I had another thought when I walked into the building. The Mormons built this building with lots of energy and hard work, but then they sold it. They abandoned it and then went out and built a new temple. The important question is: did they put more energy, tears and sweat into building the new and bigger temple than they did for this church, or did they just invest a lot of money and give the plans to the contractor to build? Did money build it, or heart, sweat and labor? That's the important question.
I walked into this building thinking, "Father in Heaven, Your sons and daughters are in this congregation. They really poured out their heart, sweat and energy for this building. That is valuable for You. Furthermore, we restored this temple not for our own glory but for the celebration of this city, the nation's capital. We have a purpose and a providence to be here. Even though this temple is smaller than the new one the Mormons built, Father, because of our purpose I know You are dwelling with us here."
Therefore, this morning I encourage you to have new pride and new confidence. This building has finally met its master, finally met the people who truly love it. This edifice will feel excitement because for the first time it will truly serve the purpose of God. I wonder what you have been thinking for the past two months. If your feeling of love and responsibility to God were intense and you unselfishly gave of your sweat, then that intensity can surpass any known here before.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, "Renewed Pride", December 4, 1977, Columbia Road Church, Washington DC.
Today, I would like to talk about a vision of the future, commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the dedication of the DC family church. We will meet another century in just twenty six days. We are going to enter the third millennium. Now, all nations are preparing for this new century and new millennium.
England established the millennium committee for the next 1,000 years. America will hold a one-year celebration based on the American spirit at Times Square in New York. France and Germany are also working on similar projects. Recently, Korea made a plan for "The Vision of Culture 2,000." All these are the manifestations of each nation's desire to lead the culture of the 21st century. Futurists predict that the 21st century will be a gate or an opening to an era of culture. In this period, only higher level cultures can lead the world.
We, the Unificationists, or DC Family church members, have a sense of history. We are willing to take responsibility for history. Therefore, it is natural for us to think about the vision of the future; and it is our responsibility to prepare for the future. What is this vision of the future?
Arnold J. Toynbee established his unique cultural view of history based on the history of world civilization. One of the important points in his cultural view of history is his emphasis on the role of "higher religion" for developing civilization. Today, I would like to share his warning about our future centered on human free will: "Under the law of love, which is the law of God's own being, God's self-sacrifice challenges Man by setting before him the ideal of spiritual perfection; and Man has perfect freedom to accept or reject this. The law of love leaves Man as free to be a sinner as to be a saint; it leaves him free to choose whether his personal and his social life shall be a progress towards the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of night."
So Brothers and sisters! What kind of future do you want, the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of night? Where is the DC family church heading in the year 2000 and the new millennium? I believe that one answer is to build a healthy church. This healthy church concept is related to three meanings of church growth, and has three principles.
It is the most important principle in a healthy church. One of the miracles created by God is that all creations from virus to a planet are connected to each other by the principle of interdependence.
Our body consists of 400 trillion cells. It looks like one, but each of the cells is truly independent. Owing to the nervous system, each of them is connected to each other and become one. The nervous system extends from the head through the arms and legs centering on the backbone. This system is faster in speed than any other function in our body, even than the sound of a bullet. Its velocity is 840 m/sec. Our body can be protected and controlled completely by the give and take action between autonomic nerve and a non-autonomic one. This system looks like a microcosm of the healthy church centered on heart and is a reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven.
This system of interdependence has two lessons for us:
The role of each individual organ is unique, and all organs are organized into groups; such as the nervous system, lymph system, cardio-vascular system, digestive system, etc. These groups work in harmony, centered on the brain, to create the fully functioning whole. This grouping of individual organs and coordinated groups holds a great clue for creating a healthy church community.
You may have heard of the small group system in modern churches today. Churches of 10,000 members are actually churches of 1,000 small groups, all working together to accomplish the mission of the church. These are indeed healthy churches. A healthy church has many new members joining and plenty of financial resources to minister to all the members. Wouldn’t you like to become this kind of healthy church?
One day a Christian minister asked me, "How many people do you have in your congregation?" I said, "around 400 people." Then he asked, "How many people tithe?" I felt some pain in my heart at this point: What could I tell him? After a few minutes with a smiling face, I answered "400 people." He was shocked and asked me again, "Really? All of your congregation are now tithing?" I replied quickly, "Of course!" I was expressing to him my heart's desire, not our reality!
Why do I mention tithing? Not because I need money, but because God needs money. First, this is my responsibility and my "spiritual business" as a spiritual leader. Second, it is to insure Church growth. Without tithing our church cannot grow. Third, it insures spiritual growth and physical benefit. If we perform our spiritual duty, we will have freedom from our sins and will be liberated. Also, we will receive heavenly fortune. I am not sure that we can become rich like Bill Gates, but I believe that God will give us a big fortune or physical benefits.
You may say, "We do not have a healthy church yet, Rev. Lee, so I don't want to give my tithe." My answer is, "Brothers and sisters, if we tithe with a pure heart, God will return that offering to us." In other words, "If what we have we received as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety." Also, please give Rev. Schauffler and me a little help: we sincerely want to work together with you to create a healthy church community. Your tithe will make this church different and better. But to begin the new millennium with a bold new vision, we will need resources. This is where the metabolism can take place between the spiritual energy and tithing tradition. The spiritual energy created between God and our community will be hot and exciting! Tithing will benefit you and your family, and will benefit our community. To have a healthy church community, we must have a healthy tithing tradition! So, please send in your pledge by December 10th. Let us start the millennium with a new, healthy tradition of tithing.
It can be said that the fruit of the apple tree is an apple. Is it correct? Yes and No! It is right in one sense. However, the real fruit of the apple tree is another tree in terms of multiplication. Likewise, the real fruit of a small group is not a new member but another small group. By the same token, the true fruit of the church is not a small group but a new church, and the real fruit of leader is not a follower but a new leader. Therefore, the standard of a healthy church is whether or not there is the vision and accountability to multiply another church. If the church structure blocks this multiplication, it indicates that it is not a healthy church.
The American church has not been successful in multiplication for a long time, not because of church structure alone, but also, according to Father, because of the need for a small group of disciplined members to survive during the wilderness course. Now the wilderness course is over and we are in the era of the fourth Adam. Which means the time has come to multiply. This is how I look at the Japanese missionaries coming to America. And this is why I am serious to make substantial results from this providential work with them.
Multiplication is an ultimate goal that a healthy church should approach, whereas the principle of interdependence is the starting point for building a healthy church. Therefore, I believe that if we have healthy interdependence through growing meaningful small groups, and if we have a healthy tradition of tithing, we will multiply naturally!
To make a conclusion, let me read from Father's speech again, "I had another thought when I walked into the building. The Mormons built this building with lots of energy and hard work, but they sold it. They abandoned it and went out and built a new temple. The important question is: did they put more energy, tears and sweat into building the new and bigger temple than they did for this church, or did they just invest a lot of money and give the plans to the contractor to build? Did money build it, or heart, sweat and labor? The important thing is the spirit and the soul inside. The size of the building will not determine the dwelling place of God."
The building is here with the same spirit and soul as 22 years ago. What about our spirit and soul inside us today? Therefore, the theme "Vision 2000" means making internal growth and building a healthy church with responsible church membership.