Giving full-time devotion to college house churches

From the Pastor’s Desk (259)

September 12, 2021

Pastor Sang will transition out from his house church to give his full-time devotion to our college house churches starting from October. In order to help his house church to go through this transition well, the members have been informed of this and encouraged to pray to see who should serve as their next shepherd. They unanimously chose Andy Liufu to serve as their shepherd. The single house church members will remain, but two married couples will find and join other house churches for practical reasons.

I vividly remember when I began New Life while I was still serving as the youth pastor at Seoul Baptist Church. Even though New Life had its inaugural worship service on August 10, 1997, I had to start laying down the groundwork for New Life ever since when I came here in December 1994. This meant that I had two separate groups to think about and shepherd for more than three years until I hired someone in 1998 to take care of our youth ministry.

During that time, I had about 60 youth students. And I began New Life with about 20 members. So, the numbers were not big. However, I remember my heart being divided between the two groups. I had a hard time figuring out how much of my heart and energy I needed to give to the youth group and New Life, respectively. However, since my role and responsibility from the beginning was to start and pastor an English-speaking congregation eventually, I gradually transitioned out from the youth ministry with the hire of the new youth pastor.

Pastor Sang has been experiencing the same tension in his heart. He loves his house church that he has been serving for the past 12 years. During those years, his house church went through two multiplications and saw several VIPs coming to know Christ. But he is also our college ministry pastor and wants to give his full-time attention to our college house churches.

When he was invited to serve as our college ministry pastor a little more than two years ago, I asked him to continue to serve as a shepherd, just like when he was working full-time as an engineer. I did this for two reasons. The first was to test him to see if he would listen and obey the instructions. The second was to see if it could actually work out or not. I thought it might be possible since he is not the senior pastor whose work volume and responsibility are much greater.

After two years, however, we both came to realize that shepherding two different groups of people, regardless of the size of each group, is very difficult because we only have one heart, and we can only devote ourselves fully to just one group. In some ways, shepherding a group of 1,000 people is easier and simpler than shepherding two groups made up of 100 people each. Hence, this transition is being made for Pastor Sang.

I want New Life to notice that I didn’t use “Pastor Sang and Justy” here in this “From the Pastor’s Desk.” I did this intentionally because I want you to clearly understand that when we asked and invited Pastor Sang to serve as our college ministry pastor, we hired just him, not him with Justy.

Yes, it is the most ideal when hiring pastoral staff that we hire someone whose spouse is fully on board and supportive of his/her spouse serving as a New Life pastor. Sadly, there are churches where the spouses of pastors are not supportive of them serving. And in some cases, pastors’ spouses are not even involved in ministries.

New Life is truly blessed because all of our pastors’ spouses are not only fully supportive of their spouses serving at New Life as pastors; but are actively involved in various ministries, especially in ministries their spouses are responsible for. Pastor Jabez’s wife Jamie and Pastor Mia’s husband Joe are both marketplace professionals. But they are deeply involved in several ministries. Pastor Sang’s wife Justy and my wife are both homemakers. But they use so much of their personal time in building up the college ministry and New Life. At times, they serve as if they are full-time pastors. And for all of these spouses, I am grateful.

Therefore, New Life, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that we hired our pastors’ spouses as well. This means, even if they don’t get involved in ministry much, we have nothing to complain about. However, every pastor’s spouse is serving hard. And we call this grace. We must thank God for blessing us with wonderful pastors and spouses.

Your pastor,

Pastor Eric

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