I recently met with North Korean defectors, a wife who had been a lifelong underground Christian inside of North Korea, and her husband whom she led to the Lord. The husband is now serving as a pastor in South Korea, but he is troubled by the way many in South Korea express their faith in Christ.
The expression of faith that he is troubled with has nothing to do with being Reformed, Wesleyan, Pentecostal or Baptist. Rather it has to do with the modern church culture that emphasizes personal fulfillment in the pursuit of happiness. He described “Korean church culture” in a way similar to how Americans might use the term “Sunday Christians.”
Instead of opining too long about the problem, we turned to the solution. The answer that we quickly agreed upon was discipleship. Unfortunately we throw around the word so much nowadays that it hardly raises an eyebrow. But when discipleship is centered at the household level rather than the institutional church level, it’s definitely an eyebrow raiser!
A household includes the family unit but also includes those in one’s sphere of influence. For me, this would include my neighbors, co-workers and my children’s school teachers. The New Testament describes Christianity as primarily functioning at the household level. In short, the early church was simply a collection of households.
As I was talking with these former underground North Korean Christians, their eyes lit up when we discussed “household discipleship.” They proclaimed that this was how the underground church disciples and they are convinced that this is the only method that will work in North Korea, or anywhere for that matter. They said the idolatry of Kim Il Sung is so prevalent in their society that they need more than a once-a-week kind of religion; they need a dynamic faith that permeates every area of their life daily. A faith that is active in the household, every day of the week.
So how is “household discipleship” different from regular discipleship?
- Worship happens every day in the home and not only on Sundays.
- Household worship is considered to be the main event . . . not Sunday worship.
- The leader of each household is responsible for household discipleship, not the pastor.
- Evangelism happens at the household level.
- The institutional church exists to support the household and not the other way around.
- Families “do the word” together, which includes spending their own tithe to minister to those in the sphere of influence.
If you truly want to be involved in North Korean ministry, then there is something you must do before launching balloons or before moving to South Korea. Start by giving up everything on a daily basis with your own family members by practicing “household discipleship.” To do this you won’t have to move, quit your job or even learn Korean, but you will have to make the small daily acts of sacrifice of following God together and closely in your household.