1. Why IMC in Hong Kong?
In these days, it is a trend to use “missional church” in the Christian world.This is a reﬂection of the desperate desire for the contemporary church to be restored to a true church. However, what is of great concern is that this new trend of missional church can be easily recognised and spreading among pastors as new church programs. Then, what is the missional church like if it is not a new church program? Should it be seen as a new trend of healthy church movement or church reform or renewal movement? Nowadays, you will ﬁnd that the missional church is popular as the topic of so many church seminars and meetings, as if it can be a panacea to solve all the problems of the church. It is no doubt that missional churches have the nature of a movement for church reform and renewal. Nevertheless, the discussion of missional churches is not just about a call for church reform and renewal. Then, what does “Missional Church” mean? It refers to a church in which God is sending into the world, and the sent church, it constantly reﬂects on the past history that it has walked and repents about the sins and ﬂaws of the church in the world, and tries to restore its missional calling as the sent church of God. In particular, the Institute of Missional Church in Hong Kong within the Hong Kong Liferoad Theological Seminary is interested in how churches in non-Western countries, especially Asia, Korea, China, and Hong Kong, can be reborn as churches faithful to the nature and mission as missional church. To this end, this institute will explore the past history of the churches in Korea, China, and Hong Kong in particular, and examine how churches in each region can be reformed and renewed as missional churches ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit.
Institute of Missional Church (IMC) was established with the aim of conducting theological research on how non-Western churches, including Korea, Hong Kong, China, and Asia, especially churches built on mission sites, can be ﬁrmly established as missional churches. To this end, we will ﬁrst work together with schools and institutions in Britain, the United States, and Korea, which have researched on missional church and some of them have already worked to help the churches to be transformed into being missional in their practices. And this institute will also try to lead the churches to learn about missional church by actively introducing books, journals, and networks for missional church research. It will also work on networking theologians and pastors in non-Western churches and have a plan to publish a Journal of Missional Church in Non-Western World (JMCNWW).
3. Who’s who at IMC?
The Revd. & Dr. Seong Sik Heo is currently a mission scholar working as professor and director at Hong Kong Liferoad Theological Seminary and at the same time serving as pastor of an international multi-ethnic worshiping community in Hong Kong. As a teenager, he received a call to work as a missionary, so studied the Chinese language and literature at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and continued to study at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies, majoring in East Asian Studies, especially Chinese studies. And he began his theological studies since 1998, when he entered the Presbyterian University and Theological
Seminary(PUTS). In 1998, he translated the most important book of Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (IVP, 1998) into Korean. It was possible because of the encouragement of Wesley Wentworth, an American lay missionary who strongly recommended him to translate it into Korean.
After being ordained in 2003 in Korea, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) in the USA, and continued his theological studies as mission scholar, particularly about Lesslie Newbigin and missional church with the teaching and guidance of Dr. Darrell Guder who is one of the leading scholars in the area of Newbigin and missional church studies. After ﬁnishing his doctoral thesis about Lesslie Newbigin’s missional debates, Dr. Heo returned to Korea taught missiology at various schools such as PUTS, Torch Graduate University, and Juan International University, during
which time he published several papers and various articles on
Lesslie Newbigin and missional church. Meanwhile, Dr. Heo also served at True Light Presbyterian Church as pastor of English congregation and then as pastor of Korean congregation at Truelight Church in New Jersey, USA.
He came to Hong Kong in 2019 and was called to serve as pastor of a Korean congregation for two years, and now he is serving as pastor of International multi-ethnic community and at the same time as professor and director of Institute of Missional Church in Hong Kong at Hong Kong Liferoad Theological Seminary. As a missional scholar, he is now exploring the question of “How should we build missional churches in non-Western regions and especially in mission ﬁelds?”
The mains works of Dr. Heo are as follows.
1. Missional Debate: An Interpretive Study of Lesslie Newbigin’s Theological Debates with Diverse Partners (Doctoral Dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary, 2014)
2. “Christianity and Globalization of Korea: How to make the Korean Church a Glocal and Missional Church,” in Noh Young Sang (ed.,), Our People and Korean Church, Seoul: Institute of Korean Church (PCK), 2018.
3. The Cross as the Way that the Korean Church should be Missional (a special booklet published in memory of the 160th anniversary of Horace N. Allen, a Korean missionary, June 16, 2018.
4. “Revisiting Newbigin’s Ambivalence toward Interreligious Dialogues: How Can We Re-engage in Interreligious Dialogues in Asia?” in Converting Witness: The Future of Christian Mission in the New Millennium, Fortress Academic, 2019.
1. Translation into Korean of Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Seoul: IVP,
2. Translation into Korean of Celeste Snowber, The Embodied Prayer, Seoul: IVP, 2002.
3. Translation into Korean of Darrell Guder’s Called to Witness:Doing Missional Theology, Seoul: NewWavePlus, 2015.
4. Translation into Korean of Rodney Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity, Seoul: NewWavePlus,
1. “Main Features of Missional. Church in the Acts of the Apostles 1-15,” in Current Missional Trends 24: Missional Reading of the Bible and Missional Hermeneutics. Korean Research Institute of Mission, Seoul. 2020.
2. “On the Wholistic Understanding of the Church in the Korean Context,” in Wholistic Understanding of the Church and the Nation in Dr. Lee Jong Sung’s Theology, Seoul: PUTS Publishing House, 2020.
6. “Ernst Troeltsch’s Historical Understanding of the Christian Faith and Its Implication for the Missional Church as Public,” Mission Network Vol. 6. 2018.
7. “The Missiological Implications of Lesslie Newbigin’s Missional Debates,” Korean Presbyterian Journal of Theology, Vol 50. No 2. 2018.
8. A Review of The Way of the Cross (by Maeng Yi Soon) published in the church magazine of Namdaemoon Presbyterian Church, 2018.
9. “A Critical Reﬂection on Megachurch Debate: Is It Impossible for Megachurches to be Missional?” three essays in a series at Web-magazine of Good Church Academy, Nov. 2017.
10. “The Missional Implications of Newbigin’s Debates with Diverse Groups on the Korean Church,” a paper presented at the 4th Meeting of the Korean Society of Mission Studies, August 22, 2015, held at Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, in Seoul, Korea.
11. “The Missional Implications of Lesslie Newbigin’s Shift of Emphasis from Interreligious Dialogues to Religious Pluralism Debates,” in Korean Presbyterian Journal of Theology, Vol 47. No 3. 2015.
12. “Lesslie Newbigin’s Debate with Post-Christendom: Public versus Privatized,” in Mission and Theology, Vol. 35. Spring, 2015.
13. Book Review of Gerald R. McDermott, God’s Rivals: why has God allowed diﬀerent religions? Insights from the Bible and the Early Church, in Koinonia, 2008
14. “The Great Revival Movement (1903-1907) as Continuous Conversion in the Christianization of the Korean people,” in KIATS Theological Journal, Volume III-1, Spring, 2007.
15. “Historical Development of the Old Testament Ethics in Old Testament Theology” published in an abbreviated form, Shinhak Chunchu (Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary News Paper), 1999