The new church plants and those affiliated with them were recognized at Annual Conference 2018.

Son follows father’s footsteps as a church planter

By Forrest White

The Rev. Minoo Kim began his middle school basketball career the same year Yao Ming began his NBA career. Kim was 5-foot-9, tall for his age. Ming was 7-foot-6, tall for his species. But there were assumptions made by coaches and fellow players, that Kim would grow to be the next Ming. Never mind that Kim is Korean-American and Ming is Chinese. Never mind the genetic factors at play.

The basketball community in Central New Jersey was convinced they had a Yao Ming 2.0 in their midst.

Alas, it didn’t happen.

Kim grew two more inches through middle school and then stopped growing, but he was a solid contributor on his high school basketball team.

Assumptions about him weren’t limited to the basketball court. The son of a United Methodist pastor, Kim heard it all growing up as a “PK” or pastor’s kid, with some assuming he was a rebel and others assuming he was a saint.

“I don’t know what makes PKs so intriguing that church people have to take their time to go up and ask the question, ‘So are you the good one or the bad one?’” he said. “Church people love to label and categorize PKs, not knowing it’s their preconceived judgments that put PKs in a whirlwind.”

On July 1, Kim be-gins a new role in the life of his ministry — as a church planter. He will be pastor of a new site for Fairfax United Methodist Church, moving from his associate position at Good Shepherd UMC in Dale City.

Since Fairfax is a predominantly white congregation, some assume the new church will be as well. Others assume it will be an extension of Kim’s Korean heritage.

Kim said he assumes only one thing — that God is about to do a new thing, as Fairfax UMC seeks to reach the unchurched for Jesus Christ.

“I’m called to plant a new faith community — visioning, imagining and creating a new space where God does a new thing,” he said.

  The Rev. Minoo Kim with his father, the Rev. Young Bong Kim.

Following in his father’s footsteps

When seeking wisdom for the challenges ahead, Kim has a home court advantage.

His father, the Rev. Young Bong Kim, is pastor of the Korean UMC of Koinonia, which began as the Centreville campus of the Korean UMC of Greater Washington in 2007, with about 50 members from the “home” congregation making a long-term commitment to the new community and about 30 making a short-term commitment to seeing it be-come an independent and self-supporting congregation. By 2015, the planted church faced closure due to steady decline.

Young Bong Kim had been involved there since 2008. He asked Bishop Young Jin Cho and Arlington District Superintendent Cathy Abbott to appoint him as pastor to the dying church.

Bishop Cho’s response?

“(He) advised me to pray more about the decision,” Young Bong said.

Prayer by all parties involved led to the beginning of KUMC of Koinonia, which now has an average worship attendance of about 250.

So, what advice would Young Bong offer to Minoo and other pastors beginning a new church community?

“The two most important factors for the planting pastor are discipline and vision,” Young Bong said. “(They) need to focus on their ongoing spiritual discipline so that they may keep their spirituality healthy and profound…The vision for the community should be biblical, truthful, concrete and relevant. The pastor should be excited about that vision.”

Have no doubt, Minoo is excited about his new ministry.

“I suspect the rewards will be witnessing new people claiming their identity in Christ and finding new sense of belonging through their new community,” he said. “I anticipate the challenges will be discerning and doing God’s new things and not ours.”

So, in a sense, Minoo finds himself following in his father’s footsteps once again.

The call to ministry

The stories of their calling are similar as well.

Young Bong was a “cradle Christian.” In the 8th grade, at a revival, he stood up when the preacher called for persons to dedicate their lives to Christ.

“The sense of calling haunted me,” he said, reflecting upon his high school and college years.

He surrendered to the call to be a pastor after completing college.

Minoo sensed his call to pastoral ministry as a young man, too. He was in the 9th grade.

“But I tried to run away from it until the end of college,” he said. “I didn’t want to be one of those PKs who also became a pastor. I had my own Damascus Road moment during a 10-hour drive from Virginia to Georgia, where I went to school … I haven’t looked back since.”

Minoo won’t hesitate to call upon his father for wisdom gained through experience of serving a new faith community.

“The planting pastors are always exposed to the temptations,” Young Bong said. “When the fruit is good, you may be-come arrogant. When it is not, you may be discouraged. We are in ministry on the long haul … The best rewards come from people’s lives, when you see God’s touch in someone’s life, when you see someone return to God.”

-Forrest White is a news associate with the Virginia Advocate magazine.


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