Source: Lausanne Global Analysis, July 2023
Korean churches have been committed to cross-cultural missions for decades. They have officially sent out more than 22,000 missionaries abroad in 2021. However, things are not what they used to be.
Changes in mission contexts have grown over the years with increasing nationalism, difficult visa situations, and an influx of migrants to Korea. Symptoms of change and confusion in mission were present long before the COVID era. The most palpable blow was a systemic eviction of Korean missionaries from a restrictive access country in 2017 and 2018. The number of Korean missionaries in this country was once more than 4,000 and has dropped to less than 40 percent of 4,000, according to the data in 2022.
Another critical change was the decline of Christianity in Korea. The number of Christians in Korea has plateaued for the past two decades since 2000 and has decreased drastically in recent years. The problem is not just with the number. Society’s trust [in] Christians is at its record low.
The full story has footnotes, charts and a bit of a case study for a new way forward. The author argues that Korean churches (and others) needs to adopt a more holistic understanding of mission that is not limited to international sending and church planting or focused only on the unreached.
See also Why Christianity Quit Growing in Korea (The Gospel Coalition).
Got time for a couple of podcasts?
- Listen to Ted Esler and Matthew Ellison discuss “Is it time to deconstruct the UPG narrative?” (The Mission Matters).
- Hear from Todd Johnson on the state of global Christianity (On the Move).