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We Have No Future!!... If we choose not to have it

previously published in February 20015

I am so glad that I am Korean. I am so glad that I live in America. I am so glad that I am a pastor. I am so glad that God gave us free will. I am so glad that future is what we make of.

Now that you, as a reader, know where I am from, you will also know where I will go with this article. I am not a prophet so I don’t know what the future of pastoral ministry in the Korean-American (2nd generation) church will be. Maybe ten years down the road, Korean-American church will grow so big, each church will be required to have an Olympic-sized pool to accommodate all the baptisms. Or maybe twenty years down the road, western people will start thinking Korea is one of the little villages of China because there are no more Korean-American churches. Yet, again, I am so glad that the future is what we make of. We can choose our future. Actually, we definitely have a future, but we just have to choose a good one.

According to kasda.com, United States of America now has total of 103 official SDA Korean-American gatherings which are called church, company or group. And there are 164 reported ministers serving Korean-American churches, companies or groups. For the size of the mother land, Korea(of course divided in to two), Korean-American churches in America are pretty big and strong. But, this doesn’t mean that we are going to stay this way. This is now and now will pass and the future will come.

Before we think of the future of KA pastoral ministry, let’s look at the components of the KA pastoral ministry. In order to look at the KA pastoral ministries (or any other ministries) as a whole there are many things that we can think of, but when it comes to where the rubber meets the road, we can narrow it down to two sides. First are pastors, and second are group of people who loves God (we call it church, school, hospital, Christians groups, etc.). Pastoral ministries can not effectively work with out pastors or churches. A pastor and a church is like a pair of chop sticks, in order to get the most out of it both must support and help each other.

Now let us look at the future of KA pastoral ministries with the information and histories that we have. There are pretty much 3 ways that future of KA pastoral ministries can go. First, KA pastoral ministry will continue to be KA oriented. Second, KA pastoral ministries will no longer have the name of KA, but actively doing its work using the name Asian American ministries or even bigger international ministries. Third, KA ministry will slowly disappear. Personally I do not want to believe that the third option will happen, and I do not write about the things that I don’t believe in, so I won’t mention it.
Finally, let us combine the two major components of KA ministries with the future of the KA ministries. First, KA ministries need future pastors for future KA ministries. I would like to write to all the people who once considered becoming a pastor, a missionary, a church leader to go forth. I would like to command them not to be afraid. I would like to command them to be bold. I would like to challenge them not to measure themselves or comparing their shy, timid self to the great and awesome work of God. God does not call the ones that are prepared; but God prepares the ones who are called. Many people worry and leave from becoming future pastors of KA churches because of their future financial stability. I would like to assure you that if that is the only reason then it is not a good enough excuse to not become a pastor. From the first hand experience, I can proudly tell you that God has so much more blessings prepared for you than you can ever imagine.  It also includes financial comfort! Don’t believe me? Call me!

Second, KA ministries need master plans for the future. Slowly dying out was not an option, so KA ministry pastors, leaders, and congregations must choose and prepare what their local KA ministry’s future is going to be. If it is to stay as KA oriented ministry then they must work on the communications, relations between 1st, 2nd and even 3rd generation KAs. We can not give up talking to each other, eating together, laughing together, and glorifying God together, because we have language differences, cultural differences or just out of stubbornness. Some people say it’s hard to mingle with one another when people have so many differences. But I want to ask them if they have tried with a sincere want to have a fellowship with one another? Sincere wanting can over come all the struggles and hardships in a relationship. Just look at the couple who are in love! Once they’re in love, there are no language barriers, cultural differences, definitely no stubbornness. If the local KA ministry chooses to open their church up to the non-Korean community and reach other ethnic group, then they must become one of them. Don’t whine when there are no Kim-chee for potluck, stop only hanging around with only Korean-looking people, but do go out and try Vegi-Sushi, Curry or Sauer Kraut, do try to become a Christian before a Korean. Be proud to be the pioneer KA church to have more than 30%, 40%, 50% non-Korean congregations.

In conclusion, the futures of KA pastoral ministries are what we make of. There is no right or wrong in what we do when we do it for the glory of God. But if we do not do anything about our future and let it slowly disappear, I will probably have to prepare my self to answer one question, “You lazy servant! What have you done with the future that I gave you?”

Enoch Lee previously pastored at Loma Linda Korean Church and Orlando Korean Church.

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