Area: 99,067 sq km
Southern half of Korean peninsula. Forested mountain ranges; 22% arable.
Population: 48,500,717 Annual Growth: 0.39%
Official language: Korean Languages: 4 All languages
Largest Religion: Non-religious
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Korean Christianity is one of superlatives. Six of the ten largest churches in the world are in Korea as are some of the worlds largest theological colleges, baptismal services and evangelistic and Christian gatherings in history. Praise God, not for the size of these events, but for the growth and strength that they reflect.
The Korean Church has major spiritual challenges to face if its credibility before the world and effectiveness in ministry are to be at their maximum:
a) Stagnation and saturation. Numerical growth in the Church has all but stopped despite continued evangelism and prayer. Exaggerated membership claims and double counting are common enough that up to 45% of all claimed Christians might be counted by two or more groups. This is especially true of the younger generation, which some claim is drifting away from genuine Christian faith and practice.
b) Spiritual pride, including the belief in some circles that success and prosperity are indicators of Gods favour. There is often a pride in statistical growth and impressive organizations and buildings, along with exaggerated claims made. It is a constant temptation for Christian leaders to seek success, wealth and academic degrees more than to lift up the Cross, and to attribute Gods blessings to their own hard work or brilliance.
c) Divisions and schisms sadly typify the Korean Protestant scene. At the end of the Japanese occupation, there was only one Presbyterian denomination; now there are over 100 and growing. While some splits were actually healthy, domineering leadership patterns and personality clashes have been at the root of much division; Jesus prayer for the unity of His disciples needs more attention. Yet some work has been done to address this: 2009 was A Year of Prayer for Unity, adopted by Catholics and Protestants alike. Pray for humility, reconciliation and a new spirit of cooperation to be evident in every part of the Church.
d) Patterns of leadership. Leadership is sometimes too authoritarian. The elevated status of pastors hinders biblical servant-leadership, promotes division and personality cults and stunts discipleship, since too many depend more on pastoral guidance than on celebrating the priesthood of all believers.
e) Church structures are not always conducive to practical holiness or effective discipleship. Christians have at times condoned low ethical standards, bribery and corrupt practices, and they have not addressed the wrongs in wider society. Megachurches can gravitate against effective discipleship and integration of new believers into the body of Christ, which in turn causes church hopping. With many new Christians from Buddhist/Confucian backgrounds, solid teaching and discipleship are essential.
f) Lack of transformational impact on society. The large, influential and affluent Church has not yet fulfilled its capacity to have a transforming effect on the social problems affecting Korea today. Poverty, corruption, moral drift and unreached segments of society in particular could be more directly addressed. Christians would have remarkable potential to shape society were the churches mobilized to act in concert.
For an additional 9 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Korea, South.