Tag Archives: ys korea

a few korea pics

our time in korea last week was wonderful in so many ways. i’ll likely post more about the trip, but here are a few pictures:

tic and i with ralph and judy winter outside sarang church

judy with the debris from a typically wonderful korean meal

the stage of the convention. this group was a trip! they were a wild combo of traditional korean music mashed-up with a punk attitude, performance art, and a dash of rock music

me outside the korean folk museum

choosing ministry partners

some time ago, a friend who leads another ministry asked me how we (ys) considering possible ministry partners. we do this quite often, particularly with our international work, but also with stuff in the states. at times, i’m sure it seems we’re a little picky. we’re willing to try stuff and fail — that’s noble and valuable, imho. but we don’t want to constantly be throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks.

i thought about my friends’ question, and responded that we use three metrics:

1. cultural fit
2. theological fit
3. opportunity to further our mission

i responded, further, that it’s critical for any possible ministry partnership to have a strong connection on at least two of these factors (if not all three).

i’ll give an example…

ysk_logowe’ve flirted with doing ys stuff in asia for a long time. we did a bunch of contract events in singapore a number of years ago (i think i went four times). but nothing further ever came of those. we’ve had inquiries from several others in other asian countries. but it wasn’t until charles kim came to us with the suggestion of starting ys korea, that things really started to make sense. we know charles, and have found there’s a cultural fit (which is funny to say, given that this is cross-cultural stuff). and we know that there’s a good theological fit (in other words, what’s important to us at ys is also important to charles; and what’s not important to us aren’t a big deal to him either). then we had to consider the opportunity to further our mission (that being: serving, equipping and resourcing christian youth workers). and charles’ suggestion just made sense. he drew up a little business plan, and we batted it around a bit; but we knew in our gut that this was a risk worth taking.

that’s why we’re launching youth specialties korea (YSK). we’re not interested in “bringing our bag of tricks” to another country, as much as we’re interested in coming alongside some likeminded people and serving them in their efforts. we’ll be intentional about korean language youth ministry resources. and, as you may have read on my blog back when i took my set-up trip to seoul, we’re doing our first korean youth workers convention (called “the next wave convention”) in seoul next months. we have an official partnership organization (called “young 2080”), and have a half-dozen staff working in an office there now. we let our partners take the lead on what the event would look like, and they were very particular about having koreans do the seminars, but bringing in americans as the general sesssion speakers. so, we worked with them, inviting people off their “wish list”. we have dave gibbons, len sweet, brian mclaren, mike pilavachi, ralph winters, and myself as general session speakers. we’re hoping for a sell-out crowd of 1800 at this inaugural event, but will be good with 1000. we have a half dozen church helping to “sponsor” the event, and a bunch of senior pastors endorsing it.

anyhow – that was a long example. back to the question of partnership criteria. what do you think of those three considerations? any you think we’re missing?

korea trip, via pictures, part 2 (of 2)

here are another 4 pics from my recent trip to seoul:

goofing with a sheep hat from a street vendor. i ended up buying this for liesl. the “feet” are little mittens!

being annoying with the ys korea banner at the press conference.

me and charles kim (our ys korea dude) at one of those japanese restaurants where you sit on the floor (my legs were in the process of going completely numb as this photo was taken).

the ys korea team, out for dinner on my last night, at a freakin’ amazing korean barbecue joint.

korea trip, via photos, part 1 (of 2)

just a few random pics from my korea trip last week:

lunch at a sushi place where you grab the little trays of food you want as they wisk on by on a conveyor belt. that giant stack of plates are from the stuff we’d consumed. that’s charles kim, our ys korea dude, on the right.

me with the current senior pastor of yoidi full gospel church (membership = 700,000!), pastor lee.

in the courtyard of sarang presby church, one of our sponsoring/partner churches. seriously, they have a jumbotron in their courtyard with a live feed of the service.

the live translation schedule at yoidi full gospel church. this was just outside the “foreigners elevator”. there were “foreigner guides” (with little badges that said that) outside the elevator, in the elevator, and when you got off the elevator, taking you to the foreigner balcony. they wore white jackets, like angels.

street snack vendor. would you like some fries with that big hunk of squid?

korea update, 4 (final)

it’s tuesday morning here in seoul (monday at 4:45 in san diego as i write this), and i’m about to pack my bags and head for the airport for the long trek home. it’s one of those weird “crossing the international date line in an easterly direction” things where i leave seoul at 3pm and arrive in san fran early the same morning. then i catch my flight to san diego, and arrive home — still before i left korea — at 12:30 in the afternoon. crazy.

yesterday was a good day, and not as frenetic as the previous one. i walked to a coffee and pastry shop by myself for breakfast. then, closer to noon, i met charles and we drove back to young nak presby church for a press conference. there were about a dozen reporters, all with laptops and cameras, and four video cameras. these were from a variety of christian and secular press sources. the whole thing was only about 45 minutes long, so i didn’t get too bored! i was asked a couple questions about youth and youth culture, but there weren’t very many questions. after the press conference, i did a couple short interviews (one on video, one just a stand-up mtg with a reporter). then we all (including everyone who attended the press conference) went to lunch. that was quite an experience in and of itself, as we went to a japanese (they told me it was a korean version of japanese food) restaurant, and all sat on the floor around a very long, low table. about 30 of us. massive quantities of food kept arriving: sashimi and sushi (which i love), and a wide variety of things i did not recognize, some of which i tried.

we went back to the church, and shot some promo video stuff. then the ysk secretary took me shopping for my kids. we had a fun time bumping around a tourist section of seoul, where i really didn’t find much. but she helped me find a massive music store (like, the size of 3 guitar centers), where i was able to find a great korean instrument for max (he has a collection of percussion instruments from around the world that i have bought him on trips).

after a nice break at the hotel, we headed out for dinner with the ys korea team (there are about 7 people working — full time or part time — in the temporary ysk office). we went to another fantastic korean barbecue place, and had large quantities of some special kind of pork. man, it was so good! oh, and for some reason no one could quite explain, all korean chop sticks are metal, not wood.

in the evening, charles and i went to a nice hyatt on a hill for drinks and final debriefing. we met up with a friend of his who’s a top fashionista in korea. the guy was a kick, and it was good to laugh. slept great last night, and am overdue for a shower and packing right now.

what an amazing trip. i really look forward to returning here in may for the convention!

korea update, 3

first: funniest thing so far on this trip… a few partners on the event we’re planning were surprised to find out i’m not korean. they’d heard my name was marko, and thought it was my first and last name; either “mark oh”, or “mark koh” (both common korean last names). funny!

so, sunday was a good, but very long and tiring day.

started with coffee and pastries with charles to talk about the day. then we began our trek to three major korean churches to meet with senior pastors. first up was a short walk to sarang church (a church of about 50,000 people). we met with the senior pastor in his office, just after one of the many services. this church has already contributed financially to help make the ys korea convention a reality. we had a brief but nice chat about youth ministry and the vision for ys korea. these meetings have been so interesting for me — great cross-cultural experiences.

after leaving, we took a cab to the world’s largest church: yoidi full gospel church. we’d been there the day before to meet with the current senior pastor. today we attended a church service where the pastor emeritus, david (paul) yonggi cho, was preaching. the whole thing was quite an experience. we were treated like special guests, and there were reserved seats for us in the “foreigners” side balcony. they have live translation (on headphones) in 8 languages! this church has 700,000 members; but many of those are in satellite churches all over the world. the main campus has (only) a couple hundred thousand, with 12,000 in each of the services, plus video overflow rooms; and they have services all day long. a giant choir, a big orchestra. the singing was really cool, actually.

then came one of the most unique experiences of my life, one i’ll remember for a very long time. we got to meet with the founding pastor, dr. cho. it felt like i might imagine meeting with the pope would feel like. we were ushered into a lobby of an office, where a couple dozen handlers and security and other pastors were waiting. at some point (i think they knew he was on his way), they hurriedly moved us into a meeting room with comfortable furniture. the current senior pastor was there with us, and a film crew was videotaping the whole thing, along with a couple people taking photos the whole time (apparently, someone had convinced them that i was some kind of VIP, which was simultaneously funny to me and a little bit freaky – i’m told the video will be part of a report on korean christian tv, and the photos are for newspaper and magazine articles). most church leaders i met in seoul have never even had a meeting with cho, and it was truly a weird god thing that we were given this opportunity. when cho entered, we all stood up and did some formal greetings. i shared what an honor it was to meet with him, and how encouraged we are with the support his church is giving us. then i was silent, and waited. he shared a tender story with me about the american soldier who led him to christ. he asked a few questions about our plans, and he talked about the importance of reaching teens and young adults. at some point, the current senior pastor asked him, on our behalf, if he would act as “honorary chairman” (along with the two other most influential pastors in korea — a presbyterian and a baptist) for our event, and he graciously agreed. i asked if he would pray for us, and we stood together. he held my hands and prayed in english — it was really moving. then we were ushered out.

that’s when i started breathing again.

we grabbed a cab to the neighborhood of the third church we were visiting, and poked around in some stores while we waited for the right time. this church — young nak presbyterian — is an older church, and was historically the most influential church in seoul. it’s another church of 50,000 members (with about 25,000 adults attending on a given sunday). we had a much longer meeting with the senior pastor of this church. they’re actually hosting the event in may, and not charging us anything for the facility. we also asked if they would consider giving us a space in their building to have a youth ministry center for seoul, where a library of youth ministry resources could be kept and smaller meetings could be held (and maybe a future staff of ys korea could work). they were very open to this idea (this was just the initial ask).

we went for coffee with the education pastor of the church, then came back for a dinner and gathering with about 30 parachurch youth ministry leaders, to talk about their involvement and partnership in the event. it seemed like the meeting went well, but i was really tired, and it was 3 hours long, and it was — no big surprise here! — almost all in korean, which meant i was completely in the dark most of the time.

so, it’s late sunday night, and i’m cooked. up tomorrow: a press conference, an interview with korean christianity today, an interview with a newspaper, and a dinner with a couple publishers.