Father has taught us that services are not merely meetings but the place where Heavenly Father and Satan do battle. During the early days, many members reported feeling the intensity of such battles.
Sunday service offers an opportunity for each one of us to offer ourselves to God, dividing the good and evil in our minds. This is an especially appropriate time to offer repentance to Heavenly Father for the past week and to affirm our determination to serve Him in the coming week.
It is important to learn to check our spiritual life every day, not just in preparation for Sunday service, for our lives of faith must daily be deepened. The Principle is our teaching, but we need to be concerned not only with the tenets of our faith, but also with our lifestyle. When attending any service, listen to the lesson and find the living Principle; incorporate it into your daily life.
Father outlined some thoughts on worship services in The Way of God's Will.
The time of worship service is the time of fighting to cut off Satan's chains and lead ourselves to the Heavenly side. It is a most serious time in which we rededicate our hearts in order to revive our lives. In light of this, you should absolutely be punctual in attending worship service. When you are late to a worship service you should feel so repentful that you cannot raise up your head.
Sunday service in the Unification Church is conducted in a similar way to those held in other Christian churches. Korean members usually arrive early because they feel the importance of preparing their minds before listening to Father's sermon. They gather early to create a holy atmosphere through prayer and song.
The person delivering the sermon or conducting the service, as well as all those who attend, must recognize the importance of internal participation. Father always emphasized that the internal content of a service is far more important than its external form or ritual.
In Korea, Unification Church Sunday services traditionally begin at 11:00 a.m., although members usually arrive thirty or forty minutes earlier. The time for a Unification Church center to begin services on Sunday mornings may vary depending on the situation.
In the early years Father himself conducted the entire service, even leading the songs. Although he prepared long before he arrived at church, when he came into the room, Father would sit behind the pulpit, praying in readiness for the service. We should learn from Father's standard of giving a Sunday service.
Whether selecting Holy Songs, traditional hymns or the Bible reading, Father was always careful to choose all materials to complement the sermon topic. For Sunday services today it is also acceptable to choose readings from the Principle or Father's speeches.
The following is the format which Father used many years ago when he conducted the services:
When it was time for the service to start, Father would stand up and ask that the service begin with silent prayer. After a short time, he prayed and then led the singing. Sometimes Father would lead members in singing a particular song three or four times to teach the significance of connecting in heart with the meaning o} the song and elevating the spiritual atmosphere. Father would pray, sing more songs, then choose a member to offer a representative prayer before the Bible reading. Father would then speak for several hours or more, pray, lead one more song, and close with unison prayer.
The above format should be followed if a leader conducts Sunday service for a large group of people, although it is not necessary to preach as long a sermon.
Small congregations or centers may structure the Sunday service accordingly, using as many of the format suggestions given in the sections above as desired.
Internally, we should strive to cultivate a loving relationship with Heavenly Father and True Parents. The desire for such a relationship with God creates in us the desire to offer something to support His work through money donated to be used for the will of God and His restoration providence. Also, the Principle teaches us to serve and live for the sake of others. A donation is one basic way to do this.
Following the tradition of Christian churches, collection plates or baskets may be used.
When attending a Unification Church service, members may offer their financial tithe (refer to chapter 13, Tithing: Financial Tithe) during the collection.
Sermon leaders do not simply conduct services but offer guidance through the sermon, reading, songs, etc. Sermon leaders may wish to structure a general sermon plan or outline for an entire year. By planning in this way, sermon leaders are able to give practical guidance before major Holy Days and Unification Church holidays (e.g., Day of Victory of Love, Foundation Day, anniversary of the establishment of HSA-UWC). Refer to chapter 14, Holy Days: Holidays, for a more detailed list.
Prior to receiving the Blessing, the main purpose of Principle education is preparation for the Blessing; after the Blessing, guidance should focus on creation of the ideal world through forming ideal families. Sermon topics may include: internal guidance topics (prayer, witnessing, conditions of indemnity (tang gam the Blessing, etc.), Father's life course, connecting the Principle to our daily lives, attendance to God and the True Parents, and achievement of Father's standard for blessed families.
It is important to pray in preparation for a sermon. Father has mentioned that sermon leaders should prepare for as much as three hours, exercising the utmost sincerity before attempting to give a one-hour sermon or lecture.
Write an outline of the sermon. Read the Bible, the Principle, or True Father's speeches to add references, parables, and testimonies.
It is helpful for some people to write out an outline or an entire manuscript; however, it is suggested that one bring only the outline or a list of the key words to the pulpit.
Father is quoted on this topic in The Way of God's Will:
A sermon leader should start to make preparations for Sunday service three days ahead, making the utmost effort to please his congregation on Sundays as if he were pleasing all humankind.
Before giving a sermon, I spend more time praying for family members than for the sermon. I pray with all my sincere heart: "Father! What shall I do to raise these people?" and then I preach as my heart commands.
True sermons are words from a life that has been full of blood, sweat and tears.
Sermon leaders must be cautious not to give judgmental sermons which would be difficult for either members or guests to receive. When the message is strong, the person presenting the sermon should be aware of the effect his or her words might have upon the listeners, and keep the delivery as positive and light as possible.
It is important to remember also that a sermon is given not simply to entertain the audience. It is to share God's way, the path of the Principle, and the tradition of the True Parents. When a sermon leader formulates and delivers a sermon, it is essential to make it understandable to those who will listen, and to make sure the message or content is centrally linked with God's tradition. The sermon should maintain a clear theme which is appropriate to the audience.
A sermon leader should never deliberately ridicule or criticize an individual member or capitalize negatively on a member's weak point in a public sermon.
Father spoke of this in The Way of God's Will:
When you give a poor sermon as a church leader you must shed three times as much blood and sweat as usual in your repentance. If you have failed to give blessing to others through your sermon, you must pay the price for it by other means such as serving others.
Fallen man is like a fireplace housing both dry and wet firewood. Dry firewood (positive spirit, mind) helps the fire to keep burning but the wet firewood (negative spirit, mind) creates only smoke. Always remember that the living Principle is our standard; it is important to follow the Principle and then teach it, not the other way around.
Be spontaneous. Be sensitive to the reaction of the audience. Be expressive. Uplift the heart and spirit of the audience.
During the week, the sermon leader should pray for the congregation. Remember each one's face, and be concerned about his or her spiritual growth.
Father speaks on this topic in The Way of Tradition:
When you give a sermon, don't think you are speaking to the whole audience, but only a certain person in it. If that person sheds tears because of the blessing he receives through the sermon, the whole audience will automatically be affected. Therefore, you must ask yourself for whom you give a sermon today and for whom you expend your spiritual energy, deciding clearly who the object of your sermon is.
Establishment of Sunday school classes should be done when it becomes necessary or possible for a local church center to do so.
Generally Sunday school is held the hour before the main church service. If this is inconvenient, however, it is also permissible to hold it during or after the Sunday service.
Separate classes should be held for the various age groups; if there is a limited number of teachers and children, several age groups can be combined to form one class. Sunday school classes may also be held for adults.
Although teaching materials would vary among individuals and age groups, several suggestions would be to take the main lesson for the Sunday school class from the sermon topic, or to go through stories in the Old Testament and New Testament. Examples from the Principle, True Father's life, personal testimonies of faith, etc., may be added by the teacher for further impact and guidance.
It is suggested that, if possible, Sunday school teachers meet an average of once a week to discuss with the church director the upcoming week's sermon and the response of the children in class. This will allow the church director to keep informed on the spiritual growth of the children in the congregation.
It is important for members to attend a Sunday worship service in their local church center or the church of their choice (see chapter 22, Blessed Family Practices: Sunday Service and Sunday School). It is a time to focus on God's will and set one's determination for the coming week.
At least one member of each blessed family should attend Sunday service representing the entire family.
Our attitude should always be one of utmost respect for the beliefs and practices of other faiths when attending their services.
The Korean Unification Church holds various types of services each week. For example, besides the 5:00 a.m. Pledge service and 11:00 a.m. public Sunday service, other services are also held, such as a Sunday evening service, an evening service on Wednesday, and a service for associate or home members on Friday evenings. This tradition could be established by local, state, and national church centers to facilitate development of a congregation.
The Sunday and Wednesday evening services might be held in a similar format to the Sunday morning worship service.
On Friday evenings a service for associate or home members may be held. Arrange to use a member's home to hold the Friday night service and delegate responsibility to that member for inviting neighbors and other members who live nearby to attend.
Choir, men's and women's organizations, a youth organization, a family association, a home church association, as well as members' Principle education and Bible education classes can be held at different times during the week.
Meetings can be held weekly, biweekly, or monthly, according to the situation and need.
Many types of creative projects on either a local, national, or international level of our movement could be sponsored by any of the aforementioned organizations, utilizing the talents and abilities of participating members.
As often as possible, church leaders should visit the homes of associate and home members. When a home member is sick or in the hospital, the church leader should plan to visit the member, if possible.
If one is invited to a family gathering (wedding, birth) of a home member, he or she should try to attend. Such visits can generate a deeper relationship with home members and broaden the base of our church.
These opportunities also allow one to suggest to the member that neighbors be invited for a prayer meeting, lecture, videotape, etc. A leader can give general guidance and perhaps introduce True Father and our movement in a testimony, a series of video tapes, or lectures.
These visits also afford leaders the chance to listen to the home mem- ber's situations -- the climate and concerns of the neighborhood, for example.
It is important that the leader pray for the home and the guests who are attending the meeting. Pray that these people come closer to God and are prepared to receive God's blessing.
It is recommended that local, state, or national churches hold Principle seminars, fellowship evenings, banquets or special witnessing meetings (e.g., revival meetings) several times a month.
The length of such meetings should be in accordance with the purpose and is up to the discretion of the leader. For example, this could vary from simply sharing a meal to three days or even up to one week.
This kind of activity provides an opportunity to share information about True Parents and our movement. In a general way, such meetings help to solve communication breakdowns and misunderstanding which other people or groups may have toward us. Members, too, have a chance to grow through this kind of event.
It is recommended that both leaders and members offer a joint special prayer condition for the success of such meetings.
Centering on a planning committee, all members can assist at such a gathering. Leaders may seek volunteers to provide such services as cooking, entertainment, public relations, etc.
It is suggested that when appropriate (e.g., after a particularly important witnessing or fund raising condition) special workshops be held. When possible, go to a retreat center, campground, park, etc. During this type of seminar, it is advisable to focus on internal guidance, questions about the Principle, our movement, or other relevant topics.
Testimonies of such meaningful experiences as how to deal effectively with problems confronting a life of faith can also add reverence to such meetings. Discuss new ways of living the Principle and methods of working in the mission.
During the early days in Korea, Father initiated a tradition of daily early morning service at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m.. which for many years was held at Holy Ground. This later evolved into the tradition of Pledge service. Members often studied the Bible or the Principle in addition to offering prayers. Members would also share insights about the Principle, testifying about how they were able to overcome their problems.
Morning and evening prayer services or meetings are part of the traditional practice of Unification Church members. For more than thirty years True Father met and continued teaching members from early morning until late at night.
Each center or department should observe this tradition. As a family (center, department, etc.) it is vital to start the day together, pledging to do our best in our mission. It is equally important to end the day together, offering to Heaven that day's achievements.
The guidelines listed below are not strict or absolute; modifications should be made according to different situations.
Centers or departments which use the trinity system (a group of prayer partners) may chose to conduct one of the daily services as a trinity prayer meeting.
Within each blessed family, too, it is advisable to hold such services once or twice a day. (Please refer to chapter 22, Blessed Family Practices: Prayer Services.)
On occasion, national or worldwide prayer conditions are established for a certain number of days (e.g., 21, 40, 120). If there is a specific time to pray (e.g., 6:00 a.m.) for a certain number of minutes, it is important to strictly maintain that schedule.
On Sunday morning, however, it is most appropriate to offer such a prayer condition directly following the recitation of My Pledge.
A nation (or group of members within a nation) that receives information of a worldwide prayer condition days or weeks after it has started should extend the period of its prayer condition so as to fulfill the specified length. However, it may be appropriate to adjust the prayer content.
If a national condition is set up in one of the major dispensational countries and other nations want to establish a similar prayer condition, they may decide a different time or length for prayer.