April 21, 2024, An Example: The Discipleship System of Yoido FGC Church, Eastertide 3

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP
The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

HYMN 496 Sweet Hour of Prayer
Sweet Hour of Prayer – Selah (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBsYK5cJ9-w

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help.
I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.
Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.
Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 347 Spirit Song
The Spirit Song (John Wimber) – Makiki Christian Church
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAn_Be4HS9A

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: An Example: The Discipleship System of Yoido FGC Church
Text: Acts 2:41-47, Matthew 22:39, 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Matthew 22:39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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HYMN 526 What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Alan Jackson – What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znWu2HCJ92c

BENEDICTION

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

There’s an old phrase that says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And I hope today to share with you a few pictures and probably save quite a few thousand words. We’ve been talking about this concept now in different ways for over a year. We’ve talked about it very recently that, in these days following the resurrection, Jesus Christ wants to work through you. And the way that Jesus Christ wants to work through you is as you go through your daily life, this verse from Ephesians will be true because you are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works to do good things. And then note this, which God prepared beforehand. As you go through your day, all of a sudden, you’re going to see God prepared this beforehand. And you’ll have an opportunity to say something. You’ll have an opportunity to do something that will do God’s will. And the astonishing thing is because all of us are different, it will look different in every single person’s life. On the other hand, I think it’s possible that diversity could lead to some confusion. I wonder if it would be helpful to give you an example of what this would look like.

And I thought to myself, what a wonderful thing if the example could be from the world’s largest church which has the most powerful way of doing exactly this in a way that helps people come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In the world’s largest church, which happens to be Yoido Full Gospel Central Church of Seoul, Korea. When I did my doctoral work, I studied the methods that they used. They have an engine of helping people find Jesus Christ that generates over 20,000 converts every single year. That’s how they got up to 700,000 members. The pastor continually spins off new churches. He’ll give one of his associate pastors $5 million and 5,000 members. He’ll do that all year long. And by the end of the year, they’re right back up to 700,000. Now, we’re talking about in the ’70s, in the ’80s, the heyday of this particular church.

But in this church, they focus on four things. They have worship every Sunday in a sanctuary that seats 12,000 people. There are lines to where you’ll have to wait in line for over an hour to get in. They’ll have video screens in every fellowship hall room in their church building where another 100,000 people can watch worship over the different services that happen on a day.

They will have prayer meetings. Every morning in Korea, churches have prayer meetings at 5:00 AM. And in addition, this church will have prayer meetings in a cycle at night from 10 o’clock every two hours until 5:00 AM. They don’t do this on Saturday so people can sleep before the service on Sunday. It’s astonishing, but the secret of this church is that the other two things they focus on are gathering people together in small groups they call cells. Three people, six people, twelve people. And these little groups of people act like spiritual families where people care for each other.

And the other thing that happens because of those cells is visitation. Now, visitation is an old-fashioned word, knocking on somebody’s door and visiting them. But it’s more appropriately described as the people who are in these little groups are connected, are in contact with their neighbors where they live. And these are the four things that they do.

They don’t do much else than that.

And here’s the secret. I’ve shared this with you before, but to me, it’s one of the most profound realities. The senior pastor of this church, Yonggi Cho, said back around 1990, he said, “You know, we don’t do evangelism in Korea the way you do it in the West. We have 50,000 cell groups…” Remember, 50,000 of these little groups in neighborhoods. “We have 50,000 cell groups, and each group has a goal. Each group will love two people to Christ-– only two, within the next year.” That’s their focus for an entire year. “They select someone who’s not a Christian, whom they can pray for, love, and serve.” And it will be different for each person’s needs. “They bring meals, help sweep out the person’s store, whatever it takes to show they really care for them. And when a person asks, ‘Why are you treating me so well?'” –because it’s not normal for people to be kind to you in this world today, “Our people answer, ‘Jesus told us that we’re supposed to do good to all people, and we want you to know that we love you, and so does Jesus.'”

And then he said this, “After three or four months of such love, the hardest soul softens up and surrenders to Christ.” You see, this is their whole strategy. This is their entire idea. “Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourself, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Now, let’s you and I do the math, okay? Back up. We have 50,000 cell groups, and each group will love two people to Christ within the next year. Now, if someone is converted every three to four months, that’s more than two people. That’s three or four people. But the goal is two people every year. But two people every year, 50,000 cell groups, that would be 100,000 converts, right? They’re good, but they’re not that good. All they can do is convert 20,000 … but I think that’s good enough. But they all have that goal: 2 people. Some years, it doesn’t happen, but they all have that goal because what’s important is for them to love their neighbor as themselves.

Now, the key points here that people miss is they select someone who needs God’s love, and then they love them. That’s a key point.

We find a very similar thing in the book of Acts because simply this is what Jesus was telling the disciples to do. The minute the day of Pentecost came and the church erupted in Jerusalem, they began to do exactly the same things that are done in this church in Korea. So those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day, the day of Pentecost, about 3,000 souls. And you see these same four things. I like to call one pair, the right hand. On the right hand, you see the Mother Church, which is involved in organizing worship and prayer meetings. Oh, and administration like taking care of buildings and paying bills, which comes out in our day as the traditional church that we all are a part of. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the prayer services that were held every day in the Jewish temple.

But they also devoted themselves, and I like to call this the left hand. And I call it the left hand because you see, I’m so right-handed, I don’t do anything with my left hand except hold the fork to cut the meat. A lot of churches use the right hand, but don’t use the left hand. In the book of Acts, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, but they also devoted themselves to fellowship in small groups that met in people’s homes. And in those small groups, they would break the bread. They would eat the evening meal together. But in addition to that, they would take communion, they would pray, and they would sing. And so you have this two-handed, ambidextrous sort of church in the book of Acts. You also have the same kind of church in the world’s largest church in Seoul, Korea.

A little further down in Acts chapter two, and day by day, attending the temple together, that’s the right hand, and breaking bread in their homes, that’s the left hand, where they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved, who came into the church by first being a part of the small group in the neighborhood where they live.

And you see, here’s the challenge. The population of Seoul Korea has risen and fallen. It’s interesting in 1990, around the time of these words, there were 10,518,000 people in Seoul, Korea. Seoul’s population this year is 10,500,000. The picture you’re looking at there is a picture of apartment buildings that were built in 1973 that are close to the church building where this church gathers to worship. And these represent the challenge because even though Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, “And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” it is not always easy for a church to love its neighborhood. You see, each one of these buildings is locked and strangers are not allowed into it. But neighbors can speak to neighbors.

And if you wonder, what does God think about all the people living in those buildings? In this particular complex, there’s 1, 584 apartments. What does God want? What is God’s will with regard to all the people living in those buildings who can only be reached by someone who is their neighbor? Well, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 makes it very plain. “This is good and it’s acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved, all people to know Jesus Christ, all people to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants to bring those people to Christ. But how can you get past the locked front door? And the answer is you can do it if you’re their neighbor.

The Korean term for the cell leader, the leader of this group of 3 or 6 or 12 people, is literally– and I’m going to mispronounce it here because I don’t really know how to say it: ku-yok jang. But what it literally means is the leader in one’s small geographical territory or area. You see, each one of these people is a missionary with a micro-mission field. Their focus is entirely on their neighbors. The people they know, near where they live, who they associate with at work, individual people who are their neighbors.

And what exactly does this neighbor do? In these 12-story, 16-story buildings, the cell leader will frequently ride up and down in the elevator waiting to meet someone whom she knows. By the way, most of them are women. Most of them are women. In the Yoido church, they’re ordained as deacons, but most of them are women. And they will look for another woman carrying groceries and offer to help with the groceries. And they’ll hold the groceries and they’ll get off on the other person’s floor and walk the groceries to their door. And of course, as they’re riding up the elevator, they’ll say, “Well, how are you? How are you doing?” And if the woman they’re helping says, “Well, it’s okay, but the toilet stopped up.” The woman who was a cell leader will say, “Well, my husband’s really good with toilets. Can he bring his tools over and help you?” So that night, they help this woman with her plumbing issues. And they also pick up trash and sweep and clean up. And basically, they look for opportunities to do kind things.

Why are you being so good to me? Well, the Lord Jesus Christ told me to love you and to show you that. This is what the small group leader does. Now, bible study does happen at the weekly meeting. Singing does happen. Prayer does happen. And refreshments always happen when they get together once a week. But the main thing they do is talk about how they can be kind to their neighbors.

Eventually, the neighbor comes to the weekly meeting; they become good friends. The group attends worship or prayer meetings as a group; they go together and sit together. Eventually, the neighbor attends worship surrounded by their friends. There is no need to focus in the church building on hospitality to strangers; their friends take care of them.

For example, gift-giving, ranging from gifts at special occasions like a child’s birthday to the personal delivery of a copy of the weekly church newspaper, is culturally valued. Yoido Church publishes a weekly church newspaper. In it are devotions, information about the church, little articles about how to live a better life, how to unstop a toilet, recipes, how to be a better parent, all those kinds of things that make a difference in people’s lives. They touch the hearts of people. And they offer a valid reason for members of the cell to visit a non-Christian. I heard it’s your daughter’s birthday. Here’s a copy of the church newspaper.

Oh, by the way, in America, we are so smart. Their church newspaper goes to 1.4 million households each week. The copies are printed, 1.4 million copies. And each one is delivered to the front door of someone in an act of caring. But in America, we’re so smart. We’re going to mail it to them. Not only will it cost us a lot of money in postage, but it’s very impersonal … and not very smart. Because opportunities to be kind allow people to ask questions like, “How are you doing? Do you need anything? How can I pray for you and your family?” Little things that mean a lot.

Now, last week, we talked about how, as the Father has sent me, even so, I sent you, and I showed you all these beautiful pictures of Jesus knocking on people’s doors (Revelation 3:20). And I don’t know how many people got it … If the Father sent him to knock on doors, he kind of wants you to knock on doors. Not on the other side of town, but people you know. Not in a bad neighborhood, but where you live right now. Not with complete strangers, but people who are becoming your friends. This makes a powerful difference in the lives of other people because what they do as a way of doing these good works is they are praying for individual people who have individual problems and what they do is offer God’s help and their help.

One of the cell leaders, Okja, and I’m sure I’m pronouncing that wrong too, this is a quote from a book. Okja found something else that helped in bringing people to the Savior. When I talked to these people, we had targeted to evangelize because see, remember, they chose people and they prayed for them and looked for ways to be kind. She said, “I discovered one thing. If a person ever told me of a need or a problem, it let me know that person was receptive. It never failed that I could then lead that person to faith in Jesus Christ.”

The ultimate aim of evangelistic visitation, this evangelistic contact with neighbors, is to find people with needs and problems and then lead them to the problem solver, Jesus Christ. A subdistrict leader, Leebu Pak, and I’m sure I said that wrong too, tells her cell leaders, the missionaries with a micro-mission field, “Look for problems. When you find someone with a problem, you are almost guaranteed that that person will come to Jesus.” And so by being kind to their neighbors, thousands of people come to Christ.

Mother Teresa said, “God did not call me to minister to the millions, but to minister to the one who is in front of me.” This is a picture of something that works and it works very, very well. And I have to wonder, can the engine that produces 20,000 converts per year in Korea, can it work here? Now, maybe in this church, there would not be 50,000 cell groups … I could wish … but could there be one? Could there be one group that focuses on praying for individual people and doing what they can to help them, people who are not complete strangers, but people with whom they have some kind of daily contact, with the goal of helping them come to Christ?

Now, when this little group gets together once a month, there will be singing, but singing is not the focus. There will be Bible study, but Bible study is not the focus. There will be refreshments. There will be refreshments, just like we’re going to have a birthday party cupcakes right after worship today. There will be refreshments, but the focus is not refreshments. The focus is for individual people who have names to come to Christ.

And I’ll be very honest with you, folks. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of United Methodist churches in our Illinois Great Rivers Conference. There are thousands and thousands of churches of all denominations all around us. Ever since I read these words some 20 to 25 years ago, I’ve been watching. And other than the ones I’ve started, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not aware of a single small group in any of these churches where the focus of the group is on people, individual specific people coming to Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that churches are smaller than they used to be?

And I think we can learn from this. Because as Jesus said, as the Father sent me, even so I send you. And Jesus went from place to place, praying for individual people and helping individual people. And that drew huge crowds of people who needed that help. And there are people around us who need help, who feel very alone, who feel very misunderstood, who are struggling with great pain and difficulty, and they’re not aware of anybody who really cares.

We could be that person that cares, and God can use that.

Please pray with me. Pray with me. Lord Jesus, You said that as we go through our day, we would encounter opportunities to do good, to be kind. We would meet people who we probably already know in some way, who we probably already understand in some way. And You would work things out so that there would be an opportunity for us to say a kind word, do a good deed, or, Lord, if nothing else, pray. That person looks sad. I’ll pray for them. That person’s upset, I’ll pray for them. That person’s having a problem. And Lord, when You help them with their problem, they will learn to seek You every day. Lord, help us to be those kinds of neighbors who help their neighbors come to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

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