Author's details

Name: Joseph
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Joseph Yoo: Why I Don’t Believe in the Resurrection — August 25, 2014
  2. Joseph Yoo: The One Where We Get a Face Lift — August 23, 2014
  3. Joseph Yoo: The Pastor’s Salary — August 20, 2014
  4. Joseph Yoo: Real Quick Thoughts on the Forever Bible Kickstarter Campaign — August 14, 2014
  5. Joseph Yoo: Random Thoughts On Leadership — August 13, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Joseph Yoo: So. Is God a Republican or a Democrat? — 2 comments
  2. Joseph Yoo: That’s Enough! — 2 comments
  3. Joseph Yoo: He Is Out of His Mind — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Aug 25 2014

Joseph Yoo: Why I Don’t Believe in the Resurrection

Original post at

Y’all. I’m messing with you. Just trolling to get cheap traffic onto this post.

I’ll be gone this week to Seattle for a personal retreat.
My main goal is to get sermon series down for the rest of this year and for all of 2015. And a side goal is to put a dent on my to-read book shelf.
(If you have any ideas for a sermon series, please share!)

And to be terribly honest, I feel a bit drained spiritually. So, I feel the need to:

  • (re)connect with God
  • breathe
  • be breathed into
  • pray
  • be inspired
  • take time to focus on what I can bring to the table as a pastor and to focus on how to address the glaring weaknesses in a manner that doesn’t burn me out.

Just to name a few. I plan to do this through coffee. And a lot of it. My goal is to hit as many Seattle coffee shops as possible and through the aroma of coffee and the allure of Seattle, let the Spirit guide; inspire; renew; refresh me before I return to Santa Barbara.

And I figure, if the Spirit don’t jolt me, the insane amount of caffeine coursing through my veins may do something.

So here’s to coffee; reading; planning; writing; journaling; conversing about God; praying; networking; and Seattle.

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers that I will be attentive to where the Spirit may be leading me.

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Aug 23 2014

Joseph Yoo: The One Where We Get a Face Lift

Original post at

Upgraded and updated the blog. 
Hopefully, if you subscribe, no more weird ads. At least for the year. 
A different look, just because. 

As always, I’m grateful for all of you who take the time to read this blog. 

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Aug 20 2014

Joseph Yoo: The Pastor’s Salary

Original post at

You are seeking to join an annual conference that has experienced more than 3 decades of decline and has scores of struggling churches? How will you address this reality in your ministry as an Elder?

That was one of the questions that I’ve answered plenty of times en route to ordination.
What’s not helping, I feel, is the consistent rise of the required pastor’s minimum salary in the past 3 years.

(Disclaimer: I really know nothing — facts, reasons, you know the important stuff. But, I’m going to make like Fox News and just go off on what and how I feel, regardless of facts and reasons, you know the important stuff).

The required minimum salary for clergy has risen quite a bit in the past 3 years. (I think $6000? at least for me.)
How will struggling churches support a full-time clergy? Struggling congregations are — for the most part — going to be struggling with finances and budgeting. Small churches are going to have to bend backwards — maybe to a breaking point — to meet the required minimum salary.

I’m torn about this. Obviously, it helps me — the clergy– out. But it hurts the church that I serve. And I know we can’t be the only church in our conference that is facing this dilemma.
The other aspect that bothers me is the few colleagues who feel that this (the raise) needs to be done because we are entitled to the national average of United Methodist clergy members.

Perhaps. But, I feel uneasy that we would use the word “entitled.”
I’m trying to remind myself, daily, that I am not entitled to anything but I am entrusted with everything. Because, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.

The next sentences may make me sound better than I really am — so do let me swindle you.
My parents have engrained in our (my brother and I) hearts and heads that all the money we receive is from God and is God’s. From an early point, we have been taught to tithe to remind us how we are truly blessed by God. I am learning as I grow older, tithing is a reminder to be grateful and to remind myself to be dependent on God more and more and less and less on my salary and work that I do. My father firmly believed that the pastor should only live on what is given from the church and he modeled that to a T. And my father never complained about his salary. He received what he received. And everything he received, he always gave back to the church. And then some.

My parents have taught us the importance of tithing and giving to the church.
My wife is teaching me the importance of going beyond the minimum requirement — that tithing (10%) is not the ceiling, but the jumping off point. Because truth be told, outside of the designated 10%, I am a bit stingy with money and the stuff that I own, which I need to remind myself that everything I own is God’s because it is from God. It’s a daily struggle, I tell you.

I don’t like asking for raises (for myself, that is). I don’t like talking about money in church — only when it pertains to my salary. I feel blessed (and I truly mean it) of the salary that I am currently receiving. To ask tell the church that it needs to match the minimum salary, it feels like an unnecessary burden for both of us.

But like I said, on one hand I appreciate the “protection” of livelihood. On the other hand, it feels selfish and wrong to promote my livelihood while handicapping the church to do much else.

Which brings me to another thought that I should save for another post, but will touch on here.
Is a full-time appointment to a church necessary these days?
As a full-time employed clergy, it often gets hard to balance the needs of the church and the importance of making yourself known in the community. It’s easy to get beaten into staying in the office and focusing all of your strength on things going on in the church. Because church folks can complain if you’re not in the office enough — even the staff. Church folks can complain about the things that they feel are not being done and should be done by their pastor. A lot of the times, those complaints are legit and need to be listened to and addressed. Those who are not part of the church won’t complain if you — the pastor — is not present because they never expected you to be there. So, it becomes easier to bend towards the requirements and needs of church, if for anything, to quiet the complains and keep some sanity. (of course, a great pastor can manage both. I am not a great pastor)

And what I’m learning is that the pastor expects the congregation to do all the inviting, outreaching, and witnessing. The congregation expects the pastor to do all the inviting, outreaching, and witnessing. Therefore, nobody really does the inviting, outreaching, and witnessing.

But, like I said, that’s a post in of itself and I don’t want to force 1000 more words on you.

I don’t know what else to say or if I can add anything beneficial to this conversation. It just seems a little backwards to acknowledge that the churches in our conference have been declining and struggling for the past 3 decades and yet we go and raise the minimum salary.

I can’t complain. But yet, I can.


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Aug 14 2014

Joseph Yoo: Real Quick Thoughts on the Forever Bible Kickstarter Campaign

Original post at

Earlier last week, I wrote that I pledged to the Forever Bible Campaign.
As soon as that post went live, I received tweets and comments about the possible shadiness of the person who is in charge of that Kickstarter campaign.

I wasn’t going to pay any attention to it, but for funsies decided to check the comment threads of Mr. Casey’s current campaign (Forever Bible) and his previous campaign — one that has many people disgruntled.
At first, I thought it was just haters hating. It is the Internet, after all. But after reading through all those comments from his other campaign, it seemed like all the people really wanted was information. Why haven’t they received their products or receive a refund? Or why are there no updates? And so forth.

Some were tactful. Others were downright troll-ish.
So then I started reading some of the over 1000 comments on the Forever Bible Kickstarter page. Most of them were fairly negative towards Mr. Casey. Uncalled for, a lot of times, but it’s the Internet. And a lot of those folks feel that they have been swindled by Mr. Casey. I also learned that you could already purchase a waterproof Bible from the original manufacturers of the Forever Bible. It’s just that you have designs to choose from with the Kickstarter campaign.

But what was odd (and annoying) was the people spamming the comment sections — people that seemed suspiciously tied with Mr. Casey. It was like when people were commenting on Chic-Fil-A’s facebook page after their PR mishap (or to some, PR victory) they created a fake teenage girl’s profile and spammed the page with praises for Chic-Fil-A.

The last straw for me was when Mr. Casey’s father (or brother — according to folks) came on to this blog to comment. It just annoyed me for some reason, so I cancelled my pledge. Not that it made a difference because by then, their raised their goal.

But as of now, their Kickstarter page is down for intellectual property dispute. Which is a shame. I really was hoping that they’d be successful. I don’t have anything against them. Nor do I think the Forever Bible was out there to “scam” people (as some have accused).

Besides, my wife was like, “Why do you need a new Bible?”
“Because, it’s waterproof. And stuff.”
“Why do you need a waterproof Bible?”
“Because. It sounds cool.”
But she was right. I didn’t need another Bible and I don’t really need a waterproof one.

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Aug 13 2014

Joseph Yoo: Random Thoughts On Leadership

Original post at

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death. (Ex. 16:3-4).

This wasn’t the first time the Israelites complained — nor would this be their last– in their journey through the wilderness.
What strikes me is how they recall their past. In Egypt, at least we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted. True. But they completely negate to mention that they were slaves in Egypt.

I am learning when we are confronted with the unknown and uncertainty of the future — we tend to cling onto –not even the present — but the past. Even if the past had you in shackles and longing for freedom. At least you knew the enemy you were fighting. That may be more comforting than the excitement of what may come — especially if what may come isn’t coming fast enough.

So, how do you lead people through the fears of the unknown and the desire to cling onto what was? How do you keep the people you’re leading focused on the vision and the countless possibilities of the things that-can-be and not focused on the things that were?
How do you keep the people fixed on Jesus beckoning them to come towards him on the water and not have them fixate on the storm and waves all around them?

Sheer force of will is one way. As football coaches have preached, “IMPOSE YOUR WILL ON THEM!”, tell the people, “It’s my way or the high way.”
And yea. It’ll work. It’ll bring results. But that’s a short-term fix. You’ll be like Paul, who was a church-planter but never a pastor.
You’ll burn through people who want to help. Those teammates of yours will get burned out; will get resentful; but will continue to stick with you until you are no longer “winning.”
Many of Michael Jordan’s teammates despised him. Some physically threatened MJ. MJ clocked Steve Kerr in his face during practice. But, because MJ kept winning, his personality was easier to swallow. But never doubt — MJ lead through fear and intimidation. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it ruined people’s confidences and ultimately their career (Kwame Brown, anyone?).

You could be the consummate cheerleader telling everyone everything’s okay.
“You’re doing a swell job!” “Keep doing what you’re doing!”
But doing what they’ve been doing is what got them here. In order to get out; in order for a brighter future, you can’t keep doing what you’re doing.

Or you can take a page out of the Exodus story and just wait for the current generation to die before heading to the promised land.
But you’ll have another generation on hand that was so accustomed to the wilderness, when they’re confronted with civilization and the great things that that civilization can bring, all they can see is structure; form; laws; and will long for the days where they were free to roam the land.

I truly believe in balance — in the ying and yang of things. And it goes far beyond me being Asian. It’s one of the things that draws me towards the Wesleyan theology (particularly the Wesleyan Quadrilateral).
There are times where you need to “impose your will.” (Quick side note, I never understood what that meant. Why not just just tell me to hit someone hard and knock ‘em down?)
But too much of that, you’ll have no one left to bruise.
There are moments when you need to be that cheerleader. To raise morale. To let people know we’re moving and making progress. Too much of that, then you move nowhere; you become static. Why move forward when everything we’re doing right now is hunky-dory?

I guess a key to good leadership is knowing when to be Paul and when to be Barnabas.
I guess another key is to continue pounding the vision of the future into the minds and hearts of the people. As Andy Stanley preached, “Vision leaks.”
The Israelites kept forgetting the miraculous ways God provided for them (uh… parting of the Red Sea?) and the promise of the promised land where milk and honey flowed was quickly (and often) forgotten. Because vision leaks. Sometimes, even the leaders forget the vision — as Aaron so painfully demonstrated when he helped mold the golden calf (then completely lied about it. It wasn’t me! I just threw the gold in there and voilà! Out comes this calf!)

Also, we have to remember we can’t please everyone. And we’re not there to please everyone. That’s not our purpose. Someone will always be upset with you. It may cause people to leave. Some people that leave will have you sighing “good riddance” in relief and secretly joyful over their leaving while publicly mourning. Other folks leaving will require a lot of time to process and to get over.

I guess another important key to good leadership is that leaders must be willing to be led. Which also means that a leader should always be willing to learn.
Someone said that a key to good leadership is to make sure you’re never the smartest person in the room to which I replied, “I’m already good at that! I’m rarely the smartest person in any room.”
“That’s a good one,” he responded.
… only I wasn’t making a joke.
But once you think you know it all, that is a quick and one-way path to downfall.
And besides, no one (not nary a soul) likes a know-it-all, regardless of what your mother may have told you.

Oh. And we should celebrate “wins.” Acknowledge our progress. Celebrate those who’ve set the path and celebrate those who are walking on it and celebrate those who will take over.

Anyway, to all those who have the task of leading, I share with you a quote from “A Bug’s Life”: *First rule of leadership: everything is your fault.*
Blessings to you as God continues to use you to lead God’s people.

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Aug 06 2014

Joseph Yoo: Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is (and Kickstarter)

Original post at

I've backed 3 kickstarter campaigns (and thinking about a 4th one).
The first two were things my friends were working on. (Home of the Brave and I Hate You)
The third one was the Forever Bible, for reasons I can't explain, I just want.
And the fourth one I'm thinking about is this Klik Belt. Because — well, I don't know why. I just want it.

Which got me thinking.
Can I say I'm for something if I don't put my money where my mouth is?
For instance, I was walking home from Starbucks a while back when a representative from D.A.R.E. stopped me and asked me to pledge to their cause. D.A.R.E. used to be (solely) a drug program from what I remembered, but now it seemed to really be focused on stopping bullying. And I'm a huge proponent for anti-bullying campaigns.
It just that I didn't have any cash on me. I rarely carry any cash on me, so that I'm not lying when I say I don't have cash.
The lady said, “It's okay, we take credit cards now, too.”
Oh. But, on that day, I had forgotten my wallet. I really did. And when I said that, I felt stupid because I was holding a Starbucks cup and so I went out of the way to explain to her that I buy Starbucks through the Starbucks app on my phone. (I really do).

As I walked away, I lamented not using my always trusty (but very dishonest) go-to excuse: “Eh? Sorry. No speak english. So sorry.”

But, how much am I for anti-bullying if I don't put my money behind my beliefs?
Or take some of my friends who boycotted Chic-Fil-A. I disagreed with Chic-Fil-A — but I couldn't join my colleagues in boycott them. I am weak. We don't even have a Burger King in Santa Barbara and every time I go to McDonalds, I start a journey of self-loathing. Chic-Fil-A was just too good to give up.
But, every time I went, I made sure I didn't enjoy it as much. Okay, that's a lie, too. I can't not enjoy their waffle fries and sandwiches.

But yet — I'm willing to drop some money on kickstarter campaigns? I sometimes don't understand myself.
Which then got me thinking about church.
I'm learning that this generation is a very generous. Just not to the church. They give to charities; non-profits; causes; to things like Kickstarter; but when it comes to the church you can almost hear the crickets chirping.
Why is that?
Is it because they just don't believe the church can have any impact in the community anymore? Or they feel that the church is so out of touch with the world that the church wouldn't know where to begin to actually make the world a better place?

And I wonder — if my parents didn't engrain in my brain and heart the discipline of tithing; and if I wasn't a pastor — would I give to the church?

Back to my original question: can you say you are for something if you never want to open up your wallet and support that cause?


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