Today I finally checked out Yoido Full Gospel Church - the largest church in the world! It was so awesome! Revival is continually happening in Seoul, Korea. A revival sustained by prayer, and penetrating into society! The worship during the service was amazing, although I don't think i engaged fully due to taking pictures. = P Thousands of people worshiping together, the presence of God was there touching those open to receive. The message was good. I liked how Dr. Cho's able to relate to seekers, new believers and even mature believers through his message. He sprinkled it with miraculous testimonies. I especially liked how explained how one can become a Christian and had an open altar call at the end of the service. From what I could see, about 70 or so people stood up in the service I was in. The service was about an hour and a half, which was just right. They had a nice choir and a full-mini worship orchestra as well.
After the service we went to the English briefing session to learn more about Dr. Cho and the church. Here are the things I remember and wrote down: (I apologize if my notes are all over the place)
The church has 800,000+ registered members and about 5000 are reported to come to know Jesus Christ as their savoir each month! 12,000+ people can fit in the main sanctuary. They have 9 services a week, 5 on Sunday, 3 on Wednesday. Each service has 5 other over-flow buildings that seat a couple thousand which are nearby. They have 150 satellite churches in Seoul where the messages are broadcast either live or by the internet. If i remember correctly, pastors used to rush to 9 other churches to deliver the tapes so that the congregation can hear Dr. Cho's message. Dr. Cho preaches 3 of the 5 services on Sunday, the other services are given by video tape or by other pastors. The worship team is different at each service, (500+ members on each team). Haha I heard that just to prepare communion, it takes a week to prepare it in advance!
Dr. Cho tells his staff to learn to pray through the flesh. Persevere. He himself prays at least 3 hours a day, sometimes 5 hours. He says that the first hour is just to break through the flesh and then enter into the spirit. When he first started this in his church, people didn't want to do that with him. They told him that it was for the pastor, not regular members. Now, things are different. People see the importance and power of prayer. The pastors are required to pray at least 3 hours a day, one hour before they come to work so that the full armor of God is on. Registered members are required to pray at least one hour a day, straight prayer btw.... not with devotional time or worship. Just prayer.
In the church, not everybody receives the same vision at first. Dr. Cho's visions are slowly accepted by his staff and leadership. He says that as you grow spiritually, God will reveal more. They also own a prayer mountain where thousands-Thousands of people spend their days praying all day on the mountain. They built small rooms so two people can go in on the mountain side to pray. At night people just sleep in the sanctuary (which holds 9000) on the mountain and other overflow buildings that they have. People here are hardcore intercessors. They have 13 buses going from the church to the prayer mountain at every hour and they're usually packed. They also have prayer everyday or something at 5 AM? Fri night prayer goes all night. I'm going to have to check these out. The elder that presented this chuckled when sharing this: when foreigners come, the interpreters leave at 12 AM in the morning only because that's when the foreigners leave. Most members stay till 4 or 5 AM. (Yea we're weak sauce. I'll try to show them that UCSD intercessors aren't that weak sauce! hehe. We'll see.)
The church also owns the 4th largest newspaper, and its office is situated in the 5th largest building in Korea.
As 3 legs hold up a stool, so do these things hold up the church: 1. Prayer, 2. Home cells, 3. Give all the Glory to God.
Elders are mostly business men. I think there are a couple thousand elders, and they come up with the resources to fund whatever God's revealed to Dr. Cho to start.
Members of the church are eager to help pray for anyone. They believe that it's an opportunity for the Lord to bless them as they pray or help others. Cell groups! Cell groups are only to get 20 large and split in half. They've had problems in the past where people want to stay with other people, but Dr. Cho told the church that you're doing this for the Lord and you might be needed in the other group. So, that solved most things. Rich people in the cell group might spoil members or hold too crazy of a fellowship party (food, drinks, etc.) so they limit the cell group time to just be one hour at each meeting and can only serve one drink and a cookie. Haha that's funny. Having a church so big and generous that that is a problem you have to address. Cell groups are told to reach out to their block, neighbors, etc. Get to know your immediate neighbors! Don't intrude, but help when needed. That's your opportunity to serve them and then invite them to a cell group. You pray for all your neighbors and their needs. Cell groups are also grouped by interest.
I hoped this has stirred your faith and encouraged you to begin or strengthen your prayer life. Without prayer, we won't be going anywhere. Blessings you all!
This is a great example of societal transformation...its amazing how Korea has been turned upside down by this church. The thing about pressing into prayer is convicting...so often, I give up after 15-20 minutes...I just don't have the perseverance to keep on going. But you know what? If we actually prayed like it all depended on God...then we would do that. We have to much to "fall back" on here...its an unfortunate byproduct of blessing.
I have considered everything loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord...