THE EDITORIAL BOARD
In the midst of completing his tenure with Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Pastor David Rim chatted with the Threshold this past April about teaching theology, serving within the second generation Korean-American church, and transitioning to Open Door.
THRESHOLD: I think some people may be surprised to learn that you have roots in the area, having grown up in Maryland. After spending some time pastoring in Southern California and, more recently, teaching in Chicago, how does it feel to be back? Do you feel like you’ve come full circle?
PASTOR DAVID RIM: It feels like we are returning home from an extended trip. Having family from my wife’s side and from my side, having grown up in the area, and having served our first ministries there, it feels like we are returning to where we ultimately belong. A full circle? Definitely. But hopefully with a bit more wisdom!
THRESHOLD: Your wife Maria received a shout-out during one of your candidacy sermons. Please tell us more about her.
PASTOR DAVID RIM: My wife Maria is the heart of our ministry. She may consider this an exaggeration, but I do not. If the core of any ministry is relational before anything else, then my assessment is correct. She serves as the contact point that keeps me relationally connected to the people we serve.
This does not mean, however, that she does not have her own spiritual gifts. She serves as a school social worker and as a licensed therapist, working with college students at Judson College, a Christian institution. Her passion is for the women of the church to see themselves as the “beloved of God” in the midst of a busy life.
THRESHOLD: Both of your children (twin sisters Rachel and Katie) are fully grown and have graduated from college. How do you spend time together as a family?
Our home comes to life when our girls come back to visit. Even our fifteen-year-old dog, Boo Boo, acts like a puppy when they make an appearance. Besides these weekend visits, we attempt to go on vacation together about twice a year. As parents, we are fortunate that our girls still enjoy their time with us. Hopefully that will last for a while.
THRESHOLD: You taught as a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for 17 years. What was that like? At a divinity school, what do you think students need to know most about today’s world as they step into their prospective careers?
PASTOR DAVID RIM: That’s a great question. And quite relevant as I head into my final week of teaching. While I will need several months to process this particular stage of my life, my initial response is that these students who are about to enter into ministry need to learn the same principle that I need to remember as I become a part of Open Door: it is weakness that serves as the life force of any ministry. Unfortunately, most of our time and energy is spent proving ourselves to others or developing skills or attaining knowledge that could solidify a triumphalist mentality to ministry. The antidote: suffering. Thus, learn to embrace suffering rather than running from it. I guess that’s the life lesson in a nutshell, for me and my students.
THRESHOLD: Some people might be intimidated by Christian theology or maybe even dismiss it as being too heady or intellectual. How do we discuss or integrate theology into our conversations on faith? How does theology play out in practical and daily living?
PASTOR DAVID RIM: Boy, this conversation would require a more extended and interactive format. To be honest, I struggle with this issue. This was the most difficult question I faced during the interview portion with the Open Door elders. How do we prevent theological instruction from feeding into our pride, and instead, inspire us to a deeper love? I am not quite sure. I have some ideas (a narrative framework over systemic, an imaginative grounding over cognitive, a communal, holistic approach over an individualistic one), but at the end of the day, it will be a discovery process which can only occur with the members and staff of Open Door.
THRESHOLD: In your candidacy sermon, you referred to beginning and ending your career in the second generation Korean-American church. How do you think the Korean-American church has changed over the years? What kind of legacy do you hope to leave future generations?
PASTOR DAVID RIM: Within the average second generation Korean-American church I see tremendous gifting, academic accomplishments, financial resources, and the potential to make a significant difference in the communities in which we live. And in the average church I also see most of our resources being devoted to raising and preparing our kids for their future. Our vision is too narrow.
Open Door, however, does not appear to be an average church in this way. Certainly there is concern for children, as there should be. But the vision seems to be much broader and wider. I am grateful to God that I get to be a part of Open Door during this particular time period. What is the legacy I hope we leave behind to the future generation? That they remember that we cared for more than just their generation.
THRESHOLD: Marriage and family life comprises a major part of Open Door’s demographic. As a pastor, how do you leverage your own experiences to minister to married couples, with or without children?
PASTOR DAVID RIM: One of the benefits of being older than most of the congregation is the life experience we bring to the table. My wife and I will be celebrating our twenty-seventh anniversary. That’s a lot of years! We have gone through all the stages of raising a child except for the last one: marriage. That’s a lot of opportunities for mistakes. Things we wish we could do over. Hopefully this kind of experience translates into wisdom we can share.
THRESHOLD: If you could ask God just one burning theological or philosophical question, what would it be?
PASTOR DAVID RIM: Whatever issue I am working on at the moment!
Pastor David Rim joined Open Door Presbyterian Church’s pastoral staff on June 1st.