Video Encouragement

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

This morning I opened up my inbox to find a link to a video.

I clicked on to it and waited for it to download. I wasn’t sure what to expect because it was titled, “ripples.” But as I watched the video it moved me and encouraged me.

A small group in our church decided to video tape everyone (one-by-one) during their small group meeting to give me some words of encouragement. It really touched me because I guess the timing of it all was perfect, especially in light of this month.

With all the craziness of this month, a small group decided to find a way to lift up my spirit. It was truly “priceless!”

Coffee/Tea Shops

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

I found my new coffee/tea place. It is called Argo Tea in Evanston, IL. It first opened in 2003, but now it has 6 locations all over Chicago. I need to convince the owners to come to Ann Arbor and other college campuses.

You have to try the “soy latte with red tea” – it is incredible.

But for now, I will have to settle for my new favorite drink – Starbucks’ “grande-soy-green tea-no foam-latte.” It is good! There is something about mixing a latte with tea.

Believe it or not… I have this crazy desire to open up a coffee shop, even though Ann Arbor is a city that has one of the most coffee shops per square mile.

Punctuation Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

20070204 - Punctuation.jpg
This coming Sunday we will be starting a new series called, “Punctuation” both in Ann Arbor and Chicago. As I read various books and articles, I never really paused to think about all the punctuations – the question mark, the period, the comma, and the exclamation point. But if you think about it carefully, you will notice how important these punctuations are to the construction of the author’s thoughts.

In fact life is full of punctuations. There are many times we ask questions (?)… many times we take pauses in life (,)… many times there are clear resolves in our lives (.)… and even those times when we just want to shout (!). But each of these punctuations are God’s way of constructing our lives that will be filled with joy, peace and love.

This Sunday we are going to cover the “question marks” in life. I am praying that God will give us a fresh perspective on life.

Don’t forget to invite a friend.

A Whirlwind Month

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Today is the last day of January 2007. Yesterday, I was doing some reflection on this month and I realized that this has been probably one of the busiest months ever. I am finally getting back into the regular schedule of things.

Most of February and March will be used to focus on things here in Ann Arbor – family and church. Sometimes we don’t realize how busy we have been until we just pull back for a second and observe the relationship that matter the most to us.

Everything in life goes through seasons… seasons of busyness and seasons of calm. This is why we need God’s perspective to go through these seasons. As the dust settles, we will know what mattered to us the most.

Thoughts on “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visuals

I finally finished Ed Stetzer’s book, “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age.” It was a highly touted book by all the church planting gurus. In fact, many of them mentioned that this is the “one book” that needs to be on the shelf of every church planter.

This is a very practical book. It has many chapters on the “how to” of church planting. It is pretty humbling to know that there were a lot of things that we in HMCC did not do when we planted our first church in 1996. But then, it is reassuring to know that it was really a “God thing” because we did not follow a lot of the expert’s principles – not that we were rebellious, but it was more out of ignorance. We just had a vision to “transform lost people into Christ’s disciples who will transform the world.”

The section on the biblical basis of church planting was excellent. Stetzer perused through the book of Acts and followed the pattern of the 1st century model (Apostle Paul). It was very insightful. It is interesting that there seems to be a re-surfacing of the 1st century methods of church planting. Even though in some Christian circles the term “apostolic” is not used or even shunned, we are seeing more people accepting the validity of the function (role) of the “apostle” (Gk: apostolos = “one sent forth”). This is what we are trying to do in AMI (Acts Ministries International). It is our desire to recapture the “apostolic” model of missions and church planting in our generation.

Stetzer in one section of his book tried to talk about planting ethnic churches. I thought that it was a bit too general. Maybe because he is not from an ethnic minority, some of the principles and comments did not account for a lot of the various issues that ethnic communities face in a church plant. But one thing we are seeing all over the world is more multi-ethnic church plant starting up with ethnic leadership.

It was interesting that even though this book was published in 2003, it was a bit outdated. This shows that the spiritual landscape is constantly changing. Even the various practices of the post-modern generation are constantly changing. We have to remember that “biblical principles never change, but the methods do” and we have to be ready to flow with the Spirit.

Towards the end of the book, Stetzer FINALLY mentions the importance of prayer and the importance of the Holy Spirit leading every church plant. It would have been more encouraging to see the prayer mantle in the beginning as well as interwoven throughout the book. If there is anything that we need to keep on reminding ourselves with is that fact that without prayer, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5).

The Fun of Monotony

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

With all the snowfall here in Ann Arbor, the boys and I went sledding today after dinner. There is a hill near our house which gets populated with people once a snowfall hits. It gets pretty crazy out there.

Kids are not complicated.

They can go up and down a hill and have the time of their life.

Monotony bothers adults.

Kids can do things over and over again and still find enjoyment. There is a lot to learn from kids. Why is it that as we get older, it is harder to be faithful with the monotonous things in life?

As we were walking back to the car, the boys said, “Today was a fun day.”
Hmm… finding fun in monotony expresses the simplicity of heart. We, adults need a little more of this.

The Marathon Weekend

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

After going 3 days with little or no sleep, I think my body said, “enough is enough.” I crashed out at my parents’ place and slept for 10 hours straight. I think the drive back to Ann Arbor from the retreat took a toll on my body.

But it was gratifying to know that God ministered to His people this past weekend.

With my body recuperated, I am now ready to watch “24” tonight… I don’t know how Jack Bauer does it.

HMCC of Chicago Retreat Update 3

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

The retreat finished off well. I couldn’t help but to go through memory lane as I was reflecting on our first retreat in this Chicago church plant. It is hard to believe that it has been close to 10 years since the first retreat in Ann Arbor. God did some great things with the small group of people at that retreat. Fast forward 10 years… the same God, the same Spirit worked powerfully in our first retreat in Chicago.

We will have to wait see all the fruits that will come forth from this retreat. But I know that God planted many good seeds in our heart. Now the hard part is the constant watering and taking care of the deposit that God placed in our hearts.

By the time the band guys from Ann Arbor and I packed up the vans and cars it was about 1AM or so. I wanted to bless the band guys for their sacrifice and their willingness to coming out and serve, so we stopped by a 24-hour Korean restaurant in Chicago. We had our whole trip calculated so that we could back to Ann Arbor just in time to set up for worship. But the weather did not want to cooperate with us.

As soon as we reach Indiana there was a snow storm. We had to literally drive 40 mph. It was only by God’s grace we got back safely and set up everything in time for our 9:30AM Sunday Celebration. It was crazy.

Big props to the band guys – some of them literally pulled an all-nighter.

Here are some pictures from the retreat:
The Spirit of God was moving in our hearts
Why it is that even when we are playing games it seems like we are worshipping :-)
2007 Retreat Group Picture.jpg
Group picture in the snow… the view was awesome.

HMCC of Chicago Retreat Update 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

This morning there was a special visitation from the Lord during our opening morning worship. I really sensed that the Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of people as we were singing some of the songs. We just naturally busted out in some time of prayer and allowed the Holy Spirit to minister to us. It is too easy to go through a formula or even a set “program” – 25 minutes of worship, announcements, offering, 45 minutes of preaching, and response time. Sometimes God wants to mess up the order and we have to be willing to give up our agenda for His agenda.

I shared about the importance of transformative spaces – simply providing room for God to bring forth transformation in our lives. We had a powerful time of ministering to one another in our small groups.

We then took a group picture. I know, I know… we usually take it at the end of the retreat, but the scenery out here on Lake Geneva is so awesome with all the snow that we decided to do it while there was still sunlight.

I am looking forward to our last night of worship.

HMCC of Chicago Retreat Update 1

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We finished off our first night. It was encouraging to see various people come out for this retreat. In the beginning it was a bit of a slow start, but towards the end of the night we pressed through. I think the breakthrough moment was when we had people break up into pairs and speak God’s truths to one another. As people were listening to God, they spoke words of exhortation and revelation.

I was especially encouraged when I heard from a married couple (both are students) that they practically pulled an all-nighter the night before. When I probed, I found out that they had papers and mid-terms next week. But since they wanted to come to the retreat, they decided to study ahead of time.

I was thinking, how many freshmen and sophomores would you find responding like this? This is a maturity issue. Many times the younger college student would goof around until their finals or when their projects are due and then tell people that they are too busy or they have too much to study to come out to the retreat.

I told the husband that the Lord was going to bless them for their sacrifice and commitment.

We had a great time of fellowship afterward. We are slowly moving forwards and building up the church. It is exciting.

Please continue to pray for us.

1st Retreat for HMCC of Chicago

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Vision

I have always been a firm believer that the first of everything is very important. In fact, they are like markers in our journey of life.

I am going to be heading out to Chicago tomorrow morning, along with our worship team to lead the first HMCC of Chicago retreat. I am so stoked about this retreat… majority of our members in Chicago will be coming out to soak in God’s Presence. We are going along with the same theme as the Ann Arbor retreat of “The Transformed Life.”

It is my prayer that many people will experience God’s transformative power in their life in the next few days. Please keep us in your prayers. I will try to update throughout the retreat.

The best part might be the 4-5 hours drive back to Ann Arbor on Saturday in the middle of the night. We might get back at 5AM… pray that we don’t get food cravings because it will delay us even more :-)

NexGen Business Leaders

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

I just came back from a meeting at Starbucks with three HMCC members. Usually these multi-people meetings are for only one purpose – due to their fear of meeting with Pastor Seth alone they come in groups… I guess there is safety in numbers :-)

But this group was special. They were all business school students with a vision to make a difference in the business school and also in the marketplace some time in the future. They wanted to meet together because they had a specific proposal that they wanted to share with me. It was a vision for starting up a Christian business fellowship.

They shared about their testimonies and also their proposal to see Christianity and business come together (usually these words are oxymoronic in Christian circles). The thing that encouraged me the most was that they had a greater vision of bringing this fellowship under AMI. They wanted to network with other business school students in the AMI community of churches to see their generation raised up to make a difference for God’s Kingdom in the business realm.

In fact, this is in line with what I shared about in my “Transformative Spheres” sermon. In order to see a nation or a region transformed, we have to engage the marketplace. We have to bring the Kingdom of God into the arena of commerce!

It was a cool discovery to see that some of the top business schools in America are on the campuses of some of the AMI churches. A lot of potential and possibilities!

It will be awesome to see many business people raised up through AMI who will have a vision to invest in eternal things. I shared with these guys that one of the top three reasons why ministries close down is because of lack of resources (the other two are: interpersonal conflicts and lack of people to lead the ministry).

It is a dawn of a new day and I am excited about what God is going to do with passionate and sold out people who are willing to surrender all their time, treasures and talents to the Lord!

A Purpose in Everything

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Over 10 years of doing campus ministry, one question that people keep on asking me is, “Why did God allow _____ to happen to me?” It is hard to give a complete theological answer to a person who is feeling the pain and frustration of unanswered questions and doubts.

There is a phrase that we use here in HMCC – “Out of our greatest misery will come forth our greatest ministry.”

It is a phrase that is hard to believe in when we are going through the pain “at the moment.” But one thing is for sure… as we get older, that phrase becomes more true and our lives become the testimony of the truthfulness of that statement.

I was thinking about these thoughts as I read the CNN news article about how Somaly Mam, a former prostitute, runs shelters for the victims of Cambodia’s sex trade.

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose” (Amplified Bible, Ro 8:28)

Reading Update

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Best vacation in the world?

Grab a bunch of books and read it by a beach side as the ocean wind is blowing in your hair. Hmm… possibly. Well, I think being in a crowded airplane at 27,000 feet in the air will have to do for the meantime.

I do everything I can to make space for reading books (yes, I will confess it… even in the bathroom). Reading is a lost art nowadays with all the visual media out there. There is something about reading someone’s perspective, reflecting on it, processing it and then possibly even implementing it.

I am going to try to give some quick thoughts after I finish reading a book. Hopefully, it will give you a glimpse into what I am chewing on mentally. Currently I am reading Ed Stetzer’s book, “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age.”