Pastor Daevid Yoon’s passion for the Korean immigrant church is not just about an attachment to the Korean culture – it’s a passion to see the faith being passed down through the generations.
“I’m just an ‘apostle to the Jews.’ I’m not going to be the savvy church planting missionary guy,” he said. Yoon came to Southern California to lead the English ministry (EM) at Inland Church last August after a 10-year stint as the EM pastor at New York Presbyterian Church.
“The kingdom work is expansive enough that you don’t have to do everything. There’s enough work to be done in each specific area. For me, the multi-generational component is what clicked. I strongly believe in passing on the faith from generation to generation.”
Yoon himself is a product of a generational passing on of the gospel: he came to faith through the model of his parents. As both his father and mother were the first Christians of their respective families, he said he understood how precious the gospel is from the way his parents lived out their faith.
Some might have argued that the high, rigid standards set by his parents were too “legalistic.” But Yoon says he personally didn’t find fault with the rigidness because of the way they exemplified how much they cherished the gospel in their own lives as they persevered through the persecution they faced amongst their relatives.
“Sure, there might’ve been a rigidness to the way they passed on the faith in terms of the standards they have. But it was because the persecution they experienced from their families allowed them to cherish their faith to the point of saying to us, ‘You need to know this too. I’m not just getting yelled at because it’s fun, but I really want you to know the value of this.’ Regardless of whether it’s legalistic or not at that moment, I don’t think anyone can deny the preciousness of Christ in their life. It’s the preciousness of Christ that needs to be passed on, and we need to be able to properly balance that – the rigidness, and the gospel grace.”
It’s been Yoon’s hope throughout his years in ministry to see this modeling of faith within the church, from parents to children, and from older brothers and sisters of the faith to the younger. He believes it’s a biblical way to carry out ministry.
For instance, in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Yoon noted, he addresses the children as well in chapter six, which signifies that children were just as much present in the gathering of believers as the adults were.
Yoon also believes having the entire family worship together – what he calls the covenantal worship model – also fosters spiritual conversations amongst parents and their children.
He recalled a moment during one of his Sunday sermons at NYPC, when he was preaching on the sovereignty of God. He said that very phrase emphatically during his sermon – “the sovereignty of God” – and then gave a short pause, during which a four-year-old in the congregation said out loud, “Mommy, what does sovereignty mean?”
“That’s what this is about,” Yoon said. “It’s the interactions that result from worshipping together. At the drive home, when the kids ask parents about what the sermon was about, for example. It keeps them inquisitive and informed,” Yoon said.
Having all ages worship together also cultivates a sense of ownership amongst the older generation to do their part to pass on the spiritual legacy to the younger members, according to Yoon. He cited the famous adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” to note that the spiritual influences on young people range beyond that of their immediate family. It takes the small group leaders, retreat organizers, and mentors in the church to raise up a child in the faith, too.
Yoon’s ideal conception of small groups for children and youth would be to have leaders in their thirties and forties, rather than those in college, he said.
It allows children and teens to be aware that church will still be “relevant” when they grow older – that even after they graduate from college, there is a place for them to serve.
For the Korean immigrant church in particular, being exposed to both Korean speaking and English speaking older brothers and sisters in the faith also grants a “fuller dimension of what the faith could look like,” said Yoon.
Though, as a relative newcomer to Inland’s EM, Yoon is refraining from making drastic changes to the church for now, he says that he and the leaders are working on cultivating a family mindset and a sense of commitment amongst the church members. Having that covenantal mindset and commitment to the local church is where that passing on of the faith begins.
“The church is a covenantal community and it is a household of God,” Yoon said. “Inasmuch as you don’t get to pick your siblings, you don’t get to pick your church members. You’re dealt with these cards, and that’s an opportunity for you to practice the gospel.”