Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Influence of Evangelicalism

Written by: on April 9, 2015

Prior to emigrating to South Korea, I had very little opportunity to gain ministry experience. Although I had studied Theology up to Master’s level, my opportunities for ministry remained limited to what they were prior to ministry training: helping to lead worship and teaching children the Scriptures. As much as I enjoyed these opportunities for service, no one told me I could do anything else, and certainly my college never encouraged me to pursue God’s calling, whatever that was.

However, upon moving to Seoul, I found myself immersed within completely different worlds, culturally and spiritually. Being invited to serve on the pastoral team in a multi-ethnic megachurch in the heart of a global city, provided me with opportunities to serve God beyond my expectations. Suddenly, I was actually allowed to do things I would never have had the chance to do back home in Wales: preach, teach small groups, and even lead discipleship ministries. I was thrown into a dynamic, Evangelical and international Church and was pretty much allowed to do whatever I wanted, ministry-wise. For the next ten years I began to see about how God was working in this part of the world, and as Sunquist correctly explains, I witnessed a real passion for overseas missions among Asian Christians. Our church alone had the ambitious aim to send 10,000 missionaries overseas by the year 2010.

As Lewis points out, large multicultural cities (and I believe churches) have great potential for influence.[i] I saw this with my own eyes as my senior pastor did everything he could to foster a passion for God and the concerns of His heart among the young expats who worshipped at this church. For example, as Lewis explains, one of the downsides to globalization is the emergence of an international sex trade.[ii] Pastor Eddie spearheaded the way in girding up expat Christians to fight against this great injustice. By the time these believers finished their work contracts and returned home, he had done everything he could to ensure that they carried God’s heart of missions and justice back home with them.

In the chapter entitled ‘Asia’, Sunquist explains how Christianity in Korea is largely Evangelical, which is most certainly is, and how other Asian nations including Taiwan and Vietnam not so, in part due to the secularisation of those nations[iii]. But what Sunquist failed to point out is how secuarlization is now influencing Evangelical Christianity in Korea. With the greatly improved standards of living after the Korean Economic Miracle this past forty years, many pastors lead churches with mixed motives. Think about it: if a small church in Korea is considered 5,000 people, you can imagine the amount of money that passes through their hands. It’s a temptation that sadly, too hard to resist for some. Even the great Yonggi-Cho has fallen into this trap. I am afraid of what will become the Evangelical Christianity in this country if this pollution of Christianity isn’t soon addressed.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Global Evangelicalism with its reference to Evangelicalism in many parts of the world. Now that I’ve returned home to Wales, I feel like I have a responsibility to bring this little piece of experience God gave me to assist the Church in my country. I have tasted the passion for missions and discipleship. I have seen what God can do with ambitious faith. And I am witnessing Asian Evangelical Christians coming to Wales to help the Church here. In the city next to us, a Singaporean Church has bought a closed Bible College and is working to reopen it. On the other side of our town, a group of Korean Christians is ploughing much-needed money into a struggling seminary to keep it out. Asian Evangelicals are now coming to us. And Lord, may they come!

[i] Donald M. Lewis and Richard V. Pierard, Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History and Culture in Regional Perspective (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2014), 77

[ii] Lewis and Pierard, 78

[iii] Lewis and Pierard, 225

About the Author

Liz Linssen

8 responses to “The Influence of Evangelicalism”

  1. John Woodward says:

    Liz, it was wonderful to hear more of your experiences in Korea (I had no idea that you were there for 10 years!) and to bring some real life experience to our readings this week. You’ve touched on an important point that is often missed in a lot of the discussions concerning short-term missions, and that is the greater awareness people gain of our global connections that come from having seen the world from a different culture. As you mentioned in your post, the many international influences right in our own backyard (my daughter’s church in Iowa started a Sunday school program for Chinese neighbors, and my wife here in Omaha has been in contact with Somali outreach ministries) go unnoticed and under utilized because we’ve never cultivated an interest in the bigger world. The world is becoming strangely and amazingly connected, and if Christians aren’t aware of the amazing opportunities all around use to influence the world, it is truly a great shame. Thanks, Liz, for what you are doing in your corning of world, and for your passion for ministry and mission!

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Thank you John for your kind feedback. Wow, it’s amazing to hear how your daughters’ church is starting a Sunday school for Chinese children! And how your wife is in touch with Somali ministries. We truly live in an international world, no matter where we live. We have opportunities to touch the rest of the world even on our own doorstep. In the city next to us, there is a considerably sized Chinese population, and I wonder whether we should be doing something with them. Lots of opportunities out there! Thank you John 🙂

  2. Stefania Tarasut says:

    This is great Liz! I had some of the same thoughts as I read through the “Asia” part of the book. Though Korean churches on the west coast are a lot smaller, we struggle with the same things that the churches on the mainland struggle with…. the thing is, I really don’t know how to address these issues when a majority of people see all these things that the secular world offer as blessings…

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Stefania
      Yes, it’s a challenge isn’t it? Even harder because those Koreans who have emigrated to the USA have done so specifically for a better lifestyle.
      I think it all boils down to the importance of discipleship. As you know, the new generation in seoul have grown up in church but still don’t really know the Lord. It’s sad really. But they are hungry to know which is good. Keep up your good work Stefania! God is really using you As His mouthpiece in the Korean church 🙂

  3. Deve Persad says:

    Liz, thanks for sharing your insights on this book through the lens of your Korean experience. It’s exciting to read about the way in which Pastor Eddie had a desire to equip people while they were there: “By the time these believers finished their work contracts and returned home, he had done everything he could to ensure that they carried God’s heart of missions and justice back home with them.” This kind of intentionality is certainly what is needed. My thought is that this example from a global city can be shared by churches in more homogeneous settings because of the growing number of connections and influences we have with the world around us. As you have made the transition from a globally diverse influential city church to a more homogenous smaller setting, what principles are you emphasizing to those in your congregation?

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Deve,
      Thank you for your feedback. Yes, you are so right. We have opportunities to influence various cultures even where we are.
      I appreciate your question too. I guess, what I’ve observed, it really doesn’t matter whether one ministers in a large, megachurch, or a tiny local church. People’s needs are the same whichever culture they’re from: To know God and how He can meet them in their lives. The lessons are the same; it’s just contextualising it now for an unchurched audience.

  4. Ashley Goad says:

    Liz! What a fascinating perspective you have! This is incredible, and I am left wanting to hear more about how you have brought global experiences from Seoul to your locality of Wales. How are you now teaching your congregation to be intentional in their faith, and as Stefania said, to live out the Gospel? … I think, for one, you are teaching them the act of being Christlike by serving coffee and tea and reaching out through growing relationships!

  5. Clint Baldwin says:

    this was such a blessing to read, Liz. Seeing how the Asian (Korean in particular) church has taught you and blessed you.
    I love that you are now in a way an ambassador for sharing this life-change of understanding and you are leaning-in to it!

    Perhaps in your found freedom you will now be able to empower others to step in to roles just as the church did for you there!? 🙂

Leave a Reply