Yoido Full Gospel Central Church

   The Yoido Full Gospel Central Church in seoul, Korea, the largest Christian congregation in the world, emerged as part of the vision of its pastor, David Yonggi Cho (b. 1936). Cho, a former Buddhist, recovered from an apparently fatal case of tuberculosis after converting to Christianity. He later experienced a call to the ministry, and after attending the Full Gospel Bible College in Seoul of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, he began a new church in Seoul. Four years later, he moved the congregation into a 1,500-seat revival center, and he was named general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Korea. Meanwhile, his own pastorate continued to grow with a team of associate pastors and a host of home cell groups. The church has pioneered cell church ministry, which has been the source of much of its worldwide popularity. The church also became known for its use of female leaders at all levels.
   In 1973, a large new church was begun on Yoido Island in seoul and completed in time to host the 10th Pentecostal World Conference. Church membership hit 100,000 in 1979. In the 1980s, the church building was enlarged to accommodate 25,000 people at multiple services throughout the day each Sunday. As the new century began, membership reached around 700,000. Besides the main sanctuary on Yoido Island, there are 24 independent satellite churches and 16 dependent satellite sanctuaries. Pastors trained at Yoido have founded 62 additional independent churches.
   In 1992, Cho became chairman of the executive committee of the World Pentecostal Assemblies of God Fellowship (now the World Assemblies of God Fellowship). Cho was praised for his innovations, but often criticized for his theology, which appeared close to the Word Faith movement with its emphasis on positive confession. He teaches that the spoken word can release the power and presence of Jesus. In praying, the believer should visualize needs and be specific in requests. Cho presented his ideas in several books, some of which have been translated into English and other languages.
   The church has built a global ministry program, sending out 300 missionaries by the beginning of the new century. More than half of these were sent to North America, which has returned to its earlier position as an object of missionary concern. Others are scattered across more than 25 countries of South America, Europe, and Central ASIA. The church also sponsors the International
   Theological Institute, which supports the training and dispatching of evangelists.
   See also Korea, Republic of (South).
   Further reading:
   ■ Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension (Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1979)
   ■ ----, More than Numbers: Principles of Church Growth (Gainesville, Fla.: Bridge-Logos, 1983)
   ■ ----, Successful Home Cell Groups (Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1981)
   ■ Nell Kennedy, Dream Your Way to Success: The Story of Dr. Yonggi Cho and Korea (Gainesville, Fla.: Bridge-Logos, 1980).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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