Family, Church, Community, Kingdom
One - Life Within Campaigns
To accomplish the elder son nation's responsibilities, we need more members. We need families to join our church. For that purpose, we absolutely need to build a witnessing church for working families. We need to be a church that welcomes families and provides them a place to grow.
"We cannot simply measure our growth by successful events. It is not enough to merely offer God our mission or job activities. Who am I becoming in this process? What kind of marriage and family legacy am I building for my lineage? How serious am I to take advantage of this precious opportunity to be on earth in this providential time? And how much am I helping to spread the Kingdom to my church, community, nation and world?" (Dr. Chang Shik Yang, "Our Path in the New Millennium")
The Times Square Church is nine blocks from our headquarters building in mid-Manhattan. That ministry fills a 3,000-seat former theatre at several services a week. Adjacent to it is a six-story education annex serving thousands of people. The congregation is made up of young, well-dressed, up-scale Manhattanites of all races. At the start of Tuesday evening service, ushers in smart, uniform attire seat everyone. One observes denizens of the highest-level work force in the world with their hands raised to heaven in silent prayer and praise. The choir is strong and the ministry team is well dressed. Every seat is filled. They do not have a membership list. Welcome to Christianity in America, Year 2000.
My assumption is that God and True Parents would like to have a healthy, growing community nationwide with millions of members creating God's kingdom. Being a family means having heart and love, caring, growing, giving, serving, teaching, learning and just having joy in each other's lives. But a family is also a system, with roles and responsibilities. When I say "system," I don't mean to be clinical. When each person understands those roles and responsibilities, then the full potential for joy and growth comes about. What True Father is saying is that this family system can expand into an entire culture and civilization. A big step in that direction is the creation of a church community according to the family system.
I should mention that the family system refers both to dynamics within the family and between families. Dynamics within the family include the expressions of love manifested in the "four realms of heart" between parents and children, husband and wife and brothers and sisters. It refers to the three "kingships" of grandparents, parents and children. The building of a church and community requires us to apply the love within families to the relationships between families. This is our challenge.
On April 10, 2000, True Father called us to set up 144,000 churches in America. To do that, we need a model of what a healthy family church looks like and how it functions. Note that Father didn't say, "10,000 regions." He said, 144,000 churches. A church is a local entity. Most members of most churches live within a 15-minute drive of where they meet. To say we need 144,000 churches means that True Father wants to see us build local churches.
To accomplish this goal, what is needed now is the ability to increase membership through religious conversion and life enrichment. To do this, the fundamental unit is the local church. Our movement and eventually our families will live or die based upon the health of the local church. We need to develop a local church based on the family system.
There are those, including myself at times, who believe that the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth will come in a sudden way that seems almost miraculous. If this is the case, we reason, we do not need to worry about the local situations. We can sacrifice them for the sake of the sweeping providential works that will determine the course of history.
We cite the precedent of the fall of communism. Suddenly, almost overnight, a huge spiritual transition took place. In a relatively peaceful fashion, people decided they no longer wanted communist government. The idols of communism, represented by the statues of Lenin and his ilk, lost their power as the people pulled them down. Would it not be possible, I dream, that in a similar way people overnight decide they no longer want satanic culture, satanic words and satanic love?
If you think about it, that eventuality in no way contradicts the assertion that we will live or die based upon the health of the local church. The revolutions in Eastern Europe were accompanied by high-level developments with Reagan, Thatcher, Gorbachev, John Paul II and others. But they never would have taken place were it not for fax machines connecting the masses of people on the grassroots. We have our True Father guiding high-level developments, but without the grassroots support, without a massive consensus for the ideal of True Parents and exactly who are the True Parents, that high-level work will not succeed. Even if we intend to create a true nation through a new constitution, that can reach people only to the level of laws.
The American Revolution, John Adams observed, took place in the hearts of the people long before a shot was fired. It took place through a populist spiritual movement that taught people how to meet God and how to organize them-selves as churches. That movement was called the Great Awakening. If we can govern our own churches, free from bishops, they realized, then surely we can govern our own nation free from kings. The victory of the local church is the kingdom taking place in the hearts of the people.
Recently I am hearing Hyun Jin Nim teach that the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth exists substantially in an authentic family, and it is a matter of expanding the values and heart relationships within the authentic family. The first level of that expansion is not to the halls of Congress. It is to the neighbor-hood. Again, we need to develop a local church based on the family system. Our D.C. church leaders call this a "shimjung community" - a community of heart.
No one can accomplish virtually any of what I am going to talk about from a perch at church headquarters. Much of what I convey comes from a period of participation in the Manhattan Family Church. From those months of sermon giving, music playing and small group meetings. I experienced a revitalization of my life of faith. I experienced a renewal of what life in True Parents is all about.
Growth cannot come from the top down. It comes from the home church and the local church. We cannot depend on campaigns and programs; we need witnessing and education that continues irrespective of larger providences. If we create a healthy flock in good pasture, then the people living the principled way of life, life for the sake of others, will multiply. In that environment, we are positioned to work with campaigns in the healthy and constructive way God intends.
If you stayon a perch in the church, you'll get flack from the flock.
We all may be aware of a passage in which Father called us to create a "member-centered movement." But how many have read it lately? I would like to share it with you:
"From today, you have to throw away thought centered on the leader that you had up to now and take up the ideology that always centers on the members. Why is this so? If there is a head of a family, then in order to create heaven in the family, the head must enforce the perspective not for his own sake but for the sake of the family members. Otherwise, heaven cannot be built in the family. It is the same. We must change what has been centered on me in the Unification Church until now to something that is centered on all of you, so that the effort can be focused on linking up the congregation of love horizontally. It won't do if we are trying to do only vertically." (Way of the Spiritual Leader [hereafter WSL] Part 2, p. 200)
To do this we must train leadership and solidify ourselves as members each with a personal ministry, the personal investment of our own unique gifts to the task of Tribal Messiahship.
Act Locally, Offer Globally
Our movement in America has a tremendous potential. We have a core of 2,000-3,000 highly dedicated families and tens of thousands of supporters. We possess considerable property holdings, including two major hotels, a performance center, media production facilities, churches and houses in fifty states. We are affiliated with a seminary, a university and an influential newspaper. We have a persuasive biblical worldview uniting the spiritual and material realms, an ideal envisioning the balance of liberal and conservative political perspectives, and a healthy view of sexuality, marriage and family. This is a significant foundation.
We have the inestimable blessing to be able to connect everything we do locally to national and global trends structures for peace But to make it work, We need strong, growing local communities.
To build upon it, however, we need to take into account some disturbing. There is a lack of new American seminarians. There is a lack of new American church leaders. are not planting new churches. Too many of our children are not following the way of the church.
We believe True Parents and their vision for cosmic restoration. By virtue of the foundation of True Parents we are entering the settlement age. One characteristic of the settlement age, perhaps its most important one, is that the global and cosmic providential works are aligned perfectly with the restoration of the local community.
Cosmic restoration begins with my own mind and body unity. My inner unification extends to my conjugal unity and my oneness with my parents and children. My oneness with my wife is the root of the Family, Women's and Youth Federations for World Peace. My oneness with my parents and children is the root of the Three Great Kingships and establishing the shimjung culture. My community life with local religious and government leaders is the root of the world peace federations Father has created: the IIFWP, IRFWP, SCWP and FWP.
If there ever was a community in which to think globally and act locally, ours is it. We have the inestimable blessing to be able to connect everything we do locally to national and global structures for peace. This unity of all levels, this freedom to circulate vertically and horizontally, is the hallmark of the Completed Testament Age. But to make it work, we need strong, growing local communities. It is there that we prove our ideas work in the toughest market-the real world.
True Father called each first-generation disciple to auniquely sacrificial way of life. Our way is that of pioneers. This puts stress on our families and our local community work. Then, should we abandon our families and local communities?
This is not necessary today-not if we bear the fruit of the seeds True Parents and the True Family have planted with their blood, sweat and tears.
We bear the fruit in the local community. If we have our local foundation intact, then we are free to follow the providence, knowing that back home, the work is proceeding because we have a community of volunteers actively pursuing God's providence while we are gone.
In this context, let us inquire of ourselves, as people with incredible gifts and blessings from God, and as people with our own portion of responsibility and the freedom to work with it,
What is the purpose of our church community?
Who are we trying to reach?
What do we want them to do?
What are the requirements and benefits of member-ship?
What are the requirements and benefits of ministry?
How do we govern ourselves, including assigning and supporting leaders?
How can we put our ideals, as individuals, families and communities, into practice?
I am not going to list answers to these questions directly. Some of them may not have one-line answers, or even "one answer." But I do hope that by discussing the nature of the family system in the church, answers will become evident. After all, the specific answers will vary from community to community. We do not want a cookie-cutter approach. Rather, we need the ability to apply true love one-on-one, case-by-case, as in, ... well, as in a family.
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