Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Largest Church in the World

Since coming to Korea many people from the US have asked me if I have attended "that really big church". I had been wanting to since I knew I was going to be here but never had the chance. Jessica had also wanted to go. We decided last week that today would be a good day. So after going to our Sunday school we ducked out and went to the Yoido Full Gospel Church. YFGC is apparently the largest church in the world, with an estimated membership of over 800,000. It's Pentecostal. We did not tell anyone we were going as we did not want to cause a problem. Not so much "better to beg forgiveness" as much as we did not want people to think something that was not the case or, frankly, to judge. Anyway, we got there about noon and were told that the next service (4 of 7) was starting at 12:35. So we went to their bookstore for a few minutes then back to find our guide so we could get a seat. The 12:35 part was a Praise and Worship service and the actual service started at 1. The P&W service was much more conservative than I expected. I mean, there were still drums 'n' stuff but the general style was very similar to the youth group I attended when I lived in Atlanta. The service it self was quite conservative (we had headphones for simultaneous translation), we said the Apostles Creed, and the songs were mostly hymns with the final song before dismissal being "The Lord's Prayer". The sermon itself was neither good nor bad (theologically speaking); it was more of a motivational speech to "Have faith, have faith, have faith." It was not even a man-focused "You need to have faith so you will have a better life." thing. Just...have faith. Very weak. I'm sure some things were lost in the translation. It was neat because the Pastor Emeritus (Yonggi Cho, the man who started it) only preaches one service of the seven and the one we attended was the one he preached. They had a time of public prayer (like a minute max) where I'm sure people were speaking in tongues but there was no thrashing/falling in the aisles the way some people try to portray that kind of thing. Also, there was a time of healing, again, nothing crazy going on, just odd. He had people cross their hands over their chests (like they do with dead people) and then he went through a bunch of ailments and said that people were healed from them "People with nose problems, you are healed; people with eye problems, you are healed...."etc. Again, no one in the aisles or whatever. There was also a time when, during prayer, he had people who "did not have faith when they arrived but had faith now" to stand and he lead them in a prayer and they all got saved. At least thats what the goal was. But there was no gospel presentation before that. Then a song and we were out. Below are pictures (duh). It was a neat experience but makes me even more thankful for good preaching when I get it.

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