Setting The Stage
Overview: Chapter 1, Setting the Stage, introduces the other chapters in this small book and reviews some of the elementary ingredients that are essential for growth results.
God blessed me when I was given the opportunity to spend several months working and learning under Dr. Cho's senior staff in the largest Church in the world, Yoido Full Gospel Church. Upon arrival in Seoul, my one goal was to determine if this Church was so unique that it could only exist in Korea. I was hoping that there were details that could be learned and shared with Christian Churches everywhere. I was optimistic that God would not have me leave my family and travel halfway around the world without a reason.
My background and prayer life gave me a sense of being well prepared by God An education in psychology had developed and analytical perspective and past exposure as a business executive in Asia gave a confidence that the culture shock would be at a minimum. Actually, the main surprise I encountered in Korea was that Christianity was the dominate religion.
During the first several weeks, God began making adjustments. I originally intended to study just Dr. Cho's Church, but God redirected me to study all of Christianity in Korea.
The first week, a man named Kim Dong Ho, who worked in one of the Church offices, became a good friend. He said that he was just a deacon in the Church; however, God was in charge, and when Dr. Cho instructed that assignments be made, Kim Dong Ho, the Chief of the Pastoral affairs Division, placed me with the best Pastor in the Church, Bin Sung Jin (out of 370 choices). Later, Kim Dong Ho was instrumental in my going to Inchon and Chejudo.
Questions that always arise in relation to the largest Church in the world are: Can a Church of many hundreds of thousands of members only happen in Korea? Can this occur only one time in history? Is there something different about Christianity in Korea that cannot be duplicated in the rest of the world? These subjects are thoroughly explored in research, personal interviews, written interviews and personal observations. A professor in America once stated, "They like to sit closer together in Korea." When attending a Church where the main sanctuary holds twenty-five thousand people in pews, yes, they sit close together. Do they like it? No! Almost every Sunday, ushers can be observed making people move over so the pews can be filled to capacity. Many times there are polite little arguments with the usher before the people actual move over. KOREAN PEOPLE ARE CHILDREN OF THE SAME GOD AS ALL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD - THEY ARE NOT DIFFERENT. Yes, God has His hand on them and they are specially chosen, but nothing is happening in Korea that cannot happen in other countries. In Chapter 2, Only in Korea?, this subject is explored in detail and includes a Korean historical perspective for the remainder of the book.
An initial project, of translating and distributing written interviews, was undertaken.. The written interviews were conducted entirely with people in Dr. Cho's Church. The questions used reflect an initial searching for answers. Some of the human moments in the answers are shared to support the contention that all of God's children have similarities. One non-typical response to the question, "How often do you pray?" "When I have a problem." "How long?" "A little." Unfortunately, most Churches can find people who only pray 'a little' when they 'have a problem'.
One of the greatest contributions from the questionnaires was unexpected. In a question that inquired about who first brought them to the Church, the majority indicated that the person was in the category of a friend or relative. Only three percent mentioned a cell group leader. Does this discredit the contention that cell group leaders grow the Church? Absolutely not! It is simply that people consider a person as a friend or relative before they think of them as a cell group leader. A common technique in a Church Growth Seminar is to ask how many came into the Church by the efforts of a friend or relative or an Evangelist or a Pastor or a door-to-door campaign, etc.. The 'friend or relative' question always draws the majority of hands in a large group in America, and it would do the same in Korea. For more details and results of the written interviews, please refer to the Appendix: Written Interview Comments.
The initial education regarding the Korean Church came from books in the library of the seminary associated with Dr. Cho's Church. With this background, a personal interview was arranged with the senior Pastor of the largest Presbyterian Church in the world, having over sixty thousand members. Also, interviews were conducted with the Pastors of the largest Methodist Church in the world and the largest Baptist Church in the world, all of which are located in Seoul. Additional interviews were held with other Pastors, missionaries and seminary professors. These and other explorations are covered in Chapter 3, Winning a Country for Christ.
At this point in the book, the background necessary to understand the Church in Korea is in place. The central elements necessary to obtain the 'Cell Growth Rate' are presented in chapters 4 through 8. However, these chapters presuppose some ingredients. If all of these initial ingredients do not exist, disappointment may result with only experience moderate growth.
The first ingredient necessary is to be a Christian who is totally committed to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as described in the Bible. The second ingredient is to have the power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for, in Acts 1:4-8.
The third ingredient may seem unnecessary to mention. There needs to be a desire to grow the body of Christ with dedication and conviction that it is an act of obedience to Jesus's command in Matthew 28:19 when He says, "Go and make disciples" which may be better understood as "go and make apprentices of all people." That obedience is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7:21 when He says the only one who will enter the kingdom of heaven is "he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven". This third ingredient provides the drive and determination to overcome unworkable situations by turning to God and persisting in prayer until God reveals the solution. With these three main ingredients in place, there are three more components that give the ability to tap into God's growth plan just as Dr. Cho has done.
Chapter 4, Prayer That Moves Mountains, is the first component. This chapter shares a perception of the importance of prayer, how to pray with results, and how to hear God's voice and know that you are being guided by God. This chapter also shares with you about prayer mountain and the reason most people go there, which is to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Just as God has a purpose or calling for each person in life, He also has a personal prayer life for each of us.
Chapter 5, The Weapon at Work, is about a God-given instrument for which Dr., Cho quickly gives God the credit. The involvement of women and their importance is often not fully realized. This chapter proves factually the contention that a main ingredient in Dr. Cho's success is allowing women to serve God. Also this chapter gives some of the history of these women, especially the role of Choi Jashil. And, praise God, this happens to be a God-given asset that most Christian Churches everywhere have in abundance. Before Dr. Cho began delegating pastoral responsibility in a major way to that group of God's children referred to as women, his Church had plateaued and stagnated at 2,400 members. Unfortunately, today many Churches are lacking the zeal and dedication to continue growing and would be very happy to settle for 2,400 members. Praise God that Dr. Cho was not complacent and persisted until God led him to activate women.
The next component, discussed in Chapter 6, How Cell Groups Work, is a subject frequently written about. This chapter tries to approach cell groups from a realistic viewpoint rather than from an ideal viewpoint. Although, some might want to see 12 to 20 members, in reality the average cell group attendance at Dr. Cho's Church is four to five people. This chapter will demonstrate what this method of evangelism can accomplish with the "Cell Growth Rate". Cell groups are for nurture and growth not just a gimmick to close the back door. Just like cells in our bodies that with nutrients contribute to our growth, so the cells work in the body of Christ.
Many of us have difficulty comprehending a Church that operates with hundreds of thousands of members, so God allowed me to work in a four year old Church in Inchon with 12,000 members that in 100 days grew to 20,000 members. Their growth was an inspiration to the other 850 Christian Churches in Inchon, some over a hundred years old, as well as Christians all over Korea. The story of this rapidly growing Church is told in 100 Days in Inchon. Also included is the evangelistic plan used to get this growth, with the hope that by sharing it, others will benefit in the body of Christ. This chapter enables us to see what can be done to accelerate the growth of a Church already possessing the "Cell Growth Rate". A typical example of how God made everything work was when I needed to interview Pastor Choi in Inchon. Pastor Choi is a great Pastor who like many outstanding Pastors around the world is so busy serving God he has not had time to learn much English. A friend of mine, Pastor Kim Yong Joon who frequently provided the English translation during the services in Seoul, took the time at his expense to come to Incheon and translate for Pastor Choi. Pastor Kim was also preparing to use his language skills as a missionary to the Chinese in Hong Kong. Pastor Choi in recalling his efforts in the 100 day outreach said, "The hardest part was to make the people aware of the importance of evangelizing NON-believers".
For the title page and contents, Chapter 1 Setting the Stage, Chapter 2 Only in Korea?,
Chapter 3 Winning a Country for Christ, Chapter 4 Prayer That Moves Mountains,
Chapter 5 The Weapon at Work, Chapter 6 How Cell Groups Work,
Chapter 7 100 Days in Inchon, Appendix: Written Interview Comments