The senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church reveals three secrets to church growth.
Contributed By Melissa Chen
|CN PHOTO: Jason Lee|
On Day Two of CGI-AC 2010, Dr. Lee Young-Hoon, senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, told the humble history of YFGC: how it started with five people 52 years ago and grew to become the world’s largest church. Lee’s session was hotly anticipated as he shared what leaders and believers around the world all want to know: the secrets to YFGC’s success.
Lee cautioned that the purpose of church growth should be greater evangelism, not growth for growth’s sake. Church growth is the work of God, said Lee, and not the work of man. “Christians first have to humble themselves and give glory to God, for He has blessed us with the gift of imagination.”
The first secret of YFGC’s success is its powerful message. Founded shortly after the Korean War, the church ministered to a country reeling from the ravages of war. Its simple message of hope in Jesus Christ sparked the fire of revival. It was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says Lee, that helped to birth so many successful ministries over the years.
Centered around “the five-fold gospel” (salvation, true fullness of the Holy Spirit, divine healing, blessing and the second coming of Jesus Christ), YFGC went from strength to strength under the leadership of Dr. David Yonggi Cho.
Cho taught his church the principles of “Fourth Dimensional Living” in a Three Dimensional world. Lee re-emphasized the four steps to walking in the Fourth Dimension: thinking, visions and dreams, faith and the proclamation of God’s Word.
YFGC’s second secret is that it does the work of the Holy Spirit.
Lee shared how his previous church was stuck at a plateau: it had 300 members, but the fervency of its members was waning. He began to cry out to God, and finally received a revelation that he had to lead his people out of a “slavery attitude”, an attitude of constant complaint. He was reminded of Moses leading the Israelite nation out of Egypt. Just as Moses had prayed for God to provide the needs of the people, so Lee needed to trust in the provision of God. He realized that the growth of the church was too much for his own strength, and that it had to be committed to God in prayer.
Lee exhorted the church, “We need the wind of the Holy Spirit! Let the wind blow!” When the Holy Spirit moves in the church, its members grow individually; when that happens, the church grows as a whole.
The last secret of YFGC’s success is its strong prayer culture.
The amount of prayer needed, Lee explained, is dependent on how much work needs to be done. He cited Jesus’ as an example. To fuel His powerful ministry, Jesus first had to pray and fast for 40 days in the desert.
“I could only pray for less than five minutes!” Lee admitted of his early Christian life. However, after being baptized in the Holy Spirit, he found that he was increasingly able to pray, sometimes surprising himself by praying for more than an hour.
His church began to see exponential growth as his devotion to prayer grew. He got the church to hold regular prayer meetings at 5 a.m. weekly, and also held one before its service on Friday night.
As the church prays, he explained, the members begin to see that prayer moves God’s hands, and miracles happen.
Lee explains, “God waits until we pray before He can begin to do the good work. We have to pray to receive new strength to overcome the difficulties in our lives. It is also important to have a pure heart, a heart of repentance from our sin, for God to answer our prayers.”
YGFC’s strong focus on prayer has led them to establish prayer meetings that are broadcast on satellite all around the world. The church is so committed to prayer that the only time they would stop praying is during meal times, joked Lee.
Lee ended the session by praying over the congregation, asking that God show them how to pray, that they might produce the workings of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in their countries. He prayed that they would do miracles in Asia and the world.