The Words of Hyung Jin Moon From 2010
True Parents have instructed Hyung-jin nim to do a world tour, which began with his visit to Brazil at the end of June. In July and early August, he and Yeon-ah nim visited Nepal, Thailand and the Philippines. The following interview, in which Hyung-jin nim reflected on his tour experience to that point, was conducted the day before he left Korea for Israel to represent Father at the third Assembly to Proclaim the Word of God. After Israel, Hyung-jin nim and Yeon-ah nim continued on the tour to Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, all in the space of a week.
Question: How does the experience of restructuring the church in Korea and the developments there help you when you are visiting other countries?
If we hadn't done any of the work in Korea and had just started the tour from the beginning, we would not have had the benefit of the experience to pass on. I am not saying the experience we have had up to now is all that is necessary for total success, because we are still in the process of creating, but in a couple of years of this ministry, the Korean church has now become independent, in that we are no longer subsidized from Japan. We've also done restructuring, and other kinds of renewal.
Now, the general trend is toward members understanding what the restructuring was for. Initially, it is always difficult to make such changes. We have just done a double-blind survey that shows that increasingly members are coming to understand the purpose for the consolidation of the churches and to see that this is the right direction for the church. These major changes -- including the media turning around, of course -- have been excellent experiences for us.
They have been very tough to do, and some hard decisions had to be made. It's like doing surgery -- it's very painful. We were crying on many nights, but we had to do that surgery for the health of the whole being. The church is now much healthier. We are not decreasing in membership any more. We are back up into the twenty thousands. We had dropped from sixteen thousand in the 1970s to about eleven thousand in 2005, that is, in the number of active members coming to service. Now we are back up into the twenty thousands. Overall, donations have increased dramatically, so we are now a self-sufficient national church and we don't require funds from Japan at all.
We were able to build the growth-stage Cheon Bok Gung with the support of the worldwide members, within a year. That was amazing. True Parents of course blessed that effort, and they have pushed us hard to achieve the goal of twenty- one thousand members -- which we haven't accomplished yet. Because I haven't yet reached twenty-one thousand members, I didn't initially want to go on this worldwide tour. We haven't firmly established a strong and powerful witnessing system yet. That caused me to hesitate, because I didn't feel I had done all my "homework." But Father and Mother clearly said, You must go on a global tour.
And it has turned out to be a great blessing.
Question: What was personally meeting the members like?
We had a great experience with the members. In going to see the different communities, we learned a lot about the different situations that the members are facing, as a church, in different countries -- for example the legal battle they are fighting in Thailand, trying to secure their human rights and religious freedom. The persecution members have to encounter -- for example, one sister in Laos. Those kinds of things which you see on the ground, we see when visiting the churches in the field. We sleep in those churches; we don't stay in a hotel where you are distant from the ground. We want to see the ground, we want to see how the members are living. We go to visit families, which helps give us a picture of where the church is at in a given country.
I know that in a day or two we cannot do all that, but we do what we can do to the best of our ability. We can visit the homes of ordinary members and we can feel the spirit and energy of the churches.
Doing those kinds of things is wonderful, because we can see True Parents' incredible foundation all over the world. It's a humbling experience. At the same time, you want to offer more glory to True Parents, you want to help those churches. But there are some basic things that any church that wants to grow has to do. Because we have done those basics in Korea, taken the primary steps, we are able to share those ideas with the national churches.
Question: It seems the work you have been doing here in Korea is helping you in your work as international president.
Its a huge help, absolutely. As one of the leaders said, "If Korea is not successful, it is difficult for our nation to be successful, because Korea is our fatherland. If Korea is successful, we can easily fight for our human rights and religious freedom." The Korean government acknowledges us. Members in other countries see our being acknowledged in Korea (as one of the big eight or nine religions) as directly benefitting their national churches. They are praying very much for the success of the Korean church, not only because Korea is the fatherland, but because it gives them spiritual strength to fight and to stand up for their faith. That was very inspiring.
Question: You've recently mentioned winning and losing models.
Yes. For example, one of the national leaders said they were going to spread out more, open up more churches or centers. The general idea was to increase from twelve to twenty-four to forty, etcetera, nationwide.
But whenever we see someone presenting that model, we know it is likely to fail. We have learned that in order to create a successful organization, you have to create a successful model first. After that, you can duplicate. You cannot duplicate based only on a conceptual approach. If you try to duplicate too quickly, you will have far too many operating costs, without enough knowledge of the on-the-ground operation. That's how businesses, or churches even, lose their financial strength. They sap their strength by spending too much at the beginning, trying to go national at the outset.
You have to create a successful model. For example if you want to open Domino's Pizza shops, you have to open one first and make it successful before you open another one. It's a basic principle. But because they want to get very big very quickly, and spread the word to everyone, people make this common mistake. There is always a process, because we live in the real world. We live in a world with real pressures and circumstances, so we can't just do things however we want. It has to be based on real experience and successful models.
Question: In the practical sense as well as the spiritual.
Oh yes. So, this was very practical advice we could offer. "Stay away from that model." I explained that in Korea we had had the same model. In Korea we had more than four hundred churches. Every single one was producing negative results and the Korean church as a whole was in debt. We were being subsidized with ten million dollars annually. There was no way this was a viable or sustainable church. We told them how we had to merge churches in Korea. We had to explain to them that if your goal is just to spread churches, you can't be successful. You will end up having to merge them back together again, and that's going to create more stress.
We were able to give that kind of advice and that helped change their direction, so to speak. That's one example.
Question: In Korea there is Cheon Bok Gung, and in the United States In-jin nim has Lovin' Life Ministries. I suppose those are good examples of growing models that could later multiply.
Question: How important do you feel having a strong central church is?
It's absolutely essential as a success model. The central church has as its goal to be self-sufficient, not subsidized in any way by other organizations or churches -- totally self-sufficient. It is able to manage perhaps thousands of members effectively, care for them, and help them grow in faith. When you have that kind of organizational strength, you can help educate and teach how to run smaller organizations -- because you are already adept at organizing and moving big ones.
At the same time, we want to encourage creativity in the field, so we do not only have Cheon Bok Gung creating new material and trying new ideas. We have the Korean church headquarters trying new ideas, as if in competition with Cheon Bok Gung's team. And we have Mrs. Erikawa's teams in competition with Cheon Bok Gung's team of ministers and the team at the Korean church headquarters. We encourage this kind of healthy competition because it helps promote creativity in the field. Then we are able to analyze the data from the various groups in an unbiased manner and see which one creates the most result in terms of such things as witnessing and donations.
Question: What are the main aspects of the development of Cheon Bok Gung as a model that are happening here?
We don't try to keep everything centralized, in the sense of "We make it and you use it." We try to research what is successful in the field and try to use that. That's not yet happening in Korea, however. In Japan, they have always strongly felt the need to be creative in finding a way to be successful in the field. Whatever works, the headquarters will gather information on working ideas and disseminate this to the other churches.
Question: You're saying that in Japan there's a lot of give-and-take between the field and the headquarters.
There has to be. Otherwise they cannot make the results Father requests. The headquarters there is not like it has been in Korea, where it is the center that creates all the content and everyone follows that. In Japan, people in the field create the ideas, the headquarters finds the places that are successful and conveys the ideas being used in those successful places. That's why the Japanese church is able to support the worldwide providence.
Question: And are you now developing this idea in the Korean church?
Yes, we want to encourage creativity, so increasingly we want the Korean church headquarters to not just dictate the content for the field. Of course, we have particular beliefs that are central to the Unification Church and that cannot change. I am not talking about those. I am talking about our approach, for example, the approach to education, what perspective to come from. We want both the Korean church headquarters and Cheon Bok Gung to play that kind of role. We are encouraging healthy competition that is beneficial for the whole church.
Question: Recently you were doing a tour in Korea. How do your impressions of the churches around Korea compare with those of the churches in the countries you visit?
We have visited only one so far because of many other scheduled events and our travelling overseas.
They still have to create more of a witnessing culture. Things are still far from where we need them to be, but they are improving.
People are tuning in from around the world to the English language service through the internet. Are you conscious that you are running an internet ministry?
We always keep the audience in mind during the international service, and that it is an international audience. But it's also a time when we can report what is happening on the ground in Korea. We see the audience of the international service not so much as the members living in Korea, which are very few, but many, many people who are tuning in through the internet. I don't run that -- Kyle Toffey does that. But we are definitely aware of our audience!