Nashua Hanmaum church has been embracing the vision of building up an English Speaking Congregation to fulfill the mission of a multicultural ministry in the United States. We have been praying for the English Speaking Congregation quite some time now. It was since the fall of 2017 when the prayer was starting to materialize and bear fruits. I started the “Living Life” seminar (shortened version) for the English speakers. The first fruit of it was Chuck getting baptized. From January of 2018, we have started to lay out the foundation for an English speaking congregation by recruiting members for the English Bible Reading and Memory Verse Club. At the end of 2018, Michael Son committed himself to lead the English ministry, and the team of English ministry was formed. Then the English ministry team started to publish an English version of the church bulletin.
There are three big pillars of the English ministry. The first pillar is the youth group. The second pillar is the English Speaking Mokjang that Michael Son has kicked off. The last pillar is a Korean school for English speakers. At the end, building on these three pillars, the English speaking congregation will be established. English speaking congregation will be the hub where these three pillars will be connected like spokes as they bear fruits. Then ultimately, the goal is to raise up the pastor who can serve the English ministry and make the English speaking congregation to have its own independent worship service at the main sanctuary.
I want to explain in detail the plans for the 1st pillar, youth group. We have been suggesting the youth to read the English version of church bulletin since its inception. The intention was to share the vision of the church and raise them to become the main players at the church. From this week, youth group will attend the worship service with adults at the main sanctuary. So far youth group has been worshiping by themselves in a separate room. In such condition, it must have been difficult for them to experience the fruits and growing relationship with God that adults have been blessed with at house churches. By worshiping together, I believe that the vision and Christian spirituality of adults will flow to the youth naturally.
Along the way, I plan to gradually transform the worship service to be bilingual and inject youthful spirits into the service. Adults and youth will share the responsibility of praise team and the interested youth will participate in the audio/video team. Gradually they will get to pray during the main worship service as well. I want the youth to take ownership of this church.
Since youth is more fluent in English, there is a risk that they may not understand the sermon well which is in Korean. But the bigger concern is that they may close up their hearts from the start. I asked this question when I lead the youth service last week, “As you approach puberty, you tend to push the adults away... actually it is not like you hate them… it is the parents who love you the most… and you still love them… but you just want to keep distant, right?”. They laughed and said “yes”. So, I proposed one idea. “When you get to have the service with adults, I will save the last rows for you guys, the VIP seats. There you can watch your parents, checking if they are focusing on worship or not… ☺ Do you like the idea?” Their responses were very positive. What I asked them in return was understanding and opening up their hearts, “our church and parents still have a lot to improve but we love you the most. We will do our best so please trust us and come with us.”
I think that what our youth needs most now is care and attention. The sermon can come second. They need someone like a Mokja who understands them and can touch their hearts. So, I plan to make support teams for them. For instance, we can divide youth into a high school group and a middle school group, then appoint a Fun-raiser(someone who brings “fun” to the youth). Also, I plan to form a group of “supporters” made of youth graduates from our church. They will play the role of counselors who can provide consultation service over the phone. The youth group’s leader will be from youth group itself, and adults will just support them. I have not yet decided who will be responsible for what roles.
From time to time, we will invite the specialized lecturers to our church or raise our own lecturer so I can create a curriculum dealing with the issues that matters to youth. I pray that the topics that are important to youth such as Christian apology, sex education, identity issues, and vision schools will be dealt with this way. These will be separate from the worship service.
The youth mokjang will continue as before. Youth mokjang will be a place where they can talk about themselves. I think that Korean school is an important foundation for youth as well. It is an important ministry where it prepares them to realize the mission and identity that God has allowed them as Korean Americans. Also, I want our church to support the “Arise” meeting where our youth is being blessed with God’s grace. I want to include it in the next year’s budget planning if possible. Our youth is already involved actively in “Arise”. It is the way of widening their views and perspectives.
I promised youth, “as a pastor of this church, I will stand by you. I am on your side.” Now I have to move to keep the promise. Let’s pray for it together and help me get there.
From pastor Choi, Jin-Won