Family, Church, Community, Kingdom
Two - Strategies For Settlement
At the summer 1999 leadership meeting, the question was how much change do we need in the American church, internally and externally, from "1" = no change, to "10" = big change. The score both internally and externally was "8."
When we think of growth we think of the way we once grew in America, by street witnessing. We think, knee-jerk, of going out on the street talking to a stranger and persuading them to come to an evening lecture, and after that to a workshop. Probably the reader joined the church through that method. Let's look at the model as implemented in Oakland 1972-82, New York 1973-76 and CARP in 1980s and reflect upon its effectiveness today.
Factors Contributing to Success in All of These Programs:
Can We Create This Today in America?
Curriculum: I believe that we can develop an effective message, although we haven't really hit the target yet. I discuss this in Chapter Five.
Full-time leaders, staff, witnessing members, and lecturers: Leaders and teachers: They are here but have a variety of different missions. They and their families would have to move to the witnessing location. There are concerns whether people with families can effectively manage a high-intensity witnessing program. Members: This is a more serious matter. They are not really available. Consider our experience in 1998. In that year, True Father directed us to form a national IOWC that would also serve as an MFT. Father envisioned one team of 20 members in each state. We worked for weeks to fulfill Father's request with the full support of headquarters promoting this direction among the Regional Directors and State Leaders. The result? We could not create even one team. Nationwide, not one single team. The people are not there to be mobilized anymore.
Financial program: Fundraising is always available; team leaders are needed, along with vehicles and centers.
Facilities: They exist but are declining due to lack of use. In general we are turning over residential sites in favor of churches.
Area: This is the most serious issue.
Is It a Good Idea to Create a Traditional Witnessing Program in America Today?
The results of two years of research and development under the auspices of the Foundation for International Technology Transfer (now Young Jin Moon Charitable Foundation) indicate that street witnessing does bring new members (mostly non-Americans), but not many. It is not going to bring a major benefit to our church or make an impact upon society.
Consider what Father said to the International Leaders meeting that took place in Bridgeport on November 21, 1998: "Develop Sunday school. Create new ideas. If you do not have Sunday school, set it up now.... Educate people and you do not even need street witnessing." This is an important insight that tells us that if we generate an ongoing educational program with a healthy church atmosphere, people naturally will be attracted. Why? Because people choose what they see to be of greatest benefit to them.
People Choose the Greatest Benefit
To move someone, Father tells us that we have to present them with something that benefits them. Consider True Father's explanation of how to develop relationships, based on the Principle of Creation:
Power is always generated through mutual give-and-take between subject and object. Subject and object don't have give-and-take in order to damage each other. If the head gets chopped off, there can be no give-and-take-action. For example, during adolescence when it comes to dating, a man wants to meet a woman as a partner and vice versa. As they meet, they have to like each other. As long as there is no plus or benefit experienced, one absolutely won't give of oneself. One dislikes giving. If it becomes clear that someone would receive benefit from a relationship and that it would not result in any damage, then that person would want to have give-and-take with the other. But if they meet for the first time and from the first day on there are only minus elements, they won't want to meet again....
Even if you look at subject and object from the viewpoint of mutual purpose, unless one can receive more plus points and greater purpose from a partner than one would receive by being alone, one doesn't want to have give-and-take with that partner. Once again, if a good result doesn't come, there won't be any give-and-take.
What does good mean? It means that it becomes plus. What does bad mean? If things are constantly taken away, eventually everything disappears and becomes a minus. Good things become plus and prosper, while bad things becomes minus and perish." (Way of Unification, Part 1, pp. 298-9)
Father is saying that people will develop a relationship if they can make a common base and find benefit to themselves. No one enters a relationship that will lead to getting one's head chopped off. People will not give if there is no benefit coming back, "no plus or benefit experienced," as Father put it. In fact, Father equates "good" with gaining benefit, and "bad" with things being taken away.
Sociologists of religion use marketing analysis to say the same thing, in order to figure out why churches grow. They call this the "rational choice theory." That theory is very simple. It states that people act rationally, and will choose what appears to benefit them the most and cost the least. This applies to their choice of religion too. Therefore, religions in an open market like America have to offer what is attractive and appealing to people. Churches have to offer value.
In this light, consider the following advice on witnessing from Father. "The rate of success in witnessing results is proportional to the rate of sincere and truthful contacts with the people." (WSL, Part 2, p. 95) Does street witnessing lead to a high rate of sincere and truthful contacts with the people? Ninety-nine out of one hundred contacts are fleeting, superficial and confusing to the contact. Father continued, "If you meet someone on the street, even if you have a deep conversation with them for, say, thirty minutes, no matter how wonderful the content, it is easy to be forgotten after you break off." (Ibid.) He concluded, "We have passed by the period of street witnessing and arrived at the time of focused witnessing; we have left behind the time of multi-directional witnessing to the period of focused witnessing. Because we need more membership, we have no choice but to carry on this type of activities." (Ibid., p. 96)
A Willow Creek Church book on witnessing, entitled Contagious Christianity, puts it this way:
Where do you go when you have a problem? Whom do you turn to when you need help or advice on some issue of great importance in your life? Or, for that matter, whom do you talk to when you want an opinion on what kind of new car or vacuum cleaner to buy?
Let's look at the flip side of these questions. How do you feel when a stranger tries to talk to you about personal matters? Do you relish the thought of interacting with people you don't know about below-the-surface issues in your life?
Suppose you're spending some leisure time with your family on a Saturday morning, when suddenly your privacy is interrupted by a knock at the door. There stand two religious people who want to tell you how you can become part of God's organization. Let me guess: You get all fired up and think, `Wow, a chance to talk to some articulate people about such an interesting and important topic!' Right?
I seriously doubt it. If you're like most of us, your first response is, `Oh no! Why did they have to show up today? I'm not in any mood to talk to people off the street about topics that are so complicated and personal -- not to mention the fact that they're probably trained to argue with everything I say?'
If you, a Christian who's committed to spreading God's love and truth to others, feel that way when it comes to talking to strangers about spiritual matters, just think how your irreligious friends must feel in similar situations! They're likely horrified by the thought of talking to someone they don't know about their private lives.
It's no wonder that so many of the older, impersonal approaches to spreading the faith don't work well anymore. As people in our culture have gotten further and further from their Christian roots and heritage, they've gotten less and less comfortable talking to anyone -- especially people they don't know -- about matters of faith. With the increasing secularization of society, there seems to be a proportionate decrease in people's willingness to move outside their comfort zones in order to search for answers to life's most crucial questions.
How much attention do you pay to all the addressed-to-Occupant junk mail that crowds your box every day? It's probably safe to assume that gospel leaflets, tracts, direct mail from churches, and ads in the Yellow Pages or in the church section of the local newspaper don't get much attention either. ... I certainly don't hear many testimonies these days from people who've been reached by these impersonal approaches....
The fact is, all of us experience discomfort when someone outside our circle of friends tries to influence us about personal, significant matters. We all naturally gravitate toward people we already know and trust. Friends listen to friends. They confide in friends. They let friends influence them. They buy from friends -- and that's true of both products and ideas.
So if we're going to impact our world for Christ, the most effective approach will be through friend-ships with those who need to be reached. We'll have to get close to them so they can see that we genuinely care about them individually and that we have their best interests in mind. Over time, that will earn their trust and respect." (Hybels and Mittelman, Contagious Christianity, pp. 95-97)
The Providential Time
Beyond all this, there is a larger context of providence. The question ultimately is not a matter of sociology or even external results. It has to do with the relationship between the settlement era and wilderness course. How do we evangelize in the settlement era? Until now, when we witnessed we did so from the stance of an apocalyptic sect, to put it bluntly. Our strategy in America twenty to thirty years ago was to convince people that the Lord is on the earth and it is best to join his people on the frontline, giving up employment, school and family ties for an indefinite period of time. This was the way of the wilderness course, not the way of a settlement-era church community.
It is certainly not the way of life we intend our children to lead. Most if not all blessed couples want their offspring to go to college and find success externally as well as internally. That is, we do not want OUR children to leave school, give up jobs and separate from US, do we? Why would we want to inflict that upon other parents, who are our friends in the PTA and colleagues at work? Do we wonder why people are negative about our church? People become negative when we interrupt their day -- we are taking away their time. People become negative when we pull a loved one out of their life.
My position is that we want a managed and transparent evangelical course. We want to have our cake and eat it too, and WE CAN. We can have a successful witnessing ministry AND avoid the negative consequences. We can accomplish this by setting up the witnessing ministry within the environment of a family church community. Street witnessing, then, can and should be one component of a comprehensive strategy for church growth that includes all kinds of activities for all kinds of God's people. This will bear fruit on the foundation of the principle that a healthy church will grow.
Wilderness Era method:
Settlement Era method:
100 are made friends
100 are made negative
The Vineyard Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio, has a ministry to the family and friends of new members. They do this precisely to prevent the negativity that comes when someone suddenly takes up a high-intensity commitment to a new church. And I bet you that the result is that when one person joins, many of their friends and family members join through this follow-up ministry.
"Healthy sheep multiply" is a common expression among church leaders in America. Don't worry, in other words, about growing your church. Worry rather about creating a ministry of God's kingdom, about creating a family-based community filled with God's love, about being authentic to your calling to be godly people who live the Principle. And the Principle is the family system. If we live that, growth will naturally come about. As Rev. In Hoi Lee puts it, "Healthy people heal people; hurting people hurt people." Dale Galloway, a leader in small-group ministry, points out that small groups accomplish pastoral care and evangelism at the same time. (The Small Group Book, p. 136) Nurturing people and building churches are two sides of the same coin. In fact, in the long run, you cannot have one with-out the other. Have we learned that lesson? Once we stopped nurturing people, our church stopped growing.
It's Good to Get Results
Some say that in the wilderness era, the conditions we set were more important than the "external" results we brought. I can accept that, but there were times when Father said some-thing different than that. The following passage is found in WSL 2 on page 326. "What is the most urgent thing? It is the issue concerning numbers. The number is the problem." So Father is clear that God desires numerical results, not just indemnity. As the Old Testament prophets put it, "I desire love and justice, not burnt offerings. Your burnt offerings are a stench in my nostrils." Indemnity without love is a hollow, superficial act that just may be a stench to God.
Father went on: "Then, in order to secure a large number, what has to be done?..." In other words, let's find an effective strategy. The numbers will not appear by magic; we have to do something. What is that something? We call it witnessing. Father continued: "You have been doing witnessing up until now, but the way you have been employing so far is not accept-able. The fact that you have not been able to make much progress with your method so far shows that such ways do not work." This is pragmatism, folks -- heavenly pragmatism: the value of the method is determined by the result that it brings. If a method brings no result: dump it; it's not acceptable. Of course, Father doesn't use that as an excuse to pack it up and go home. He discusses a new method: "Then what kind of method has to be used? You have to mobilize the spirit world." This is no surprise, because it is not flesh and blood that saves and resurrects people; it is the Holy Spirit. Father moves on directly to that question: "The issue at hand is how to move the spirit world to reach the anticipated goals.... You have to become one so that the spirit world can help you." (italics added)
That was all recorded in the book: To move spirit world, we have to become one. This was Jesus' prayer, recorded in John 17, a chapter that, I am convinced, records his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene. "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (v. 11b) This chapter follows immediately upon his promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit in chapter 16. To move spirit world, we have to become one. Father didn't say we have to fast, to pray arduously, to take cold showers or stay off chocolates. There is nothing wrong with doing any of those things, but what he told us to do was to "become one." That's the method to move spirit world, and by moving spirit world we save people, i.e., bring witnessing results.
Now, about this term, "witnessing results." It sounds as if we are in a commodities market! What we are talking about is bringing people into a relationship of love, trust, care, growing and taking responsibility for each other's lives. Can't we find a better term than "witnessing results"? Here's what Father said a true pastor, who is a true parent, should give to his spiritual children: 1. Resolve their dissatisfactions; 2. Embrace and care for them; 3. Provide solutions for their difficulties; 4. Give hope for the future. (See WSL 2, p. 25) How about, "resolving dissatisfactions results"? How about, "embrace and care results"? I think this would provide a better frame of mind for what we are about than "witnessing results."
And we have all heard Father say things like this: "...I say speak with all your dedication and listen with all your dedication. Do you all do that? Listen to one grandmother's speaking for 12 to 20 hours. Listen while staying up the night. After having heard it all, it is then your chance to speak. (WSL 1, p. 112) Perhaps we should ask "how much speaking and listening did you do?" and not "did you bring any witnessing results?" Again, we are not the one who saves people; God saves people. We just make a place for God to enter, and then, as Father put it, "The give and take between a subject and object brings multiplication. Here, you are not the subject God is." (WSL 2, p. 3)
Foundation Points for the Growth of a Stronger Family Church
To approach this, I will first say a few words about religion in America. Then I will identify some of the resources available to us in our striving for church growth: True Father's words, other models of success, and our own models of success.
The Religious Spirit of Americans
To win hearts, we need to make a common base. To do so, we need to know where people are coming from. We need, if you will, to "know the enemy" in the process of learning to "love the enemy." Therefore, we need to understand the religious spirit of Americans.
On the one hand, American religion is highly diverse in terms of origins and doctrines. On the other hand, in terms of behaviors and attitudes, American religion is quite uniform. Whether the groups we are looking at are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or any other, we find huge areas of commonality. Successful religion in America is local, for one thing, by which I mean local control and local ownership. It is family and community-centered. It is experientially based. It is a voluntary matter left up to the individual's conscience. There is less and less denominational commitment. It is relatively casual. It is reasonable and simple. It is not tradition-bound but is adaptive. It is a religion of ethics and morality and it is a religion that is comfortable with, and even expects, worldly success. It is, in general, tolerant of diversity. It has a live and let live attitude.
The development of this religious style began with the second generation of Christian Americans -- the offspring of the Puritans. The first-generation Puritan services centered on a highly theological reading of providence, interpreting the public duty according to the times. Services presented careful explanations of God's providential will, warnings to those who do not comply, and serious hymns laced with the promise of salvation and threats of damnation. In other words, these services were a lot like our services. We should note that while we and most conservatives rightly praise the Puritans, they were a short-lived phenomenon. They did not keep hold of their second generation.
Their children attended church because there was only one church in town and it was against the law not to attend. But in general the children's hearts were not there. Elders were no longer hearing the testimonies of saving grace that the Puritans knew, to their eternal credit, was the authentic sign of salvation. Their children drifted spiritually from the church and substituted good morals and worldly success for the real experience of salvation. The New England commonwealths floundered for a few decades between a fossilizing Puritanism, an elitist Anglicanism and the underground movement of the day, deism. It was not until the Great Awakening arrived that the Americans found their spiritual home. The offspring of the Puritans went the way of the Awakenings. Sects such as the Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, Shakers and "Independent Congregationalists" blossomed.
These new sects were manifestations of popular enthusiasm, versus institutional and traditional forms. They were established by inspired lay people, based upon their direct religious experience and sense of God-given authority. They were evangelical, not territorial, and they ignored the conventional parish lines of the state churches. They were unpretentious, based upon self-evident truth. They had lively music that the older folks did not like. They were self-taught. Their quintessential services were camp meetings. People would gather from far and wide to spend a week in a grove. At the larger meetings, day and night preachers would simultaneously hold forth the gospel. Listeners could amble from group to group. A scandal to the established churches of the East Coast, these services united black and white and allowed the individual to make up their own mind and the preacher to find their own truth within the scriptures. It was written that there is no cathedral on earth to rival the majesty of the pine trees in the mountains, standing dark against the starlit sky.
After the Revolution, Americans loosed the church from the state. Since no one was forced to attend church, the churches that grew were those who found the way to minister to people's direct needs. The conventional churches -- the Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Episcopalian -- grew proportionally to population growth and immigration. Joining their ranks were the Lutherans and Catholics, who grew to large numbers by dint of immigration and effective youth education. Today they are numerous and are healthy in many ways, but they have a dearth of priests. By the 1960s all the mainstream Protestant churches were shrinking. The church-es that have grown throughout American history have been the Baptists, Methodists, and their offshoots in the holiness movement, Pentecostalism, fundamentalism, the Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and thousands of independent churches.
Continual New Expressions of Truth
Sociologist of religion Donald Miller has coined the term "new paradigm church." He describes such church as "changing the way Christianity looks and is experienced. Like upstart religious groups of the past, they have discarded many of the attributes of establishment religion. Appropriating contemporary cultural forms, these churches are creating a new genre of worship music; they are restructuring the organizational character of institutional religion; and they are democratizing access to the sacred by radicalizing the Protestant principle of the priesthood of all believers." (Miller, 1) What I perceive as the causes for the growth of today's new paradigm churches is entirely consistent with nearly 300 years of religion in America.
Our rapid growth as a new age apocalyptic sect in the early 70s, and failure to grow thereafter, fits the pattern set by numerous utopian communities that failed to adapt in the long term. There are heavenly laws, perhaps, governing the success of religion in the new world. We have been very innovative over the years, if you consider the video series for Christian clergy, the CAUSA slide lectures, the True Family Values workbooks, and the PLA and IEF curricula. And yet, none of these have served the purpose of bringing people into our church. None of these have had the objective of bringing people into a life-changing, heart relationship with God through True Parents.
We have not developed the Divine Principle itself into a listener-friendly study course. Should we develop our expression of Principle? Of course we should! As Father said, "When lecturing on principle, people don't like it when it is done in the old way. (WSL 1, p. 124) We live in the most creative era of human history, and it is this way due to God's providence. But Satan is a great innovator too. Communism fell, but Satan had a backup plan called secular humanism, or, to put it bluntly, paganism. Paganism is individualistic, free-sex ideology dressed up in spiritual trappings. We have to adapt what Satan is doing! Martin Luther and John Calvin both hired people to adapt songs that people were singing in the taverns for use in the church. Luther said, "Why should the devil have all the good songs?" (I have also seen the phrase attributed to Salvation Army founder William Booth, another leader who broke the musical conventions of his time by adapting popular songs.)
Father cautions us not to look to the past, whether the American past or the Korean past. "Now what goes forward into the future of hope has to emerge." Father said, and he continued: "Although some religions insist on going back to the past, today's situation is not the same as the situation of the past. Could today's problem be managed by the contents of the past? We should not go back to the past." (Way of Unification, Part 1, p. 314)
To go forward in America, we need to understand the characteristics of American religion. Then we can know what the people expect, what they can understand, and hence, we can fulfill the first requirement to create give and take action. We can make a common base.
Characteristics of American Religion:
Here is the view of a noted Christian analyst, George Barna, on the topic of the shape of successful Christian churches in the 21st century, based upon present trends:
(George Barna, The Second Coming of the Church, p. 177)
According to the study, Shopping for Faith: American Religion in the New Millennium, by Richard Cimino and Don Lattin, these characterize not only evangelical Christianity, but all growing spiritual movements in America. It is my belief that True Father has always promoted many of these principles of new paradigm growth, the principles embedded in American religion. Of course this is not ALL he is promoting and teaching. But within his teachings are the inspiration and examples to grow the church this way, based upon his own experience.
Consider the Home Church idea. A home church is a local, decentralized lay-ministry. You do not need a building or administration above you. It is service-oriented and personal. Home church ministry is the epitome of adaptability in response to local concerns. It is one example of True Parents' desire to bring love to people where they are at.
Our Resources and Models
Where do we go for clues as to re-conceiving and restructuring? I have three resource areas: Father's words on church development, models of other church communities that are growing, and our own models of success.
1. Father's words on ministry and church development.
Father grew his church from the 1940s through the 1960s in Korea. By the time he came to America, he was working on the national and world levels. One thing he sacrificed in coming here was his role as a local pastor. Anyone who has had a real experience as a local pastor knows that to give that up is a big sacrifice, only one of the many that True Parents made. Later, Father said, "Now, I am very famous and so busy that I cannot give the Divine Principle lectures. The old days when I was raising members was the most exciting period." (WSL, part 1, p. 238)
True Parents built our American membership through crusades and set up State Leaders and Mobile Unit Commanders to continue a mobilization strategy. We sought to win 30,000 members in order to shake America through the Bicentennial celebrations, and fell far short. Nevertheless, we proceeded to establish media vehicles, the seminary and high-level outreach into the religious and political communities. We never did pause to build a literal church community in America.
Perhaps True Parents believed that because most of us grew up going to church, we American members did not need guidance through the process of church and community building. The fact is, however, that most of us had abandoned and rejected the churches and synagogues in which we were raised. Most of us saw the Unification family as an alternative to traditional church life. Until I became a church leader in 1987, Sunday Service was a relatively unimportant component of my spiritual life. In other words, I usually didn't attend and didn't even think I was supposed to attend. Sunday school? Are you kidding? Our real Sunday service in New York was True Father's 6 a.m. speech at Belvedere. As for service at 10 a.m., I didn't see any reason for it. In fact, Father's proclivity to speak into the late morning seemed to indicate his lack of concern for a public Sunday service.
This is why we desperately need to discover Father's model and pattern of church building based upon his ministry in Korea. We are fortunate to now have access to some of his words on this topic, and I will be sharing them frequently throughout this essay. What we will be amazed to find is that many of his words parallel exactly what is going on in the new paradigm Christian churches. It is strategies developed in these churches that comprise our second resource.
2. Models of Churches That Are Growing.
The early seventies were a time of intense spiritual activity in America. Many American readers may recall, as do I, the return to Christianity by many of our peers. These young people transformed Christianity in the context of the youth culture of the times. We rejected the Christianity of our parents' generation, the liberal, staid, bureaucratic mainstream Christianity under-girding the "vast wasteland" of American culture. We rejected the churches that rejected rock music, colorful clothes and long hair on men. Our new-believer peers who followed the path of the Jesus movement in the seventies kept the music, hung loose with the clothes, kept their hair long if they liked AND accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation, they realized, is a matter of the heart, not the hair or other externalities.
Many of these Christian groups faded away, but some took root and created a new wave of Christianity in America. They are what sociologist Donald Miller calls new paradigm churches. (See Miller, Reinventing American Protestantism.) They didn't all grow out of hippie communes. The Jesus People merged into the already flexible, innovative Baptist, holiness and Pentecostal communities and found new ways to live the gospel life. Out of those half-hippie Bible study groups they have developed and are developing new forms of community life and today they are growing like wildfire. Without any missionary plan, world-conquering vision or denominational subsidy, as of 1996 the members of just two recent Bible-study start-ups, Vineyard Community Churches and Calvary Churches, had grown into 1,290 congregations in some thirty countries. Many of these churches contain thousands of members, although the median size is about 150. They grow by the principle of voluntarism. The founder of the successful Vineyard Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio, was kick-started by spirit world. He was persecuting a Christian witnesser on his campus when the Holy Spirit spoke to him. The Spirit said, "Do you think you could do better?"
There are three points to be made here. One, what Father asked and I believe expected us to do in America is very much like what these Christians are doing. In faith I believe that there is a deep connection between the seeds we left uncultivated as a result of our attendance to the wilderness course, and the methods for harvest developed in the American Christian churches. These ministry methods for church health and growth are ours already. This belief is reinforced when I read Father's teachings encouraging us to use exactly these strategies.
Two, our most successful church, the Oakland church of the 70s and early 80s, exemplified many traits of these other churches. What these other churches have done, and what we have failed as yet to do on a large scale, is integrate this high-intensity, culturally-attractive faith with family life. And three, the growth of these new paradigm churches is a work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit for the sake of the Second Coming dispensation. It is up to us to work with these churches in order to realize ALL of our aspirations. I do not believe that we can realize True Parents' goals without them, nor can they ultimately succeed without us.
Some may object that we cannot follow what other church-es do because "we have the Messiah so we cannot be compared with nor learn anything from them." It is true that we differ doctrinally and practically from these churches. Nonetheless there are major similarities. We are, like them, a group of people with a message of salvation trying to get others to join through the Holy Spirit. We are trying to win souls out of the same secular city. We are competing against the same competition, the same temptations. And, when it comes down to it, people join churches because they feel God's love, a love that heals, gives hope and binds families together. Most likely you, like I, joined the Unification Church for this reason. That's why people are joining these churches.
Further, churches, no matter what their doctrine or organization, face common problems. Every church struggles against
I did not create this as a list of our problems; it came from a book about the problems of Christian churches in America. We have these problems, but they do too. It's not something to hide or be ashamed of. But it is something that the Spirit with-in us wants to change. We can learn from the ways in which others have overcome the same problems. Churches grow in proportion to their ability to overcome these challenges.
After all, there is at least one major Christian leader, Rick Warren at Saddleback Church, who tells his audiences that he learned from what we did as a successful group back in the seventies. Others, such as Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Church, state that in their early days they were taken to be a Unificationist front group. Such were the similarities back then. On April 15, 2000, True Mother pointed out that Rick Warren's success was due in part to his adopting our workshop system. She called the church leaders present with her, including me, to create success equal to Rick Warren's, and more, because we have a deeper revelation of God's Word.
Another objection is that these groups are so friendly to the culture that they have lost the prophetic edge. It cannot be denied that we push the doctrinal envelope into the future. But they are, in my estimation, counter-cultural even if not radically prophetic. Look, for example, at the home-schooling movement and the pro-choice movement that many of these churches support. The Promise Keepers surely have their share of liberal mainstream critics. John the Baptist was a prophet who gained a large hearing in his society. There is no law saying that a prophetic message cannot stimulate joy, radiate vitality, give life and draw upon culture-specific metaphors and media. What I am proposing need not compromise our prophetic message. Ironically, these churches receive the "you are too culture-friendly" criticism from other bureaucracy-bound Christians!
As I will do with Father's words, I will sprinkle this text with references to and examples of successful church growth strategies in America.
3. Our Own Models of Success
While we know that we are not living up to our potential and calling as Tribal Messiahs, no one can deny that one reason for our church's slow growth is that True Parents have invested in other areas. So let us look at models of success we have had in other areas besides the church per se. I want to put forward four models of success in our own movement in America: the Universal Ballet, the True World Group restaurants, the New Yorker Hotel and, last but not least, one church: the Oakland church. Let's see what we can learn from what these leaders and members have already accomplished.
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