What suggestions do you have for cultivating a healthy church and pastor?

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한글 입력이 가능하군요! Korean fonts can be accepted! We have the privilege of enjoying the SCE Learning Event on Feb. 15(Mon) at Hilton Garden Inn in San Bernardino, California. About 45 Korean pastors have registered for the event. This shows how much they desire to see healthier churches or how eager they desire to become healthy or excellent pastors. Thank you Lord and Lis Van Harten and Mike Bruinooge for the opportunity for us to keep on trek in search of a healthy church, like the holy grail to be pursued. You know CRCNA and SCE office has defined what it means to be a healthy church. It ought be a life-time process to define and refine what it means to be a healthy church and to contextualize the principles within the immigrant churches. I wish more suggestions and recommendations regarding healthyness of a church and pastor from other ethinic or different cultural groups. Rev. Hyoung Joon Chun/Editor of the Voice of the Reformed(Korean Banner)

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The number one thing that I would suggest regarding healthiness of churches, ESPECIALLY in Korean churches is open communication.  In Korean culture, as with many other Asian cultures, there are many cultural beliefs, ideas, and ways of thinking that are simply assumed, taken for granted, but not openly and clearly communicated.  There is also the idea of public shame, where certain embarassing things are not to be revealed in public, lest those people be judged.  Often times, in an Asian-American church, the shamed person leaves the church never to return.

These two issues are key in developing a healthy Korean church in North America.  Expectations and other thoughts need to be clearly communicated to everyone in the congregation.  Also, the church needs to foster an atmosphere of forgiveness and grace, where people are not afraid to be honest with their failures and shortcomings.  These are important in every church, of course, but even more important in Asian-American churches where everyone tends to conform to long-held, traditional beliefs that are often uncommunicated.

There are many things that can define a healthy church, but as a closer to second generation looking into first generation Korean church, here are some items to address... briefly.

1. Healthy churches requires healthy pastors. Emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. Churches will enjoy God's blessings of joy and peace if the pastors (especially the senior pastor) have God's peace and joy.

2. Healthy churches need Godly disciplines. History of Korean churches in US is not long. Many leaders are not well trained spiritually and biblical intellect in application is low. (There are some great spiritual leaders, elders, kwonsas and deacons but they are too few to find) Unfortunately, pastors have not trained their leaders well and many leaders don't know "how to do church" and cause problems. They need to be disciplined. The discipline often may need to start again with pastors.

3. Healthy churches need to train and develop leaders. Many leaders are not trained. Too many people have been ordained as elders, kwonsas and deacons simply because they've been attending church a long time and/or given significant offerings. Many problems in Korean churches can be overcomed by biblical and practical education.

4. Healthy churches should have Kingdom perspective. Too many Korean churches are self-contained. Theis is understandable with short history of churches and most are still in "survival" mode. It is important to know that church means "God's church" and church is beyond the local congregation - such as classis and denomination and even beyond.

5. Healthy churches will have respect and compassion for all people. This is another view of Kingdom perspective. Reaching out in love for people in different generation and cultures - globally and locally. Many Korean churches are great reaching those far away (mission) but not necessarily with those who are close (community). Starting with younger and English speaking generation maybe a good place to start.

6. Healthy churches starts at home. Spirituality (education and practice) must start at home and continue to church. A person who are not able to maintain healthy (Godly) home cannot be asked to lead a healthy church. One cannot give what one does not have.

7. Healthy churches must be the people. In many Korean churches, good and healthy churches means having many good programs but good programs do not produce healthy churches, good healthy people produce healthy churches. Programs must exist to build people. People should not be used to build programs. 

There are more things, I'm sure. I pray that these will prompt many discussions and even debates and arguments among Korean leaders. Of course, not for the sake of arguing but to build healthier churches. It is time that we retreat from all that we do and start thinking, praying and discerning what really are important among all that we do as pastors.

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