TL;DR – The secret to gathering 240,000 faithful followers.
South Korea’s secretive church Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ), has been in the spotlight for a while now after infections were first confirmed among worshippers in the southern city of Daegu.
Unsurprisingly, this mysterious church, which has been called a cult, is responsible for more than half of the COVID-19 cases in South Korea today has aroused a lot of curiosity among people.
A South Korean netizen, who claimed to be an ex-SCJ church member, has recently uploaded a video on her YouTube channel to help shed some light about the mega church’s approach to evangelism, and how can one differentiate an SCJ church from the traditional mainstream ones.
The video, entirely in Korean, was uploaded on Feb 23 and has since garnered over 250,000 views.
Here’s some of the tea which she has spilled in her 12-minute long video:
1. The process of Shincheonji’s evangelism
According to her, SCJ typically involves at least two to four people in their evangelism process.
- Guide – this person will be the one to decide who he or she wants to preach to. A guide can be anyone, including a family member, a relative, a friend, a school mate, an acquaintance… you get the drift.
- Recruit – essentially, the person who is being “evangelised”. In other words, the person whom the guide has decided to preach to.
- Teacher – Someone who teaches the recruit about the Bible. A teacher can also be a guide, depending on the situation. However, not everyone in SCJ can be a teacher. You’d be required to have the qualification in order to become one.
- Manager – Someone who lends help to the recruit. The role of this person is also to gather information about the recruit, which may be helpful in the evangelising process.
2. Recruits are required to go through mandatory bible study sessions
Recruits are made to go through bible study sessions. These sessions usually happen around two to four times a week. This is the mandatory process through which recruits have to go through before getting into the SCJ Center.
Here, recruits will be taught the fundamental doctrine of the SCJ Church. This is also where the wrong doctrine is “implanted” into the recruits and the stage whereby people will not be able to make an accurate judgment unless they are already very familiar with the Bible themselves.
In fact, in SCJ, evangelism is usually not conducted in a pastor’s house or churches, and carried out with a very high level of heresy.
3. Recruits must pass an exam before becoming a member of Shincheonji church
The SCJ Center is where recruits study the SCJ Church’s doctrine in a larger group. Also known as the SCJ theology program, this program is a six-month-long program that requires recruits to take an exam before they can graduate.
The exam paper consists of 300 questions and the passing score for the exam is 90 marks.
Upon graduating from SCJ’s theology programme, recruits can then become official members of the SCJ church.
Watch the graduation ceremony in the video below:
4. Shincheonji uses Telegram for security reasons
The SCJ church members are known for proselytising in secret and are told not to reveal their identities – not even to their own family members. Hence for security reasons, the church is said to use Telegram to communicate with members.
And in the event where they find someone acting suspiciously or if they suspect someone of disguising as a member of the church, the church would then conduct a check on the person’s phone to see if they have the Telegram app installed on their phone.
The church would also access the person’s account to check if the person has recently logged in on Telegram.
5. Worship above everything else!
Typically worship service at the church takes place every Wednesday and Sunday with three sessions and two sessions each day respectively.
Church members are expected to attend these worship sessions. In the event members are unable to attend, alternate worship service may be offered.
However, if a member is absent from the church’s activities frequently, the church will then become suspicious of the person.
In any case, to the church, nothing else is as important as worship and evangelism.
6. Shincheonji would do anything and everything to recruit members
Members of SCJ are known to have several methods to try and bring new members into their church.
For instance, they would go deep into finding out things about the person they want to recruit. They would invest a lot of time to find out about the person’s concerns, worries, interest, faith… basically anything and everything about the person. They also mostly target people who tend to have a lot of time at hand.
Another method they resort to is having members of SCJ secretly join other churches and pose as new members of that church. After joining, these SCJ members would slowly attempt to convert members into moving to the Shincheonji church.
They would also go to the extent of conducting networking sessions as a disguise to reach out to new people. However, these networking sessions would never ever involve alcohol.
7. Recruitment booth along street walks
If you ever see a recruitment booth along the street, you might want to be very mindful of the legitimacy of their recruitment drive and motive!
Apparently, SCJ is known to also disguise themselves as voluntary groups, interest clubs, high-tea groups and etc. Through these “recruitment drives”, they would then reach out to you for your contact number.
Recently, they are also known to cast an even wider net to reach more people through online surveys and online personality tests.
How do you know if someone is from Shincheonji Church?
Although we already know that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is already on high alert on the church’s activities in Singapore, and currently investigations are ongoing into the unregistered Singapore chapter of South Korea’s Shincheonji…
But you never know, right? Be aware and be very careful!
Here’s just ONE important advice from the ex-SCJ church member,
“Beware of those who try to talk to you about the Bible randomly, especially when you guys are supposedly doing things or activities that are irrelevant to faith and religion. These people will always try to steer the conversation back to the Bible no matter what!”