Often Zhan

1 minute read

After reading the Proximity Principle by Ken Coleman, one thing I’m trying to think about who are the type of people and I want to reach out to talk with so that I can become a better person. Who are the people that I’m interested in getting to know and learning from?

  • Leaders and entrepreneurs
  • Educators
  • Writers

While I want to become a better leader in Christian ministry, I think about I will not try to actively focus on pastors. Not because I do not admire them, but rather, my goal is not to become a clergyman.

I actually like Tim Ferris’ idea from Tribe of Mentors where he asks a wide array of people whom he highly respects very personal questions. I plan to implement this style of mentor-ship not only in ministry but also for myself

Often Zhan

5 minute read

I had a discussion with many of you about how to revamp the Inductive (Group) Bible Study Program (IGBS). Recently, I took a “ScaleUp Speaker Series” class with CH at MoFo in Palo Alto and want to implement their class style to IGBS. (Everytime I see IBS, I think of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That is why I added Group to the acronym). Essentially, MoFo’s classes are a series of 9 modules that meets consistently every week on Friday and cycles back to module 1 once all 9 modules are completed. Each module can be taught individually but they also build upon each other. I thought that this style of “Credential Program” is really clever because (1) it is consistent and can build momentum, and (2) people can begin at any point in the series. This is great because we can invite people who are interested but cannot commit to attend all the classes. Visitors do not have to start off with “Lesson 1”, but can jump in at any time.

However, KYT shared a valid concern: Yes, this module style will increase the quantity of visitors, but it may lower the overall quality of resulting Bible Study leaders. In-depth programs—such as the Inductive Bible Study Program—often requires a linear progression of thought (where basic foundational lessons are introduced first and subsequent lessons become increasingly complex.)

I think I may have solved this problem.

Course Description

In order to make sure that the program is both invitational and rigorous and, I divided the program into two parts:

  • Introductory Course
  • Advanced Bible Study

Yearly Schedule

The proposed yearly schedule is shown in the year calendar underneath:

Month Week A Week B Advanced Season
JAN Intro 1 Intro 4 Adv 1
FEB Intro 2 Intro 5 Adv 2 Winter
MAR Intro 3 Intro 6 Adv 3
APR Intro 4 Intro 1 Adv 1
MAY Intro 5 Intro 2 Adv 2 Spring
JUN Intro 6 Intro 3 Adv 3
JUL Intro 1 Intro 4 Adv 1
AUG Intro 2 Intro 5 Adv 2 Summer
SEP Intro 3 Intro 6 Adv 3
OCT Intro 4 Intro 1 Adv 1
NOV Intro 5 Intro 2 Adv 2 Fall
DEC Intro 6 Intro 3 Adv 3

Introduction Course

This course is for people who want to learn about the basics of group Bible Study, gain a greater holistic appreciation for bible study, and approach bible study in a way that both edifies yourself and your bible study mates around you.

  1. History of the Bible The bible has not always been so freely available and ubiquitous as it is now. In this session, we look at the history of the Bible from the Early Church to the Modern Age to help provide a better perspective on the importance, benefits, and limitations of modern group bible study.

  2. Bible Perspective What does the Bible say about… well… the Bible? In this session, we will discuss biblical perspectives on (1) authority of scripture and the law ; (2) hearing and obeying the words of Jesus; and (3) the validity of the “inerrancy” of Scripture.

  3. Observation, Interpretation, Application What is the sequential thought process when actively reading the Bible? In this session, we will learn essential questions that we need to ask ourselves and in our bible study at every step of the process.

  4. Tiered Questions In this session we will learn how to use questions to guide discussion and foster discovery of God’s spiritual truths.

  5. Cultural, Historical, and Thematic Perspectives When we read scripture, we often cannot determine the author’s original intent because of the cultural and historical barriers of the passage. Even worse, we often misinterpret scripture because we place our own bias into the message. In this session, we will discuss ways of “putting ourselves in the shoes” of the author’s original audience.

  6. Unique Variations and Styles in Bible Study No two bible studies are the same. In this session, we examine different styles, approaches, and perspectives on successful and engaging bible studies that you can suggest or apply to your own.

Advanced Bible Study

This course is for people who want to take it to the next level and learn how to prepare and lead a bible study on their own.

Note: Attendance and completion of all Introductory Lessons is needed for the credentials of the Advanced Bible Study Leading course.

  1. Textual Grammatical Analysis Learn how to break down a text and examine a passage of scripture by grammatically organizing it into a logical sequence of events. Also, learn how to find the beginning and end of single-session or multiple-session bible study lessons.

  2. Generating the Essential Question Set Learn how to generate a set of questions based on the Textual Grammatical Analysis. Afterwards, we discuss how to determine the essential questions of the passage.

  3. Lead a Bible Study Put your preparation, practice, and training to the test. Lead a Bible Study and learn how to get and accept critical feedback from your friends and colleagues.

So if you are extremely serious about finishing the credential program (Introductory + Advanced), you could finish it in 3 months… (Three classes a month), but if you take it easy, you can finish it in 6 months with plenty of opportunities to attend classes that you’ve missed.

Let me know what you think!

Often Z.

Often Zhan

5 minute read

If you are here, that congratulations! Whether you are a mature, experienced leader or someone who is new at leadership with little under your belt, you are exactly where you need to be. You are searching for a place to self improve and become a better leader to your friends, your family, and to the communities around you.

Before you begin reading the next series of articles, let me tell you about this ongoing series as well as who this series is meant for:


This basic series was created for me to articulate the skills and advice that I’ve gained from serving, through mentor-ship, personal growth, professional development, and daily reading.

One major project that I was assigned to do is develop a leadership training curriculum for a 501©(3) Christian non-profit ministry. These articles are not the actual program, but just one small part, the part that contains my own personal thoughts, ideas, and advice after serving in Christian leadership for 10+ years.

Intended Audience

The intended audience is for the following:

(1) The next generation of internet savvy leaders

The world that we are living in is very different World then from even 10 years ago. I wanted to create a leadership training with the internet in mind and the cell phone in mind.

The sheer amount of resources available through the internet is mind-boggling. Not only does it provide practical resources to self educate oneself, but it also changed the way that we, as a society, communicate with each other.

I remember when Starbucks first formally announced that they would provide free internet at all Starbucks locations. I remember thinking, “How is that economically feasible? That is crazy expensive! Why would a coffee shop even need to provide free internet?”

Now, the internet is an expectation. Coffee shops, buses, airports… No matter where you go, people get frustrated (and even a little anxious) if there is no internet.

The smartphone is another recent technological marvel that sprouted up in the past 2 decades. I remember obtaining my first cell phone in high school and struggled with the concept of texting others. Why text someone if you could just call them up? Back then, we have to text each other using the nine button dial pad, a backspace button, and the send button. This was prior to the wide availability of smart touch phones. During those early days of texting, I even knew some people who could fluently send full elaborate paragraphs from underneath their desk without looking using only those 11 buttons.

Indeed, I am part of a generation that got to witness the emergence something awe-inspiring and world-changing.

However, I also experienced the darker side of this so-called age of information.

  • my brother wrote a comment which started a right at my high school causing my brother extension myself to skip school for several days. People actually printed it out screenshots of my brother’s friendster post to rile more people to their cause.
  • my personal friend and close colleague was doxxed which ultimately resulted in the abrupt dismissal from his job.
  • witnessing the destructive results internet and phone addiction by both myself and those around me.

Luckily, I came out of the internet’s awkward years has virtually unscathed because I had my own awkward hormone-and-puberty driven interpersonal problems which kept me occupied.

I also greatly think my ultra conservative Boomer parents who raised me with careful upbringing and by shielding me from the ever-shifting trends of my peers. Of course, I felt disconnected by those within my own generation, but it also laid the groundwork for who I am today.

To be fair, I’m probably one of the worst “millennials” you will probably ever meet. I just don’t understand the appeal of social media platforms. I instead prefer tangible hobbies physical books, pens, snail mail, typewriters, textured jackets, and a good conversation over a cup of coffee. (Since I’m talking about myself, I also like fall colors.)

My friend Bobert once told me, “You are like an accidental hipster. You like all the things a hipster likes but unintentionally.” There is a running gag in my circle of friends where someone says, “What a hipster,” whenever I say something that resembles anything that will come out of my Portland brethren’s mouths:

“My favorite typewriter is a Hermes 3000!”


As a result, I have an upper advantage over those who live and breathe the internet. I’ve learned how to integrate myself into the internet rather than to peel away my identity from it. The internet is a tool. The smartphone is a tool. And just like any tool, knowing how to properly use that tool will help you become a better artist, leader, and craftsman.

Christian Leaders

I strongly believe the true long lasting change in all areas can only be done through the inner working power for Jesus Christ.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called 2 meditate upon God’s word, pick up our cross, follow Jesus, and live righteously.

But even if you are not a Christian, the skills the techniques found in these series of articles can be still practicable and making a positive impact in your life and in the lives of everyone around you.

Ministry and nonprofit service

Financial and economic success are commonly found in any leadership training programs. Many leadership books and podcasts talk about how one can leverage their skills, take reasonable risks, and promote themselves in order to become a millionaire. This is not one of those books/podcasts. These money-making skills are important, but the intent of this series is not on how to climb up the social ladder. Rather, these series of articles are created to help a young volunteer improve oneself and fulfill the vision that God has placed upon that ministry or non-profit.

Keep Doing What You’re Doing

If you are committed in expanding your leadership skills, you are at an amazing and exciting place in your life. I am humbled to be a part of your journey towards the path of servant leadership. I just want to say, from one leader to another, “Welcome!”

If you are interested in joining me in helping to create leaders of the next generation through your unique experiences and profession, feel free to contact me.

Often Zhan

1 minute read

I’ve updated my Person Core Values. Take a gander:

  • Speak truthfully and honestly with the intention of orienting others and myself towards God’s redeeming love.
  • Live righteously for God’s purposes, not my purposes.
  • Seek fullness in all aspects of my life.
  • Fully participate with humble boldness to the tasks that God has appointed me to do.
  • Steward other’s into becoming active disciples of Jesus Christ.

- Often

Often Zhan

1 minute read

This is a letter for the new writers in a magazine that I am revitalizing. I wanted to share it with you.

Dear writers and editors,

I am very excited to begin this project of starting The Messenger after around a decade of hiatus. This is an opportunity for both mature and novice writers to apply their skills and their interests in something that can benefit others for years to come.

I am honored to be part of this long-standing tradition, and I hope that we can work together in harmony for the sake of building leaders and for using our skills as students and working adults to help fulfill the great commission.

If you have an idea, whether it is well thought-out or inchoate, we welcome those ideas.

Often Zhan