Declining Invitations

This year I’ve had to decline many speaking invitations. The Korean World Mission Conference, held every four years, asked me to give a seminar on House Churches. I declined and asked Deacon Yoo to lead the seminar in my place. Korean Students Abroad (KOSTA) invited me to be a speaker for the plenary session. I declined because it interfered with the New Life weekly Bible class I was leading.

The most important things for me are my church members, so my ministries at Seoul Baptist are my highest priority. I became a pastor to help church members become genuinely happy. To be honest, my own church life was not that great. I had also seen many other Christians unhappy with their church life. When I became a pastor, I made the commitment to build a church where its members are truly satisfied. I’m still committed to that end. To be faithful to that I cannot accept every invitation I receive. I can’t skip preaching on Sundays and teaching the Tuesday New Life Bible classes too often. That leaves very little time for external engagements. The time I do have I use to support the House Church movement because I believe that this is the mission God gave to me and our church.

I have made a conscious effort to not let engagements interfere with my duties as senior pastor. When I visit Korea I try to keep a very tight schedule. I arrive in the morning and teach that day. I usually lead three or four seminars or conferences and leave Korea as soon as the last session is over. But if my ministry at Seoul Baptist ever suffers, despite my best efforts, the choice is clear. The external house church ministries must go.

Sadly, giving the highest priority to Seoul Baptist and house church ministries has made my other obligations suffer. I haven’t been able to find time to work with other pastors in the Houston area and get involved in local ministries. Not to mention national ministries, such as the Korean Association of Southern Baptists that I have not been able to get involved with.

All these refusals seem to be having a cumulative effect. It was fine when our church was small, but as our church grows, so do other people’s expectations. But I don’t want to become a big time pastor. I just want to serve my church and make my church members happy. But this may be asking too much. I need wisdom on how I can continue to be faithful to my ministry priorities without hurting the feelings of people who have high expectations of our church and me.

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