Category Archives: leadership

2002 Q&A session with Pastor Ken Fong

Pastor Ken Fong (Evergreen LA) spent almost an hour with a group gathered at L2 Foundation‘s 2002 Leadership Forum in Monterey, California. (This was an improvised leaders gathering for about 20 Asian American ministry leaders from the San Francisco Bay area.)

We had this interactive Q&A session recorded on video, and you can glean some wisdom from his ministry experience. I think his remark that we don’t have to be Bill Hybels or Rick Warren in order to be effective in ministry is particularly helpful. Other topics discussed include: using external resources (curriculums, consultants), dealing with changes (how something no longer fits), the role of seminaries for ministry training, celebrating MLK day in a mostly Asian church, learnings from a sabbatical, transmission of theology, history of American churches, pastoral internships, organizational aspects of church operations. Many of these remarks are still timely.

Watch the video online and add your comment here. What would you ask Ken Fong if you had an opportunity? Well you do right here! You may ask Ken Fong a question here, and I’ll invite him to answer in the comment thread.

results and outcomes show progress towards a mission

This Found+Read article, Outcomes vs. Activity: Why everything a founder does must be a means to a specific end, has keen insights how results (really should) matter to any organization [ht: Terry Storch] ::

Some people choose wisely and focus on high-impact activities that truly move the needle. Others, however, work the same number of hours without making clear progress toward measurable results. Focusing on what really matters is a difficult-to-achieve skill in our “attention deficit disorder” world. Successful leaders–and, therefore, successful founders–invest the time to clearly identify, prioritize, and communicate key goals. They then measure their success by real progress against those desired outcomes. By focusing on the end results, creative leaders can identify the shortcuts and often achieve those goals with less work.

As we talk about outcomes vs. activity, it is important to nail down the semantics. Outcomes, in this context, means a certain, generally measurable, end result — and one that matters a great deal. Activities, however, are a set of tactics that are used to achieve that outcome. Productivity might then be defined as the value of a certain outcome divided by the cost of the activities used to achieve it — simply put, the return on your investment (ROI).

If this is a bit confusing, that is good. Understanding this confusion is the first step to seeing how easily things can go terribly awry. Because many of us founders are so accomplishment driven, we tend to look at both activities and outcomes as accomplishments. While they both could be achievements, results should almost always be valued well ahead of tactics. A long day at the office often creates the illusion that we are creating value and driving the ball downfield. Ticking off tasks on your to-do list fills you with a sense of accomplishments but did you achieve the end goal? Many of the activities create some benefit, but is it making a tangible difference for the organization? Is it the most effective use of your time? Often, the answer is no and, unfortunately, few people are aware of it. …

Defending yourself against the myopia of task saturation requires a bit of planning. Defining key outcomes is the first step to getting back on the road to productivity and effectiveness. Are the results that we hope to achieve measurable and meaningful? Can we assign dates to deliveries? What are the key measures of success and an appropriate sampling rate? Successful practitioners focus on the goal despite the forest of tasks, distractions, and nice-to-do activities.

Once founders begin to assess their team against key measures, they are often surprised to see how quickly they can create a results-driven culture. In that kind of enlightened organization, it’s about ownership, trust, accountability — and not about hours worked.

Even for a non-profit organization like a church or parachurch ministry, results and outcomes are important, though somewhat more difficult to measure than sales in a for-profit business world. What have you found helpful to measure results and outcomes for your church’s ministry programs, so that you can see progress that you’re making in fulfilling your mission?

training English-speaking Chinese leaders

Eugene Hor has been the pastor for English ministries at the Burwood Chinese Presbyterian Church in Sydney, Australia since 1999, involved in planting their evening congregation Burwood@Five, now known as GracePoint.

I’d recently found his blog and website, and learned of his work with Rev. Ying Yee as members of the English Task Force of Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelization (CCCOWE). They’ve been working on the development of the Ministry Apprentice Program (MAP) in Sydney, Australia. This apprentice program is a 2-year process that’s designed to provide on-the-job leadership and ministry training for next generation pastors, and even helps develop a ministry training culture in the church. It’s interesting to see this kind of development around the world among Chinese Christian leaders to better train up the English-speaking next generation.

View the Entrust Newsletter- January-March 2007 for stories of how the MAP (Ministry Apprentice Program) is working to raise up Gospel workers & ministry leaders, and the Entrust Newsletter- October-December 2006 for the vision of mentoring and raising up 1,000 ministry leaders in a decade.

China’s New Creative Class

The cover story of June 2007’s Fast Company featured the new generation of cultural creatives in China, The Next Cultural Revolution: The Chinese don’t get creativity, right? Sure, they can stamp out a widget, or knock off a DVD, but when it comes to imagination, they just don’t have the gene. Well, keep telling yourself that. This will be exciting to see unfold, just as cultural creatives emerge among next generation Asian Americans in the United States too. Here’s an excerpt:

… While a flurry of activity (and, yes, a government five-year plan) has stressed scientific and technological innovation, look a little closer and you’ll see that creativity in art and industry–in design, fashion, media, and the like–is fast becoming a driving national mission.

Look past the behemoth Three Gorges Dam, past a highway system that will be larger than America’s by 2020, and China is building a creative infrastructure, too, at breakneck speed. You can sense it in the trendy restaurants and slick boutiques popping up in major cities–and in the gritty ex-warehouse and factory districts where imagination-driven companies are joining the cafés and art galleries that first settled in.

… But does China have what it takes to become a creative superpower? At first glance, even the Chinese seem unsure. “We asked a thousand 15- to 35-year-olds in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to rank the 20 or 25 words that best describe China,” says P.T. Black, an American-born partner of Jigsaw International, a Shanghai-based trend-forecasting firm that counts major multinationals as clients. And “‘creative’ placed close to last.”

… “In Chinese society, it’s always the old people who have power,” says Ou, who’s dressed in a pair of pea-green Nikes to complement his austere eyewear and uniform of black. “We want to create a platform for young people to speak their own voice.”

… “The young generation in China is unbelievably strong,” says Stefano Boeri, who, as editor of the Italian design bible Domus (he’s now at Abitare), oversaw the launch of the magazine’s Chinese edition last year. Boeri is referring to China’s emerging architects, but his words resonate more broadly: “They still need to metabolize,” he continues, “but in a few years, they’ll produce something new. Of this I’m absolutely sure.”

… Not that China doesn’t have some work to do. Overall, its education system still does little to inspire. And then there’s the weight of government censorship (a heavily redacted Internet, for example), red tape, and all that nagging piracy–though Beijing is working on a national design policy that promises, officially at least, to better protect intellectual property rights while promoting new education initiatives. What’s more, while the country has spectacularly leapfrogged into contemporaneity, the flip side, many Chinese will tell you, is that there’s not much of a pop- or sub-culture foundation to build on.

Read the full article >>

developing next gen Korean UMC churches

A Task Force on Korean American Ministries was called for by General Conference of the United Methodist Church denomination. In their report from March/April 2000, their findings are consistent with what L2 Foundation has noticed among many ethnic Asian immigrant churches:

A main concern among both laypeople and clergy is that the traditional styles of leadership that worked well for first-generation congregations may not serve the second generation equally well. The Korean American United Methodist community has experienced tensions within its membership over such issues as the role of clergywomen, the role of the laity, the need to develop either Korean-language resources or bilingual and English-language resources, and the need to develop leaders who can minister effectively to the next generation of Korean Americans.

The Korean American National Plan was established by the United Methodist General Conference of 2000 to strengthen Korean ministries. Since I don’t read Korean, I was not able to readily learn about how this National Plan at the Korean-language UMC.org website proceeds to empowers new styles of leadership for the second generation Korean/Asian Americans and English-language resources.

I did learn of a conference called the TG Convocation on August 1-5, 2007, hosted by the English Ministry at Arcola Korean United Methodist Church in New Jersey. Its theme this year is missions, both in the local context and overseas. The keynote speaker is Reverend Dr. Minho Song, senior pastor of Young Nak Presbyterian Church of Toronto. He is an experienced English ministry pastor with a passion for teaching and missions.

I’ve contacted the conference organizers to learn more about how the UMC is developing leadership for next generation Korean/ Asian Americans. Will report here what I find.

connecting innovative Asian American churches

I’m so grateful to see how God takes my dreams and orchestrates it beyond my own limitations and far exceeded my own expectations! They must’ve been God’s dream to begin with. During the past 6 months since coming on board with Leadership Network (via a partnership with L2 Foundation), I’ve been researching churches all over North America that are effectively ministering to next generation English-speaking Asian Americans.

My working assumption was that God was working amongst this racial grouping, and there was innovation to be found. I know that with China’s 5,000 years of history that traditions have often overshadowed innovation, and it was pleasantly surprising to see how much innovation is going on in this next generation. With over 100 million (1/3 of the population) in the United States being a minority now, churches have a huge opportunity to minister to this racial & ethnic diversity.

During the 24-hour period at an experience we called the Asian American Pastors Wild Challenge, I worked with an excellent support team to gather 17 churches to connect face-to-face with each other for focused conversations. Pulling together such a diverse group with churches of all sizes from different locations and wide theological variance left a tinge of uncertain anxiety. That was instantly displaced with overwhelming excitement. The quick engagement and instant combustion was amazing to see!

About a month ago, I had published a report with an overview of what’s happening with Asian American churches, which was produced via results from an online survey. But to get the face-to-face interaction adds a human touch and rich texture to better understand and appreciate God’s handiwork.

Pastor Seth Kim from Harvest Mission Community Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote about his experience as a participant:

As I am sitting here reflecting on my 24 hours in Dallas, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed (in a good sense). First of all, it is incredible to think that God would use imperfect people to build His Kingdom. Sometimes, I see myself messing things up more than anything else. But God is truly gracious and patient – truly amazing.

Secondly, to think that there are so many like-minded people (Kingdom minded) all over the States (and the world) is another overwhelming thought. God is truly moving and doing some great things in various churches. I was so encouraged to hear about some of the awesome things that God was doing across the nation.

Lastly, as I have downloaded some incredible discussions and dialogue about the Church with some cutting-edge (euphuism for people willing to take risks) pastors, the question is: how do I help navigate some of the things that God spoke to Pastor Andrew and me at this conference?

I realized that in our context, not everything is transferable but the principles are universal. The challenge is trying to come up with details for the framework that was discussed. Such topics as multi-ethnicity, leadership, and mentoring now need to be applied beyond the theoretical to the practical.

It is definitely going to be a process but I am thankful that God has led us to think through some of issues even before the conference. As I was interacting with some of the other pastors and leaders, I felt a tremendous sense of affirmation and confirmation of the direction that God is leading us into the future – we are not alone.

[cross-posted from the Leadership Network Learnings blog]

checking-in on Virginia Tech

[mirrored from the Leadership Network Learnings blog]

I talked with Josh Deng to check-in on what’s happening there in terms of a Christian witness on the Virginia Tech campus. Josh is a Virginia Tech junior (who is Chinese/Asian-American) and on the leadership team of vtONE, an organization that unites the body of Christ at Virginia Tech in worship, prayer, and repentance. vtONE holds a semesterly worship event that draws some 800 people from many different campus ministries. Listen to this 8-minute interview about vtONE, how God has been showing up at that campus, and how we can pray specifically for them:

Josh’s blog also has several in-the-moment entries with his thoughts and feelings from earlier this week.