Monday, January 11, 2010

Cross cultural ministry-youth and children’s.

One of our congregations is Korean speaking. Something which I give thanks to God for regularly. I will admit there are times where I feel more at home at a Korean Sunday lunch than at typical Australian BBQ-which is less to do with the food (which is fantastic) and more to do with the way fellowship is expressed.

I have been speaking with our Korean families about the future of children and youth ministry in our church. I have been asking the question, in ten years time where would you like to see your children going to church? There appears to be two views:
  1. In an Australian Born Korean (ABK) congregation.
As a generalisation it appears parents who want this are Korean born and are keen to see Korean culture treasured, they are concerned that their children may lose this connection. Korean church is one of the few places where this can be maintained and therefore church becomes a focal point for maintaining Korean-ness. I am not unsympathetic I know that culture matters and that third culture kids have some particular challenges. I know that the average Caucasian Aussie has no idea what this feels like or appreciates the grief involved in seeing your culture modified beyond recognition -I know I still have lots to learn about this. Indeed the ABK solution seems to have been adopted by many Australian Chinese ministries and by American born Korean ministries.

  • Long term: We plant an ABK congregation.
  • Short term: We resource English speaking Korean children’s and youth ministries that are closely tied to the Korean congregation and keep them basically separate from our other children’s and youth ministries.
  • Greater demand on our resources as we try to provide for different forms of ministry.
  • The long term trajectories need to be embraced.
2. In a congregation made up or people from many cultural backgrounds.

As a generalisation those who are open to this view treasure Korean culture but consider that their children will hold onto their Korean-ness despite being part of a more diverse group. They are happy to see their children integrated into a wider group-even at church.

  • Long Term: We work hard at integrating our existing ministries to children and youth. For example imagine running three morning congregations-each one in a different language but with the children’s and youth programs all in English and all together.
  • Long Term: We look at employing ABK’s as part of our children’s and youth ministries so that the particular needs of culture are addressed.
  • Short Term: We work hard at developing relationships between our various children’s and youth programs-and the parents.
There are at least two other important issues:

Theology of Church and Australian Idealism.. I will get back to them soon… For now, just wondering what you might think?


korean war baby said...

Greeting to you all, in Christ,
The issues and solutions you present here are quite interesting and comparable to those facing many ALL ethnic groups in CrossCultural situations. As one of the first Korean-American (MultiEthnic)adopted overseas he has always had to deal with some of the same issues of identity growing up in Los Angeles.
He has lived in his Korean mother's land, since 1995, but he considers himself still 80% American and only 20% Korean, Culturally and mentally, realizing that acceptance by Real Koreans (their term) will never be complete.
He is going to keep checking back from time to time, as you work through these issues at your congregation. For the solutions and methods are complex and wide ranging. It will be a lesson for many to find balance and may get ugly at times ;).
The Korean War Baby prays for your success and wishes you all well. May the Lord give you wisdom...and patience.

mammabeck said...

What about a cooking school to breach the gap? Especially as food is such an integral part of Korean fellowship , maybe several weeks of lessons for those interested and then a bi- lingual lunch! Totally practical I know but food speaks!

Roger said...

Thanks Korean War Baby for your encouragement. We will keep working at it.

Roger said...


Bring it on -lets make a plan :)

Jaymes said...

Roger, what can I say? You have a heart of gold. What a God-seeking spirit! Cultural stuff is tough, especially if those involved make it to be more than what it is. Culture, after all, is made up of lots of little things over the years, piled in different looking heaps. The best thing is to do exactly what you're doing already--embracing and loving them in Christ. As for what happens in terms of ecclesiastical logistics, yes, the 1st gen. will want one thing and their children will want another, just like all generations that came before or will be after. The most important thing above all the statics and hisses is the gospel and the Kingdom focus. Keep your head above all the cultural stuff and remember that Christ is transcendent above all things. It's nice that those who cannot worship in English be provided with Korean worship, but for those who are more comfortable with English should be welcomed and received in the English ministry of the church. I realize Australians can be a bit sensitive about the 'stolen generation', but this is not dominating one culture with another. We're all just trying to follow Christ, right?

Roger said...


Thanks for the encouragement and the insights about culture. I like your vision of a church with people from many backgrounds. I agree that sometimes cultural issues become overstated. Do you have any examples of where this model has worked?