Equipping Korean Church Planters
Earlier this year, a series of six seminars took place to equip and encourage Korean church planters in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Supported by Mid-Atlantic Ministries (MAM), the ministry arm of Classes Hackensack and Hudson, the series began on Feb. 15 and ran for three months. The six seminars were conducted via Zoom or were held in person at Namu Church of New York in Flushing, N.Y., and at Love Global Vision CRC in Clifton, N.J.
Rev. Kwon Do Lee, who serves as a member of MAM in Classis Hudson and is the lead pastor of Manhattan Vertical Church (New York, N.Y.). helped to organize the event.
“The Mid-Atlantic Ministry, funded by Classis Hudson and Classis Hackensack, supports church planting and campus ministry in a practical way by providing mentoring and leadership training,” explained Lee, who joined the CRCNA in 2018 and planted Manhattan Vertical Church.
“With more Korean pastors planting churches in the East Coast area, MAM decided to provide them with additional support by providing these seminars. Senior pastors in the CRCNA also participated and graciously shared their experiences,” said Lee.
The series covered several topics related to church planting, and instructors with expertise in each topic were invited to lead the sessions. As young pastors' spirit of challenge combined with senior pastors' experience in ministry, there was space for deep sharing.
Lee said he was highly satisfied with the seminars. “We shared prayer requests and were able to set direction for our ministry,” he said. “In addition, there was time for fellowship with other church planters, and this helped to alleviate the stress and burden that comes with church planting."
One of the speakers was Rev. Jason Chung, who planted Namu Church of New York in 2012. He shared his personal experiences in a workshop titled "The Reality of Church Planting."
"I hope that church planting in the future will no longer be a lonely and fierce battle that a pastor should endure on their own,” he said. “Instead, I hope it will be a pleasant adventure where we can hold hands and encourage each other."
Chung added that this series of seminars was the result of the classes’ and MAM's continued interest in Korean ministry.
“It has been very encouraging to see that church planting among Korean pastors is becoming more active despite the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “I am very thankful for MAM's leading role in encouraging and establishing Korean church planters as partners.”
Rev. Benjamin Spalink, the leader of MAM, led a seminar titled "The Emotionally Healthy Disciple." He shared, "I was happy to see the Korean church planters in New York gaining momentum. Thanks to Rev. Kwon Do Lee, we were able to plan an organized training and community-building program. Through this, we wanted to encourage church planters and let them know that the local classis is also supporting the ministry that Korean pastors are enthusiastic about. This is the first time we've had such training in our area, and we look forward to having it again next year."
The seminar series covered the following topics:
- Establishing a Community of Evangelism, Hospitality, and Worship
Via Zoom, missionary Jae-woo Kim led a session about the importance of establishing a worship community. He serves a multiethnic church in Atlanta, Ga., and shared his experience of how that church has become one through worship. He also shared a concept of basing worship around praise.
- Renewing the Gospel
Rev. Stephen Ro shared about the importance of the gospel to the renewal of the church. The lecture focused on what it means for every member of the church to have gospel fluency, and how to create a gospel-centered church culture through small group gatherings and fellowship.
- The Reality of Church Planting
Rev. Jason Chung, a CRC pastor in New York City, shared his personal experiences in church planting. This session allowed for a time for church planters to listen to one another as they shared their motives for church planting, how they were called to it, and how they continue to realize God's heart in their ministry.
- Missional Life and Missional Church
Rev. Paul Yang, who planted a church in New Jersey, shared the challenges he faces in a larger church. A vision of a missional church in a congregation that has already grown is not always easy to pursue. Having a solid vision is important.
- Sacred Community Service
Rev. Tae-hoo Lee shared about his ministry in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Philadelphia. His talk challenged participants to consider how congregations can meet both the theological needs and the physical needs of their communities.
- The Emotionally Healthy Disciple
Rev. Benjamin Spalink gave a lecture on how to be an emotionally healthy disciple. He shared valuable insights on the importance of rest, and on developing and maintaining one’s relationship with their spouse. Participants said it was a great time for Korean pastors to learn about the importance of taking care of themselves in order to be equipped for ministry.