Church On The Edge Of The World

Christianity | 0 comments

Written by Dan Armistead

October 23, 2019

Living outside of the United States for the last twelve years has reshaped (or perhaps better, reformed) my understanding of Christianity and the church.That is why I so strongly connected with an article by Emma Copper entitled, Anything But Christian: Why Millennials Leave the Church.

At 62 years of age, having been a pastor for thirty five years, I completely identified with what Emma was saying. I especially connected with two one sentence paragraphs . . .

“We want Jesus.”

“And we can’t find Him in your churches.”

Frankly, that is the reason I have served as a pastor of a church on the edge of the world for the last twelve years.

Seoul International Baptist Church is unlike any other church I have ever known. Yes, we are Baptist (loosely), but don’t let the label fool you — Our fellowship is made up of Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and many other Christian traditions. I often say from the pulpit that Baptists may very well be a minority in our church. I don’t know and I don’t care.

What I do care about is that we have a church full of people whose heart cry, in the words of Emma, is “We want Jesus.” In fact, that’s our church vision — It’s All About Jesus.

As I said, I’ve been a pastor for thirty five years. I’ve read and heard a lot of church vision statements. Most of them are carefully constructed verbiage posted in the weekly church bulletin or hanging in the church entry way. And like the carpet in the church sanctuary or the Bibles in the pews, they have become an unnoticed part of the scenery. (Actually, that’s not entirely true, I’ve known some church members who cared a great deal about the carpet in the sanctuary and were prepared to start a holy war over it.)

That’s really how I ended up in this church on the edge of the world. But what do I mean by church on the edge of the world?

To begin with, Seoul, South Korea is not on a whole lot of people’s radar. The average U.S. citizen doesn’t wake up in the morning asking, “I wonder what’s going on in Seoul today?” Unless, of course, North Korea is engaged in its occasional saber rattling.

When I use the phrase “church on the edge of the world” I’m referring to the fact that we are a mere mustard seed. Jesus referred to the kingdom of God as a mustard seed, a treasure buried in a field, and a hidden pearl of great value, all of which go unseen or at least unnoticed, by most people.

In this day and age when visiting local houses of worship can result in anything from “techno church” to “flashback to the ’60’s or even ’50’s”, authentic churches focused on an itinerant carpenter from a despised village in Galilee are hard to find. But they are out there. At least, I hope so.

I’ll be moving back to the United States in December. To be honest, I’m not really sure what the future holds for me in ministry. Like Emma and the millennials of which she wrote, I’m not looking to be entertained, force fed doctrine, squeezed into an Evangelical mold, or any of the other pressing matters that seem to dominate church life and thinking in America today.

I just want to join together with a group of like minded people who want to learn what it means to follow Jesus.




Thanks to Paul Falgout.

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