Author's details

Name: Joseph
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Joseph Yoo: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions — October 28, 2014
  2. Joseph Yoo: People (Blogs) You Should Know: Andrew Conard — October 16, 2014
  3. Joseph Yoo: I Stand With Frank — October 15, 2014
  4. Joseph Yoo: People (Blogs) You Should Know: Sarah Heath — October 9, 2014
  5. Joseph Yoo: Leadership Is Disappointing People at a Rate They Can Stand — October 7, 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: Non-Negotiables Part II — 1 comment
  4. Joseph Yoo: He Is Out of His Mind — 1 comment
  5. Joseph Yoo: Non-Negotiables — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Oct 28 2014

Joseph Yoo: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Original post at

Decision making is an integral part of being a pastor and a leader.
I just never realized just how much decisions there are that we need to make.
Some are small — like the color of the carpet. I was tempted to say “small and insignificant” but I’ve heard stories where the color of the carpet is far from insignificant.
Some decisions that need to be made are huge and can affect the trajectory of the direction the church is headed.

Sometimes, we make the right decisions.
Sometimes, we will get it oh so wrong. We’re human after all.
All the time — people will get upset, regardless whether you made the right decision or the wrong one.
The extraordinary people will be gracious to the things that they don’t agree with or things that didn’t go their way.
Often, people will choose the petty route and be… well, petty. And if you let their pettiness get to you, you’ll start dying a death by paper cuts.
So you have to be faithful and live with the decisions that you made — and hopefully those decisions came after a time of discernment and prayer. There’s never really a reason to make a decision quick — without taking it to prayer first.

And if I can be honest, I’d just like to take a quick break from having to make any calls that is church/ministry related. But that’s just me complaining.

It’s hard not to wonder if the path that you’re setting your congregation on is the best path. And sure, the fear of failure should be replaced by faith in God. But failures do come at a cost — and sometimes you wonder if the church can absorb the cost of a particular failure. But that’s textbook lack of faith in God and what God is doing.

Of all the decisions and choices that came my way through the office of the pastor — nothing comes close to the decision that has come upon our personal lives.

I’m technically not supposed to be even talking about this in such a public forum. But last February, we took in a little guy to care for him and nurture him and love him for however long it took to return to his parents.

He has been a challenge but he also has been a blessing in our lives. It’s refreshing to see life through the eyes of a 3 year old. Pure joy. Pure love of life. And pure, pure energy. My Lord, the energy in this kid.

At this rate, it is most likely that he will not be returning to his parents (nothing’s official). The social workers have asked us if we have a plan.

And they asked it so nonchalantly. This is a huge decision that will have an impact on the rest of our lives.

So, we don’t have a plan. In fact, I have no idea how to move forward. My wife and I have talked about it and we go back and forth and back and forth.

I just want to make the best decision for all of us.
I certainly do not want to take him in out of guilt or because I pity him or because I don’t trust the next family that will take him. Those are the wrong reasons to make this life-long decision.

And again, if I can be honest — one of the hang ups is that he is a special needs kid — something that both the County and our agency completely neglected to tell us when they placed him with us.

The future does worry me. What would he be like when he’s 9? When he’s 10? When he’s 14? When he’s 17? And please refrain from quoting the scripture to me about worrying. Now’s not the time nor place.

The point of this post is — I never wanted to grow up. I want to go back to a time where the biggest decision I had to make was “Do you wanna play video games or do you wanna go outside and play?”
Talk about escapism, eh?

But, really — if you get a chance, keep us in your prayers and if a decision has to be made, that we will make the best decision.

In the meantime, my focus is to just enjoy the hell out of being a party of 3 and being grateful for the gift that he has been to us.


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Oct 16 2014

Joseph Yoo: People (Blogs) You Should Know: Andrew Conard

Original post at

I went to seminary with Andrew.

Every time I think of Andrew, I remember him getting up early in the morning to care for the lawns of the seminary (for his job). It could be freezing or hot and muggy, regardless, he’d be up and working. I vividly remember just how… happy he seemed working when I finally got my butt out of bed. He seemed at peace. Joy-filled, even. And he’s been up since like 6am! There’s not enough coffee in the world for me to even attempt faking to look the way he felt at 6am…

He and his wife were both in my Covenant Disciple group.

My fondest memory of his wife, Nicole:

There was a huge spider in my room — big enough that it kept me from staying in my room. I had to dispose of it. So I went down to Andrew’s room to see if he or his roommate, Adam, were there. Nope.

So I walked back to my floor trying to see if someone, anyone, was available to help me get rid of this humongous spider.

Everyone was either in class or out, except Nicole. She graciously came in my room with her slippers, smacked the life out of it, grabbed a paper towel, and carried the now dead (yay!) spider out of the room. She never made me feel ashamed about it (though I felt like I surrendered my man-card that day).

Anyway, Andrew offers great thoughts on United Methodism and is very pastoral in his blog, offering things like a template for pre-marital counseling. He’s on point and to the point — none of the babbling that I do on my blog. I think his is a great blog to read, especially, if you are a United Methodist.

Andrew’s Blog

Andrew’s Twitter

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Oct 15 2014

Joseph Yoo: I Stand With Frank

Original post at

Today, there will be a vigil for Pastor Frank Schaefer at the Isla Vista United Methodist Church as he (and we) wait for the final verdict to be given about his standing in the United Methodist Church.

This (and by “this” I mean the issue of homosexuality) is (and has been) such a divisive issue.
Regardless of the verdict given (whether he is re-defrocked or remained refrocked) the losing side is not going to go down quietly. A deep part of me thinks that this might be the beginning of the end as the people known as Methodist.

“United we stand, divided we fall” it is said.
But, as a denomination, we’re barely standing as is. We’ve been seeing decline in membership and giving all across the board. We’ve heard reports about UMC camp grounds closing and being sold off to many local churches closing their doors for the final time.
If we split — we’ll just be two (even) weaker denominations.
I mean, seriously, aren’t we doing the Devil’s work for him by our constant fighting and division? With so much anger and unwillingness to listen, he’s just standing back and thinking, “Even I couldn’t have planned this better.”

I’ve gotten to know the Schaefers fairly well now. They’re great people.
It’s a shame that many won’t get to know Frank or his family at all — because they’ve already made up their mind about him because of what he did; because of what he stands for.

He shared with me that he has already received anonymous hate mail signed in Christ’s name. Hate mail. From Christians. How does that even make sense? Sure, you can disagree with him or with anyone. But why the need to condemn?
We’ve come to a point where disagreeing is not enough, we need to demonize.

So much fear and misunderstanding builds up within us because we simply don’t know a person from the opposing side. Or we don’t want to get to know them because getting to know them will make it harder to demonize and dehumanize them.

The other day, I overheard the most ridiculous statement at Starbucks. I wanted to say something but decided that nothing good would come of it. Instead, I put on my Beats and let the music carry me away.

These two gentlemen were discussing Lord knows what (they also had a big fat Bible with them).
They started talking about Muslims and one gentlemen said, “They’re all terrorists waiting to happen.” (As if they’re mutants in X-Men, who discover their power around the time they hit puberty.)
“Yup.” Was the response.

Omar is a dear friend of mine. He’s a Muslim. And you might be surprised, but he’s fairly normal. No violent tendencies. His family is wonderful. His mother is a great cook.
Omar and I joked about making a movie called Turban Seoul where two guys get into a lot of trouble. About a year after we came up with the idea, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was released, and we realized that we missed our chance to make an awesome movie. Great people, Omar’s family. They are more loving than some Christians I know.

It’s funny. Lots of Christians would balk if you compared them to the KKK.
Many Christians will get offended if you grouped them with the likes of those who protest and picket the funerals of soldiers.
But then, some of those Christians will go and say that all Muslims are terrorists. And 10/10 times, the folks who say that, don’t know any Muslims. Because it’s easier to hate when you don’t know someone; when you don’t care for them.

I think we lost our ability to listen to one another and really hear each other out. I don’t mean in our big Annual and General Conferences “listening” to debates and amendments to amendments. But we don’t practice the art of listening in our every day lives. When we get into debates or discussions about controversial and divisive topics, it seems natural to devolve into “whoever is loudest wins” mode.
I’ve been called out by friends and peers for not being “committal” to the cause of inclusion. They’re absolutely right. Based on my actions (or lack thereof) you can easily conclude that I do not care for equality.

I’ve always felt that there are more than this issue to fight about/argue for (hence being called out by friends and peers because this is the BIG issue), especially when it came to our denomination.
Like finding better ways to keep our clergy accountable so that one doesn’t coast the moment one is ordained.

I consider Frank not only my colleague in the Santa Barbara community, but also as a friend. And I want the best for my friend. I stand with Frank because I think he did what any loving father would do: put his family ahead of his career.
In my context, there are so many pastor’s kids who feel so cheated out of their childhood because their father spent more time with the church than with them. It’s so refreshing to hear about a father who was willing to put his family ahead of his career. After all, we preach that ministry begins at home.
This wasn’t an act of disobedience, as Frank puts it. “It was an act of love.”
How many “rules” have fathers broken for the sake of their children?
Who wouldn’t want their children to be happy?
And there’s more to Frank than the wedding he officiated nearly 6 years ago.

Though Ned Stark never really said this, I feel it’s appropriate: Brace yourself. Winter is coming.
And by “winter” I mean a flurry of angry comments across all UMC affiliated comment sections — regardless of The Decision. (Okay, wrong Decision.)

I just want to share John Wesley’s words from Adam Hamilton’s book Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It (and from Wesley’s “Catholic Spirit” sermon). It’s from the section where he talks about John’s embracing of via media, looking for a common ground; a middle way. It’s great section that is apropos for this post:

Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. 

Whether he’s re-defrocked or remains refrocked, it’s not the credentials or a piece of paper that makes Frank a pastor. It’s his love for God and his love for God’s people that makes him a pastor. Regardless of the outcome, Frank will always be Pastor Frank to me.

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Oct 09 2014

Joseph Yoo: People (Blogs) You Should Know: Sarah Heath

Original post at

Sarah Heath and I go way back. By that, I mean around 2009ish, when we were both serving different churches in Orange County.
But you should check out her blog and follow her on twitter.

She’s a great writer, communicator, artist, and a pastor. We both were ordained as elders in the California-Pacific Conference in 2012 — unofficially known as the greatest (and humblest) class of Elders in Cal-Pac’s history.
She’s doing great things in her ministry, working alongside Karl Stuckenburg who was my mentor when I lived in OC (also a swell guy and a monster drummer.)

She has great insights, a wicked sense of humor, and a lot to share, so go check out her writing and other projects.

Sarah’s Twitter

Sarah’s Blog

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Oct 07 2014

Joseph Yoo: Leadership Is Disappointing People at a Rate They Can Stand

Original post at

Ain’t that the truth?

The truth is, as a leader, you will disappoint people. It’s inevitable.

If you go trying to please everyone and anyone, you’re going to compromise the integrity of the ministry AND more importantly, you’ll chase away any remaining aspect of your sanity. Because it’s insane to try to please everyone. You. Simply. Can’t.
Perhaps knowing that you’ll be an utter disappointment to some (and a fair disappointment to the rest) will free you up to do what you feel is right and good for the overall ministry.

But, it needs to be clear that we’re not here to be liked or to win a popularity contest.

There are times when we’re going to have to stay firm, hold our ground, and be stubborn (if you will) in the decisions that we need to make or what direction to lead the ministry and congregation to.
Then there will be times where we have to compromise our vision and see that holding our ground is more harmful and detrimental to the overall ministry. After all, are you a leader if no one follows you?

I guess a really good leader will be able to discern when is a good time to stand firm or when is a good time to let go and go with the flow.
One of these days, I hope to get a better grasp of what is needed.

Until then, I can only learn from my mistakes and hope to not repeat them.


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Sep 30 2014

Joseph Yoo: Party Like It’s 1999!

Original post at

At the end of 2007, I remember having an exchange with the BOOM (Board of Ordained Ministry) registrar about my written exams.
I had turned in everything that was required of me for provisional elder status — that is, except VHS tapes of my sermon. We were required to send copies of a worship we led as part of the exams/application.

And I distinctly remember thinking, VHS tapes? Where can I go to make copies on a VHS tape? I didn’t have a VCR anymore. (It’s almost 2008). On top of that, my video camera was a digital camera.

So I said, screw it, and sent in DVDs of the worship service. That would also save me money as DVDs are lighter and a lot less bulkier than VHS tapes (we had to send like 4-6 separate copies)

The registrar emailed me saying that I need to submit VHS tapes. I told the Registrar that it was funny that he was contacting me through email about VHS tapes.

But I told the Registrar that I simply couldn’t turn in VHS tapes because I wouldn’t know where to begin hunting down a VCR player and where to begin in trying to convert digital to VHS and pointed out that people at that time are moving the other, converting VHS to digital/DVD. (Yes, I know I was being lazy).

The Registrar informed me that it may hurt my chances of moving forward if a BOOM member couldn’t see my worship video because they did not have access to a DVD player. They wouldn’t be able to grade my video on how I led worship and therefore, I wouldn’t be able to pass the exams.

So be it, I said. If I don’t pass because the BOOM members want younger candidates to use outdated technology — technology that schools would be ridiculed if they used it; technology that not even the public libraries of Hawaii uses — then that’s more on the BOOM than on me.

Only by the grace of God, did I become a provisional elder.

It bugged me then and it bugs me now: but why do we tend to be so slow in being with the times? December of 2007 was well into the extinction of the VHS and yet, the BOOM required its candidates to send VHS tapes — because its board members didn’t have DVD players?

Why do we insist on people going back in time to be where the church is at — rather than meeting the people where they are at?

I remember the struggles of introducing multimedia to a congregation a while back and how much flack I received that first Sunday and yet how most of them loved it by the time it was time for me to go.

When did we become so inflexible? Is that what happens when bureaucracy replaces ministry?

I understand the importance (and the necessity) of moving forward slowly; methodically; purposefully; but sometimes, I think we move so slow, we’re barely moving at all.

By the way, thankfully the BOOM doesn’t require VHS’s anymore. I think that was about 2009 or 2008. Better late than never, I suppose.


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