Family, Church, Community, Kingdom
Seven - Personal Ministry
Usually when you give Divine Principle lectures, [do] you speak somebody else's words? Principle is this and that, it's all others' words. But principle should be my principle. Then when you lecture about restoration, and talk about Adam's family, you be Adam and have the heart of Eve when you lecture. (WSL 1, p. 126)
They say that God helps those who help themselves. All you need to do is do well independently. Have you ever thought about what you want to do and how much you want to do it? (WSL 2, p. 323)
Tribal Messiahship is the direct responsibility of each family. We each are called to build a real "tribe" of 160 to 185 families. Any member who can achieve this can fulfill all providential expectations of God and True Parents within the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Therefore, our only real mission is Tribal Messiahship. If all of us, or even a significant percentage of us, were doing so, we would be transforming the society. And we have seen how it is possible to build such a foundation using small group ministry.
The Role of the Church in the Age of Tribal Messiahship
From this point of view, the purpose of the Family Church is to train and support our members to fulfill Tribal Messiahship. The job of the pastor is not just to do ministry himself, but rather it is to equip and support the members' ministry. As the saying goes, "Shepherds don't multiply sheep. Sheep multiply sheep." The job of the Regional Director and church hierarchy is to equip and support the pastors, centering on True Parents' tradition and providential work. This defines the mission of national headquarters.
What is a loyal subject? Is the one who devotes himself to the king a loyal subject? No, he is not. It is the one who loves his people like the king does. ... A treacherous subject serves the king centering on himself, while a loyal subject serves the king for the sake of the people of the country." (The Way of a True Child, pp. 39-40)
The member's mission is to build a long-term relationship with non-member families and bring them into and through the church and its educational and blessing programs. Providing those programs and training, and a supportive community, is how the church empowers the blessed couple to fulfill their mission.
The essential meaning of "ministry" is "life for the sake of others" in the context of a spiritual community. Therefore, everyone is a minister, but not everyone has the same ministry. The challenge is to define or discover your personal ministry. We each have a particular role to play in the body of True Parents. Each is of the same ultimate value. The Divine Principle and St. Paul both compare the community of believers to a physical body, with each person playing a unique role. Each person's role is equally valuable from the point of view of the healthy functioning of the body. Here are some examples of churches that have discovered the liberating power of personal ministries.
Personal Ministry and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
One of the main concepts I took away from my visit to Willow Creek Community Church was "self-organizing." Self-organizing means that the members discover and are aided in discovering their personal ministry within the overall church culture. Ministries develop based upon the vision God gives to individuals and groups. For example, our brother who attends that church, Bill Schaffler, says that he received a personal invitation from a member who is starting an "entrepreneur's small group." Because of this space to develop, there are nearly 100 ministries at Willow Creek, everything from counseling to the bookstore.
Every gift is valued. For example, there are those people who have a passion to work on cars. Can True Parents validate working on cars? You bet they can and they have! Father knows that some people just like to work on cars. Did he kick such people out of the church? Of course not. He just told them to offer their gift to God. Listen to Father's words: "As long as you can fix a car, you can be very successful in doing witnessing in America. If you help people fix their cars ... You should rush to help as soon as you hear that someone's car is broken. If you do that, you can build a good relationship." (WSL 2, page 112) Now, some brothers may have followed this up. But our church NEVER applied Father's words for their sake. We never created a ministry based upon fixing cars. But somebody else did. Willow Creek Church did.
Following Father's words because they are true gospel, Willow Creek Community Church has a "Cars" ministry. They have a garage where they work on members' and guests' cars for free. There are testimonies of this ministry playing a part in saving people's spiritual lives by helping their physical circumstances.
Angie pulls into the parking lot as she does every Monday night, but on this night she drives past her usual parking area and parks her car by the maintenance building at the rear of the church property. Walking back toward the church building, she silently thanks God—again—for the mechanics who volunteer their time on Monday nights. While Angie attends the ministry for single mothers and her daughter attends a class for children of divorce, a grease-smeared hero with his back on a concrete floor replaces the U-joints on her car. This is church. (Rediscovering Church, p. 9)
Personal Ministry and the Principle of Ownership
Church leadership trusts in God's hand to provide the ministries that He knows are necessary for the church to fulfill its mission. The Saddleback Church did not have a Sunday school for years, because no one who was really qualified volunteered to do it. They had 5,000 members and no Sunday school. That's either the height of stupidity or faithfulness to the principle of not forcing anyone to do something that they are not ready or qualified to do. In the case of Saddleback, I think it was the latter.
The essence of personal ministry is voluntary and owner-ship. And by the way, ownership is not something that members will just come along and take. Leaders have to GIVE it. And giving it requires trust, the ability to "let go," and the ability to let the new leader surpass you. As usual, Father puts it best: "If you can distribute the detail work that you have been doing alone so far, and expand the sphere of responsibility, then members will naturally increase." (WSL 2, p. 91) People enjoy making a contribution. Rev. Phillip Schanker reported on research that revealed that the reason most young people say they don't attend church is that the church has nothing for them to do. The church is telling them, "We don't need you." This is the opposite of Father's way. "Distribute the detail work," says Father, "expand the sphere of responsibility." Then "the members will naturally increase."
I am inspired by the creation of Israel as one body through voluntary, personal ministry, and the abundant blessings to which this led. Note the repetition of the phrase, "willing heart."
And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, `This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord; gold, and silver, and brass....' Exodus 35: 4-5
And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, jewels of gold; and every man that offered an offering of gold unto the Lord.... And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun...
And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair.... The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses...." Exodus 35: 21-29 (italics added)
In this episode in the wilderness, we see the Israelites, a band of ex-slave nomads out in the wilderness, being told to create a magnificent tabernacle laden with gold, silver, jewels and fine wood. By the spirit of God working through their individual offerings, they found the materials, and even too much.
And they spake unto Moses, saying, `The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make.' And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, `Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.' So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much." Exodus 36:5-7
Moses had to tell the people to stop making their offerings. But the key was that they all were willing, their hearts were moved by God's spirit, and they freely gave. Also, they freely gave of their skills. Each had a different job—they were one body made up of many teams.
The lessons learned from building the Tabernacle:
Not only this, but the scope of services that the members do within the church will sky rocket. Consider the scale of work being carried on by two new paradigm churches, all through personal ministry:
Willow Creek ministries (partial list):
After-Hours Crisis Team, Artists, Attendance Counters, Board of Directors, Building Project Construction, Building Services, Business Office, Camp Paradise, Cancer Conquerors, Care For Children, Cars, Card and Letter Writers, Church Relations, Communion Preparers, Communion Servers, Computer Services, Counseling, Dance Team, Elders, Evangelism, Food Pantry, Funerals, Graphics, Greeters, Grounds, Hearing Impaired, Heritage, Hospitality Teams, Indoor Plant Ministry, Information Center, International Ministries, Lifebuilders, Magazine, Membership, Network, Offering Counters, Orchestra, Pastoral Care, Photography Team, Plant Growers, Prayer Team, Production, Promiseland (Sunday School), Rebuilders (divorce recovery), Reception, Seeds Resource Center, Seed Tapes, Small Groups, Son City and Sonlight Express (Youth Education), Sports, Traffic, Transportation, Ushers, Video Team, Vocal Team, Wedding Ministry, Women's Ministries, Young Moms
Times Square Church ministries (partial list):
Hospital ministry, All night prayer ministry, AIDS ministry, AV Recording Department, Book and Tract Ministry, Children's Ministry, Coatroom, Filipino Ministry, High School Ministry, Medical Team, Men in Action, Men's Fellowship, Ministry of Comfort, Ministry of Helps, Music/Sound Ministry, New Believers, Prayer During Preaching, Prison Ministry, Raven Truck, Security, Seniors Ministry, Street and Subway Preaching, Tape/information Table, World Challenge Missions
The Personal Ministry of Planting New Churches
These elements common to the "new paradigm churches" are present in wealthy and professional congregations as well as in more humble, small settings. Many (if not all) these churches began as a Bible study group. One person, or usually a couple, will have an outside job and a zeal to teach the Bible. He does it in his house or in a park or wherever. If God bless-es him, his group grows. When it reaches 100, the congregation will ask him to quit his job and serve as a full-time pastor—meaning that they are ready to support his family financially. Those that are blessed by God grow and grow, meeting in rented theatres or schools, leased warehouses or former supermarkets, and so forth. As they grow, they raise up others who have the spirit and calling to—you guessed it—go start a Bible study group somewhere. By this method these churches have multiplied into thousands of congregations all over the USA and beyond. They are not denominations; they don't want to be. They are associations ... hmmm ... of the Holy Spirit. Here is a great example:
One Sunday morning, John Shelton, a layperson in his church, took his suburban youth group on a field trip to South Dallas to `show them what the inner city was like.' He did not really know in advance where he was going, but when he got there, he knew he had arrived. It was a vacant lot deep in one of the roughest neighborhoods in South Dallas.
The only things on the lot were a couple of trees and a rusted out fifty-five-gallon drum. Because it was a cool morning, a half-dozen or so homeless persons had lit a fire in the barrel and were standing around it to warm themselves.
When he spotted them, he stopped his vehicle and said to the youth, `Here we are. Let's go!' He led them the short distance across the field. As he approached the people standing around the barrel, one of them walked toward him. He said to John, `What are doing here, white boy? Don't you know where you are?' John replied, `I know exactly why I'm here. God sent me to share his Word with you.' John began to share the love of God with those men and women. The crowd grew. Half an hour later, more than twenty homeless people (drunks, crack addicts, prostitutes and people just down on their luck) were standing around that barrel. They were now holding hands with John and his youth, praying for strength, mercy, and salvation from the only one who could provide it—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the next several weeks and months, John found him-self drawn repeatedly back to the lot. Each week, he would come with nothing but his Bible and a knapsack full of oranges. He searched out needy people who were living on the streets or in burned-out or condemned buildings. He gave them an orange, put his arms around them, prayed for them, and invited them to his worship service on the lot.
The ministry grew until it became more than one person could do on his own. John needed some sponsorship. After a number of prayerful discussions, the Cliff Temple Baptist Church agreed to give him the support he needed. We decided to call his ministry `Church on the Lot.'
Over the intervening months, the worship service on the vacant lot grew until it was attracting more than one hundred persons each week. In addition to the weekly worship services, John and his helpers also set up Sidewalk Sunday Schools at several of the neighborhood apartment complexes. Week after week, they introduced people to the life-changing love of Christ.
Soon there was a need for a facility to house people trying to put their lives back together. At this point, the Dallas Baptist Association and Baptist General convention stepped in to provide the support needed to open the East Dallas Outreach Center.... The Church on the Lot has reproduced itself through several apartment ministries and the establishment of Oasis Baptist Church." Q. Timothy Ahlen and J. V. Thomas, One Church, Many Congregations, pp. 64-65)
I'm sure we all regret that this is not the testimony of a Unificationist, because it epitomizes the spirit of home church. This is what Father tells us to do, and when we do it with consistency, it works. Because of higher priorities, many a Unificationist seedling was pulled up. I bemoan my abandonment of my home church area in Kew, a suburb of London. After planting seeds and tears there for two weeks, and beginning to see sprouts breaking through the soil, I was called to lead an IOWC team in Edinburgh. It was a painful departure—with me having to plead for a day in which to bid farewell at least to my new-found friends.
I am sure that all of us have had many such experiences in the hurly-burly of the Providence. And in the process we developed personal ministries in far-flung endeavors, from building recording studios to fishing boats, creating conferences for scientists to protesting the Sandinistas. Planting churches never took the spotlight for most of us. Now is the time for us to settle into our personal ministries.
The Personal Ministry of Tithing and Offering
A universal personal ministry is that of tithing and offering. All members are to offer the first 10% of income, the first fruits, to the church. Beyond the 10% are special offerings, such as the "Kodan" offering, the "Living Offering Fund," the offerings for ancestral liberation and blessing, offerings for campaigns, and so forth. These require special efforts for most members. The special offerings are made after the tithing is fulfilled.
When we look into tithing in Christianity, we come to realize something fearful in tithing. Some biblical verses support the idea of tithing, teaching people to offer one out of ten to God.... By offering a tithe from your material possessions, you can make a condition that you offered all that you have. Although you do not offer the whole, offering a portion with all of you heart and mind is valuable in that sense. By offering one, the rest of the nine can be also considered to be holy. The person who tithes will never perish. As days go by, his storage room will be filled with more material possessions and blessings.
Tithing applies in every aspect of life. Even in the school, one of ten classrooms should be used for less fortunate children to give them classes free of charge. (WSL 1, p. 145)
Time tithing is an extremely important norm of the family system. "Since Sunday is a tithing day, it is not our personal day. It is a time when we need to obey according to the will of God." (WSL 1, p. 145) True Parents' guideline is that one devote 10% of one's time (2 hours and 44 minutes per day) to church work. Sunday "is not our personal day," in Father's words, "It is a time when we need to obey according to the will of God." Following this, we can set a standard for church life on the part of all members. "From now on, you need to tithe not only your material but also your time." (Ibid., p. 144) In my understanding, church work is Tribal Messiahship, and Tribal Messiahship is on the foundation of Family Messiahship. Therefore, as the Mormons do, we should consider family time to be a ministry of God's word.
Lessons from the Latter Day Saints (courtesy Dan Fefferman):
What we can do as a time tithe—possibilities for personal ministry:
If each member does just one of these activities, the church will grow and prosper by God's Blessing!
Appreciate and affirm each other's personal ministry
As Paul and Principle teach, the whole community is a body and each of us are cells. While each cell has characteristics in common with every other cell, each cell or organ is unique. The characteristic we share in common is the mandate to live for the sake of others, to love unconditionally, to give and forget and give again. But HOW we do that differs. No one does everything.
Some people love to pray, but put them in front of a spread-sheet and they are lost. Some people love to fix cars, but take them to the holy ground and they get restless after the third kyung bae. Some people love talking to strangers, but ask them to find the stranger's house to pick them up for a pro-gram and you might as well have sent them to Death Valley. Some people are brilliant in explaining the details of God's providence, but can't earn a living, much less create wealth. Some people have abrasive personalities but are good strategists; others are warm and fuzzy but tend to leave their purse behind on store counters.
The point is that we should appreciate and affirm each person for what they can give and encourage them to develop their gift and give more. When I am giving to the max, I am most fulfilled and happy. A happy church is one in which each person is giving what they have to the max, and receiving a lot of love in return. That's like a good marriage. That's like a family system.
Provide the tools and training for the pastors to give Tribal Messiahs to fulfill their mission.
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