A Church for Everyone: Being an International and Invitational Church
Part 1: All Tribes, Peoples and Languages
By Pastor Seeyong Lee, Korean & International Ministries-
Just over a year ago, I began my ministry as pastor of Bethel International United Methodist Church’s Korean-speaking congregation. In my first few weeks here, I remember attending the English-speaking worship service to introduce myself and noticing that Pastor Glenn started by leading the congregation in reciting our church’s mission and vision statements:
“Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world! Our vision is to be an amazingly international church, where faith is contagious and invitational!”
I was pleasantly surprised and wondered why this congregation’s vision is to be an “amazingly international” church in Christ!
As time went on, I discovered two primary reasons for being an international church within Glenn’s biblical vision and heart for our community. As we live into this vision of becoming a church for everyone, I’d like to share those reasons with you.
- Heavenly Vision on Earth
Glenn’s vision for an “international” church comes directly from Revelation 7:9-10, which reads, “I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb...They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
God has cast the vision that many Christians from all nations, races, cultures and languages will gather for worship in heaven. Now, our church is committed to rehearsing this heavenly experience on earth, by loving God and one another as one family in the Lord.
- Ethnic Diversity in Our Neighborhood
Our church’s vision reflects the reality of our community – a multicultural neighborhood of people from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. In January 2020, USA Today published an article calling Columbus an “unlikely ethnic food paradise,” and by looking out our door, it’s obvious that’s true. I’ve heard that there are more than forty international restaurants on Bethel Road alone. So, it’s quite appropriate that we focus on and care for our neighborhood’s diverse, international residents, as well as the longtime white population.
These reasons have helped me better understand our church’s inclusive, multicultural vision. As I’ve continued to pray about this vision over the past year, God, through prayer, has given me even more reasons to believe in this way forward. I’ll share them with you in the next post