Conference hosts Korean church planters "boot camp"


The First BASIC Training “Bootcamp” for Korean pastors and lay leaders from North Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Texas, and North Carolina gathered at Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center November 30 to December 2, 2010, with Jim Griffith leading the workshop and Hyo Kim acting as interpreter.

While Jim was elaborating on
the “Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts,” he urged Korean pastors not to make the same mistakes that he and the other Western church planters had made in the past. It was an “aha” moment for many as they listened. Some of the pastors had previously planted churches and wished that they have known some of these overlooked mistakes before the church plant, in
order to avoid them.

One pastor from Philadelphia that started a new church about 2 months ago said, “I have learned some important principles that I need to reconsider in my church plant. And now that I have learned these important principles; I need to apply to my context.”

Jim stressed that it is imperative
for church planters to know his or her mission field, and to develop the appropriate strategies to reach out to the people in that mission field. In other words, knowing the mission field will help to create the method used to reach out to the people in the mission field. A common mistake that many church planters make is trying to adapt a previously successful method that worked in some other mission field to another targeted mission field, without knowing the context of the different targeted
mission field.

Jim also stressed the importance
of the vision. A vision that came from God should not be changed. He used an imagery of people traveling from Los Angeles to Miami on a train. The pastor, as the driver, recruits people to get on board for those who want to go to Miami. The people get on board, and the train leaves for Miami with excitement. As the train gets near St. Louis, some people try to influence the driver
to go to New York instead. Jim asked, “If you are the driver, what would you do?”

Answers were; “Just stay in
St. Louis!” “Change the destination to Atlanta instead of Miami!” and “Let people who want to go to New York off the train!”

asserted: “The train must go to Miami, as it was the final destination from the beginning, even if some people want to change the destination. If the destination is changed due to a few influential people, not only those who wanted to go to Miami, but also those who want to go to New York, will start to doubt whether the vision came from God. Although it is very hard and burdensome, it is better to let the people off the train if they wish to change the destination.”

To many it was an eye
opening experience. Many were skeptical at the beginning by questioning, “What would a Caucasian pastor know about a church planting in Korean context? Many issues that were thought to be unique to a Korean-American context were not so.

Other ethnic groups and
cultures, including the Caucasian context, share the same issues as the participants that were listening to Jim’s experiences in church planting. Some important principles in church planting were grasped that Korean pastors and laity will be able to apply to their own context in reaching out
to people with the Gospel of Jesus  Christ.

The Korean United
Methodist Church community has embraced the “1000 churches by 2020” campaign as the vision in expanding the Kingdom of God in the Korean-American community. Many leaders will be needed to fulfill this vision. Having the Korean BASIC Training Boot Camp for the new church planter leadership development is the way to go about fulfilling the “1000 churches by 2020” campaign.