church planting to reach Koreans in California

March 6, 2009

An article from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) titled, “Song Sik Kim: Born to reach Koreans in California” describes the unique challenges involved in reaching both first and second generation Korean Americans. [via the Prayer Link]

Here’s an excerpt:

… Today, California has a total population of almost 37 million people, and about a million of these are of Korean descent. But of this million, Kim estimates that some 800,000 are non-believers.

… Kim said the challenge for these young Korean church planters is that they lack experience, and that church planting will be voluntary, second to their full-time role as local pastors or seminary students. The volunteer church planters do not receive salaries.

… Kim says that reaching California’s Koreans requires a two-prong strategy – one for ministering to first-generation Koreans and another strategy for reaching younger, second-generation Koreans.

“Probably, 80 percent of the Korean population here is first-generation. They were immigrants from Korea and their mother tongue is Korean. Their English is limited, so that’s why we need English-as-Second Language classes for most of them.” Kim said worship services for first-generation Koreans are usually 100 percent in the Korean language.

“Second-generation Koreans speak good English because they grew up in the U.S but culturally, they know only 25 percent of what their parents know about Korean culture. They want an English-speaking church in a cultural Korean setting, which is hard. We’re losing a lot of second-generation Koreans,” said Kim.

Another challenge while working with the Koreans, according to Kim, is that Koreans are inherently a very shy people.

“They just attend a service or meeting and watch. Americans, on the other hand, are very active. So when Koreans and Americans get together, there’s a wide cultural difference.”

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