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Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (1)

. 3 min read

Reflections from our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:

            As you are probably aware, 32 pastors and spouses joined Bishop Park and his
wife Lisa for a pilgrimage to Korea.  It was a phenomenal trip.  We
not only learned so much, we observed churches alive and on fire for Jesus
Christ who understands their sole passion is to bring people to faith in Jesus
Christ.
           
Over the next several weeks I want to highlight some of the things that I found
helpful, inspiring and what I believe is God directed.  I hope some of the
things that I write about will stir us in the Lewisburg District.
           
We visited 6 churches and the Methodist Seminary of Korea.  All of the
churches we visited are growing in numbers and in disciples.  Some of the
pastors were quick to point out that this is difficult because of the culture
in Korea.  Like the US, going to church is against the culture of the
society in which they live.
Our
host Church was the Bupyeong Methodist Church.  They are the epitome of a
church who cares deeply for its community and for the unchurched.  They
are also a church that takes hospitality to a new level.  (I’ll talk about
the hospitality in another article.)
One
of the links of all of the churches growth was that they were crystal clear as
to their mission as a church.  Our host church understands that all they
are about is bringing people to know Jesus Christ and to grow disciples. 
If it doesn’t fit these two goals—they don’t engage in it.  It’s about
their goal of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
Another
church we visited called themselves the Joyful Church.  Their goal is to
bring joy to the community through the Gospel of serving and to find ways to
help make the community joyful in Jesus Christ.
This
joyful church sees as their mission field the children in the
community.   To serve the children, they built—with church funds—a 3
floor community center for the church.  The 3rd floor is a
children’s library, the second floor a coffee shop for the community and the 1st
floor a theater for performing.   This is next to their sanctuary.
The
pastor of this church said that they opened this as a place for children. 
He went on to say our only reason is to serve children in our community
well.  To that end, they now worship 1,100 adults and 1,400
children.  They are clear about their mission and they do not stray from
it.


Another
church we visited is known for its small group ministries.  This church’s
mantra is passion and creativity and they are burdened by the multitude of
souls that need to be saved. 
Their
passion and creativity is shown in their unique ministries of an open Christian
Culture Service, their dance company that is actively a part of worship, their
drawing performance and sand animation. 
When
this church was started 21 years ago they picked a location that was right next
to the subway stop to attract new people and make it easy for them to come to
worship.
This
church is clear that their job is not to get members but to make
disciples.  So, in order to join the church, every new person must attend
40 consecutive days of small group where they encounter the Word of God
and are paired with a mentor.  The goal is to move people from being
“almost Christians” to Disciples of Jesus Christ. 
This
church began in 1993 with 2 people and now they worship 5,000.  Most
persons who attend are young adults.
All
of the churches that we visited were very, very clear about who they are and
what they are about.  They are about bringing people to know Jesus Christ
and helping Christian grow in their discipleship.   They take serving
very serious.
Their
only function—the only programs and ministries they start and they continue are
ones that get them to the goal of bringing people into a relationship with
Jesus Christ and helping people grow in their discipleship.
A
real learning from these churches is that we need to be crystal clear what our
goal is as a church.  Once we know our goal, then we must align all of our
ministries and all of our budgets and all of our energies to accomplish that
goal.
We
say we are about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the
world.  Do our actions, our ministries and our budget point to that? 
Are we so focused on our goals that we are willing to stop doing things that
don’t help us achieve our goal?
Clearly
the churches we visited knew and understood their goal and they were razor
sharp in their focus.  And they found that God is blessing them.

(The
next observation will be about what the Korean Church learned from the US.)