January 28, 2009, Cheon-shim Youth Center
But one of the things that we really think is important is letting go of authority in leadership, learning to let go of authority, learning to delegate, learning to give power to our members. And that’s very important because as we have a membership that feels included and feels like they are part of the path and creating a new history for the church then that creates a new, a very powerful energy.
We started at Mapo Church, a small church in Korea. Every time Father asked me to do some other responsibility, at Mapo Church, the Headquarters Church and then to be the International President, every time Father asked me to do something new, I continued to ask him one constant question: “Father, what shall I do next?” And it’s very interesting to see that Father’s answer has been quite consistent. Ever since we started at Mapo Church moving to Headquarters Church as Father was asking us to take on a larger role. Even after every single one of those events I asked Father. And his response was very simple, he said: “Continue to give cheon seong.” I think that’s a very important secret, I would say.
You know, we have many different theories about why the movement is not growing or is not developing as we would like. We have many different ideas and we are wrestling with them, too. You know, here in Korea as we develop going to church in Korea we are wrestling with all of these issues. Things like developing new witnessing strategies, new organisational structures, transparent financial management. So these kind of things we’ve been developing here in Korea.
At the same time, we can get very caught up in the systematic of the church development. That’s very important, we have to be very systematic and rational in a way when we think about church development. That’s one of the things we always try to do. And especially we are so grateful to Kook Jin Nim because he has such an incredible systematic organisational mind and so many years of experience in running organisations. So he has so much insights. And strategies for development have come out of either his genius or his TFT task force teams he has created to make different proposals for better church growth. So we have a lot of different things that we deal with on the ground because we run the church from the ground, you know, we have many things that have to be tested. So whether it be home group method or new witnessing strategies methods being brought into Japan. We are wrestling with all those practical issues how to actually grow the church, increase membership, sustain membership, care for membership etc.
These things are very important for the development of the church as you are very concerned about and I know you are also interested in. But at the same time we have to remember that we are a spiritual organisation, you know, we are a spiritual movement. We have to develop the practical organisational systems, those things are critical because they provide us the safeties, the safeties from organisational trouble, you know, things like that, they prevent organisational disasters or catastrophes. The systems help us continue to move the church as a movement in a way that is always developing. So the systems are very important. But at the same time we do have to recall that fundamentally we are a spiritual tradition and that spiritual tradition is rooted in the devotional life. And that’s what Father has been very constant with me, ever since I took any kind of responsibility I have always asked Father: what shall I do? And you know, he could have said many things, he could have said: you know, focus on this, focus on that, focus on education, focus on young people education, focus on witnessing, focus on these kind of things which of course. But he specifically told me to continue to give cheon seong.
If you understand the world cheon seong, you know, it has a very deep meaning. It’s a character that embodies the word, you know on the left the radical on the left this is the word, and then on the right is the radical for becoming or actualization. So it really is a substantialization of what Father has been teaching.
It seams very vague. Many times as we get into church development and structures and how to make it more efficient those things are critical. But at the same time when we get into it we may actually start to believe that it’s less important to do an authentically religious life. That maybe is maybe third or fourth on the importance list. Creating structures, the important moulds and methods are really the science of religion. But we have to remember that religion of course has scientific method, it does have different methods and we study those methods in different traditions, we can study them, we can see them in operation. But religion also has something beyond any of those structures and that is the spiritual, it is something that is not categorizable, but it is something that is real in our lives and every healthy religious tradition has it that’s vibrant and that’s alive.
For myself, you know we start our day training every morning at 2:30. We do devotional practice, go to the mountain, meditate and pray up there, do recitations up there, bows up there etc. And so we start our day up there because it’s one of the most fundamental things in positions of leadership. I believe as a religious leadership to continue to lead a religious life, to live a fundamentally religious life that is of course not only the external, but truly trying to rid oneself of the trappings of what can happen once we take on positions of power or leadership. And watching oneself and analysing oneself you know meditating on oneself and sort of emptying, you know we see this in the Christian tradition conosis, emptying of oneself. I believe a is really a very important aspect of religious leadership, an important role to play, because out of that emptying comes humility and the practice of humiliy, the attempt of living a sacrificial life and those things, nobody is perfest, but that attempt to practice those things comes out of a fundamental posture that we have in terms of our own life and our own attitude towards our faith. So for me that’s one of the most central things.
If we have a specialization, we specialize there and we are really trying to focus on keeping that center that True Father has given us, you know keeping the sincerity and the heart. And the sincerity in this context I am using very loosely, but not in the traditional sense, sort of an attitude in our heart, but it goes more than that. Sincerity in this context actually goes on to physical action, so it actually goes on to physical religious practice or devotional offering, actualization of religious principles into life. It actually has a very action-oriented meaning into this context. So please, when I use sincerity I use it very loosely, but that’s I am always including that element as well.
Some of the things that have happened in the Korean church is that in the last about 5 years, Father asked Kook Jin Hyung to come to Korea and to actually start taking a look at the businesses that we are working in Korea. So there was a hoke of businesses in the dozens and Kook Jin Nim came, he had to restructure a lot of these organisations. The business group was at a yearly loss of a hundred Million dollars per year, that was what was happening. And the subsidies of course were coming from our Japanese movement. And so Kook Jin Hyung made some major restruction plans, very hard decisions he had to make. And within three years he turned that from a hundred Million dollar loss to now business group that is 50 million dollars in the profit. So that’s a phenomenal chance, that’s a really amazing change. That’s a first in our church. He focussed on the real results and results over popularities, one of his principles that he uses all the time. I am sure all of you have probably heard some of the principles that he always uses. I mention that because that started a huge catalyst in the movement. It started a catalyst to start actually focussing practically and to focus rationally and not theorize but make result and that was a huge catalyst I believe in our church.
He made that kind of a big revolutionary change that has not been seen in the organisations whether business or church related. When we came here and started the ministry and Father asked us to take on bigger responsibilities then you know, Kook Jin Hyung also helped us with the TFT team, director Cho was also involved in and some of the World Mission Department were also involved very closely. And we implemented a whole church restructuring plan that had been in Korea. We had the first elections for regional directors in Korea. That was the first in our church. Usually we have, as you know, mandated leadership. But it was the first time where actually the ministers chose who would be their best leader. And that was a very important step I believe in empowering Unificationists.
One of the foremost things, you know, we always try to focus on is the empowerment of the people, empowerment of our members, it’s very important. If you have an empowered people and citizenship then you have an empowered nation, you have a very positive nation. One of the things we try to do whenever we get authority is that we give it away. That’s one of the things we did e.g. in Pun Bok Do Headquarters Church. We had the first elections for our women’s ministry. The women’s ministry is actually taking on very important roles in the church, you know it’s really the age of women in the church and we are very happy to see women rising up in leadership. The women leaders were elected by the women in the congregation. No men were present in that election, but the women were elected by the women in the congregation. Then we have teams that they work with. They work with the ministers in different teams.
What we are doing here is that we are giving away our authority. At hq church of course I can have the authority to chose which leaders I want to put there. If I want to put this woman minister in charge of the woman ministry I can chose her, okay I would like you to be there, could you please do that? But one of the things that we really think is important is letting go of authority in leadership, learning to let go of authority, learning to delegate, learning to give power to our members. And that’s very important because as we have a membership that feels included and feels like they are part of the path and creating a new history for the church then that creates a new, a very powerful energy.
That’s what we did. We empowered the members. We gave them the ability to chose the leaders. And they chose the exact people that we wanted to be in leadership, the members as a group chose every single person. So because of that we have tremendous confidence in allowing the membership to have a larger say in church growth and also in how the church is developing. And that’s what we have done. Practically we’ve tried to do that in every single aspect. For example Kook Jin Nim has brought his team in. Now all the church donations are managed professionally by a professional financial management team. None of the church donations are touched. Ministers actually don’t even touch the donations. And this is a very important tradition, if you look at other traditons as well. If you look at other traditons in the world, Buddhism, some forms of Catholicism. Some of the priests and nuns won’t actually handle money, that’s part of their practice. There has to be a separation between the use of finances. We created a transparent system so that the members can actually see. We report to the members every month on every single financial detail. And that’s done by our financial management head. He gives a report to the membership. They can clearly see to every single last penny where it is used and where it is being spent. And that kind of transparent financial management also empowers the membership because it gives them insight and awareness into where the organisation is moving, investing in and where it is that the organisation is using their hard-earned devotions. These are some of the things that have been done.
We have also been working with a new witnessing program. We have also been working with home group systems that you see in large protestant churches. Some of these things are being adjusted by now to fit into our context. We have many many different things. My point is here that it’s like a labaratory. I have had many many people come up to me that asked me: Hyung Jin Nim, when will you come up to our nation? I am always so sorry because I would love to come to every nation, I would like to duplicate my body in a kind of magic. And I am always so sorry, we would love to be able to go round and things, but I kind of try to explain like this: If we are trying to create something that will be like a medicine for a certain problem, then before that medicine goes into production and spreads around the whole world, we have to first test it to make sure it works. We have to make sure first that the medicine when delivered creates a predictable response. Of course, this is not exactly like medicine, so there is a little flexibility here but the general analogy is that we have to also test these methods. We don’t want to only work in theory, we don’t want to work with some of the methods and theories we have, we want to practice them and see that we have the desired outcome. So that’s really why we focus why I have been focussing always at headquarters church. I have also been asked to travel around the country in Korea, please speak to our different churches in Korea, but I have also said the same thing. I could have gone around and spoke about a new service culture, a new worshipping service style, a new church organisation that should develop and help to promote the church. I could have talked about it, but it really wouldn’t have any weight. So what we did at first, we just focussed and we continue to focus on the ground, on the front line so to speak. Actually dealing with people, trying to witness to them, trying to help them understand True Parents and also make the commitment to become a Unificationist. On the front line we learn a lot of things, we learn that some methods don’t work and learn that some methods do work. That is why we are in the process of creating many many different types of systems that we are trying to use and actualize from and make an outcome that can be somewhat predictable and what it is we are searching for.
A rational, an analytical approach to church development is very important, it’s very critical. Because without the rational mind, without the intellect, we would be very shaky. We understand that we have a heartistic, emotional, intellectual, will portion that also resembles God. Thus taking out the intellectual portion is a very big mistake. Of course we approach things very rationally. We try to approach witnessing strategy or small group care strategy etc. very rationally. That has to be done. At the same time it is also important to constantly remember that these are like wings of a bird, you know, the rational approach, systematic approach as well as the continuation of authentic spirituality so that when people actually encounter the movement they don’t just encounter an organisation. They encounter a real spirituality or culture of spirituality, that’s very important because when you look at religious conversion rates we see in religious studies, people convert to different religions when they are in their twenties and when they are in their forties to fifties. And we can see that they convert in their early ages when they are in their twenties and in college age mainly due to intellectual reasons. If there is a certain philosophy or teaching, intellectually stimulating and making sense, it’s something they would like to participate in.
We see that kind of conversion in young people, but when you look at the other demography of people who convert when they are older, when they are in their fourties and fifties, it’s not intellectual. They are looking more for a community, they are looking for a place to raise their children, a trustable environment to safely raise a family, etc. etc. So it’s more emotional. That is not to say you take out the intellect, which is still a big portion of it. But nonetheless in many of the things that we are working on we are trying to apply many of the informations that we learn on the ground and see how it actually affects and works in the actual field.
With that being said I really want to focus the discussion on the importance of the devotional side of the picture. We have a lot of excitement that is developing because of the different changes in the church that are offering more flexibility for the membership and also more empowerment to the membership so that they want to witness and bring members etc. At the same time it really becomes the responsibility of our leadership to really offer a deep and continuing spiritual environment. This is really critical, because even in our church we are finding this in the headquarters church because we have a whole group of ministry teams and we have ministers that focus on for example spiritual discipline, we have other ministers that focus on management, managing thei groups under them. What we found is that ministers who actually focus more on spiritual devotion actually inspire the people under them more. So we found that the women leaders underneath them want to bring people to them, want to introduce people to this sort of minister who is serious and continually practices spiritual life. When that is not present we found that the people under them have more reluctance to bring people to them. They don’t have as much confidence when they bring people to those leaders. I feel that’s a very key sign, that’s very important because as a religious organisation, a religious tradition which we are, we have a theology, we have ritual, we have everything that a religion has. It is very important for a religious leader to focus on the spiritual, devotional life. That is very key. It’s actually, I would say, Father’s secret, and that’s the thing that he’s been constant in telling every time I’ve asked him. He has always said: “Give cheon seong.” We have delegated the other responsibilities like financial management or the allocation of the women’s ministry, which has many different ministries. Within headquarters church we have 23 different women leaders leading different women witnessing ministries. They are able to decide how to use their groups’ assets. We don’t try to control them. They try to make the decisions to do that, we have given them the authority to do that.
One of the principles that I have always tried to work with is, if Father gives me more responsibility, I try to give more away. If we are able to trust the members more, give them more empowerment, we found that it actually stimulates a very positive environment. We found that when we give more authority to the women ministers and let them decide what strategies they want to use for witnessing, trying different methods, when we give them that freedom then they are the ones that come up with methods that work, don’t work, then change methods and be accountable as the people who are making decisions. And that is a great win for us because it helps us to focus on the devotional practice. We are also developing that with the elder ministers here in Korea who have retired from ministry.
There are many things that are happening in the church organisation. But the thing that I really want to emphasize is that Father’s secret is very simple. For us the church is developing in a way that it is becoming more systematic in the future. We do believe that the church will become more transparent, more accountable. It’ll be more clear. The membership will know, will have more information about the church, and that’s very good, that’s very positive, very important. The membership will also have more say in who their leaders are. You know we are very positive about doing elections. We’ve already done that in the Korean church, we always encourage that in all the different nations to create election systems, to create places where you empower members, give them strength, give them authority. When we do that it helps us spiritually, because as spiritual leaders we have to be in a practise of giving away the authority, not clinging, not attaching to power. It is very important because that helps us to stay spiritually pure, to stay spiritually clean and spiritually we can practise more that way, too. So ridding ourselves of that kind of things is actually a great win for the leaders but allowing the participation of members, we definitely see that trend is continuing, a very positive trend for the unification tradition.
All that happening I really want to emphasize and try to make clear, because Father has been very clear about it. As we do church growth and systematics and organisation systems and all that stuff is to really continue the religious life. I really believe that that has to continue to be taken seriously. I have lived with monastics, I have lived with monks and priests of different traditions and I deeply respect them because their whole focus is about the spiritual aspect or dimension of their church or of their particular tradition. And I believe there is a very inspirational power there. There is something to say about when religious leaders really do focus very strongly on the spiritual aspect, make that a huge, make that a very high priority on the list. Even if we are looking at big protestant churches that are growing and I know that many people around the world in our tradition are studying protestant churches that are growing, the real successful ones, if you look at their minister and their pastoral team, they are very spiritual people, they are extremely into devotion, they are extremely into fasting, they are extremely into spiritual practice. It is the central part of their success.
If you look at any of the big, protestant churches as well, we don’t just see managers. We do see real importance placed on the spiritual aspect of the religious leadership. If you study small group theory, one of the things that they caution is people who think church is only management. One small group expert gave an example of a businessman, a marketing expert who decided that he was going to make a church and make a very successful church. And he said, he failed utterly, he failed terribly because he understood the system, he understood the marketing and how to present things to people but he didn’t understand that church is fundamentally a religious organisation and it has to inspire people religiously. It has to give people a spiritual nourishment. Thus the result of that particular individual was an abysmal failure. One of the things that they coution all of the time even in small group method: don’t think there is some kind of scientific method that is separate from spiritual, religiousl path and that a church can actually grow that way. It cannot. A church must have at the center a religious movement, must have at the center a fundamentally religious lifestyle, practice, devotional setting. Is very obvious to everybody but it’s actually something that can be very quickly forgotten when you are actually on the ground trying to implement strategies. It can be very quickly put into the background.
I really do hope that in the next couple of days we are going to be discussing a lot of things. We have some great speakers, not only speakers, but people who have been making phenomenal results in Korea. Some of our leaders will be speaking to you in the next couple of days, just excellent individuals who are focussing on really creating glory for True Parents, creating tangible result. And so many of the speakers that you will hear from are people who are doing that and have done that and continue to do so. I do hope that the next couple of days are illuminating. I hope that everybody does not have the expectation that once you hear the next lectures in the next two days you’ll go back to your country and everything will be solved and you’ll all have booming churches. That’s not going to happen. But we hope that at least you understand the direction in which our church development is going. At the same time the focus lies on bringing our roots with us, bringing our spirits with us as well, not foresaking the whole flower including the root just for the flower head.
We hope that the next few days are illuminating, that they are hopeful in understanding the larger providence. Particularly we will be focussing on Cheon Bok Gung providence. We’ll be focussing on the world temple, and we’ll be focussing on many of the different aspects of the world temple that are actually very, very practical aspects. At the same time we have to also remember that the world temple it is a temple. It’s not an apartment building, it’s a temple. It is an actual place of religious practice and devotion. And as we understand the very practical elements of it, please always remember that we are very serious in the substantialization of the world temple as really the continuation of the spiritual root of our tradition in the fatherland.
There are many inspiring stories and things that we will be sharing in the next couple of days. I do hope that you will enjoy them, that you will find them illuminating and please forgive us for not visiting all your countries, we are always praying for your countries. We are always praying for the different continents, but we also understand we want to be responsible, we want to be accountable and that is to say we want to first make the right combination of things that do work, that do promote healthy church growth. We want to make sure that it works in the lab, so to speak, before it gets out and creates disasters. So we want to always make sure that the right combination of things are helpful and that they are promoting healthy church growth and that they are truly promoting a place wherein our movement becomes the substantialization of the ideas that we have been always desiring. Of course, no system is perfect and no person of course is so, but we are working on it and I think that’s a very important step in honing some of the methods and things like that.
That being said I’d like to just close by saying once again thank you all for coming. We are very happy to have you here. Please in the next couple of days when it does become True Father’s birthday, let us really celebrate with them and give them really the glory that they deserve. We hope that this glory continues on and that it shines throughout every single member of your country. We really want the focus to be on letting the members shine, letting new members shine, letting people who join our movement shine. And when we do that as leaders, when we take the lower position and we let the members shine, that’s when we are elevated forever. That is what Father has always been teaching us. We really do believe that Cheon Seong devotion is the key. Father has always focussed on that. Let us not forget it and let us always keep it in our heart, in our core.
Thank you so much, brothers and sisters.
Let us pray.