'Missional churches' grow more than non-missional churches, Korean research among 500 senior pastors reveals

By CDI Staff |
Christmas service 2023 at Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
'Missional churches' have shown more significant growth than non-missional churches after COVID-19, a recent research revealed. The Pastoral Data Research Institute (PDRI) conducted a 'Missional Church Survey' from May 12th to 31st last year, targeting 500 senior pastors nationwide, and published the key results on June 25.

According to the survey, about half of the senior pastors (52%) responded that the church they serve is a 'missional church.' Among them, 11% responded 'very much so.'

Looking at the rate of recognition of their church as a missional church by church characteristics, the rate was significantly higher in large churches with 'over 500 members,' in churches with 'financial stability,' and in 'urban' churches.

Notably, the response that the number of congregants has increased compared to five years ago was significantly higher in missional churches than in non-missional churches. Additionally, the projection that the number will increase in the next five years was also higher in missional churches.

Specifically, 29% of senior pastors from missional churches said that the number of worship attendees has increased compared to five years ago, while only 12% of pastors from non-missional churches said the same. Conversely, the rate of those who said the number has decreased compared to five years ago was 41% in missional churches and 56% in non-missional churches.

Regarding the outlook for the next five years, 57% of pastors from missional churches said the number of congregants would increase, compared to 45% from non-missional churches. The response that the number would decrease was 25% in missional churches and 30% in non-missional churches.

According to the PDRI, “This shows that churches aiming to be missional have a strong driving force in terms of church growth compared to non-missional churches.”

A missional church is a concept that started as a church movement in the late 20th century, PDRI states. It means that the church's mission is to help believers live a missional life in their daily lives with the identity of a missionary, and the church community supporting this role.

So, how many churches are actually engaged in such ministries? The percentage of those who answered that there is a 'layperson-centered missional community' was 20%. The PDRI noted the discrepancy, commenting that “although 52% responded that they are a missional church, the actual rate of churches with layperson-centered missional communities was significantly lower at 20%.”

The obstacles to moving towards being a missional church were cited as 'lack of knowledge and information about specific methods of missional church ministry' (35%), 'lack of awareness and enthusiasm for mission among congregants' (33%), 'attitude of maintaining traditions and existing systems' (27%), and 'lack of training materials or curricula for missional churches' (4%).

The PDRI suggested, “It is necessary to provide pastors with information on specific ministry models and methods for missional churches and to inspire enthusiasm for missions among congregants through training and education for missional churches.”

When asked what results they expect from a missional church, the most common answer among senior pastors was 'expansion of God's kingdom' (63%). This was followed by 'restoration of the church's credibility' (24%), 'revival and growth of the church' (8%), and 'revitalization of the church' (4%).

The PDRI highlighted that, “For pastors, the primary expectation for a missional church is the 'expansion of God's kingdom,' rather than as a means of church growth and revival.”

The PDRI added that “if any church chooses the missional church as its focal ministry, it must lead to the voluntary participation of congregants in missions,” emphasizing the need for congregants' empathy, agreement, cooperation, and participation towards a missional church.

“To accomplish this, it is necessary to study successful cases, develop specific ministry models suitable for the church, and internalize them through continuous congregant education,” it commented, and said, “Programs and ministry communities should be established to enable congregants to have the identity of missionaries and practice it.”

“If the number of congregants fulfilling missionary duties at home, workplace, and community increases and their lives are transformed, this is the true fruit of a missional church.”

Originally published by Christian Daily Korea. Translated and edited by Christian Daily International staff.