The Words of the Moon Family
On Saturday, December 6, Mrs. Moon Sun-hee spoke at the Headquarters Church in Seoul to members of the English-speaking congregation about her home group outreach. This is an edited extract of Mrs. Moon's talk, which encouraged those present to consider how they might lead or support a home group.
I used to be the dean of students at the Unification Theological Seminary. I came here two months ago. My husband is American, and we have two lovely daughters. I really tried my best to practice Father's teachings as the dean of students. I realized the core thing I have to do is help others. My conscience kept telling me I have to do something better. I prayed to God and told him that although I must have strengths, even though I am working hard, I feel something is missing. I was feeling constrained by the culture. I can fully understand how it is for you. Being in a different culture can be like wearing clothes that don't fit. I did not feel I was fully using my strengths. I met Hyung-jin nim at East Garden in New York, and I became so inspired. God began calling me to come back to Korea. One day, I told me husband, "I am going to Korea." My husband is an amazing guy. I always call him my second messiah. He is dragged along by my decisions -- he's affected by what I do -- but he never says no. It's amazing.
I followed my intuition. I came here, and I'm so happy, because I'm doing what I feel I should be doing. It brings me joy. Listen to your inner heart, find what you truly want to be and where you want to go. Don't hesitate. Be confident. We have to be brave.
The Korean congregation has started home groups, and we may wonder what it is about, what they are doing and what the mission and purpose are. First of all, let's start with what a home group's missions are. There are four. The first is evangelism, which is witnessing. The second is discipleship, the third is shepherdship and the fourth is service.
What is discipleship? Discipleship is aligning my daily life with God, developing my character through dialog with God, and checking my inner heart all the time. I'm sure that you all do that. In my case, I try to imagine that God is always up there, or within me, all the time. I try to interpret what God wants right now. I think about it and try to understand what the purpose is.
For example, if someone says something to me that I did not expect, my emotions might be boiling. But according to Steven Covey there's an interval during which I can either just react, or decide to work towards what I want -- and what I want is a good relationship. I try to interpret the situation and digest my feelings in alignment with what God wants. That's very challenging but it makes for an exciting journey. I try not to be too proud of myself, but I feel that I am growing.
Jesus had twelve disciples; based on the two thousand years of history that have passed, today we interpret "disciple" as "a true child." Now we are true children of God and of True Parents.
The third mission is that of a shepherd, which means leadership; we take care of our community and family and others. That's what a shepherd does with his flock. True Father always emphasizes sharing your love; so, the core activity in a religious life is service, helping others. In a small group, we sit down together and follow a program that we have prepared. In doing this, we are looking outward to the world. The purpose is to focus outside of ourselves-not to just discuss our own God-given strengths but to discuss how to use them to bring joy to others.
Most of our home groups are focusing more on witnessing than on spiritual development, but I see that spiritual growth is important, and so I adopted that as a major focus. That is your choice. All home groups are different. New guests may come, or they may bring a friend along, so you cannot always talk about church matters. Too much church terminology may make people uncomfortable. You have to be flexible and wise, and find the right balance.
Bringing people to your group requires building personal relationships. So let's look at ourselves first; how can you bring true love to others if you don't love yourself? So we must know how to grow ourselves in order to interact with others. You are already a mother or a sister, a brother or a dad. Ask yourself, Am I a good mom? Am I good brother? Am I a good parent? Am I aware of my siblings' struggles?
A husband and wife are often so busy. We go out, come back at night and hardly communicate. What do a husband and wife hope to fulfill? Is one aware of what is going on with the other? Do we really communicate among family members? Have you really sat down together? We think we know, but we may not have made the effort to find out what our loved ones are thinking.
I attended a two-day workshop about home groups, and Oh! I realized I hadn't really sat down with my daughter and asked her where she is going in life. What does she live for? So we sat down together in a nice restaurant and we talked about it. She was so happy.
I came to three conclusions about what I need to develop my faith and become a better person. Prayer-including meditation -- which means I have dialog, I keep talking, with God. Read relevant books for spiritual development; and then, last, but very important, is to practice. That is the hardest thing, but it's the core of what's needed to develop myself. We tend to be lazy if we are not careful.
We want to invite others from the community into our home group. I have held home group meetings eight times, over eight weeks. I have made that commitment to God.
Also I come here, to the Headquarters Church, three days a week. Commuting back and forth from my home takes four hours. I have a job, but once I come here, it takes all day. I promised God that when I'm here, I will witness. I just come here, grab some flyers and go out door to door. I've experienced amazing things. God does that; not me.
I haven't met anyone who has negative views about Father. I feel that the spirit world is now open and they are with me. So believe it and just go with it. Some people tell me, Oh, I respect Rev. Moon; he is really helping Korea. Some people are Christian; they accept the flyer and say they believe in another Christian church but that Father Moon is doing something very special and great. The spirit world is working.
Each of you is qualified to be a small group leader. You might ask, What do I have to do? Okay. I'm going to tell you. If you find two more people, you can start a home group. They could be people who live near you, or relatives, or friends. In your case, if you who are here feel close to each other, you could form a group.
Environment is very important. Because of my position at UTS, I was asked to start a small group. I developed a program, but to be honest it was not that successful, partly because we tried to hold meetings in the cafeteria. The first priority is the venue. It's very important. A coffee shop is not the best place for a small group meeting. People don't want to open their hearts in such a place, and they get distracted. It's best if you or one of your members offers his or her home.
Here in Korea, I've opened my doors to my group members. I have eight members in my group, including an ambassador for peace, and a few other non-church members who come and go. We started with three, including me, and then people joined. They come from far away. I live two hours away from Seoul. They come from other distant areas in the countryside. They have to travel at least an hour to get to my house, but they keep coming and coming.
When everyone sits down, its better that you are sitting on chairs that are the same height. It helps convey the message that we are all equal. You sit down in a private area. Someone will pray and someone else will read scripture, or some passage from Father or from Hyung-jin nim. You need to prepare that. Our challenge is deciding, once we sit down, what we should do. You can do something once or twice, and then it may seem a bit worn out. You need ideas. The leader's job is deciding what to do. Some groups just come together to do voluntary work. It varies. Within the Korean congregation, one group goes to a senior citizens' home and volunteers. They become very close to the residents and have a chance to introduce the work of Father Moon. Another group cooks food.
Use your own strengths. It doesn't usually work to try to imitate someone else's group, even if it is successful. The people who are beginning the group can look at their strengths and discuss the type of group they want to have. Start with that.
In my case, I always begin with a prayer; we read something and then share our experience of the previous week, especially what we have done for others. That can relate to witnessing the following week. Some days, you can go from that point directly into a discussion about witnessing. It depends on who is coming that week. After some type of discussion, we pray and close the meeting.
Running a small group is not that difficult. As we develop the program and gather people and get involved, we also benefit greatly. When we shepherd, when we take care of others, we grow. As leaders, we want to be good models. We need to be sincere.
At first I said the group meetings were going to be two hours. Now do you know how long they are? We start at 12:30 and even after 6:00, they don't leave. I have to kick them out! [Laughter] One of my members is a full time professor. He comes in the middle of the day; we have the meeting on Friday. I don't know why he isn't at work, but he's coming -- he's never absent. It's really fun. We look forward to the meeting.
I would like to briefly tell you about some rules -- points to be aware of, such as confidentiality. We want to share our hearts and not worry that another member will go out and tell other people about us. Whatever we share has to be kept in the meeting. You must not talk about what you've heard even to your spouse. Everybody must be able to trust in that.
You have to be a good listener. Listen sincerely. When someone talks and people are daydreaming, that's not sincere listening. You should pray while somebody is giving testimony. Distribute the time equally. If some members are older or joined the church earlier, it doesn't matter. And if one person is a professor and another doesn't have a job, it doesn't matter. They must feel they are all equal. In my group, the youngest is a second- generation member. I'm older than she is, and the professor is my age. She was not sure she wanted to be there because we are not her age. She was hesitant when I first called her, but she has come to realize it is a place where she can really relax. Now she comes every time.
Also, when someone insists on teaching something, it is the leader's job to curtail this. A home group is not the place for pushing your theology. It's a time when everyone needs to feel equal. If someone starts to brag, somehow, you have to naturally cut it off. (Thank you very much for your opinion; would anyone else like to share a testimony?)
Indirectly, you have to bring it to an end. The leader is a facilitator and a monitor. Let the ball roll. It is not your job to teach something or control the atmosphere. The best leaders speak the least, although as the organizer you may wish to talk a lot.
You don't need to prepare everything yourself, by the way. Among three people you can ask, Who wants to prepare food? It is very nice to prepare some tea and cookies. You can decide if you want to pool your money or take turns bringing food.
Everybody is different. Everybody has a different expectation. In my group, there is one woman who feels that food is very important. When I started I was very focused on spiritual things and the spiritual level, but she said, "No, we must have food, not just tea and snacks." She was really into having a full meal. What are you going to do when you face that situation? People have different opinions.
Because you are a leader, try to accept as much as you can. We know conflict is not good. Try to create harmony. So in our case, we start with a banquet. I didn't think of it, but this lady has a strong voice, and she is bringing the most people, the most newcomers. We try to cooperate. Okay! -- We serve a banquet-that's why it takes six hours! It's not ideal; trust me, it's not ideal. You can spend just two hours. When I read books about a very successful church, they recommended one-and-a-half hours or two hours.
So, you can ask who wants to prepare something to read from Father, who wants to offer the prayer and who wants to open their home to the group. Also, very important is who wants to decide on a witnessing area. Using members' strengths you find a way to serve. I teach English as a Second Language in the church. I personally go out, and my team has done that together with me, distributing hundreds of flyers to bring people into the church for an English class. Some people are reluctant to go out alone; two people can go out together. We sometimes work as a team, but sometimes a person strongly feels they want to serve in some way by themselves, like cooking for an orphanage. We respect each other.
If someone in your group doesn't want to become our church member, he or she can become a peace ambassador. That's fine. Hyung-jin nim has begun a Catholic-style service and is planning a Buddhist-style service. We respect other people's religions.
I am not yet at the point, personally, where I can help people make a smooth transition from the small group into the church, but once I help others, I like to bring them to the service. Everybody has to develop a strategy for bringing people. We are the owners. Nobody can provide the full package on how to bring people.
We need to support each other among our groups. If I bring a newcomer who is interested in learning more about us, once he or she comes, we can take care of the person together. The pastor, of course, should also become involved. You can contact the pastor and help guide the person to prepared lectures.
You have to take ownership. If you keep praying for people and contribute your time energy and love, people open their hearts.