Korean Baptists overcome cultural barriers
San Jose, California
Senior Pastor Darrell "Bo" Tiger leads the singing for the
Native American service at Korean Baptist.
photo by michael macor
As part of a growing trend in North America, ethnic churches are widening
their focus to include outreach to other cultures. At first, we were ethnically
focused only on Koreans, says Sungkook Kim, pastor of the Korean Baptist Church
of San Jose in California. Now more than three decades old, Korean Baptist is
the largest Korean-speaking Southern Baptist congregation in northern
But when approached by a Native American congregation and an Arabic
congregation, Korean Baptist went out of its way to accommodate the two groups.
This was a good opportunity to help others. And it works both ways, says
Sungkook. We help them, and they help us to see God working beyond the Korean
The Arabic congregation eventually moved to other premises, but Korean
Baptist still houses a Native American church as well as two new church plants
that are reaching out to Koreans and other Asians.
Over the years, Korean Baptist has established a hearts-in/hands-off model
of ministry that works well for them. Pastor Kim outlined three important
principles his church has practiced in cross-cultural outreach:
Church planting is the method of choiceChurch
planting is the most effective way of expanding the ministry, says Sungkook.
Even if a church is small, Sungkook believes in planting churches wherever
possible instead of starting ministries. When Korean Baptist realized they were
having little or no influence on second-generation Koreans, they took action.
Instead of adding a more modern English-speaking worship service to their
existing church, they established another independent church devoted to the
Korean population that speaks English.
Sisters Jennifer, 6 (back right), and Michelle Kang,10 (front),
enjoy a laugh during a church-wide fellowship lunch. Nessa Kim, 6 (back left),
enjoys her lunch.
PHOTO BY michael macor
Mutual respect is guaranteed
Find the personleaderwho shares the dream and trust him absolutely, says
Sungkook. We always assume a helping policy, not a governing policy. In the
past they have paid the full salary of the new churchs pastor for a few years,
until the church was able to take over, but they have a hands-off policy when
it comes to governance. The only requirement that is non-negotiable with Korean
Baptist is that the new church affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Not to make them conform, he says. But to ensure we have like faith, and so
they can benefit from the Conventionas we haveand then help the Convention as
Communication is keyKorean Baptist doesnt keep a list
of written rules of conduct. Rules are binding, says Sungkook. Instead, they
consider their three church plants as family, not guests. The mission pastors
are invited to attend regular staff meetings and to voice their concerns. There
is no top-down control, he adds. Communication flows from the mission church to
the mother church. We dont have to understand their entire program. In a way,
its none of our business. We dont govern their programs; they tell us what they
need, and we try to help. Leaders of Korean Baptist are quick to relocate or
postpone one of their own programs if they feel a program of one of the mission
churches has priority.
Pastor Kim recognizes that, when it comes to church, one size doesnt fit
all. The four independent congregations who share the facilities of Korean
Baptist have the same ministry goals but different styles of outreach. Some use
Sunday school, some use home groups, some sing hymns, some sing choruses, some
speak Korean, some speak English. But all are focused on taking the message of
hope in Jesus Christ to people within their circle of influence.
Tabitha Tanner, a summer missionary from Georgia, helps the
Potters House with its annual potted plant outreach. The church gave geraniums
to local businesses.
PHOTO BY THE POTTERS HOUSE
Potters House investmentsWest Bank, British
Investing over the long term is a well-known formula for success in finance.
Kevin Madden, pastor of The Potters House Community Church in Westbank, British
Columbia, believes long-term investments in people bring a greater
After serving as an associate pastor in Kamloops, British Columbia, Kevin
heard the call to plant a brand new church. When Kevin, wife Alicia, and young
son Noah arrived in the city of Westbank, population 30,000, in February 2000,
they didnt know a soul.
During their first year, they spent much time in prayer, wanting to give the
new church the best possible start so that it would endure.
We wanted to connect with people, says Kevin. But we also wanted to gain
long-term credibility in the community. We believed that using servant
evangelisma no-strings-attached ministrywas the best way to go.
Potters House made some initial inroads this way:
1. Potted plantsa creative way to introduce themselves and gain
They targeted the business community and personally delivered 200 free
geraniums in small clay pots to local businesses their first summer. A raffia
ribbon around the pot held a small card with the church logo and a cheerful
message. When they returned the following summer with 300 plants for
distribution, many businesses proudly displayed last years plant that had been
The Chamber of Commerce has expressed its admiration for Potters House and
its community spirit.
Members of The Potters House Community Church distributed 2,500
water bottles labeled with the churchs information to spectators at the Canada
Day Parade. The parade is the towns biggest event. The event helped increase
PHOTO BY the potters house
2. Water bottlesa reusable water bottle with the church
logo and name and relevant scripture is an ad that keeps on giving.
Potters House freely distributed 2,500 reusable water bottles at the towns
biggest annual event, the Canada Day Parade. Many more have been given out at
the beach. Westbank is located on 70-mile-long Okanogan Lake, in the heart of
the Okanogan Valley where tourism and fruit production are the biggest
industries. Kevin has seen dozens of their reusable bottles at local soccer
games and other sporting events. Our name recognition is very high, says Kevin.
Its hard to find someone in the community who hasnt heard of us.
3. Trash pickupdoing the jobs no one wants earns
Westbank is not incorporated as a city so responsibilities such as keeping
roadways and ditches clean fall through the bureaucratic cracks.
Volunteers from Potters House picked up trash and did many other random acts
of kindness in the community in an effort to bank some credits in preparation
for the official launch of weekly services.
We feel led to invest in some things that may not bring quick returns,
explains Kevin. We are committed to the long term. We are generating a positive
attitude about church. It relies on the concept of looking for where God is
Kevin likes the idea that anybody, no matter how shy he or she is, can hand
someone a water bottle, or pick up trash, to become part of the process of
leading someone to faith in Christ. Servant evangelism is ineffective unless
you go to the next step and communicate the gospel, says Kevin.
He believes evangelism is a process, not an event. People are at various
levels in the process. If they move to the next step, youre evangelizing.
Closing the deal is only one part of it. Walls are brought down by acts of
In preparation for their official launch, Kevin and Alicia hosted home Bible
studies and led people to faith in Christ. When Potters House had its first
weekly service in October 2001, 70 people attended. Fifteen of those were new
faces, and one of them became a believer during the service.
In Canada, where many established Southern Baptist churches have fewer than
100 members, where evangelicals are viewed with suspicion and in a local area
saturated with Jehovahs Witnesses, that was a great beginning!
Matthew Party OutreachClarksburg, Maryland
Jesus ate with sinners. This scandalized the Pharisees. Whom do we eat
Many believers find themselves so immersed in the church and the Christian
subculture that they no longer have any non-believing friends. When it comes to
sharing their faith, they dont know where to begin. The thought of talking
about spiritual things with strangers is too daunting.
The goal of the Matthew Party was to give members of Greenridge
Baptist Church a chance to invite nonbelievers into their homes for dinner and
lots of fellowship.
PHOTO BY michael keeza
Leaders at Greenridge Baptist Church in Clarksburg, Maryland, offered a
suggestion to their members last summer. Those who tried it were delighted with
the results. Rob Eby, one of the churchs three pastors, challenged people to
host a Matthew Party in their home or backyard.
In Matthew, chapter nine, Jesus meets a reviled tax collector named Matthew,
and, to the shock and dismay of the religious elite, Jesus goes home with him
for dinner. Many other sinners dine with them, and while the Pharisees are
shaking their heads in disgust and plotting ways to end Jesus ministry, these
sinners are having an encounter that changes them forever.
Canceling one of its Sunday evening services, the church encouraged members
to use that time to build relationships: Plan a dinner, put on some music,
invite a mix of Christian and non-Christian friends. Somewhere in the middle of
the meal and laughter, Jesus will show up!
Rob Eby recommended planning games as well as food. Robs first choice was
soccer. He also suggested board games like Trivial Pursuit, Mad Gab and
Pictionary to get people laughing and talking. The purpose of this event was to
give church people ideas on how to build new relationships, some of which
naturally would lead to deeper issues as they progressed. Rob knows many people
who love to entertain but who are intimidated by the idea of sharing the gospel
and asking for a decision. Robs goal was to show that if people willingly
opened their home and threw a party, Jesus would honor that, and new doors
would open up as relationships were formed in a casual, non-threatening
Robs tips for hosting a Matthew party:1. Some couples
should partner up and split the responsibilities. For example, one pair could
tidy their home and set the table while the other couple prepares or buys the
food and brings it over ready to serve. The thought of both cleaning and
cooking is enough to convince busy people to opt out.
2. Pray about whom to invite before the first call is made. Keep the group
small, between six and 10.
3. Create a relaxed atmosphere. Smooth music, soft lighting and delicious
aromas can enhance the ambiance.
4. Try for a comfortable ratio of Christians to non-ChristiansRob suggested
a 50/50 splitso the conversation flows, and your guests have an opportunity to
meet your church friends.
5. Although the goal is bridge building, if the opportunity arises to
discuss spiritual concerns, welcome it.
6. If any are interested, invite them to visit your church. Many people have
no idea they are welcome at a church outside their background or experience.
They might just be waiting for a personal invitation.
Greenridge Baptist hosted a Friendship Sunday after the summer, so people
had a special event to which they could invite new friends. That Sunday was a
few days after September 11, 2001. Greenridge is close to Germantown, a suburb
of Washing-ton, D.C., so the tragedy at the Pentagon was huge for everyone in
the area. The sermon that day was titled, Where was God September 11? Some of
those who attended had been invited to a Matthew Party, and hearing the gospel
in such a timely manner was all they needed to give their lives to Christ.
Connie Cavanaugh is a writer and speaker living in Cochrane,
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC