Christian pastor writes book on church planting in the U.S., using principles he culled from working with Christians in North Korea
A Christian pastor released recently a book on how to plant churches and spread the gospel in the free world, by using tips he culled from his personal experience working with underground Christian churches in North Korea.
Rev. Eric Foley, pastor of W Evangelical Church of Colorado Springs and Seoul, Korea, released the book, Church is for Amateurs: A Guide for “Fourth Order” Christians like You on How to Plant and Lead a Lay Church.
Foley got the idea for his book by working with underground Christian churches in North Korea. He notes that while church buildings and full time, salaried pastors are the basic disciple tools in the U.S., in North Korea, these are illegal and unavailable.
“When you’re ministering to North Korean Christians, you realize quickly that the tools that are fundamental to Christian discipleship in the West just aren’t available to help you. Church buildings are illegal in North Korea. Paid, full-time pastors become ‘instant inmates’ in North Korea’s concentration camps,” Foley said.
“When more than two or three gather together — even in somebody’s home in the middle of the night — the police show up. Bibles are confiscated instantly, and the people who possess them end up dead,” Foley said.
Foley said this has been common in church history as well. He told The Christian Post, “Throughout history churches have had to do discipleship with far more restrictions and this has caused them to be much more focused on growing individual believers into the fullness of Christ.”
Foley, who is co-founder and CEO of Seoul USA, has, for more than 20 years, trained some 1,300 Christian NGOs and churches. Through their ministry Voice of the Martyrs/Korea, the Foleys also support North Korea’s underground churches and assist North Korean Christians who have managed to migrate to the South.
“Our modern western way of making disciples and being church is the historical oddity,” Foley said. “The North Korean situation of empty-handed discipleship in the face of intense persecution is the norm.”
Foley lists down 12 principles in church growth in his book. He notes, for example, that there is more depth of faith in a persecuted environment, because the situation requires it.
Because church buildings are illegal, faith revolves more around families and homes. Church members must be multitasked and be able to do all ministry functions in a persecuted environment, unlike churches in the U.S. where staff performs specific jobs.
Foley also notes in his book that prosperity can make a church weak, while a persecuted environment can purify a church. Furthermore, there is a difference between freedom of religion and freedom in Christ.
For example, in the U.S. there is freedom of religion. However, in persecuted environments such as North Korea, there is a keen understanding of the meaning of freedom in Christ.
Freedom and affluence are not bad things, Foley says, but they can hinder church growth, as opposed to the blood of martyrs which, through time, has been shown to become the seed of the church.
Foley contends in his book that if Christians in the U.S. come to understand these distinctions, and integrate the 12 principles outlined in his book, the church in the U.S. can grow and become stronger.