Pentecost having 3000 people saved was impressive. Often a big day will attract the attention of many people who would normally totally ignore your church. It says to the community, something is alive over there. It arouses curiosity.

3. Big days increase your prospect list.

Celebrating big days gives you names of people who are willing to have a conversation about spiritual things, as indicated by their attendance. It gives you names to add to your email or mailing list and it helps you to know for whom to be praying.

4. Big days enlarge the vision of your members.  (MY FAVORITE)

What we try to do is give people a vision on Easter Sunday of what the church could be and then operate on that vision for the rest of the year and make that a goal. When I first started Saddleback we were running 25 in the home bible study at the maximum point and then we had 205 on Easter Sunday. Always after Easter you’ll go back down in attendance. But we averaged 120 for the rest of that month. So we had 25, then 205, and then 120, which means we automatically picked up 100 people in one month as a result of a big day. I can consider that to be worthwhile.

You’re not going to keep everybody from a big day. Don’t worry about it! The growth of Saddleback looks like this: up, then down a little, up, then down a little, up, then down a little…  You build in a pyramiding fashion so you never go all the way back down. Don’t worry about that! Usually after Easter you will have a drop off every week for three weeks. You’ll have less the week after Easter, then the week after that a little bit less and so on.  But it will stabilize and then you get the core of people who stick with you, particularly if you plan a series of messages to start on a big day. Then you keep them coming back.

5. Big days give focus to people’s prayers.

A big day gives your people something specific to pray about, and the result of more prayer is always greater power. God responds when His people call out to Him in a concerted plea for more people to meet Jesus.

6. It stretches people’s faith.

When you set a goal and go for it, then it’s specific. Many times we’re afraid to set a goal because we’re afraid we’re not going to reach it. And remember, failure is not failing to reach your goal; failing is not setting a goal. Failing is not failing to reaching your dream; failing is not even attempting to reach it. As long as you’re attempting something for the glory of God, you’re successful.

Early in Saddleback’s history, we celebrated our six month anniversary by having a big day and setting a goal of having 500 in attendance. We didn’t have 500. We had 380 instead, but that was more than we’d ever had before! What do you do if you don’t reach your goal? Set another one!

Working toward big days stretches people’s faith and that’s pleasing to God. Without faith it’s impossible to please Him.


Continue reading more here…  9 Reasons You Should Make the Most of ‘Big Days’ for Growth.



9 Things About Asian American Christianity | The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer

Quick post for the morning.   My awesome friend and co-laborer in the ministry shares some interesting facts for Asian Americans.

DJ Chuang has spent most of his life being the voice and connector for diversity and multi-ethnic ministries.  He’s usually the first to report facts about AA trends.  Here’s an excerpt from the article in Ed Stetzer’s blog:

4. Asian Americans are more educated and have higher median family income than any other racial groups; but that’s not the whole picture. On the one hand, Asian Americans have a lot of latent capacity to be developed for greater and wider impact, but on the other hand, statistics about Asian Americans has often been misused by overgeneralizing and perpetuating the “model minority” myth. The reality is that there many who have achieved much educationally and financially, but there are also significant numbers of Asian Americans are disadvantaged and struggling, especially among Southeast Asians and smaller Asian groups.

5. 64% of Asian Americans speak English very well. Language fluency is a good indicator of cultural fluency, but it’s not necessarily determinant of how someone will respond to spiritual things. I’ve heard that a good missionary practice is to present spiritual truths in the heart language of a person, but in the American context, English can be very effective in presenting the Gospel, if done in a contextualized manner and not merely a generic “color-blind” manner. Briefly speaking, contextualizing means recognizing the diversity in people’s backgrounds and socializing; that is to say, “all-American” sports analogies will not connect with all Americans.

6. 42% of Asian Americans self-identify as Christian, that is, 22% Protestant and 19% Catholic. Note that these survey results also indicate that 75% of the U.S. general public self-identify as Christians. Take a closer look at the numbers across ethnic lines, and you’ll notice something very different for each ethnic group. As the chart illustrates, the most churched are Filipino Americans and Korean Americans, with a majority of Filipino being Catholic and Korean being Protestant.

Read the whole article here: 9 Things About Asian American Christianity | The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer.

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