“People are looking for a demonstration, not an explanation...One living sermon is worth a hundred explanations.”
Robert E Coleman1
When Jesus was proclaiming the Kingdom of God, especially in the Gospel of Matthew, he was introducing an entirely new way of seeing, a whole new lens that would shape how they lead and love. So when Jesus preached each of his 5 sermons in Matthew, this Master Teacher did not settle for merely conveying information. He was aiming for heart integration. So each of his sermons was given in the context of a demonstration of the Kingdom. Before the first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, people experienced the kingdom through the healing ministry of Jesus. For example, Matt 4:23ff recounts how Jesus was “healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” (NKJV) So when Jesus taught, the disciples and the crowd were able to hang the words of the sermon on the demonstration of the kingdom.
Similarly, Kingdom Rice seeks to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, aiming for heart integration and not just head information. Therefore, as much as possible, we love taking people out to the streets, where all 5 senses are activated. We aim to redirect our five senses from our sometimes natural consumerist tendencies (where’s the best soul food? BBQ Pork? Sushi?) to Kingdom eyes (stories of brokenness, colonialism, displacement, and stories of beauty and redemption).
Whenever we are able to offer immersions into the neighborhoods of San Francisco, we’ve done a variety of them, from multi-day urban immersions, all day bus odysseys (we don’t provide the bus) to intimate walking tours of ‘hoods in smaller groups. Several of our board members and partner teachers are advocates of different neighborhoods. And KR’s founder, Steve Hong, has immersed people in many neighborhoods of SF, often working in partnership with advocates from key neighborhoods so that our clients can hear and experience the narrative of brokenness and beauty from current advocates for the neighborhood. Through these immersions, we draw out the beauty of how that neighborhood reflects Christ alongside some of its brokenness. We’ve led over 1000 clients from churches, seminaries, and mission organizations from all across the US, across denominational and ethnic lines.
Some of the neighborhoods we’ve immersed participants in include Chinatown, Bayview, The Tenderloin, Haight-Ashbury, Castro, The Mission, Japantown, Golden Gate Park, and the Richmond, each one revealing different aspects of God’s Kingdom told through stories of immigration, displacement, and redemption. But of all these, we’ve done the most immersions in Chinatown. Participants from a variety of backgrounds (local, out-of-state, Caucasian, ethnic minority, youth, and retired, conservative, progressive) have found part of their story in God’s Story when they were immersed in Chinatown. Read this post for more about these immersions.
“We asked Steve Hong to come in and lead a band of disciples through Chinatown and share the story of this neighborhood as a way of introducing the disciples to the “world” we are called to disciple. What Steve brought was so much more. He exposed them to the back story and cultural nuances of the neighborhood. He engaged all of their senses–sight, smell, sounds, touches, and tastes–in a 3 hour immersion into China Town life; most rewarding was the way he continually held up a missional lens for us to look through. The student-disciples were overwhelmed with the experience. The outcome was so great that I asked him to lead a group of seminary students for a class on Urban Mission and Ministry through the same tour. We had students from all over the country who participated and found the tour to be the highlight of the class. Several students from San Francisco confessed, that though they had lived and attended church in China Town it was only during that tour that they came to fully appreciate Chinatown and how much God loves this neighborhood. There were numerous testimonies coming out of this time together. Steve has a unique way of exposing hearts to the Gospel and redeeming the beauty of our ethnicities so that we are free from shame.”
Dr. Jeffrey Garner,
Pastor San Francisco Lighthouse Church
Adjunct Faculty Western Seminary
Preaching and teaching:
Neighborhood immersions, though preferred, are just a fraction of how we demonstrate our vision. Though founder Steve Hong does most of the preaching and teaching, some of our most notable teaching has come from others on the KR team. Our preaching and teaching typically layers a healthy dose of stories of how our vision is being accomplished on the field on top of a strong biblical expositional base. Our stories come straight from the pluralist field of SF where Christians are often held in high suspicion. We share how Scripture is being fulfilled in unlikely spaces, and invite listeners to be participants in this redemptive picture.
Church Mission conferences and retreats, though still not as immersive as neighborhood immersions, provides more space to effectively demonstrate the vision of KR than 30 minutes behind a pulpit. Typically, we are invited when churches buy into the idea that mission is no longer just across the oceans, but across the streets of our cities, in the very circles church members are already a part of, and they want to how HOW to be Good News, HOW to seek the peace of people and communities all around them.
“It was important to have a speaker who would work with the church leadership to understand the vision of the church and needs of the congregation and meet those needs biblically and contextualized to that local body. Steve has the strong theological foundation, leadership skills, communication skills and pastoral experience to bring messages and workshops that provided opportunities for the Holy Spirit to transform lives. A few responses to this series were: 'very engaging... broadened our understanding of culture and family influence on the way we see ourselves... we appreciated the exposition of the Bible passages and its application to our Asian culture.“
Senior Pastor Steve Quen of Bay Area Chinese Bible Church
1Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Spire, 2010.