Christian Global Network Television (CGNTV) hosted a discussion on Tuesday with Hyukbeen Kwon from Irvine Onnuri Church as the host, Pastor Jim-Bob Park, the senior pastor of Oriental Mission Church, and Pastor Sung-Keun Park, the senior pastor of Berendo Street Baptist Church, on the topic of English ministry (EM)—the current problems that EMs face and how the EM and Korean ministry (KM) must work together going forward.
The discussion started with the question of what kinds of barriers exist between the KM and EM that may hinder a deepening of the two ministries’ relationship. Both Pastor Sung-Keun and Pastor Jim-Bob explained that there are differences in cultures and traditions from both generations that the other cannot understand.
To handle these differences, Pastor Jim-Bob suggested that the KM and EM adopt a relationship like that of parents and children. “Just as children cannot become successful without parents, EMs need the support from KMs financially and spiritually,” he explained.
“Perhaps EM feel this dilemma—they desire independence, but they also want care from the KM,” Kwon commented in response.
To this, Pastor Jim-Bob responded that there are many EMs that blame the fact that they haven’t been given independence as the reason for their lack of growth or revival, but he argued that there are many EMs that haven’t been given full independence yet still experience revival in their ministries.
Pastor Sung-Keun suggested that an effective approach might be for KM and EM to exist as two families under one roof. “I hope that EM would grow to the extent that they would be the dominant congregation of the church,” he added.
But Pastor Jim-Bob said that when the EM did indeed become the dominant congregation at Young Nak Church, for example, the KM felt uncomfortable, and that a slight tension ensued between the two ministries. The church ended up simply building a completely new campus for the EM instead, he explained.
The discussion then shifted to the topic of EM pastors, and that there seems to be a limited pool of EM pastors that exist in the Korean American church community. The two pastors discussed why this might be so.
On the one hand, Pastor Sung-Keun suspected that the reality of pastoring in a Korean church is very different from what EM pastors might expect, and that this stark difference might cause many EM pastors to leave ministry.
Pastor Jim-Bob, on the other hand, mentioned that one of the greatest obstacles EM pastors may face is the opposition of their parents.
“As immigrants, their hope is that their children would be materially successful and stable,” he explained. “Anyone but my child can be a minister, parents would often say.”
Pastor Sung-Keun also mentioned that there are certain things that the second generation feels entitled to – such as a nine to five work life with vacations.
“But is this biblical? Having no expectation to sacrifice?” he posed. “I hope that we will see more sacrificial second gen Christians and ministers.”
In contrast to Pastor Sung-Keun’s expectations EM pastors, Pastor Jim-Bob focused on expectations for senior pastors. “The senior pastor needs to embrace and exhort the assistant pastors and EM pastors as their own sons,” he argued.
One way that churches can help to support the growth of EM pastors is by investing in potential ministers’ seminary education, said Pastor Sung-Keun. “We can work together in that way and invest in future leaders to rise up,” he said.
Pastor Jim-Bob agreed. “Korean churches are very good at going to the ends of the earth for world missions and investing in missionaries – we must see the second gen as a mission field as well and invest just as much in them.” Such investment could take the form of investing in EM pastors’ seminary education, but Pastor Jim-Bob said that second generation leaders are in need of mentors who can invest in them spiritually and disciple them as well.
The two pastors also discussed reasons that young people may choose to leave the church after high school – a trend that studies have allegedly shown and churches seem to confirm.
Pastor Jim-Bob again focused his argument on the family, and emphasized that Christian education must start in the family. “There is much responsibility on the parents,” he said.
But Korean Christian parents are very passionate about the Word and prayer, argued Pastor Sung-Keun.
“Even in the Bible, parents like Abraham and Jacob were full of mistakes, but one thing that no one can challenge is their fear of the Lord,” Pastor Jim-Bob responded. “But perhaps our parents have been failing to convey that fear of the Lord. They say their children must succeed but they fail to tell their children the purpose of that success—to glorify the Lord and to work for His kingdom.”
When asked about the effects that Korean church conflicts and splits may have had on the second generation, both Pastor Sung-Keun and Pastor Jim-Bob expressed remorse and a brokenness, and said that this is one of the most heartbreaking issues of the Korean church.
“The members of the second generation are the greatest casualties of war,” he said. In this case, there simply needs to be confessions of sin and giving and receiving of forgiveness.
“Just as our relationship with God is restored when we confess we have sinned, between KM and EM, and between parents and children, there needs to be a mutual confession of sins and humility before each other for the relationship to be restored,” said Pastor Jim-Bob.
In their final remarks, both pastors expressed hopes for the future of both the KM and EM.
“The fact that there are differences is not a bad thing,” concluded Pastor Sung-Keun. “In the midst of differences, I believe KM and EM can find a common ground and work together.” He added that his church sent out a mission team consisting of members from both KM and EM congregations, and that despite concerns, individuals from both congregations expressed that they all enjoyed the trip.
“The KM and EM both have areas to grow in, and instead of the KM passing on the baton to EM, they both must go down a parallel path of growth,” Pastor Jim-Bob remarked. “Instead of independence from each other, there must be an interdependent relationship in which they both depend on each other and grow together.”
The full discussion can be viewed in Korean at the CGNTV website on August 29th and 30th.