The Korean Church

“Why is America the greatest country in the world?” a college student asks a panel. After fluff answers a third man is prompted for his answer but is quiet. After a quip , he answers, “its not the greatest country in the world, professor that’s my answer!” He then continues to go on about how America once was the greatest country in the world but lately has not been behaving as such. It needs to return to its once great stature. This is the opening scene of the pilot episode of the Aaron Sorkin’s hit television series, “The Newsroom.” In the wake of political debates and caucus, it is shared on social media seemingly everyday.

The same could be true about the Western Mission field, specifically that belonging to American (Evangelical) Christianity. Stretching back to its European roots, the American church was responsible for effective church planting. It also installed social systems such as effective education systems. The execution by the American church however, has passed. That torch has been passed to the Korean Church.  The Korean Church has currently grown to one-third of the country’s population and is now the second largest mission force in the world.[1] This very much resembles the face of American Christianity where two-third’s of the nation claim to be Christians. The Korean Church has a great game plan, which has been a profitable advantage to non-Western missions, is that the large church plays a contributing but not leading role. The emphasis is on the local church.[2] Nonwestern churches lack the stability and funds that western churches have with them. It is both an advantage and a disadvantage that Western churches often have taken a political stance. For that reason, handing over leadership to the people in the mission field (especially in Africa and Asia) has been more effective than the administrations back in the homeland.[3]

As a result of this paradigm shift, it is now Asian churches who are making lasting change.  Nonwestern churches are now the ones who are sending missionaries. For example the Korean church has sent out 16,000 missionaries to 168 countries.[4] Not even the slowing of Korea’s slumping economy slowed the missionary efforts.[5] The Korean Church has given the world scale of evangelism the surge it desperately needed. It has shown how to give not only missionary support but also spreading the gospel and servicing the people where it is needed most, specifically in health support.[6]

In the Newsroom pilot, before giving his synopsis of why America is not the greatest country in the world, he sees a woman in the audience holding a sing “Its not.” He takes a breath and then watches her flip the sign. On the reverse side it shows, “but it can be.” In the same way, the American Church is not fulfilling the Great Commission as it once did, but if we take the lessons from Scripture and good examples, such as the Korean Church, perhaps the American church can live up to it once again. ON a personal note, I have to say that as a history fanatic, I have learned that to improve our own situation, that we should not only look to the past but also to other cultures as well.

 

Bibliography

 

Moon, Steve S.C. “The recent Korean missionary movement: a record of growth, and more growth needed.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 27.1 (2003): 11+.General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

Winter, Ralph D. and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, A Reader, Fourth Edition. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.



[1] Winter, Ralph D. and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, A Reader, Fourth Edition. (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 369

[2] Ibid., 370.

[3] Ibid., 371.

[4] Ibid., 372.

[5] Moon, Steve S.C. “The recent Korean missionary movement: a record of growth, and more growth needed.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 27.1 (2003): 12. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 10 Feb. 2016

[6] Ibid., 13.

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