Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Last night, it was was G-Sakamoto's (my Japanese alter-ego) birthday, so a group of over 20 of us mobbed up everyone's favorite Korean food joint, Hosoonyi. Because of the size, the group had to split up into 3 different tables, but everyone seemed to have a great time - people who hadn't seen each other for awhile were able to meet and talk. It was pretty much like a UW AACF reunion.

The above picture is a group shot of everybody, but unfortunately, the picture turned out blurry (someone else took the pic, not me... everyone who operates my digicam seems to not understand how to use the autofocus by slowly depressing the button).

So what happens when someone else takes a blurry picture with your camera? Play with it in Photoshop, of course.


"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." -Mark 6:34

Post-Hosoonyi, most people departed because it was getting late. A small remainder of us went to the northside Pochi's for bubble tea and to hang out. I forgot exactly how it happened, but the conversation went from reminiscing about AACF and CoHi to talking about the current spiritual health of the Seattle Asian American Christian community of "our generation".

Not exactly a light conversation.

(begin rant)

I have very strong feelings about a lot of the current issues we're facing, but whenever I feel like writing about them, I find myself deleting things almost as soon as I write them because perhaps somethings are better left unsaid, especially when I know my views are neither popular nor diplomatic. I blew off some steam once in this entry awhile back.

All I can say is that I'm filled with great sadness when I contemplate these problems - the lack of leadership, the disintegration of many Asian American churches, the absence of unity and interchurch cooperation, the sheep stealing, the stalling of CoHi, the weakening of AACF, the popularization of callous, self-interested, entertainment-driven, Christianity - I see a mass of interconnected problems.

The dirty secret that many Christian people don't want to talk about is that these problems have not been directly inflicted on us by the world... they are problems created and perpetuated by Christians against Christians.

Some leaders grow weary of serving when those they serve show no interest in helping or being gracious. Some people never can fully assume leadership positions because those who were leaders, never properly developed successors. Mature Christians driven by a want to evangelize, devote time and energy into converting someone to Christianity - only to abandon them and leave them unmentored after they're baptized.

Conservative churches sometimes refuse to accommodate the change necessary to help minister to members physically and spiritually younger than them. Some Christians frequently abandon their committments to churches when they find that the churches are no longer entertaining or a "good fit for their style of worship". In searching for a church that "helps them grow spiritually", it's never a surprise when the new church chosen has latest awesome speaker / cool music / edgy philosophy / hot (and single) girls/guys. In fact, the less age variation, the better - why go to regular church, when you can go to one that just resembles a giant fellowship group.

Churches hold faux interchurch praise nights by assembling a program without consulting anybody else - then announcing that other churches should come to their church.

Some Christians criticize non-Christians and the government for being shallow while in the next breath, they brag about the latest gas-guzzling SUV or triple-digit price tag namebrand clothing they've bought. Other Christians shout about being socially conscious and aiding the less fortunate, but always fail to show up when there are calls for volunteers to work with local children, visit Kin On and Keiro, or just tutor some high school students. Some Christians idea of "service" is limited exclusively to the one that starts at 10:00 AM.

I hate to write these things down, but I've seen it with my own eyes. Every human being who's ever been alive, has at some point been guilty of rationalizing their selfish motives as something noble - I am no exception. But now cliche, cover-all Christian rationalizations echo in empty churches... "blah, blah not meeting my needs"... "...yadda, yadda, I don't like so and so"... "blah, blah it's too boring"... "yadda, yadda I dislike those worship songs".

I wish I was the only one who sensed these problems, because at least that'd mean I'm only one nutty enough to see them. But when I speak to friends, to peers from my age group, they sense it too... the vacuum that lies hidden in the heart of Seattle's young Asian American Christian community. The name even rolls awkwardly - young, Asian American, Christian.

It is a minority lost within a minority, within a minority.

So what? Is it time for all is who are disheartened to abandon their tired old ethnic churches to join the cool new wave? Is it time to leave Seattle for California dreaming? To say "so long, suckers" to my own community? Is it best to start sleeping in and having personal Sunday siestas?

My stubborn faith and my compassion for the Asian American community won't let see those as solutions... maybe there are no solutions. And perhaps, that is how it is meant to be.

I doubt anybody but myself and God had the stamina to plow through this, anyways.

(end rant)

[edit] - My friend Jon meditating on similar and related things.


i couldn't agree with you more. 'self-worship' is all over the place here in CA. actually, i think our entire nation has been swept with this 'plague' of seeker-sensitivism. people are so consumed with how church is working for them. and pastors are caught up in utilizing whatever market-driven gimmicks they can get their hands on to make the 'unchurched' feel comfortable and cause 'church-growth.'
sin is no longer preached. man is all of the sudden somewhat good and just a little righteous.
so what's so wrong about all this? why criticize if it's working, right? the ends justify the means, don't they? i think this method of thought is going to end up prevailing whether we like it or not.

instead of John 3:30, it's 'America 3:30' - "We/I must become greater; He must become less."
jerm - That's a well-written article... good link.

"A church that is self-congratulatory has become a questionable fellowship because the function of the service has gone from the Scriptural command to worship God to the idolatrous worship of itself."

I don't seem anything wrong with the principle of a "seeker friendly" church... the irony to me is how many "mature Christians" end up at so-called seeker-friendly churches, not to participate in reaching out to seekers, but to be entertained.
yes it is sad, many Christians are not doing all that they should be or could be, looking to church for their own needs, and so on.. not only true for Seattle, or only Asian Americans, it's everywhere around the world. The problem is not so much a particular form of worship, or preaching against sin, or marketing. Underneath those cosmetics, it's how a group of Christian leaders are able to multiply themselves, within a church community, ideally. I did not use the word discipleship, b/c in many contexts, that is too cognitive, or too limited to only spiritual education. So for a Christian leader to multiply, to develop successors, takes much more effort and intentionally and a holistic perspective on faith, life, and calling. It starts with those who see the problem (step #1, acknowledge the problem) and move actively towards solution. The solution isn't in the program, it's in the relationships.
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5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know



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