On this episode, Mike Cosper chats with Dan Hyun. Dan is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Baltimore, MD. Today, we're talking to Dan Hyun, pastor of the Village Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Dan planted the Village Church in 2008 with a vision of growing a multicultural community, and he's done that. We talk about the challenges of that calling starting with growing up in Korean churches and growing into the vision that drives him today.
Jeremiah Taylor: This is Jeremiah Taylor in Miami, Florida, and this is Sojourn Network.
Mike Cosper: Hey there. This is Mike Cosper, one of the board members here at Sojourn Network where we exist to plant, grow, and multiply healthy churches that last. On each episode of our podcast, members of Sojourn Network sit down to talk about their calling, their ministry, and the particular challenges they faced as pastors and church planters.
Today, I'll be talking to Dan Hyun, pastor of The Village Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Dan planted The Village Church in 2008 with a vision of growing a multicultural community, and he's done that. We talk about the challenges of that calling starting with growing up in Korean churches and growing into the vision that drives him today.
Dan Hyun: I spent most my life in the Philadelphia area pretty far away from God. Grew up in a great Christian home, a great family, great parents who love Jesus. I think being raised in that environment, I came to recognize I don't think I understood the gospel probably in all of its nuances.
People of different opinions when I'm talking with them whether I was truly saved or not. I think I was saved at a younger age, but just had a pretty far backsliding season in my life. So, I'd gone away to college, fell pretty hard away from the Lord, some pretty destructive behavior, but through some different circumstances, the Lord drew me back to him.
So, after college, I started going to a church in Philadelphia area and from there, the Lord really moved my heart. Part of that was calling me into the pastoral ministry. In Philly, I got involved with some church planting work. It was in the midst of that when I met my wife to be. She was living in Baltimore at the time, so we had to make the decision who was going where and eventually, I had no other reason other than her, which is pretty compelling, but that's what drew me to Baltimore.
It wasn't with the intent to plant a church, but I got involved in the church she was helping to lead here in Baltimore. Through that, it was a church planting church, we were eventually sent out to start The Village. We're actually coming up on 10 years as a church plant or a church now. I still call ourselves a church plant because I think you get special either allowances or pity or stuff from people, but we're coming about 10 years now.
One thing about planting churches in Baltimore that I try to share with a lot of younger guys who are looking into it is it's hard to plant anywhere, but I think in particular urban areas like Baltimore you've got to give yourself a long on-ramp, even when you've officially started, to see some of the fruit you're hoping for.
So, for us even up at about five years as a church plant, we were experiencing decent growth health, but it wasn't really anything. There were some challenges involved, but we've seen a lot more in the years since then. I think that's pretty common to a lot of the stories I've heard from other planters in the city as well.
Mike Cosper: What specifically comes to mind to you? Like what's a story or a specific instance of facing an obstacle?
Dan Hyun: I remember before we started the church, I would explain our vision of trying to be a church that would be able to reach out to anyone. I don't think our multicultural vision has probably nuanced as it is now, but it was definitely still there where we wanted a church. For me especially growing up in settings that were almost fully homogenous with Korean American churches, more pan-Asian churches, I felt I wanted to be part of leading a church that would be there for anyone who would want to step in and walk with the community.
But in expressing that vision, I got told by a good number of people that you know what, actually if you went down South 95, I-95, about half an hour there's this city called Columbia, Maryland where if you started there, I think you could do real well because there's a lot of Asian Americans. There is a more professional kind of environment, pretty upper-middle-class. Yeah, I think you could do it.
We just felt this calling towards our neighborhood in Baltimore, which was probably not that especially back then 10 years, over 10 years ago. But we've seen the challenges with that and trying to be a church that's going to be there to reach really anyone. People, church planters and particularly in some of these discussions, we like to talk about homogenous unit principle and we're not going to do that. We're not going to be a fast church growth movement. We're beyond that.
The reality is you just grow quicker and you probably get more momentum if you are focusing on one particular demographic, whether it's particular cultural group, a particular niche of people, ethnicity, life-stage. But when you're trying to do it like we were, we were like a mutt. So, even in the beginning when we had people come in, they were like, "Yes, it's not bad, but it doesn't feel like a church definitely for where I'm at in my life right now." Everyone would say that.
So, I think just trying to get momentum going to form this new kind of community, we were almost on a form our own identity of who we were, it just takes much longer to do that especially when you're new church. We started with 11 people including my wife and I. So, it was from the ground up in doing that. So, it's just taking a while for us to grab our identity in our city for white people.
So, at this point to be brutally honest, I think people are searching us out because it doesn't feel like this church or that church. There is a unique feel, but that wasn't, I don't think, the drawing point back in the beginning.
Mike Cosper: Yeah. So, the churches you grew up in were primarily the majority culture in the churches was Korean or Asian, is that right?
Dan Hyun: Yeah.
Mike Cosper: It is counterintuitive, right, to have a vision for multiethnic church. What was it particularly about a multiethnic church vision? Where did that come from for you? Was it a theological thing? Was it cultural preference or was it just an internal sense of calling?
Dan Hyun: This might be a little more unique for an Asian American living in America as a minority culture, but the reality is a lot of Korean American churches in particular can really thrive and grow just by reaching Korean Americans. If you're city like L.A., there's probably no need to have to actually go outside of that ethnic group to grow as a church.
But what I discovered and my heart beats for this, but we would continually talk about things like being on mission, being evangelistic. Hey, we want to be a church where you can invite coworkers and friends to come be with you and as you're building relation with them, "Hey, I go to this church and you can come join me."
But for what we were here from more and more people and I think what I recognize myself as well especially back in Philly, as much as we would put that vision out there, "Hey, love your neighbor, love your coworker," for most of the people in our church they would say, "Yeah, but a lot of my coworkers, a lot my neighbors they're not Korean. So if I invite them to this church, it would be really awkward if they came in and joined us for worship, for instance. They would just stick out like a sore thumb. I can't do that."
So, obviously there's theological reasons why believe in the robust expression of the church in multicultural means, but there's also a very practical, missional ... There's more people that can be reached if our vision extended beyond just the people that we were probably had most affinity with.
Mike Cosper: Yeah, no. It makes a lot of sense. It's interesting to me like you describe how it's taken you a longer time because you pursued it this way. To me, I think there's something about multiethnic church planting and that vision that we always talk about how it's something we aspire to because it's more reflective. It's more honestly reflective of the shape of the kingdom of God. It's more reflective of the diversity of God's family and everything, but as you've said, it's more difficult.
It makes me think about another sort of lens to look at it through it would be just the lens of discipleship. You're choosing a path that in a lot of ways is a healthier, more robust vision for a church, but because of that it's harder. So, in many ways your choice is a choice of health over growth, right?
Dan Hyun: Yeah. I mean if we just give very just specific, practical examples, so in the beginning part of our church, we had an identity crisis. We just didn't know what kind of church we were. At that time, certain networks were really prominent and you want to be like those because you hear this vision of church planting.
But again for us, the reason why we ... I mean, I fully agree with the idea of the multiethnic church. We use multicultural just to be a little broader also talking about areas of class. Just even in Baltimore there's a large, I'm sure this is in other urban areas as well, but a large discrepancy between if you're reaching natives and local to your particular neighborhood or those who are transplants.
Baltimore is a hugely transplant city especially younger millennials and professionals, which is great. But our desire was to be a church that could be there for also that population which probably reflective of me and our original team, but also those who are born and bred in our neighborhood which is a little bit more blue-collar, probably not as a formally educated, different challenges that you would associate with the city.
So, in the beginning then, we would have some people come in and maybe they're moving to the city and they're coming from different networks that do church a certain way. Again, I sometimes make fun of the whole gospel-centered or really robust theologically which I would say I agree with.
But then they would see some of the ways we do discipleship because we're trying to reach those who are not going to resonate with some of those expressions, whether it's just too over their head. They would say, "I like the idea of the church, but this is just not feeding me. This is not ... I want to place that we're to dig deep into these authors or these resources."
We would do some stuff like video curriculum. One of the things about doing a church plant especially among different communities educationally, God's had to humble me because I used to be one of those arrogant guys that I'm never going to use these video, corny stories that these preachers share. That's not deep. That's lame. That's shallow. But we found out amongst some of our people, especially from the neighborhood, those were the most effective means to communicate the truth of the gospel to them.
I had to let God convict me of my intellectual arrogance and say in the end, is it about you having to say you're doing it your way or again not to be purely pragmatic, but are you getting in the way of different people experiencing the fullness of Christ because of the means? So, but the reality we had to wrestle with, we're probably telling other people then this might not be the church for you back at that point.
Mike Cosper: Have you seen some of those folks catch that vision and get on board?
Dan Hyun: We have, we have. I think part of what it's been, and this is actually some deeper work I'm trying to explore and develop more. But I think often when we talk about the multiethnic church, multicultural church, it's just in vogue obviously, but I think particularly the white evangelical world, we're always looking at the goals and the destination and how can we get somewhere and what do we need to do to do that?
So, when it comes to diversity, for instance, we want to become a diverse church or we want to become a church that's reflective of all community. So, what are the steps we need to do to get there? Which is good, but what we're seeing more and more is it's not just the destination, which is needed and where we want to get to, but the actual expression and living out of being a diverse church with many different cultures represented is God's very means of discipling us.
So, it's not just where we want to get into, the journey itself is how God will form us, how he'll shape us, how he'll crush some things within us that we thought were really important. Maybe we're seeing that's maybe not the bigger point of what God's trying to do in us. If he's trying to make us more like Jesus, having to walk with people whose preferences and desires and expressions might be very different than yours can be one of the best things for us to die to ourselves to become more like Christ.
So, I would say some of the folks who would naturally resonate with a church that has a very academic expression, they might even say the way The Village does some stuff is not like they're total wheelhouse but being part of this community makes it more practical, it makes it more real. Does that make sense?
Mike Cosper: Yeah, I mean in a way you're describing a community that's willing to submit to one another, to kind of crucify their preferences.
Dan Hyun: Yeah.
Mike Cosper: An old mentor of mine, a guy by the name of Chip Stamm used to always say that a mature worshiper is easily edified. He would always kind of use that in the context of talking about whenever you're outside of your normal worshiping context, you visit another church, or you go to a conference, or you go to one of these places. The tendency especially I think in pastors or people who are seminary trained even just folks who are theologically minded is to show up into a new context and immediately like the critical lens comes up of the style of music, or the theological depth of the music, or of the preacher, even just the aesthetics or whatever. And Chip would say this just to say like, "Maturity means being able to show up into one of these settings and if Christ is being worshiped being able to enter in and appreciate what's happening around you." So in a way I think what you're describing is like a vision where that's the whole life of the community, everyone who's going to come in is going to be called to maturity because they're going to have to sacrifice a certain amount of their own preferences and prejudices in order to be able to honor their brother and sister that are next to them, that are meanwhile are also giving something up in order to be a part of that broader community.
Dan Hyun: You know just so from a pastoral perspective or planter perspective, just a real example is preaching for instance. God's taught me a lot especially from the early years. I used to if I look back at my old messages I cringe because I was pretty much taking my heroes or people I looked up to as church planters, pastors, and just doing my version of it so it wasn't orally my voice, it wasn't very I guess compelling to the context we were in. And part of this whole process is not just our people being formed but me as a leader, and having to die to that kind of person I think is an admirable, respectable type of preacher, pastor. I think I've gotten better now but especially a few years ago when I was still finding that voice, I know we would have some people come in, they hear about the church but then they hear me preach and are like, "Uh, it just doesn't feel very deep. It doesn't feel like whatever gospel-centered looks like or whatever reformed expository preaching looks like, it doesn't feel like that."
And we would try to be very clear, I'm seminary trained, it's not like I can't put together that kind of three point fully ... and I just try not to use names but you know that kind of sermon, it's not like I can't do that. I'm not saying I would do it well but it's not like I can't do that. But there's intention for how we communicate and how we preach. And that's a part of your discipleship to say, "Yeah you know what, preaching is important." And we're not saying it's not important, but it's not the only thing.
If your goal is to just get a seminary level lecture type sermon there's plenty of churches that can do that, but we have a bigger vision. And again, like you were saying earlier it's dying to yourself, it's not about just you it's submitting to the others in this community as well. And we've tried to see that as a grid for how God is trying to even in our desire to grow maybe revealing some of the things that we're looking for that are smaller than the greater mission and vision of God's kingdom moving forward.
Mike Cosper: You know I think for a lot of probably our listeners the cultural backdrop is that kind of seminary trained three points expositional preaching, all of the things that our reformed tribe gets really excited about. I agree with you 100%, I think that model it's a great model but it's a model, it's very middle-class, it's very sort of reflective of white Western academic thinking and culture and all of that. So one of the things that I wrestle with is, how do we help somebody where that's the norm for them, how do we help them even imagine doing it different? I think it's hard for people if that's all they know to even imagine something different. What steps did you take to kind of stretch beyond your theological education and learn to communicate in different ways?
Dan Hyun: Yeah, that was my whole dissertation for my DMin work cause we experienced as a church where I think in some ways, I think I can kind of do it intuitively now but it's really hard to replicate that in training other preachers within our context. So the whole I guess approach was, how do you develop and train that? And realize that even for me it wasn't as intuitive as I think it is, but there were steps.
But to put it down, I think some of it is taking a multi-pronged approach. One of it is just skills training obviously in learning how to preach as you would in any homiletics class, but I think learning from different disciplines as well, I think it requires engaging in different preaching resources and different masters of the craft to learn from other than the ones that you would just naturally go to, just to be able to sharpen your exposition, your communication, your delivery, more than even the information that's conveyed, how you convey those things. I think often that's a big part of what gets missed in cross-cultural preaching.
For me one of the biggest things that helped was learning that sermon prep is not just the things I'm reading but it's the people I'm talking to. And the more different people that I want to be able to reach with my preaching, and as I'm trying to train other guys you need to talk to as many people from different cultural contexts as possible both before you're preaching and sometimes the prep then is just bringing up your passage or talking about points and just hearing how different people respond to that or what questions they have that are pry going to be very different then what you would normally press into just to left to yourself.
But it's also after you're preaching getting response and feedback from representatives of different communities in your church. And just saying, "Well, what did you hear there? What spoke to you? How did that resonate? What do you take with that? Where do you go with that?" So I think it involves on the learning end obviously from resources involved getting as much of a diversity in that but also on the people end, walking and talking with as many different experiences, because even if you have a greatly prepared sermon, if you're talking with someone that doesn't make any sense at all to you, you have no choice but to have to hone it and shape it, and realize, I need to still be me but in who I am how can I also be a different me then I might have ever imagined so that I can communicate to as many people as possible?
Mike Cosper: And I imagine that's a humbling experience when you've worked on a sermon and then you go to somebody in your church and you're like, "Hey, talk to me about what you just heard." And they're like, "I didn't really hear anything. I didn't get it."
Dan Hyun: Yeah, so I'll throw one name out there because it's an apostle. One of my preaching heroes is Tim Keller as pry like millions of other reformed young people in American church, but I recognized early on that what Keller talks about is brilliant but if it's done exactly the way he would communicate it in our neighborhood ... I mean amongst some of our folks there's no brainer it'd be great but in other of our folks it would just totally be lost because they just wouldn't be able to follow it. So my epitome in my mind of an excellent preacher was Keller, so I tried to be like that but I had to recognize I am just missing the boat on many people, they just can't follow.
I don't like the terminology dumbing down because I actually think we need a reformation on the whole idea of what's intellectual or intelligent or deep. I hate that word deep because I think it's used in shallow ways. That's just my opinion. Like deep can be not necessarily heady, not necessarily intellectual, but things can be very deep.
But what I had to do was die to my vision of what a good preacher is. So in my mind it's Keller or fill in your blank. I had to die to the idea and be able to hear criticism from some folks who I would respect theologically to say, "Yeah, I don't know if he's a real good preacher. Oh man, yeah he's not very sound. Or he's not very whatever."
And say, "You know, that's okay. That's okay," because in our context we want to again, not be driven by pragmatism but if it's not working I think there's gotta be some self-evaluation involved there. So dying to myself and even my ideas of what's effective, what's good.
Mike Cosper: Who are some of the preachers that you discovered that kind of helped you find your voice?
Dan Hyun: I actually don't listen to that much preaching anymore because maybe it reveals something about my character, I just start mimicking them a little too much. But I think it's more reading some different resources. I'll say so preachers like H.B. Charles has been very influential, Eric Mason. And I think going back in my own tradition I think it's looking at a lot of the Korean American pastors that I grew up listening to that pry no one else would know in larger evangelical context. And coming back to that and saying, "I think there is an effectiveness in this of being a Korean American preacher in the larger evangelical world here that I think I tried to deny and I tried to get away from."
And you were talking about the challenges of multi-ethnic church planting Mike. One of the biggest journeys for me has been learning to embrace who I am as not a liability. One of my friends he always jokes that, "Man you Koreans, you just got a lot of shame involved as Asian Americans." But I think there's some reality to that, that I think as an Asian American planting in a largely white evangelical context you look at yourself as you almost have to do it in spite of who you are or to succeed you kind of got to deny the things that have formed you.
So, found myself trying to sound like every Acts 29 church planner, pastor that I admired and I have a high respect for that, or 9Marks, or whatever other group. And part of me seeing the effectiveness of what we're doing is for me to say, "You know what, you've got a unique voice because you are Korean American, because of your tradition. So don't deny those things if anything press into them."
And it's been pretty amazing for me to see and come to this journey of recognizing that the things that uniquely shape me it's not a liability I need to get over but it was actually the things God wanted to use. Being a third culture Korean American, being someone who can actually bridge different ways, and bringing those strengths to communicate. So, I think it's just tying together a lot of different perspectives on learning even the art of oration, even learning the art of how do you bring people to response? How do you lead people to transformation through the preaching of the word and not just being an intellectual exercise of conveying more information?
Mike Cosper: Do you think multi-cultural church planting, do you think that's something that every pastor, ever church planner should aspire to, or do you think there's some particular about that calling for some?
Dan Hyun: So I've come a little full circle on that. I mean obviously I'm a big proponent of multi-cultural planting and ministry, but I think if you would have caught me a few years ago I was little bit more bullish on the idea that everyone needs to be like that. But I think God's humbled me a little bit because I think there can be a little bit of elitism and looking down on others who maybe are a little bit more homogeneous in who they're reaching. I think some of it has to depend on where you're at as a pastor and planter. So a great example, so we're usually thinking from the grounding of the white church and that frames everything, but I think it's helpful to look at other perspectives so a brother of mine in Philadelphia who pastors a church in a certain area of the city he said, "It would be ridiculous for us to be a diverse church because we're in a neighborhood that's all black, so it would be almost unnatural for us to say, we need to be multi-ethnic to be effective in this context. If anything that might make things a little bit more challenging." And it's not saying people can't move into the neighborhood and really genuinely try to be part of the neighborhood but to force upon these ideas that we have to be multi-ethnic to be Biblical, I don't know if it's always necessarily the case if you're truly making disciples, and seeing lives transformed, and people come to Christ. Specifically, I think about the Asian American Church, just because that's my background. I used to be that guy that said, "You know, I think we really need to be more broad, and be more multi-ethnic." And, I still believe that. I actually think some of the best future multi-culture church planters are gonna be Asian Americans. That's just my opinion, because you never fit in this world. So, that's a great multi-cultural church planter. You don't fit well with any one particular group, but you can be with anyone.
But, I think I'm seeing more and more of the space for, especially among communities outside of the white Evangelical Church. You almost need these safe places, where you can just be you, and that you can also reach others who are like you. The reality is, for people of color, a lot of the folks that we would want to reach, they're not going to want to step into a diverse church, because it doesn't feel safe. And, not physically safe, but it doesn't like a place where you can really be honestly you. So, you almost need more ethnic focused ministries to be able to do that, if that makes sense.
Mike Cosper: Yeah. No, absolutely. One of the probably really significant factors and challenges is just the reality of racism. The broad cultural kind of systemic issues around race. The history of evangelicalism is being this incredibly divided kind of thing. In a lot of ways I think what you're called to is pushing up against a stronghold and at the same time, specifically with the black church, that's been a very much a sort of safe space, a shelter, a place where in the midst of a culture that's so dehumanizing, the black church is a place where human dignity has really been sort of fortified and strengthened, so what you're saying makes a lot of sense. How does race and racism impact your own particular work?
Dan Hyun: It's been probably one of the more ... I think I'm trying to find a wise line of how we do it, because this is just my opinion, but I think if you preach through the full counsel of the Scriptures and especially if you preached your books. I think it would unnatural if your application, every message is about racism, and I know some churches can do that, but I think if you are doing the full counsel, it would be unnatural if you're not touching upon racism and all of that's involved.
I know that's a touchy subject right now in particular tribes that we might be part of, but I'll just say from our experience, especially with, I mean, our church keeps getting younger, which is it's fun, but it's kind of frustrating to me too, but especially among younger people who are searching out the truth of who Christ is, I know for a fact that many of them are drawn to our church because we do engage in those issues in a pretty realistic way.
Every person's got their biases, but we try to be even on it, but we do address the idea of racism is sin and deeper than just the ways you're racist by systemic expressions of that as well. The reality for folks who want to seek Christ, but if they see a church that's not speaking on that at all, not addressing it at all, it feels tone deaf. I think particularly in a church like ours in the city of Baltimore, where it's a very real issue for most of our residents.
I would say even in our church, in terms of break down, our church may be at the most on a Sunday worship gathering, is maybe at the most, maybe 15% African American, but I'll address issues very clearly to let folks know who are African American, "Hey, we're in solidarity with you. Obviously there's no way we can fully understand, or I can understand every aspect of that experience, but you're not alone in that," and I think our desire has been to try to provide a safe space where ... I mean, we're not a black church obviously, we're not an Asian ... Well, the funny thing Mike, you might find this funny is I've heard from outside of our church when people describe us now, because we're about 50% Asian, which has been crazy in the last few years that development.
I've heard people describe us as an Asian church, that haven't been to our church, which I mean, I guess this says something about the fact that if you got a majority of a certain culture you're considered that, but yeah, we've tried to provide a safe space for really anyone who can experience Jesus, but I think because of our current cultural narrative, there's just so much baggage attached to the message of Christ and even that word evangelical. You're automatically branded in with a certain group of people. I think at our church as we try to talk, just in broader language about that, it creates a safe place.
Mike Cosper: Yeah, I think that's really true. I think it's so important to, because of the way the word evangelical has gotten tarnished with politics and pastors who are eager to sit at the seat of power, it's ugly man, it's ugly, so it's good work you guys are doing.
Dan Hyun: Yeah.
Mike Cosper: If a young church planter came to you and said, "Hey man, I'd really ... I'm excited about what you're doing, I've got a vision for doing something similar. I want to see a multi-cultural church in the city. What are two or three things that you would want to encourage them to think about to prepare their hearts for that kind of work?
Dan Hyun: Yeah. I don't know how popular this would be Mike, but my counsels honestly, if you want to be leading a multi-ethnic church, a multi-culture church, I think especially if you're new to a city, if you're white for example, I might tell this to Asian guys, but if you're white, I think you've got to spend a season submitting under the leadership of a person of a different culture for a while.
I would just say I work with a lot of our multiplication in Baltimore, but the biggest challenge I see from those of the white evangelical background is they do want, and too a genuine hearts want to start a church that's going to meet people where they are and be diverse. No one wants to be a white church.
Mike Cosper: Right.
Dan Hyun: No, I mean unless you're the KKK, but I mean, everyone wants a diverse church, but they want it to be on their terms. Everyone wants a diverse church, who doesn't? But it engaging in areas of power, and I think particular for the lead planter, there's got to be a season of submitting under the leadership of someone else.
You know, I'll just be brutally honest here, I think there's a reason why we brought on our second full-time hire after me. It was another Asian American, just because we haven't had really other people wanting to walk with us in that way. I know stories of other churches in the city where people are drawn to them and they want to go learn and intern. We've never had that because I think there is something about, we have our dreams of what we want to lead, what we want to do, but I think when it comes to learning and submitting, that's an area I think falls short.
We can read all the books, everyone can read divided by faith, and read Martin Luther King, and Derwin Gray, and all these great resources, but I think actually practically learning, submitting, taking a season. If you're going to raise money, raise money so you can go sit under the leadership of another culture and not just add to kind of a colonial perspective of church planting in these cities, but actually learn, humble, submit.
Mike Cosper: Yeah. That's killer advice. That's fantastic. Is there anything else you'd want to share with us or share with the network from your heart, from your perspective?
Dan Hyun: Maybe one other practical note is, I think often, we're just so consumed with our kingdom and having our name attached to things, but I think one of the best steps for even more than multi-cultural church or diverse church is trying to think in kingdom language, the kingdom of God bigger than us. If that's the case, I mean, dying to have to have, that idea of having to have our name attached to things.
We all want our churches to become diverse, but one of the best things we can do is to walk in partnership with other churches that might be culturally different than your own. Submitting, serving, maybe even giving, maybe boosting up the ministries of other churches and you know, in Baltimore for instance right now, one of the biggest challenges we're seeing, because we got a lot of really well meaning church planters and guys who are probably going to do really well, but the reality is a lot of existing churches, especially minority churches in the city don't look at them favorably, because they see them come in and have this big attitude of we're going to finally change the city, this city's broken, we're going to be the saviors, we've got a lot of resources, we got a lot of denominational support, a lot of money, so let us lead the movement.
It's kind of tone deaf to see how God's already been working, but I think if we can start to promote more partnership, more working together, and it doesn't have to look like that necessarily even in our church context, but what would it look like for us to die to ourself, our own things and go submit to other churches and say, "Hey, how can we support you? How can we benefit you?" Obviously there's got to be certain commonalities you have whether theologically or whatever else, but to be able to identify, how can we be part of a larger movement just beyond the benefit of our own local church?
Mike Cosper: That's great. Just even for church planters to show up and have the self-awareness to realize the kingdom of God did not begin its work in our city the moment I said I want to plant a church here. There are faithful churches all around you that have been doing this kind of work for in many cases, for decades, so that's great counsel. What are one or two things that we as a network can be praying for, for you?
Dan Hyun: I guess not to get too introspective or too overly personal, but when I was talking earlier about kind of the shame I saw, revealed in me, I'm recognizing more and more this whole journey of being in a non-Asian space, so before we started a church, I thought I was really progressive as an Asian American. I mean, among Asian American's probably some people didn't think I was really Asian American, but actually getting it to the world, whether it's networks, or denominations, or just cultures, I didn't realize how Asian I was.
I share this with some people and some people are amazed that this was even an issue, but at the beginning of our church when we started, we actually didn't have my face or name anywhere on our website for the first couple of years, because there was that deep sense if that's there, people that we're trying to attract, they're going to think it's an Asian church and they're not going to come.
I looked at things like that, I'm like, "Man, that's like, there's something insidious there, like a self-hate almost." I think it's this journey of having to come to accept who I am, again not thinking it's something to overcome as a liability, but actually trying to see how God can use those things, so in terms of prayer, I think it's just being humble obviously, but also being able to acknowledge that partly some of what I'm able to do and maybe even the opportunities I get is because I'm Asian.
I think I used to apologize for that or almost feel guilty, to press into that and allow that to be a voice among people beyond just the Asian American community which again I think I've been wrestling with a little bit more and it's not a self-love thing, but just learning to kind of embrace that and not have to apologize for those things.
Mike Cosper: Yeah, that's great. Well man, thanks for making time for this. I think there's a lot here that I think will really encourage the network and a lot for younger guys to sink their teeth into, and older guys who are trying to think through these issues. There's a lot here man. God's given you a lot of wisdom and perspective on this and I learned a lot today just talking through it, so thanks for making time.
Dan Hyun: Thanks Mike.
Mike Cosper: This is Sojourn Network is produced by the Narrativo group. You can learn more at narrativogroup.com. This episode was recorded and edited by TJ Hester, it was mixed by Mark Owens. Our music is by Sojourn music. Thanks for listening, we'll be back in two weeks.
This is Sojourn Network is a production of the Narrativo Group
Produced by Mike Cosper
Edited by TJ Hester
Mixed by Mark Owens
Graphic Design by Casey Smith
Website Design by Brannon McAllister
Our Music is by Sojourn Music and Dan Phelps