The Words of the Toffey Family

A Growing Church

Kyle Toffey
January 2011

Left: Kyle and Genn Toffey help direct members on the day of a church outing; Right: The Toffeys and assistant pastor Michael Brazil in discussion with Hyung-jin nim at a service at the former Headquarters Church.

Kyle and Genn Toffey lived in Korea for ten years, and ran an unofficial English language Sunday service for a good many of those. When Hyung-jin nim began his ministry in Seoul in 2007 and quickly added an English language service to the roster, that congregation threw its support behind Hyung-jin nim. Kyle was made an assistant pastor. He founded the web site and launched a cyber-congregation for Hyung-jin nim's ministry. On October 31, 2010, just before they moved from Korea to the United States, Kyle shared his ideas on church growth with the Cheon Bok Gung international community. This is the core of his message from that day.

When I think of a church, I think of a community of people. It is especially not a building. Often we think of a church as something that somebody else is responsible for and in charge of. But each and every one of us needs to feel a sense of ownership for our church. This is my church. If this is going to be your church and my church, we want to make it a place we are proud of and happy with. It has to be a place that we feel good about coming to, and want to invite others to.

What is that quote from Dr. Scott Peck's book The Road Less Traveled, where he defines love? "Love is the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth...." That is, investing in the spiritual growth of another person. It's very simple. When people are growing they are happy.

From the Principle viewpoint we are here in this physical life so that we can grow. It's also the mission of our church: as individuals we are meant to grow, and to help our community grow. That's why we talk to people and invite them to our church.

When we share our dreams with other people, often they will say, "Oh, that can't be done." That's the nature of our world. That is why we really need to be a cohesive congregation; we have to give a completely opposite message. Because we are created in the image of God, as His sons and daughters, and we are without limits.

There are two aspects to Sunday service. One is the worship side and the other is the fellowship side. It is so important for us to spend the time to have fellowship. That is why, from my point of view, the coffee ministry is so important! When we have coffee or refreshments after the service, that is really our golden opportunity to talk with people and embrace them.

And we have a particular responsibility here at Cheon Bok Gung. We do not have a very large international community here, but people come through Korea and stop here. Imagine, you come to Cheon Bok Gung. You don't know anyone here in Korea. If you are a young person you may be anxious. You don't know what's going on. You don't know anybody. You don't even know where the restrooms are! And maybe you are here only for that one time. What if you are such a person and you come to the service, attend and then leave, and nobody talks with you, nobody welcomes you? Mightn't you be a little disappointed? But, on the other hand, what if that person pokes his or her head around the door, and there are people waiting there, who say, "Welcome! Thank you for coming! I don't think I know you. My name's Kyle...."

Welcome people, tell them which floor the service is on, explain that we do have coffee afterward, so that they feel welcomed. How is that going to change their whole experience of our church? If we are here with an open and welcoming heart it will change it completely. So we are the ambassadors for the Cheon Bok Gung. Sometimes we are shy, but we need to go beyond ourselves.

At the Cheongpa-dong church, I was always out front there welcoming people. One day, Sun-jin nim was coming up the steps. I thought, well okay.... So I said, "Welcome! Thank you for coming!" And she walked up to me and gave me a hug. "That deserves a hug!" she said. Even the True Children need to feel embraced and welcomed! We all do.

About a month ago one young man came in, and I greeted him and found out his name. Then after the service, during the coffee hour, we talked for maybe ten or fifteen minutes. Later, I saw him as he was leaving. He turned around and said, "Thank you very much Mr. Toffey. Today you saved my life." I have no idea what was going on in his mind. Maybe he felt very down. Maybe he was questioning his affiliation with our church. Maybe he just came uninspired, and maybe just by talking he could receive some inspiration to go forward. Every one of us has that opportunity when we talk to people.

I once met Pastor Rick Warren- at the army base where I work. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts -- very ordinary looking. But he was loving, and he had the heart of really reaching out to people. We can develop that kind of thinking; we can learn how to take care of people -- not just saying Hi to each other, but reaching out to that one person we don't know. Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself.

People come in and they're not just looking at how we treat them; they're noticing how we treat each other. We witness by the kind of people we are. If we care about each other, if we care about the people who come in, that's a witness. If we have that kind of heart and attitude toward each other we will be a growing church. If we are loving, happy and giving people, people will want to come to our church. It's natural witnessing. So it's very important that we create such an environment among ourselves. It can change someone's whole perception. It can change their destiny. 

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