Bupyeong Methodist Church's senior pastor Rev. Eun Pa Hong began the day with a short seminar in which he talked about why he believes the Methodist Church has grown so quickly in Korea:
Some of the growth came out of adversity he said.
Perhaps because of the military tension between North Korea and South Korea, “We pray more,” Rev. Hong said. “Our faith life is more serious.”
Difficult situations such as the long-term occupation by Japan and the devastation and poverty that came in the wake of the Korean War are also factors, he said.
As to other reasons for the rapid growth, Rev. Hong pointed to:
- A strong revival movement: John Wesley experienced his heart being strangely warmed, and Koreans have the same kind of experience of the Holy Spirit. The fire is still strong in Korea.
- Dedicated spiritual leaders. Deeply committed pastors and lay leaders.
- The desire to become self-reliant; while The United Methodist Church offered financial support, in the 1960s, the Korean church decided they wanted to become independent and self-sufficient, and that has helped growth Rev. Hong said.
- Revival meetings – like Wesley’s camp meetings, people are being changed by these revival meetings and that brings growth.
- Prayer movement: We pray a lot, Rev. Hong said. They pray seriously every day.
- Lay people are trained - not only in spiritual formation, but we teach them seriously through Bible study, and how to evangelize and how to serve their neighbors. We seriously teach them how to tithe and about stewardship. “Dedication is one of the characteristics of the Korean church,” Rev. Hong said.
- Evangelism – We emphasize the need for evangelism and new church development. Every church also has a focus on mission. Bupyeong has fostered 22 new churches.
“The U.S. missionaries planted the seeds in our hearts,” Rev. Hong said. “It bloomed and grew, and now it’s time for harvest.”
Rev. Hong said that a strong commitment to stewardship and to evangelism have both grown from the same source:
“Experiencing the Holy Spirit, people are happy, and it’s contagious naturally, automatically,” he said. “Through the church they experience the living God, so they love Jesus. We learned that from The United Methodist Church and the missionaries’ passionate spirituality.”
As a result:
“The Korean congregation has a strong fire in their hearts because of this experience, they dedicate their lives, they commit financially, and they commit to love their neighbors and evangelize,” he said.