FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Asian American pastors increasingly have a place in the Southern Baptist Convention, Paul Kim noted in an “A2CP2” (Asian American Church Planting/Cooperative Program) conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Kim, who serves as the Asian American relations consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, also is a Southwestern trustee.
During the A2CP2 conference for Southwestern’s Asian American students and professors Oct. 17, Kim underscored the importance of developing leaders in preparation for next-generation discipleship and church planting.
Kim called on Asian American pastors to participate actively in advancing the Kingdom of God through the SBC.
“You are called to change this society, this community,” he said. With more Asian Americans now serving in leadership positions in the SBC, “there is more room for you to be involved in Southern Baptist life, Southern Baptist ministry and Southern Baptist work.”
Kim emphasized that Southwestern students are among those God has called to become key leaders for the future.
“You have a great responsibility from God. God has assigned you to be prepared and equipped to preach the Word,” Kim said, urging conference attendees to use their time at Southwestern to learn as much as they can about discipleship, church planting and ministry.
When planting new churches after graduating from the seminary, Kim noted, some pastors may get discouraged by the small size and slow growth of their congregations. “The key is not size, but the measure of faith,” he pointed out.
The large majority of Southern Baptist churches in the United States are small churches with less than 250 members, Kim said. Numbers do not determine influence, he stated, because small churches’ gifts account for the greatest contribution to the Cooperative Program, which funds Southern Baptist missions and ministry nationally and internationally.
Church growth, Kim continued, should be measured by the quality of godly relationships. “It’s not about the number,” he said. “It’s about people’s life relationships — with God and with one another. The Bible tells us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, and to love your neighbors.
“The church is the family of God, and numbers do not determine the love and care we have for each other,” Kim said.
Asian American familial culture can help the church planting process, Kim added. “We have a familial concept in church planting,” he said. Recounting his own longstanding church planting ministry as an example, Kim described a model of church planting in which the sponsoring “parent” church continually takes care of newly planted churches with spiritual mentorship and financial support.
As an example of this model, Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass. (previously Berkland Baptist Church), which Kim planted and pastored for 30 years, planted 13 churches in the United States and 13 churches overseas in countries such as Japan, China, Russia and Turkey. And the Antioch congregation continues to nurture them.
Whether planting churches in the U.S. or overseas, Kim said, pastors must focus on making true disciples of the next generation. “Whatever you do, you are to do one thing: to make disciples of all nations,” he said. “I want you to have a vision, a heart and a commitment to prepare for the next generation to come.”