Today is the day of speaker exchange for our church between SBC and NLF. Therefore, I want to provide some explanations of our church system of two congregations of two languages.
One of the important principles of our church is two congregations in one church. In other words, Houston Baptist Church of Houston is made of two congregations; one is English speaking and the other is Korean speaking. The division is by language regardless of race.
Most Korean churches in the US call an English speaking congregation as an English ministry. This word implies that English congregation is an appendage of Korean congregation. Also, it reflects that Korean church ministers English speaking people. Therefore, often a Korean congregation which is the main church will interfere with ministry work of English speaking congregation. As a result, the English congregation does not grow and when they grow a little, it will be separated from the main Korean church and set up its own.
When Reverend Chai came to SBC, he saw the absence of the model church in this regard and he decided that one of his major ministry goals is the peaceful co-existence of Korean & English congregations. That is why two congregations were considered as equal from the time the English congregation was forming. As a reflection of this principle, according to our church constitution, the pastor who leads the congregation with the higher number of congregation and higher amount of contributions for two years in a row will be the main pastor representing the whole church.
Another unique fact of our English congregation is that it is not for the 2nd generation Koreans but for anybody regardless of their national heritage. Pastor Eric Shin who started the English congregation was convinced that opening to people of multi-nation heritage is more biblical than concentrating on second generation Koreans. As a result, he built church of 600 members with 60% Korean and east Asian as its main members.
In the early stages we used to do more ministry work together, but because of the language barrier and cultural differences, we do not share much ministry work anymore. Previously, we shared children’s ministry, but because of the above mentioned differences, we now have separate education departments.
However, we still have one youth ministry and the English congregation is the main source of support for the ministry. Currently, the majority of youth students are children of the Korean congregation, and due to the strong Korean culture, children of the English congregation have difficulty adjusting. Therefore, our children need to be sensitive and more considerate toward the minority of different cultural background. I believe in the importance of educating our children in this regard.
In spite of many minor difficulties, our church with two healthy congregations is an example for many Korean churches in the US. In that sense, the speaker exchange is a great chance to remind us that we are one church.
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