SBC is a church where laymen are the main forces of ministry. Therefore, we do not have an associate pastor. Instead we have pastors who are specialized in certain areas. This is one of the main principles of our church. When we invited Pastor Barnabas Choi under the title of associate pastor, it was because we did not have a special ministry area for him to work on. Then, we found family with youth ministry for him and it was very pleasing to us.
This area was very much needed among SBC members and we all know the importance of building strong relationships between parents and youth. Therefore, for a long time, importance of developing ministry in this area has been in my mind and Pastor Choi was happy to work in this area and had a plan to extend the family ministry into families with grade school children and pre-K children. He worked on meeting with parents, and many expressed satisfaction after the meeting and many more positive outcomes were expected.
Then, suddenly, Pastor Choi is to leave SBC. One of the main US churches involved in house church ministry is the Atlanta Korean Baptist church. Its Pastor, Jae Jung Kim, is nearing his retirement age, but due to his personal circumstances, he decided to retire now and invited Pastor Choi as his successor. Pastor Choi thought he had work to do in SBC and he was not going to accept the invitation. However, Reverend Young G Chai advised that building the Atlanta church is for the greater good when the house church ministry is considered as a whole. Also, Pastor Kim beseeched Pastor Choi as the only one who could care for AKBC.
I said to Pastor Choi to listen to God’s voice and decide after his visit to AKBC. Last month, in the middle of October, he visited the church for one week and preached and met with church members. On November 1st, official letter of invitation came and he informed me that he decided to accept it. Pastor Choi will leave SBC after his sermon on the second week of January and his family will move when his children’s school year ends in June.
From the SBC’s point of view, it was very sudden and unexpected after pastor Choi started this new ministry area and formed a new ministry team. However, as Reverend Chai said it is more important for the Atlanta Korean Baptist Church to be strong and firmly established for the whole house church ministry community. In addition, pastor Choi meant to leave SBC someday and to serve in a pastoral position. The time came unexpectedly early, but we are happy for him that his place of calling is identified.
Therefore, some work related to youth family ministry may be delayed but I will step in to find ways to coordinate with team captains of each ministry area. Please pray for Pastor Choi that he will serve AKBC well and that the church will experience healthy growth under his leadership.
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