The other kind of prayer

Prayer for everyone


Prayer is important and we all want to be better at prayer.  But many of us have been put off by spiritual gurus who make a transforming prayer life 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.  What's more important is becoming familiar with various tools and finding out which ones fit you best.

     A prayer retreat for your church or leadership team can take a morning, a morning and afternoon, or extend into the evening.  It will include teaching on contemplative prayer and introductions to various prayer tools.

Flourishing in the

later seasons of life

A developmental perspective on aging


     We live in a youth-obsessed culture.  But aging is a fact of life, and contemporary American society is facing a "silver tsunami".  Are we ready? 

     This series of three 1.5-hour workshops looks at physical, emotional and spiritual development over the life span and opens the door for discussion on how to better engage with, serve and learn from older adults.  For those of us with aging parents, as well as those of us who are approaching the later seasons of life, being informed about these later seasons can be a source of help, comfort and motivation.

     Steve presents information and insights gleaned from various sources, including developmental psychology theorists Erik and Joan Erikson, Atul Gawande's best-seller, "Being Mortal", and reflections from Christian writer Joan Chittester's "The Gift of Years", along with practical suggestions for today's local church from "Cresendo" by Evelyn Johnson and Alan Forsman. 

Healing for a

healthy heart

As we go through life we face eight essential challenges or tasks (Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development).  Each time of life has a task associated with it, but the task is not confined to that time of life. Any of the previous tasks can become present at any later time of life.  We can think of these stages as 8 facets of a healthy heart. If there is an injury or a state of un-health, then it makes sense to present ourselves to God for healing.

     This one-day prayer retreat includes a time of teaching on the eight stages of life and then presents prayers for discernment of injury and prayers to begin the process of healing in each of the stages.

Helping and Hosting Hispanic Ministries

Developing intercultural competency

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 to Hispanics. The Pacific Southwest Conference alone has planted 13 Hispanic churches in 2016-2018.  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 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 competency" or, better, “intercultural agility”, the ability to skillfully navigate the differences between one’s own culture and the culture of another. 

Intercultural agility is a skill that any determined individual can learn.  But 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 (2 hours)

  • 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 differing cultures

Module B.  Understanding differences in communication (2 hours)

  • Intended audience: Church members and  leadership teams 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.
  • Follow up: If continuing to Module C or D, participants will take the Intercultural Development Inventory.  For individuals there will be an individual  debriefing.  For teams there will be an individual debriefing of the results for team leaders.  The teams' profiles will be presented during Module D.

Module C.

Developing intercultural agility as an individual (3-4 hours)

  • Intended audience: Individuals (rather than teams) who are aware of cultural differences and want to start doing something about it. 
  • Purpose: Offers a developmental road map toward increased 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 in partnership (4 hours)

  • Intended audience: Church leadership teams who are working in partnership and want to address intercultural concerns in their partnership. 
  • Purpose: Learn the team's IDI profile, learn several models for intercultural partnerships, determine which model best fits the current partnership.
  • Desired outcome: Develop concrete goals for better partnership.

Fees

$150-250 per hour, including preparatory meetings plus travel costs (transportation, lodging).  Fee depends on size of church.


Intercultural Conflict Styles Inventory (ICSI) or Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI): contact IDI@covchurch.org for information regarding administration, debriefing and costs of taking the inventories.


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 became a resource specialist for Crescendo (an initiative of the Covenant's Make and Deepen Disciples mission priority) in 2017.  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 has served as the chair of the Board of the Ordered Ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church and has also worked as the chair of the Multiethnic Ministries Commission when he served on the Executive Board of 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.