Last weekend, senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church Dr Younghoon Lee sat down with City News to share on revival and how the Church can prepare for it.
Dr Lee is the successor of the late Rev Dr Yonggi Cho, the founder of YFGC and its senior pastor emeritus. Dr Cho, the spiritual father to CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee passed away in September 2021.
Dr Lee assumed the position of senior pastor of YFGC in 2008, and in the 15 years that he has led the church, it has seen an increase of 10,000 members each year; its current congregation size stands at 880,000, the largest in the world. The church continued to grow even during the pandemic—there were 25,000 baptisms at YFGC during the Covid years.
In this interview, Dr Lee talks about life for YFGC after Dr Cho, the challenges of evangelism in this day and age, and the revival that will come to churches around the world in the next decade.
CITY NEWS: YFGC has a congregation of 880,000. With such a large church, how do you keep to the church’s DNA and the doctrine taught by Dr Cho?
DR YOUNGHOON LEE: Following the legacy of Dr Cho, we increased all the cell leaders in the church. Cell leaders are the spiritual warriors of the church. They always dedicate their lives to the Lord. They serve the community and take care of the older generation. They are one of the reasons for church growth. Two, there is prayer life. We have prayer meetings on weekdays. Every first three days of the month, there is a prayer meeting for church leaders. Prayer is the most powerful church ministry. Three, we teach doctrine, and we have many activities in the church. Fourth, we give to charity missions. One-third of our annual budget—about USD300 million every year—goes to serving the underprivileged like the single mothers, the disabled, refugees from North Korea. We support all the people who need our support.
That’s amazing! We understand that the church was growing even during the Covid pandemic, and that there were 25,000 baptisms during that period?
Yes, we have baptism when we reach 6,000 to 7,000 new members. This year we have set our highest goal of 50,000 new members. We are expecting a great revival in the church in the next decade.
Speaking of revival, you prophesied during the Saturday service that CHC will see a revival and everything will be restored to us in one year. Can you tell us why you say this?
We are facing a great revival decade. Within 10 years, all the churches will be double in the world. Last year at the Pentecostal World Conference, many church leaders prophesied about a revival in the near future. Revival is coming. God is going to all the spiritual leaders for the great revival. God is going to use City Harvest Church to evangelise Singapore and Asia.
As a church and as Christians, how should we prepare for revival?
We must first focus on prayer. (Then) we have to repent of our sins, repent of our neglect. All revival comes with prayer and repentance. We spend a lot of time and money on the secular things, but we have to change our lives to focus on the sacred things, holy things. This is very important.
The last time we spoke to you, you shared with us that YFGC was experiencing a revival among the youth. Are there many young people coming to the church now?
Revival in the youth is very important. We must focus on the youth for the next decade because they will carry the revival to the next generation. All churches must focus on the youth.
It is challenging. In Singapore, 20 percent of youth aged 15 to 24 say they don’t have a religion, compared to 18 percent of youth in that age group that are Christians.
That is a problem all over the world, penetrating the young group. You have a great worship team, the young generation like music. We have to use all kinds of methods to turn them to church. At Yoido, we have six services and a prayer meeting every weekend; 3pm is our youth service. On 6 June we will hold a youth prayer rally at the stadium.
When you began your ministry at YFGC in 1978 you were also editor-in-chief for Youngsan Publishers and the first editor of the Full Gospel Newspaper. But media has changed so much particularly in the last 10 to 15 years. How can Christians use media today to tell people about Jesus?
Media is a very important part of our lives, so we must use all sorts of media to penetrate the people. Ten years ago, Pastor Abraham Ku from Taiwan predicted that the next world’s largest church will be the mobile. It’s true. We have to use all kinds of methods. So we have to have mobile church for the youth, and they will join the church after they watch your service on their mobile. So we have to provide the best worship service for the youth—you have it already, don’t worry.
On the topic of media, media tends to portray Christianity in a negative light, for example Netflix has produced a series about a Korean cult. How should we defend our faith when non-believers ask us about such shows?
We fight evil with goodness. We give our best to sharing love with people so that society will know about it. We reach out the prisoners with the love of Christ, then you change society.
We are so sorry for the loss of both Dr Cho and his wife Dr Kim Sunghae. What is it like without their presence? How do you and the church remember them?
He was a father to all the people in the church. All of us were in sorrow. We made ourselves to continue his legacy, to go even deeper and broader in his ministry. We have to or the church will decrease. Dr Cho left us everything, so we focus on enlarging his ministry. We do not stop at the past. We have to go forward.