전례를 찾기 힘든 팬데믹이라는 코로나 사태는 우리가 미국 남가주 얼바인이라는 특정한 지역이나 공간에 있는 교회일 뿐만 아니라 ‘세계’라는 콘텍스트에서 같은 페이지를 넘기며 살아가고 있음을 깨닫게 해 주었습니다. 팬데믹 전에는 ‘모 나라는 미국에 10년, 20년은 뒤졌다’는 식으로 말할 수 있었지만, 이제는 전 세계가 같은 선상에 공평하게 놓여있고 최고를 자랑하는 미국은 더욱 겸손해져야 했습니다. 선교지역 기도제목이 얼바인 베델교회 기도제목과 같아졌습니다. 초대 예루살렘 교회가 문화와 민족이라는 지역성을 벗어나지 못할 때 하나님은 핍박이라는 수단을 통해 교회를 ‘세계화’ 하셨듯, 이번에는 팬데믹을 통해 교회의 선교적 본질을 가르쳐 주셨다고 믿습니다.
또 하나 배우는 중요한 교훈은 자가격리로 인한 온라인이라는 대체 처방이 교회의 지역성을 탈피하는 자연스러운 결과를 가져왔다는 것입니다. 교회라는 물리적 현장의 중요성을 유지하면서도 교회가 지닌 메시지의 영향력은 한 번의 클릭으로 세계 어느 지역에든 도달할 수 있다는 새로운 도전을 받게 되었습니다. 한 번의 클릭으로 세계가 교회로 올 수 있게 되었다는 것입니다. 세계로 나아가는 교회에서 이제는, 세계를 교회로 끌어오는 선교의 전환도 준비해야 할 것입니다.
From ‘Church to World’ to ‘World to Church’
Rev. Bryan Kim
In the campaign for Census 2020, there is a phrase that says, “Community is not just a geographical location.” This means that you are not confined to the location that you live in but, as a member of society, your role increases to a wider area and society. For example, just because I live in Irvine does not mean that there’s work for me to do only in Irvine. I can contribute to the country and, further more, to the world. I think this phrase is appropriate in describing the work and effectiveness of church. First of all, a church clearly has a location. Old churches are usually named after their location. All of the seven churches in Revelation are named after their geographical locations. Probably there was a primary mission for the location where the church was founded. However, universal characteristics of a church cannot remain locally. Like Acts 1:8 says Jerusalem, Judah, Samaria, and to the ends of the world, the effectiveness of a church should not just remain locally but extend to the world. The most important element to ‘be a church’ is in missions. Gospel that is proclaimed in worship has rightful justification to go out to the world beyond its location. Mission work is not just one of many ministries of a church. It is a matter of identity of church. Occasionally I hear from members of other church that their church is not interested in missions. Perhaps their excuse is ‘not yet’ because that they are not independent yet or have a special reason. A church without interest for missions is not a church. This is an issue about the core nature of church. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world”. The context is always the ‘world’.
This unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic is not limited to a church in one location of this country, but it makes us realize that we live in the context of ‘world’ as we turn the same page in history. Prior to the pandemic, we could say things like ‘a country is 10 years or 20 years behind U.S.’. Now the entire world is placed equally on a same line, and U.S. that boasted as being the best had to humble. Prayer topic of a mission field is now same as prayer topic of Irvine Bethel Church. Like when Jerusalem Church of early church could not escape their culture, people, and locality, God used persecution to ‘globalize’ the church. This time I believe He is using the pandemic to teach us the nature of missions for church.
Another important lesson we learned is that, with self-isolation and online worship, it has brought about natural result of minimizing locality of a church. We have a new challenge that, while keeping the importance of place of worship, the effectiveness of a message is one click away to anywhere in the world. More accurately, the world can come to church with one click. We must prepare to convert the mission strategy from church that goes out to the world to that brings the world to church.