Think Different

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 
The world was never transformed by people who followed the crowd or went with the status quo. The world has been shaped (and will probably always be shaped) by people who think differently.

For some reason, they listen to a different drum beat.

This is the reason why the early church that we see in the Book of Acts, transformed the world. They thought differently. They acted differently. More or less, they listened not only to a different drum beat, but they listened to a different drummer.

Unless Christ-followers are willing to think differently and do things differently, we will never make an impact in the world.

I have been challenging people in our church with this thought: “In the last 6 to 12 months, if someone has not called you ‘crazy’ or ‘insane,’ then you are probably not living the radical life that Christ is calling you to live.”

Why do we always settle for the status quo or things that are comfortable or safe?

Christ has called us to a life that is different. A life that is full of adventure that requires faith and trust in the One that can lead us. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience this kind of life.

But in order to have this kind of life, Christ bids us to come and die, so that we might truly live (Mk 8:34-35).

One of my favorite commercials by Apple is the one where they show film footage of famous people who literally transformed the world. In the background a voice says,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

 
What will the world say about us, as Christ-followers?
 
 

The Ripple Logo

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publication Team
 
 
 
Over the years, people have asked me about our church logo. The genesis of this logo goes back to 1990 when I was a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. It was my senior year and it was a difficult year. I felt completely overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of church, as well as my responsibilities as a student, a son, brother and friend. There was so much going on that I felt as if I was about to implode.

It was in this moment where I got in my car and drove out to a park that was about 40 minutes away from campus. I wanted to get away from everything and just spend some personal time reconnecting with God. Allerton Park was the former estate of Robert Henry Allerton who donated his property and turned it into a beautiful park. There is about 1,500 acres of some incredible landscape and artifacts collected from different parts of the world.

It was in this beautiful scenery, when I came across a reflecting pond. The birds were chirping and there was this sense of peace that came over that pond. In the stillness of the moment, I remember taking a deep breath and asking God to show me that He was still with me. Then I picked up a small rock from the ground and threw it in the calm pond.

As the pebble hit the water, I heard the sound of the waterdrop and then, the ripples started to expand outwardly in an increasing magnitude until it hit the edges of the pond.

This is when the revelation came.

I felt as if God was saying that I was like the pebble and that if I would just trust Him, He would use me to send ripples out to the nations. It was hard to believe what I was experiencing especially because of the emotional state that I was in at that time. But for some reason, there was this incredible sense of peace and trust that filled my heart.

As I pondered upon what just happened, I realized that from one single, seemingly insignificant pebble, there was a powerful rippling effect that literally invaded the whole pond.

Then I thought to myself: What would happen if a life can be transformed with the power of the Gospel in this way? What would happen if a transformed life then can send out ripples to reach the nations?

I remember after this epiphany, I made it my mission to make a different for Christ as long as I lived. I treasured this in my heart and shared it with only a handful of people.

Fast forward six years.

During the summer of 1996, as we were getting ready to plant the church, we had to come up with a logo for publication purposes. It was at this moment, when God brought me back to the experience I had at Allerton Park. From there, I just knew that God wanted our logo to be the water ripple. As lives are experiencing transformation, we were confident that God would use us to transform the world; hence our mission tag line: Transforming Lives. Transforming the World.

Solia Deo Gloria (glory to God alone or for God’s glory alone)!

Are We on Standby?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Vision

 

Photo on topnews.us
 
 
 
One of the frustrating things that I experience on my travels is when I have to wait for a delayed flight. Sometimes I am waiting at the gate to board, but there are no signs that we are going to board soon. I have also been in situations where I am on the plane and waiting on the tarmac (the record time has been 1.5 hours so far).

The reason why these situations are frustrating for me is because I know that we are going to take off, but I just don’t know exactly when. Also, if I have an appointment that I have to make, then it makes the delay and waiting even harder.

Recently, a lot of people have been asking, “What is going on with HMCC of New York City?”

It seems like we are on standby.

Let me first tell you what we do know (try to imagine an airline agent speaking over the intercom):

1) There are various needs in NYC that we would like to meet as a church.
2) There are former HMCC-AA members who have yet to find a church home.
3) There are an increasing number of people who will be going back to NY in the future.
4) There are people who are interested in starting an HMCC church in NYC.
5) There are some people who have already been meeting together in NYC.
6) The leadership team of HMCC are praying and seeking for God’s direction.

 
 
Then, what are we waiting for? What should we do in the meantime?

1) We need to keep on praying and seeking God’s direction because we don’t want to rush things.
2) We need to keep on gathering together to establish the biblical community, which is the foundation for a church.
3) We need resources and people to help get things started.
4) We need to figure out which model of church planting (i.e. house church, traditional, a hybrid or even something completely new) we will need to go with.

 
 
With the above information, it is still leaving a lot of people confused and apprehensive, especially for the people who are currently in NYC and those who will be heading out there soon.

In particular, several specific questions came up:

• “If we are in the process of starting a church, but there is no clear target date, then what do we do about church in the meantime?”
• “Is it ok to just attend a church on Sunday and not get involved?”
• “Isn’t this contrary to what we (HMCC) believe about the importance of church and church involvement?”

 
 
My response:

• In the meantime, we will keep on meeting together in the LIFE Group format and then for Sundays attend a church where you can get fed spiritually.
• Since we have intentions of starting a church, I do not see anything wrong with attending a church on Sundays until we actually launch HMCC-NYC. Even when we were in Indonesia, before we started the international church, for a whole month and a half, we attended various churches on Sundays.
• Once again, if there was no intention of starting a church then it would be contrary to our values of church involvement; but since we have intentions of starting a church, we do not want to involve ourselves in such a way that will cause a conflict in the future.

 
 
I know that this holding pattern or standby position is not the best scenario for some people; especially for those people who need to know every detail before committing to something. All I can say to you is that we will try to give information about the church plant as soon it becomes available. It is hard to give details when even the leadership of HMCC does not have any of the details.

In fact, it is a bit frustrating for me, since I like to look ahead and strategize on how things will turn out. But God has taught me over the years that it is foolish to run ahead of God. Also, it is more fun when things are not so planned out. It teaches us how to trust in Him more.

In the midst of all that God is doing, it is exciting to know that He is bringing people who have experienced and believe in the transformation vision together. All we can say is that this is none other than the work of God; therefore we are just waiting for the time when things will “take off” – please fasten your seatbelts!

The Gospel Choir Version

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

 
There is something about a gospel choir that just makes a song reach a whole new level. My first time hearing a gospel choir was when I was in college. I still remember how I got goose bumps as I heard different gospel songs at the concert. After this experience, I got hooked. Now, my mp3 playlist is filled with various gospel songs.

I don’t know what it is – maybe it is the instrumentation with the Hammond organ, drums, and bass guitar or the incredible vocals; but either way, the passion in which the choir sings the songs has a powerful way of ministering to people.

This is why when I heard the gospel choir version of Chrysler’s Super Bowl Commercial, it was powerful. When people use their God-given talent, it has an awesome way of moving the spirit of a person. I am praying that many more people within the HMCC churches will be raised up to use their musical gifts to inspire people to know the True and Living God.

We are still praying for Detroit. I would love to see the restoration of Detroit, not only physically and economically, but most importantly, in a spiritual way. It is through the church, the people of God who will need to light the way – a city on a hill cannot be hidden (Mt 5:14).
 
 

Why New York City?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

 
 
 
Some of you might have already heard about the possibility of starting a HMCC LIFE Group in New York City this summer, which will hopefully turn into a church plant one day. One thing I value very highly is the dissemination of information. To be more exact, I value the dissemination of correct and timely information. In this way, there are less misunderstandings, as well as less assumptions, which often times can ruin relationships and cause things to be blown out of proportion.

In this blog post, I want to lay down the facts and also ask you to join me in prayer as we are trying to discern God’s heart and His will for us as a church.

Back on October 10th, 2010 (10/10/10) I presented HMCC’s 2020 Vision. Part of that vision entails planting ten new churches by the year 2020. As I have been praying for this vision, God placed various cities around the world in my heart. One city that has always been on my heart is New York City.

There are 3 things that stick out for me:

1) It is a city with various NEEDS. NYC is the largest city in the United States and is a significant global city. A lot of what happens around the world has its beginnings in this city. The impact is felt in various sectors of society such as commerce, arts and media, entertainment, fashion, and education. There are close to 8.2 million people who are spread out over a small area of 305 square miles. It is the most densely populated city in the U.S. With so many people, there is an array of needs that has to be met. The most significant need is the need for more life-giving churches. According to an October 2010 Barna report, it shows that New York has one of the highest percentage of unchurched people. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life also gives a similar picture of the religious landscape of NYC. A single church cannot reach out to every unchurched person in NYC. There needs to be many more new churches starting, so that more people can experience transformation through the power of the Gospel. Below is a quick picture of the religious situation according to Gallup:
 

 
 
2) It is a city with many NATIONS. It is just breathtaking when I found out that there are as many as 800 languages spoken in New York, currently making it the most language-diverse city in the world. One particular ethnic group that has a large representation is the Chinese people. The Chinatown in NYC is the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Also, with a lot of colleges and universities in NYC which are ranked high globally, it attracts students from every nation around the world. The future leaders are coming to NYC to study. With the nations coming to NYC, the opportunities are tremendous to influence the next generation of world shakers and history makers. Even having the United Nations Headquarters in NYC speaks to the importance of being a hub for international affairs.

3) It is a city with our NETWORK.
Over the last 14 years of doing college ministry in Ann Arbor, we have seen many students graduate and go to NYC for work and graduate school. Recently, we had the largest freshmen class this past year in the history of our church in Ann Arbor; therefore, we are expecting that many more people will be heading out to NYC in the future. Already, we have been in contact with some graduating seniors who will be heading out to NYC and also with some graduates who now live in NYC. As we are trying to connect the dots with our greater vision to reach the nations, we are seeing more people who want to be a part of what God is doing in the context of HMCC. Many of the freshmen from New York and New Jersey area are back home and we want to still connect with them throughout the summer with what God is doing in HMCC.

 
 
With the 3rd point, I want to elaborate a little bit more because this has been a major factor in the decision to step out in faith to start something in NYC.

In the last 14 years, whenever our members were graduating and getting ready to head out to NYC or NJ, they have asked me if I knew of churches in that area. Since there are some friends who are pastoring churches out there, I would always recommend those churches first. Then, there are some larger well-known churches, which I try to recommend so that they have a variety of choices.

Some of these former members would get plugged in quickly with the recommended churches, which is a huge praise; but others have had a hard time finding a church that fits with the vision and values that God has placed in their hearts. Due to our strong emphasis on the importance of the local church, many of the former members would eventually find a church they can fit into and build community.

As I have been examining the various groups of people who come and go through Ann Arbor, I have realized that there are 5 groups of people that would be interested in being a part of what God is doing NYC:

1) People who have served as a leader in our ministry context. Over the years, there have been people who were very involved in our ministry and then placed in a city where they couldn’t find a church right away. They would share with me how it would be awesome to have a HMCC community in their city. One thing I want to make clear is that there have been many leaders who have gone to different cities and found a church that suited them better in their lifestage, which is awesome. Hopefully, we are humble enough to realize that HMCC will not meet all the needs of people. Therefore, I am just addressing those former leaders who have expressed their desire to stay connected to what we are doing globally.

2) People who came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior and those who have had their lives transformed by the ministry in HMCC, but did not serve as a leader. I am realizing that the context of a person’s first experience with Christ is very significant. As we have seen many people’s lives transformed through our church, many of them want to continue in their involvement with our vision and mission. In the past, since we did have not any plans of starting something in NYC, we would encourage these people to write down a list of values that they wanted to see in a church. Then, we would advise them to visit various churches (via recommendation of other alumni and friends). Afterward, they were encouraged to narrow down the list of churches to a few and then make an informed and discerned decision. Even after all these measures, people were still trying to find a community that they could be a part of in the city. We even had some students who went to NYC for summer internships and within the short time there struggled to connect with the recommended churches.

3) People who are coming to NYC for the first time, but they have a relationship with someone in our church network. It was exciting to hear recently that a high school student from Indonesia was going to New York University. With all the great universities in NYC, many people are coming to the city for undergraduate or graduate studies. For some of them, it will be their first time being away from home and for others it will be another transition of trying to find a new community. But what would it be like if there was a church community there for them before they arrive? Especially for the international students. If they come to NYC and find community through our church and then they go back to their country, they will have an international church that they can be a part of when they go back (vis-à-vis HMCC of Jakarta and HMCC of Singapore).

4) People who have friends and family members who are not yet part of any church community. I am finding out there is a large group of people, who are connected relationally with some of our members, who do not have a church community. Some of them are pre-Christians, therefore, they have no interest in attending a church, while some are people who stopped going to church for various reasons. This is a huge harvest field of people that we want to reach out to. One thing I have learned from the business world is that the best advertisement or marketing strategy is not a flashy commercial, but a recommendation from a trusted friend. As our members have experienced genuine transformation, their friends and family have noticed. This is why when our members encourage their friends and family to check out our ministry, they are more open due to the trust that is interwoven into their relationship. We have a passion for this group of people and we want to reach out to them.

5) People who are still students at the University of Michigan or any of the universities where there is a HMCC church, and after hearing about our 2020 Vision, they are interested in being part of the vision in the future. This past year’s freshmen class will be the class that would have had the most exposure to the 2020 Vision. They heard it first as freshmen and hopefully throughout the four years of college, they can develop a greater heart for church planting in the future. I am confident that as God leads us to various cities, many of the current students will one day be a part of the greater movement in all our churches.

 
 
In light of these five specific groups, we are in the process of praying and planning for a future church plant in NYC. Honestly, we don’t have all the specifics down. In fact, I think we like it this way because with the last several church plants, it has been exciting to follow God’s lead rather than trying to strategize and plan too much.

When I think about HMCC of Jakarta and HMCC of Singapore, I can truly say that it was really a God thing. The encouraging thing about all that is going on is that when we look at the Book of Acts, we see that when the Spirit of God moved powerfully, God was the One who started different communities of faith to reach that particular city.

As many people have been asking me about our church plant movement philosophy, I wrote some things down in another blog post. You can check it out here.

This is what we know so far:

1) Even with all the great churches out in NYC, the needs are still great and the harvest is plentiful.

2) We have a handful of believers who want to see a HMCC community start in NYC.

3) Pastor Pete and I will be heading out to NYC this Sunday, May 15th to meet up with our current students and alumni to cast the vision and talk about starting a LIFE Group.

 
 
This is all we know so far. It is pretty scary at times, but we believe that God is Faithful. If he started the other churches to meet the needs of the community in that particular city, we are confident that God will do the same thing in NYC. We have to remember that things are never boring or routine when we are following God’s leadership. In fact, it is an incredible adventure and I signed up for this when I fully surrendered my life to Christ when I was in high school. I have never been the same – all the glory to God!

Here is a time lapse video of New York City. Let’s continue to pray for God’s will to be done in this great, global city that God is concerned about.

“But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11, NIV)

 
 

Paramount Sermon Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publication Team
 
 
 
I am so excited to start a whole new sermon series on the Book of Colossians throughout the months of May through August. It has been awhile since we have systematically studied a whole book together on Sundays. But the more I began to pray through things, I realized that this is something that we need to do at this juncture of our church.

As the generations are changing, I have noticed that there are more people who have never thoroughly studied through one book in the Bible. In many ways, this is fragmenting people’s concept and understanding of who God is. We are only getting bits and pieces from passages that are familiar, rather than examining a whole book and allowing it to lay down a firm foundation for our faith.

The great part of the Book of Colossians is that many of the issues that the Apostle Paul had to address in the book are similar to the issues that we are facing in our society today. This is the power of God’s Word. It is able to speak to various situations in our lives because the Truth is always timeless.

One of the major themes for the Book of Colossians is the “Supremacy of Christ.” It is out of this foundation and perspective that we will be able to live accordingly within our context, whether it is with our family, friends, roommates, classmates or co-worker. This is why we are simply calling the series, “paramount.”

The dictionary defines, “paramount” as:

1) Chief in importance or impact; supreme;
2) Of the greatest importance or significance; preeminent
3) Above others in rank or authority; superior in power or jurisdiction
4) A supreme ruler

 
 
As we study the Book of Colossians, it is my prayer that we will capture a bigger vision of who Christ is in His Supremacy. As see and acknowledge Christ being “chief in importance” in our lives and “above others in authority” and “superior in power,” then we will be able to trust and worship His Majesty.

Bring your Bibles, journals and something to write with because for the next four months it is going to be a season of learning and growing. We are going to be released to love and live for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Innovators, Idealists, and Influencers (Pt 2)

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 
I have been greatly encouraged to see God placing many future innovators and influencers in our church. As soon as I posted my entry on “Innovators, Idealists, and Influencers” (I3) yesterday, I received an e-mail with a video link.

As I was watching it, I was reminded of several more things:

1) I3’s are Early-Adopters. They are usually the first ones to adopt an idea or product. They are not afraid of taking risks. Once they believe in something, they are able to spread it to others.

2) I3’s are Evangelists. Since they are out to influence people, they share what they believe in with passion. They want to change the way we think and the way we respond to things. In essence, they want to “convert” people.

3) I3’s are Eccentric. Unconventional. Different. Unusual. Avant-garde. All these words describe them. They love going against the flow; and in many ways they do not care about what other people might say about them. In fact, according to I3’s, being different is good.

4) I3’s are Empowering. Since they are forward thinkers, they think generationally. As they reach a certain level of influence, I3’s try to empower and equip the next generation. They use their wisdom and influence to inspire the next generation of I3’s.

 
 
Here is a very good video produced by R+I Creative. They are a marketing and advertising company who helps “brands and artists reveal their values and tell their stories through innovative productions.” Thanks to @ericcyee who forwarded this video to me.

R+I Creative did a great job of explaining the “who, what, and how” of an influencers. I liked the fact that they focused on New York City because this city is really one of the hubs for finding innovators, idealists, and influencers. This is one of the reasons why we are praying about this great city.

Here is a brief trailer:
 

 
 
 
 
If you have time, here is the longer version. It is well worth the 14 minute investment.
 

Innovators, Idealists, and Influencers

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo from www.smithsonianmag.com
 
 
 
I have an insatiable appetite for information. Couple that with a hunger and fascination with history and you get a person who is constantly reading, discovering, and asking questions. Sometimes my curiosity frustrates people (sorry); and it is often times misunderstood for my knack of “cornering people” to get to the bottom of things. But to my plea of innocence, it is simply my desire “to know” things.

Whether it is a weakness or strength, I am realizing that curiosity often fuels new discoveries and it even helps people to dream and envision things of the future. One of the things that inspire me is when I read about what people in the past have said to visionaries and innovators to some of their ideas.

Here are some of them:

1) “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” [Western Union internal memo, 1876]

2) “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” [David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s]

3) “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” [Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962]

4) “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come and work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’” [Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer]

5) “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” [Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to drill for oil in 1859]

6) “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” [Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943]

7) “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.” [Lee DeForest, inventor]

8) “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.” [A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.]

9) “But what is it good for?” [Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip]

10) “With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market.” [Business Week, August 2, 1968]

 
 
When we think about our lives without some of the things that we have now, we are thankful that that they were wrong. Can you imagine all the lost opportunities?

The challenge for us today is to look ahead and to make decisions today that will affect our future destiny. This is not an easy process because there are so many factors that hinder people from moving forward. For some people it is the fear of failure. For others, it is a self-imposed skepticism which limits us. For others, it might be their lack of faith. For some, it might be their desire for comfort, security and safety. But whatever the reason, we have to see things through the eyes of Christ.

He believed that through a rag-tag team of disciples that the world will be transformed. Who would have ever thought or imagined?

But as we look into the future and see what God has in store for us, let’s stay ahead of the curve. The possibilities are endless because we have a God, who is the God of the possibilities (Mt 17:20; 19:26). May we stay close to Jesus, as we navigate towards the 2020 Vision.

Strategy for Planting Churches

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Created by Paul Bulter, an intern at Facebook
 
 
 
Recently, there have been an increasing number of people asking me, “How do we, as a church, decide which city or campus to plant a church in?”

I think in light of our 2020 Vision, we are trying to come up with some systematic way of implementing our desire to plant churches around the world. But one thing I have learned over the years is that strategies and a well devised “plan” can only go so far. Ultimately, as I look back into the church plants that we have participated in, there is simply no “one way” to do it. A good STRATEGY without God’s SPIRIT will always end up in SHAMBLES. But without any PREPARATION, things can easily be done without a clear PURPOSE.

This is why we are trying to find a good balance between allowing God’s Spirit to lead us, while at the same time doing our part in getting ready for the next step.

When it comes to allowing God’s Spirit to lead us, it is important that we are praying and listening to the Holy Spirit. There is definitely a spiritual element of discerning what God is doing around the world when it comes to church planting. Then, there is also a practical element of coming up with the possibilities of starting up a church in a particular area.

I have been trying to teach people in our church to take it from two different levels – one is from the individual level, and the other from the corporate level. Please keep in mind that this is all contextualized in the HMCC context.

On the individual level, I have communicated to people to remember the PLANT acronym:

1) P – Pray. God often times uses prayer as an avenue to strengthen a conviction or lead us in a different direction. Therefore, before we either rule out the possibility of being part of a church plant or believe that God is calling us to do it, we need to pray. As we pray, God will give us His burden and will speak to us.

2) L – Learn. I have told people to learn as much as you can about the campus, city or country that God is placing in your heart. Without a proper knowledge of the city, we will never be able to make an accurate assessment of the feasibility of planting a church. Also, when we learn as much as we can about a particular place, it will just solidify more of our convictions.

3) A – Assess and Affirm. We have to keep in mind that having a community of believers who know us well and who can speak into our lives is a vital part of discovering God’s will for your life. You need to include your pastor or your leader in this process as well. Even though you might have a desire to participate in a church plant, if people who know you well are having a hard time affirming you, then it might be better to go back to the drawing board and continue to pray. When we have an honest assessment of ourselves, then we will fair so much better in the long run. It is usually better to find out areas of your life where you need to grow in and commit to in developing your character.

4) N – Network. As you pray and learn as much as you can about a particular city, and as people are able to assess and affirm your calling, then the next step is to network with other people – both, in your HMCC church as well as other HMCC sites. You will be amazed once you connect with other people who have the same burden or who want to go to the same city. We have to remember that we cannot do things alone. We need to find other people who are praying about the same particular city. It might be good to even meet up with them and start praying together. By networking, we are creating bonds of relationships that will allow us to partner together for Kingdom work.

5) T – Training. Once, many of these factors are considered, then we can start going through specific training in order to send you out. One of the best training grounds is the small group context. Our LIFE Group ministry is really like a mini-church plant. A lot of the things that are required in planting a church, you can experience in the process of doing community with others. Remember that the better trained you are, the more likelihood you will be ready to face some of the difficulties of church planting.

 
 
The PLANT principles are more on an individual basis when it comes to determining whether planting churches is something that God is calling you to do. But we also need to look at church planting from a corporate level, which entails not only your particular church site, but also all the HMCC churches.

In order to achieve our 2020 Vision, we have to see how all the pieces are coming together. Simply, we need to “connect the dots” so that everything that we do is tied in with our overall vision of transforming lives and transforming the world.

I will explain the corporate level of planting churches with the acronym SEEDS. It is important that rather than looking at SEEDS as a strategic model or program, we look at it as a process. This means that we have to be flexible, but yet focused.

Here are the five principles of the process:

1) S – See God’s Sovereignty. It is imperative that we learn to see what God is doing in a particular location. Often, we try so hard to “force” things to happen. When we trust in our human wisdom, it always leads to manipulation and frustration. Rather than trying to make things happen, it is better to see how God is sovereignly bringing things together. In the past, God clearly opened up specific doors for us as a church by bringing people together without any direction or “help” from us. God has also brought sovereign circumstances together without our knowledge or our assistance, which opened up opportunities for us. When we know that it is something that God is doing, there is great confidence that He will carry us through.

2) E – Explore the possibility. As God is sovereignly bringing the pieces together, we must then take the responsibility to explore what the possibilities are for starting a church in that particular location. This is when some initial contact must be made in order to explore the various things that God is doing in that campus or city. A vision trip is helpful in order to assess and pray more specifically for God’s will to be revealed. As God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility come together, we will be able to see more clearly the direction God wants us to move towards as a church.

3) E – Establish the community. One crucial piece of the whole exploration process is to start establishing a community of people, who are willing to commit to the vision of starting a church. It is critical that we have some people in that city, as well as people from other HMCC churches, who are willing to sacrifice for the reality of the church plant. We have to remember that not all our church plants will start off right away as a “typical” church. We are open to initially starting a LIFE Group or even starting a house church with the established community. As the community is established, we will be able to make a better, informed decision on the possibility of planting the church.

4) D – Discern the sustainability. With the formation of the community of faith, we need to prayerfully discern if they are able to continue to live out the principles of Acts 2:42-47 in a sustainable way. There are four specific areas that will give a good indication of the sustainability of the community: maturity, ministry, multiplication, and missions. When a community of faith is growing in their relationship with Christ and their love for one another, then the community can be sustained. As the community is growing in maturity, it will naturally overflow to people doing ministry by serving one another and to the surrounding area. One factor that we want to carefully observe is the multiplication of disciples. If people are not reproducing themselves by evangelism and discipleship, then the community will be weakened and implode due to their self-centeredness. This is why the group’s heart for God’s mission has to be monitored. These markers will help gauge the realistic sustainability of the future church plant.

5) S – Start with quality. Too often, church plants are concerned with growth in the quantity of people that it is easy to compromise on the quality. We have to remember that Jesus never sought after the crowd but rather He focused on a few. It was through this intentional, focused investment that the Church was established after His death. When we start the church with a focus on quality, we will be able to build up a strong church. The quality has to permeate in our disciple-making, our witness, our LIFE Group community, our love for God and love for people. If we are faithful in developing quality Christ-followers, then the numbers will take care of itself.

 
 
Therefore, if we remember the acronym PLANT SEEDS, then we will have a pretty good idea of how to move forward in HMCC’s vision to plant churches in various campuses, cities, countries, and continents.

The most recent example of these principles being lived out is in Singapore. As the church was started in an unconventional way, we are seeing God do some extraordinary things in the lives of the people at HMCC of Singapore.

As we look forward into the future, we are seeing God sovereignly bring people together in different cities in the States, as well as in international cities around the world. With prayer and God’s grace over our lives, I am confident that we will be able to witness more churches being planted by the year 2020.
 
 

“’Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’” (Lk 19:17)

The Freshmen Class

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo by Washington School Inn
 
 
 
I realized that serving as a pastor on a college campus is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, there is a great sense of joy because I am able to meet a new batch of freshmen every year, as they start their college years. Then on the other hand, there is a great sense of sadness because you have to say bye to some of them after building a strong relationship for four years. It is truly bittersweet.

It definitely takes a certain type of personality to do this year after year. I am truly thankful for the privilege and the opportunity that God has given to me to influence and impact college students.

Over time, it has been good to see many of our students being placed all over the world and hearing about the difference they are making in their specific fields or vocations. Now, we are slowly seeing churches being started by our members; and we will see even more in the future, as we are pressing forward with the 2020 Vision.

This is why I was thrilled to meet up with our freshmen class yesterday. In God’s sovereignty, this is the largest freshmen class we have had in the history of our church. In fact, this class even doubles in size (and even possibly triples in size) of other previous freshmen classes. The freshmen class represents the poster child of the Generation Y. William Strauss and Neil Howe are social historians who have use 1982 and 2001 as the start and end years of the Generation Y. Therefore the freshmen and sophomore class are pretty representative of this generation.

We have a tradition in our church of having each freshmen class give themselves a name by the Undergraduate Retreat in October. This year’s freshmen class decided to call themselves as “Catalyst.”

In the Cambridge Dictionary, it simply defines “catalyst” as, “a condition, event, or person that is the cause of an important change.” If our name is supposed to be our destiny, then how exciting it would be to see how God will use this class to be the “cause of an important change” in our generation, throughout all the nations.

After introducing myself to this class, we talked about a lot of things ranging from how I proposed to Christina to other church related things. I encouraged and exhorted them to use their time in college to gain God’s heart by getting discipled, making good decisions, and committing to the local church. Then, as time passes by, they will be able to “connect the dots” and see how God is powerfully working in their lives.

I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for them.

One thing unique about this class is that they will be the only class who will have the most amount of years to fulfill the 2020 Vision. This is a great privilege. But with great privilege comes great responsibility. If the Catalyst class are united and are committed to the spreading of God’s Kingdom throughout the nations, then they can be the “world shakers and history makers” in their generation, just like many other generations who have gone before them.

God is Mapping Detroit

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Vision

 
I was able to catch part of the Super Bowl in Austin, TX. The leadership team and my crew went out to eat and then headed back to Pastor Ben’s place to catch the 2nd half of the Super Bowl game.

We were all trying to be polite to one another as we were rooting for our team. By default, I was rooting for the Steelers, since the Packers defeated my beloved Bears. Then something happened in the 3rd quarter, which had nothing to do with the game.

As we were watching the commercials ($3 million for a 30 second spot), we were shocked to see the one by Chrysler, which highlighted Detroit. For the whole 2 minutes (the whole commercial intermission), there was a sense of nostalgia, awe, pride and hope that filled the room. As I looked around, I realized that 90% of the people in the room had some connection with Michigan – whether they went to school there, lived there or is living there now.

The conclusion was unanimous. The commercial was pretty incredible.

For me, I couldn’t help but to think about some of the things that God has been speaking to me about regarding the city of Detroit. The timing of everything is pretty humbling and awe-inspiring. God is somehow orchestrating things, even through the secular media to put Detroit on the map. There seems to be a resurgence of energy for the things that are happening in the Big-D, as well as an awakening of hope for greater things to come.

What an awesome testimony it would be if God, in His Sovereignty would take a city that is on the bottom of the list in the United States and then turn it around for His glory, especially as the Church of Jesus is praying and wanting to become a “city on a hill”?

I don’t know if I can shake off this feeling that God is doing something (way bigger than us) and that He might be opening up a door for our church to do something in the future.

No matter where I go or where I turn to, I am constantly confronted with this strange conviction that Detroit will be the next city where God wants to do some great things. As we were flying back from Austin to Detroit, I picked up the Sky Delta Magazine. There is a whole section on Detroit titled, “Motor City Momentum.” There is definitely momentum that is building. Now, the Church needs to be discerning and respond in faith.

“This is the Motor City and this is what we do” [Eminem]
 
 

A Vision for Detroit

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Vision

 

Photo by Getty Images
 
 
 
When you look throughout the Bible, you will notice the significance of cities. It was in particular cities where God revealed Himself and where He sent people to declare His truth. As we specifically look at the early church, we notice that once persecution started (Ac 8:1), the believers were scattered throughout the world in various cities and they ended up preaching the Gospel (Ac 8:4). Even in Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, we see how he entered into various cities in different regions.

In my time in Jakarta in 2009-2010, I begin to understand the greater significance of the city. I was amazed to see how Jakarta, the capital and the largest city in Indonesia, was able to affect and influence the rest of the country. Jakarta has about 9.5 million people which is a small fraction of the 238 million people in Indonesia; but Jakarta is the country’s economic, cultural and political center. Therefore, what happens in Jakarta affects the rest of the country.

Recently, God has been placing a burden on my heart for Detroit. I still remember my first time going to Detroit when Christina and I moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor back in 1996. With all our nostalgic memories of Chicago, we decided to drive to downtown Detroit. Our first-time experience in Detroit ended up being a rude awakening for us. We were shocked to see all the dilapidated buildings and the decay in the city landscape. It was hard to believe that in history, Detroit was once a thriving and growing city because of the economy, music and the arts.

After that experience, we only went to Detroit a handful of times for various sporting events and music performances, but other than that we had no reason to go there.

But God has been bringing various things into my life in order to get my attention and to stir a burden for the city of Detroit. First, there was a discussion with a few married people after one of the evening sessions of our Covenant (married couples) Retreat back in September. We talked about the dismal condition Detroit was in and how things can change if someone just had a vision. For some reason, I could not get this discussion of my mind.

Secondly, through various articles and news information, God was trying to put a greater burden in my heart for all the needs in Detroit. In fact, one poignant article was in Forbes Magazine. They had an interactive map and it graphically showed where Americans were moving in and out of various cities. It revealed that more than 10 million Americans moved from one place to another during 2008 and it was displayed by black lines, which indicate net inward movement, while red lines showed net outward movement.

I just clicked on to NYC first and then to Detroit and instantly, my heart began to break (refer to the graphs below).
 
 

 
 

 
 
 
Then recently, I read a Newsweek article titled, “America’s Dying Cities”. Not only was Detroit in this Top 10 list, but two other Michigan cities (Flint and Grand Rapids) made the list. What is going on? God, what are you trying to say to me? What is it that you are trying to do? What do you want me to do?

Thirdly, back in November, someone forwarded a video to me. The video explained an evangelistic campaign called EACH (Everyone A Chance to Hear) where many churches around the greater Metro Detroit area were uniting together to reach Detroit with the Gospel.

You can watch the video here:
 

 
 
After watching the video, I was gripped with the conviction that God was already working in the hearts of His people to have a burden and a vision for the transformation of Detroit. This is when I doubled checked and realized that the video was produced right around the time when some of the married people and I were talking about Detroit back in September.

With this realization, I felt convicted to share the vision of transformation for Detroit with our whole church during our All Church-Wide Gathering on a Friday in early December. After the message, the response and prayer time, several people came up to me and shared how God has put a burden in their hearts for Detroit, but they didn’t know what to do with it. But as the Spirit moved that night and after hearing the message, some of the members started to see the possibility of a future church plant in Detroit, near the Wayne State University campus. I was blown away with the intensity of the people’s willingness and commitment to do whatever is required to be a part of what God was doing in Detroit.

Fourthly, I was able to contact one of the African-American pastors who is part of the leadership for EACH. All I can say is that it was a divine appointment. In our meeting, we ended up sharing our testimonies and how God has given us a burden for the greater Detroit area. As God is opening up more doors for me to interact with various pastors who are committed to Detroit, we are coming to the conclusion that the situation with Detroit is actually a spiritual problem; and out of this, comes forth all the issues of the economy, crime, gangs, corruption, and etc.

Even though this journey so far has been only 5 months, I am confident that God is going to do something extraordinary. As our church is fasting and praying, we are preparing ourselves to be positioned to obey God with whatever He brings our way. If reaching out to Detroit is something that God is doing, then we are praying that He would give us the privilege of being part of His awesome work.

All I know is that God is moving in the hearts of some of the college students, who are taking entrepreneurship classes and gaining a vision and heart for reaching Detroit. God is also stirring in the hearts of the single adults with the possibility of even moving out near Detroit, where it not only closer to their workplace, but they want to be a part of bringing transformation and revitalization to the city of Detroit.

We are just humbled and amazed.

Can it be that God would use a city like Detroit, where is it know for so many “bad” things, in order to show the world that when God’s people unite together to pray and seek His face that He can turn things around?

What a testimony would it be of God’s power and grace!
 

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Co 1:27-29)

SGP & JKT 2010 Update 5

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint, Vision

 
Today, I had the opportunity to have dinner with the church planting team. It was great to reconnect with everyone. The dinner conversation covered everything from some personal experiences here in Indonesia to updating on the happenings in the various HMCC churches back in the States. Other conversations I am not permitted to mention in public :-)

Then, we went to the house and I shared about the importance of loving the city that we are called to serve. We can stick around a place because of the local church, but we also need to see that God calls us to stay at a place because of our love for the people in that city. We spent the rest of the time praying for the “shalom” and the blessings of God in Karawaci, Jakarta, and all over Indonesia.

It has been encouraging to see God work powerfully in the lives of these members. I am seeing God move within their hearts, as they surrender themselves to His Sovereignty and Majesty. Since there were so many good testimonies, I thought it would be good if they shared from their own lips, as they give glory to God.

You guys are awesome! Keep up the good work.
 
 
 

Advancing Together with the 2020 Vision

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publication Team
 
 
 
It has been about a month since we shared the 2020 Vision with all the HMCC churches. Once again, this is an endeavor that will require a tremendous amount of faith and prayer. Throughout history, whenever great things were accomplished, there were several traits consistently present:

1) Revelation from God. Whenever there is a God-size vision, it has to come from God and His Word. If the vision is centered around human wishes or dreams, then it will not go very far. God has to reveal the vision to His people. Also, the vision has to be consistent with His promises and purposes that are found in His Word.

2) Response from the people. Once the revelation is given, God’s people have a choice whether to respond in obedience and take steps of faith or to cower away and miss out on His blessings. This is why before making any decisions, we need to saturate things in prayer so that we can first, discern if the revelation is from God, but so that secondly, we can have the courage to respond in obedience.

3) Reliance upon God. As we make the resolution to live by faith and trust in God’s promises, we need to continue to rely upon God. Achieving a vision is not an easy task. In fact, it requires us to live life with purpose and perseverance. We will often times find ourselves losing heart and focus in achieving any goal or dream. This is why as we learn how to pray and depend on God, we will find strength to move forward with courage.

 
 
The 2020 Vision for all the HMCC churches has been progressively revealed to us throughout the years. God has been giving us the pieces of the puzzle, a little at a time. It was only by His grace, where we were able to connect the dots and realize what He wanted us to do.

As this revelation was given to us, we said, “yes” to God, even though at times, we felt inadequate and saw our shortcomings. This is part of living a life of faith – we do not look at the here and now, but we put our gaze upon God, who holds our future in His hands. The 2020 Vision will continually challenge us to live by faith and not by sight, so that the only person who will receive the glory, will be God.

There will be bumps along the way, but we can be confident that God will lead us. This is why we need to rely upon Him. As this vision will extend to the year 2020, we have to learn how to hold things loosely. Learning how to rely upon God means that we need to have a spirit of discernment. If God directs us elsewhere in the next few years, we need to be able to let God and follow God. If God presses us forward with even a greater increase in the vision, then we need to be faithful and obey.

Already, we have seen several missional initiatives start up in HMCC of Ann Arbor. I can’t wait for other great testimonies to come forth. Our view of God will always determine the size of our vision. I believe we serve a big God, therefore this vision is huge. What is impossible with man is possible with God. This is the quiet confidence that we have and we are anticipating greater things to come. Don’t forget the math: 1, 10, 100, 1000!