The other kind of prayer

Prayer for everyone

Many of us who’ve been Christians for a while have come to realize that prayer is important and we want to be better at prayer.  But many of us have been put off by spiritual gurus who make prayer sound as if it’s out of reach to most mere mortals.

Part of the problem is that our modern, technological society naturally gravitates toward prayer that “avails much”, i.e., productive prayer. We want quantifiable results. The results of intercessory prayer are easily quantifiable: was the prayer answered with the desired result?  If not, then change the expectation (the theologically conservative approach) or the method of prayer (the charismatic approach).

Contemplative prayer is “the other kind of prayer”.  It’s not so much about talking to God (or talking at God) but is about putting ourselves in a place to listen to God.  There are many tools for contemplative prayer and it’s not necessary to become expert at each.  A prayer retreat can help you become familiar with various tools and figure out which fit you best, which you want to keep in your own tool box.  

A prayer retreat for your church or leadership team will include teaching on contemplative prayer and introductions to various prayer tools.  

A deeper look at

growing older

We live in a youth-obsessed culture.  But aging is a fact of life, and ever-more so in contemporary American society.    This workshop is designed to give a Christian perspective on aging and to open the door for discussion on how to better engage with, serve and learn from those who are aging.  For those of us with aging parents, as well as those of us who are approaching the later seasons of life, getting some perspective on aging can be a source of help, comfort and motivation.

The workshop includes insights from developmental psychology theorists Erik and Joan Erikson, observations on contemporary culture from secular writer Atul Gawande's best-seller, "Being Mortal", reflections from Christian writer Joan Chittester's "The Gift of Years", and practical suggestions for today's local church from "Regenerating Generations" by Evelyn Johnson and Alan Forsman.  The three sessions of the workshop are: "The challenges of aging in contemporary society", "The Bible, the church, and aging", and "Solutions and perspectives".

Helping and Hosting Hispanic Ministries

Training Modules

American society is rapidly becoming more diverse.  The majority of that diversity is coming from Hispanic population growth.  The Boston Globe reported in February 2016 that...the white majority has shrunk to just over 60 percent, while Hispanic and Asian groups have gained a new demographic prominence. Today, Hispanics make up about 18 percent of the US population; Asians about 6 percent. The African-American population has stayed roughly constant.  Looking to the future, Pew expects these trends to continue, so that by 2055 these onetime minority groups will collectively represent a majority of the US population. The Census Bureau says that will happen by 2044.

The Covenant Church is addressing this changing social landscape by multiplying ministry for Hispanics.  The Covenant planted 5 Hispanic churches in 2016.  8-10 Hispanic church plants are planned for 2017, representing a third of all 2017 church plants.  Our Hispanic seminary, CHET (Centro Hispano de Estudios Teologicos) has grown to serve over 550 current and future Hispanic church leaders.  CHET became a certified member of the Association of Theological Schools in 2015 and graduated 158 students in December of 2016.

The Covenant is calling on our established churches to join in helping and hosting Hispanic ministries.  Many churches are willing to help or host, but many church leaders and members are unequipped to handle the cultural shifts in their neighborhoods because the tendency for any local church is to continue doing things the way they were done when many of the church’s leaders became followers of Jesus.  This can insulate the church from the way things are now and render the local church ineffective in her mission to spread the Gospel and make disciples in a culturally diverse world.

About the workshops

The workshops and coaching offered below are intended to help churches...
● Develop awareness of cultural differences.
● Develop essential skills for addressing cultural differences.
The goal could be termed “intercultural agility”, the ability to skillfully navigate the differences between one’s own culture and the culture of another. 

The best application of intercultural agility for the sake of the Church’s mission goes beyond the individual church member.  The leadership team with intercultural agility will be able to lead the local church into having an impact for the Kingdom that truly expresses Jesus’ vision in Acts 1:8, a vision of his followers bearing witness beyond their culture of origin and having an impact on people who are from “the ends of the earth”.

Module A. Understanding cultural differences

(60-90 minutes)

  • Intended audience: church members and leaders that want to start understanding cultural diversity.
  • Purpose: develop an initial awareness of cultural differences, begin to develop strategies for intercultural cooperation.
  • Desired outcome: a vision for better engagement between people of various cultures

Module B.  Understanding differences in communication (1-2 hours)

  • Intended audience: church members and especially leaders that want to meet challenges resulting from cultural differences. 
  • Purpose: Understand differences in styles of communication and conflict resolution between people from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Desired outcome: A vision for improved engagement with people of other cultures.

Module C.  Developing intercultural agility as an individual (3 hours)

  • Intended audience: Individuals who are aware of cultural differences and want to start doing something about it.
  • Preparation: Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)
  • Purpose: Offers a developmental road map toward intercultural agility.
  • Desired outcome: A vision for increased communication with, enjoyment of, and productivity in relationships with individuals from other cultures.

Module D. Developing intercultural agility as a team (3 hours)

  • Intended audience: church leaders who are aware of cultural differences and the tensions and negative consequences that are resulting in their church’s social context and want to begin addressing these concerns constructively. 
  • Purpose: Understand the Intercultural Development Inventory’s (IDI) developmental roadmap toward intercultural agility, begin developing goals for better partnership.
  • Desired outcome: give leadership teams a vision for productive engagement with individuals or teams from a different cultural background, e.g., members and leaders of an ethnic minority church.
  • Follow up: if the team will do part 2, after everyone takes the IDI, do an individual debrief of IDI for highest level team leaders, e.g. pastor and church chair. 

Module E. Strategic planning for intercultural partnership (3 hours)

  • Intended audience: church leadership teams that are ready to begin strategic action toward productive engagement with individuals and teams from a different cultural background.
  • Preparation: IDI, DIA (team) part 1.
  • Purpose: review of team’s IDI profile, learn the stages of intercultural partnership for churches, develop strategies for more productive engagement as per the goals set in part 1.
  • Desired outcome: help teams develop concrete strategies for achieving self-identified goals for better partnership.

Module F. Coaching follow up meetings (1.5-3 hours each)

  • Intended audience: church leadership teams that are making strategic moves toward intercultural engagement, especially in partnership with another church of a different cultural background.
  • Content: Tailored to team’s situation, goals and progress. Desired outcome: tangible improvement engaging with individuals (and churches) of other cultural background.

Fees for modules A-F

$150 per hour, including preparatory meetings plus travel costs (transportation, lodging)

ICSI: $20 per person for online assessment taken during workshop + administrative costs

IDI: $40 per person for cost of assessment taken prior to workshop + administrative costs

IDI personal development plan debriefing: $50 per person for 45-60 minutes.

For information or to book any of these workshops, please contact Steve Wong.

  • About the

    workshop leader

    Steve Wong is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory® and received his certificate in spiritual Direction from North Park Theological Seminary in 2016.  He has been a pastor since 1984 and planted Grace Community Covenant Church in 1998 as “a church for Asian Americans and their friends”.  He currently serves on the board of the Ordered Ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church and has also worked as the chair of the multiethnic ministries commission in the Pacific Southwest Conference of the ECC. He was a contributor to the book, Growing Healthy Asian American Churches (InterVarsity Press, 2006) and has an MDiv in theology (1983) and PhD in psychology (1996).  He has taught workshops in various venues, including the Bay Area Sunday School Convention and the Covenant’s Midwinter Conference.