The church in South Korea has undergone a spiritual awakening that has lasted for several decades. As a result many of the largest churches in the world are there. From the Assemblies of God to the Baptists, from Presbyterians to Methodists, churches in Korea have drawn the attention of researchers and other Christian movements from all over the world.
One clear example of the church growth movement in Korea is Sarang Community Church, started in 1978 by John Han Hum Oak. At the beginning the church had as many as 9 people. Through a revolutionary discipleship training model developed by John Oak, the Community grew to the now 30,000 members. This model can be summarized by Dr. Oak’s three-fold vision: to train the laity, to reach out to young people and to evangelize communist countries.
The great focus of Sarang Community Church as stressed in this book is the equipping of the laity to conquer the world for Christ. Dr. Oak says that the churches have to remodel the basic framework of their previous ministry, if they are to cause a significant impact in society and fulfill the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus.
The first part of the book assumes that there is a problem in the church. The author insists that knowing the real problem is the first step in solving it. The problem seems to be a lack of meaning, purpose and renewal.
The second part of the book calls the attention to the role of the laity. The priesthood of all believers is emphasized as a permanent ecclesiological trend, not merely a temporary mandate lost in the apostolic age. The whole church is supposed to be a worshipping community, fueled by the conviction that every believer is a witness with a calling to make Christ known everywhere and by everybody.
The third part brings up the importance of discipling the lay people. Just as Jesus did, the laity is the key element to reach the whole community with the Good News of the Gospel. Discipleship is a fundamental strategy, and Jesus Himself was the one who taught and implemented it.
The fourth part deals with the methods. A church that wants to grow and remain relevant for the present time and biblically obedient finds in the training of the laity a powerful strategy. Discipleship training is the key, not so much how it is done. If the group decides to obey Jesus’ command, the best method will come easily. However, the most effective method is always a small group, as Jesus did with His twelve.
The last part brings the example of a setting where discipleship training is taking place. The author analyzes the situation of his own church, showing the advantages and disadvantages of the program. However, the only fact that the church keeps growing at a fast pace is a proof that discipleship training works and is a key factor to address the challenges of the twenty first century, helping the church to pass through the open doors of opportunity.
As Paul Stevens says, commenting on the book and its author, the discipleship model of leadership is timeless, and timely, applicable to a church of a hundred or a thousand. It is the idea that the people in the church are not called to assist the clergy in their ministry or just observe them perform their duties. Rather, leaders are called to assist the people in their ministry, and do it by intentional equipping.