Saturday, June 29, 2013

Obstacles in Building Small Christian Communities

Setting up small christian communities has been an important goal the Church in Korea has been endeavoring to achieve for the last 20 years. The results are not as favorable as many would like, and efforts have been made over the years to improve them. Recently, the Bishops Pastoral Research Center conducted a workshop for priests from nine dioceses; 23 priests attended whose specialty and expertise were working with small communities. They  discussed the problems and aimed to draw up a Korean model for what these communities should be. The Catholic Times had an editorial on the workshop and two articles that summarized some of the ideas that were shared during the workshop.

Several presentations on the small community concept, and the discussions that followed on what has already been accomplished, dealt with diagnosis and assessment. Important as these were, more interest was shown over the proper role of the pastoral leader in the small community.

Is it possible to build small christian communities in Korea? was a question that was often raised during discussions. The clergy in Korea have been so central to the work that to overcome this thinking and the secularization that has been experienced by the Christians will make a return to the Gospel message very difficult. The place of small communities in the  pastoral vision is not helped by  the understanding of the common good held in our society. But more to the point: the Church has not  stressed enough the place of fellowship in community. Consequently, as one of the participants suggested, if we look at our situation dispassionately will we not agree that we have built a middle-class Church?

The small communities were to be the future, a new way of doing pastoral work--a variety of different expressions were used to describe our intentions, but most turned out to be little more than empty words. On the parish level, where they were working with the small communities, there were serious problems in their successful implementation. We were not able to have a model for our people that fit the situation. The attempts at inculturation and making it fit our Korean situation have been slow.

The Church has been more intent in facing and coming to grips with our everyday challenges, according to the Catholic Times, than having a Christ-like vision for the work. We have to make our own a common vision of pastoral ministry, and do away with the imperial authority structures for the proper evangelization that is the mission of the Church. When this problem is acknowledged, this will be the first step in the shortcut that will facilitate the building of successful small communities and constructing a workable model for small communities here in Korea.

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