Identifying the lenses by which we learned to see God, ourselves, and others
Excavating our own shame-reversal stories, and learning to share them with others
Making space for shame-reversal stories in the communities where we work, learn, live, and play
Former board member Nate Lee describes his experience of how these objectives play out in the cohort:
"The Kingdom Rice cohort centered the power of story and the ways our story impacts how we see God in the world. I think anytime there’s a group of Jesus-loving people in the (virtual) room who are willing to look honestly at themselves and the world, it can be a healing and redemptive experience, and I think Steve held space for us to do that work in a meaningful way.
I also enjoyed meeting the other cohort participants, most of whom had been wrestling with these questions – about story, honor/shame, and community – in their own lives and ministries for awhile. It was fascinating to hear, for instance, about how Perry Sakai’s church was partnering with a Cambodian American church and how Cat Verango’s upcoming move to Singapore made real the need for theological categories outside of the (“Western”) norm. It was also illuminating to have discussions on family of origin dynamics because I found similarities with cohort members who I wouldn’t have expected – and this was both fascinating and humbling."
Nate mentioned Pastor Perry Sakai, who has spent decades ministering among SE Asian both here and abroad. He participated in several cohorts, both as a participant and as a leader.
Cohort Approach and Values:
- Accessibility - I’ve been a part of many cohorts with required reading of wonderful books. Though often rich, the amount of reading and prep required does not make the cohort accessible to many. This Kingdom Rice cohort keeps reading to a minimum, requiring just a few chapters from one book with a few optional articles. Past participants in the cohort have included everyone from lay people to scholars and authors and ministers. And being that the cohort is just six weeks long, this cohort aims to be as assessable as possible. Preparation for each cohort will take just 30 minutes minimum.
- Heart Integration - Careful excavation of our own stories is the starting point because this reveals what we really believe, what's in our instincts, and what's in the heart. The objective is to see our instincts transformed on the heart level. When pictures of the heart are replaces with better ones, our perspective and actions will eventually follow.
- Collective voice - Excavation of stories happens collectively, with participants working in groups to shape collective stories, and allowing these stories to shed light on their own stories. This process jumps starts the individual process.
- Concrete - The whole cohort is framed in the context of relationships, in particular, potential relationships with people that are not familiar to us. As we excavate and even replace old pictures of how we see God, ourselves, and others with better pictures, we are essentially equipping ourselves to relate to our neighbors with greater peace, and more of the vulnerability and humility of Jesus.
Context: Where cohorts fit in accomplishing our mission
- Typically, participants experienced the ministry of Kingdom Rice through some combination of sermons, on-line teaching, newsletters, our website, or through in-person events. Altogether, these venues have sought to accomplish one thing, and that is to center the shame-reversal Gospel in a way to bring healing to our respective communities. These offerings are passive to the participant.
- Cohorts actively bring the participant into the mission, to help accomplish the mission in their own lives thorough the cohort objectives. Dr. John Yoon (who sits on our board) co-led two cohorts in the church he pastors. He says "We experienced unexpected and unprecedented inter-generational reconciliation that continues to bear fruit today."
- The value of the cohort is at least $50 a session, $300 for all six weeks. HOWEVER, I don't want finances to be a distraction. Therefore, we're only asking $10/session initially. As the weeks progress, if you feel you're experiencing the value of the cohort and if you are able to, you can invest more. Any payment can be given by clicking here.
- Any financial donation in any amount is the way you show your intention to sign up.
Logistics and Expectations:
- Each of the six meetings will take place on Zoom. Each meeting averages between 75 and 90 minutes long.
- Each cohort is limited to 8 participants. Barring emergencies that come up, you will be expected at each meeting and prepared to discuss the subject and interact with the others.
- Most of the preparation work will be responses to prompts and reflection questions given each session.
Resources and credentials:
- Steve does not have traditional credentials. He forfeited his Talbot Seminary M.Div 25 years ago because he found too many classes were white-dominated in approach. Finding that this was also the sentiment of "woke" international students and those who see outside whiteness, Steve advocated for a change in the program with the Dean. When he learned the proposal was rejected, Steve boycotted the classes in question, and used the extra budget to invest in more exegesis and theology classes. (Though Steve does not have his M.Div, he does have his transcripts which show academic honors for his coursework. But running successful cohorts requires training well-beyond an M.Div) A few years later, Steve began guest lecturing in seminaries on the very subject matter he boycotted years prior. Steve continues to guest lecture on these topics to this present day with the Kingdom Rice team.
- Former board member (and former diversity director for IV) Sarah Akutagawa shares her experience helping teach Marriage Family Therapists (MFT) and Master of Divinity (MDiv) students from Fresno Pacific University with me, "We put together a presentation that thoughtfully explored the integration of ethnicity, theology, and city ministry. In particular, (we) found that the students resonated deeply with themes of embodiment, presence, vulnerability, and identity.”
- Steve was invited to contribute an article in "Honor-Shame and the Gospel." The material presented in Steve’s chapter was presented to and shaped by a room of scholars and missionaries from around the world before becoming a chapter. Steve’s inclusion in this book of leading scholars and practitioners is a part of his credentials not measurable by “tablets of stone.”
- Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (Senior Professor of Anthropology and Provost Emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary) wrote about the entire volume. "This material overflows with rich insight, and provocative application for today’s global mission force, providing resources for theological and missiological reflection regardless of one’s culture of origin or one’s engagement in ministry."
- The methods use in the cohort have been field-tested across many churches, conferences, and retreats through the years. Most recently, cohort participants included senior staff from InterVarsity, MissionOne, AACF, and JEMS. The research behind the method is best articulated in a paper called “Narrative Pastoral Care Among Asian Americans” by Nate Lee
- All said, Steve’s credentials can best be summarized by the following passage:
- "Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." 2 Cor 3:1-3.