It didn’t have to be just me and New Life…

It’s 6AM on Saturday. I am done with the lecture part of House Church Seminar for Pastors. I spoke for three full days from Wednesday to Friday on house church and Living Life Bible Study. I am losing my voice a little but feel greatly privileged.

“Who am I and who are we to host these pastors and missionaries for six days to teach and share with them what we have been doing as a church for the past 25 years?”

But we feel compelled to do this because the condition of the church all over the world is not what it needs to be according to the Bible. And if we can do anything to help the church to become the way Jesus desired and dreamed of, then we are committed and we will do whatever we can to make it happen.

I came to the US when I was 13. Some are exceptionally gifted with the language, and they speak like a native even though they came to America at the age of 13 or 14. However, studies have been done in regard to this that when a person comes to the US at the age of 13 or 14, their language skills never become like a native. I fall into this category. My grammar, idioms and pronunciation all reveal that I am an immigrant. Yet, I am pastoring an English speaking church that is becoming increasingly more diverse ethnically.

And I think about all the Korean-American immigrant churches all over the United States from CA to NY. Following Jesus Movement in the 70s in the US, there was something special that was taking place in almost all the Korean-American churches. People were coming to church, getting saved, worshipping and praying to God frequently and passionately corporately. My home church in Flushing, NY was not any exception. We experienced joy and power of the Lord for years and witnessed incredible growth that was not just spiritual but numerical. So, we had to build a 2,000-seating capacity sanctuary in Jackson Heights near LaGuardia Airport and move from a rented church in Flushing. The amazing thing is that we were not the only ones who experienced this work of the Lord. Many other churches experienced the same.

However, where are all these churches now and how are these churches doing? Many of them either closed down or are not doing well. Almost all the Korean-American churches in the US are struggling and declining.

To understand and explain this painful and tragic phenomenon, many church leaders and seminary professors attempt to come up with reasons. Number one reason they say why this is happening among Korean-American churches in the US is that the number of Koreans coming to the US to live has decreased significantly due to Korea developing and becoming a better place to live. Another reason they mention is Covid-19, especially in the recent times.

However, I firmly believe that those are not the main reasons. The main reason for the decline of the Korean-American churches in the US is that the pastors didn’t understand the heart of our Heavenly Father and the church the way Jesus intended and dreamed of.

What would have happened to all the Korean-American churches that were experiencing the mighty work and revival of God during the 70s, 80s and 90s had the pastors understood God’s heart and Christ’s church clearly according to the Bible and build their churches according to the way Jesus wanted? These churches would still be doing amazingly well, growing and reaching out to all kinds of people wherever they are located. Why wouldn’t they be this way? Jesus wants people to be saved. Jesus wants his churches to grow. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. And as far as I know, there are more people on this planet earth that need to be saved than when Jesus was around 2,000 years ago.

Had these pastors built their churches according to the way Jesus wanted found in the Bible, then these Korean-American churches would look so much more diverse ethnically, socio-economically and even politically. But they failed miserably to do that because their understanding of Christ’s church was way off and, as a result, ended up focusing their energy on something that is not important to Christ at all.

Instead of reaching out to people from all nations who live right next to them, they focused just on Korean-Americans who were exactly like them. Instead of embracing biblical culture, they rejected biblical culture to embrace Korean culture because they were comfortable in and with it. Instead of using and speaking English, they spoke only Korean because learning how to speak English was hard and they didn’t want to do the hard thing. Instead of raising up the future generation to be the leaders of their churches and communities, they tried to lord over them and brought younger pastors from Korea to succeed them who didn’t understand the language or the culture of this country at all because they believed that these men from Korea will do a better job of taking care of them after they retire.

So, where are all these Korean-American churches that had been extremely vibrant at one point in history? Many are struggling and fizzling out.

Why is New Life just one of the few, if not the only one who is doing this kind of ministry alongside of their Korean speaking congregation? We have a very healthy and respectful relationship with our Korean speaking congregation. They birthed us in 1997 and nurtured and supported us unconditionally without controlling us in the first several years. Now, New Life has about 750 adults, youth and children who are committed and consistent members. We are just a little smaller than our Korean speaking congregation these days. And if and when we become bigger, I am 100% committed to take care of them who had served us as our spiritual parents. Our finances are more than solid. We spend 20% of our entire budget on missions. And this year’s missions’ budget will be $700,000.

How was all this possible? It was because we understood Christ’s church clearly according to the Bible and we were committed to build Christ’s church according to Christ’s ways. And it all began from Pastor Young Gui Chai, the retired senior pastor of Seoul Baptist Church of Houston under and with whom I had the privilege of serving for about 20 years.

As we continue to host pastors and church leaders to our House Church Seminars and look around, I see so many of them who are younger and much more gifted than I am. They speak perfect English, and they are better speakers than I am as preachers. They have great personalities and Christ-like characters. They have so much potential to lead their churches to do what God wants them to do. But sadly, they are stuck in their situation because the Korean-American churches that they had grown up in didn’t know Christ’s church according to the Bible and failed to teach and show them what biblical church looks like. There was too much culture and not enough Bible.

And it is sad to think about all this regarding Korean-American churches in the US.

It didn’t have to be just me and New Life. We don’t have to be the only ones who are or who get to do this. There can be and there should be so many more pastors and churches who do what we do because we are not any better than them.

God, please awaken these young pastors and open their eyes so that they can see the beautiful picture of Christ’s church just from the Bible!

God, please use New Life to raise up thousands of churches all over the world so that they together with us will get to do what You want your churches to do!!!

Your pastor,


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