On the first day of the year, the elders met to reflect, pray and discuss on how we might move forward together as a church. Even as the new year brings about some optimism and hope on news that a vaccine could soon reach the masses, we continue to be affected by the Covid-19 virus and adapt to life in the “new normal”. Invariably, our discussion centered on how we would meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the day.
The overarching mission of the Church has always been the Great Commission given by our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be disciples and disciple-makers in the world. Or to look at it another way, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation that “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18). So it remains for us in our deliberations to determine how best to fulfil that vision in a world where churches are not allowed to congregate and SOPs radically disconnect us from people and places. In a time when the world needs the hope of the Gospel most, they are faced with the prospects of more lockdowns and isolation. If they cannot reach the church, then the church must go to them. The Gospel cannot be impeded by a virus! Our focus on God’s Mission must continue.
For all the restraints we face every day, there has never been a more conducive time to share the good news of Jesus Christ! The uncertainties confronting many people have given them pause to reconsider their priorities in life. It has caused many to ask ultimate questions that they would otherwise not have asked when life was plain sailing. The harvest has never been more ripe for the picking! So this year, we have chosen to use the tagline “Unleashing the Gospel” to help focus our efforts in fulfilling God’s Mission. The Gospel is God’s power that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Unleashing that uncontainable potent force requires a sense of urgency and an active part on every Christian to meet the ever growing spiritual need of our community. Towards that end, we shall focus on four areas of development
- Online Outreach and Content Creation.
Going online for almost everything we need has now truly become a reality of life. When the lock downed started, the Creative and Communication ministry which was still in its infancy had to quickly adapt and shift gear to put our services online! Each production has been a herculean effort, and we thank God for the people involved who have stepped up to the task. We also realize that with technology, we now have a way to reach audiences outside our immediate vicinity that we hadn’t really explored before. With physical separation a reality, we now have the opportunity to create quality localized content that is more suited to our culture for a wider audience.
There are however a couple of caveats. Firstly, we must be careful we do not breed a culture of content consumers, satisfied with watching a sermon on demand and having a “come as you please” attitude. Online service should never be a permanent substitute for the gathered church and an observance of all that’s sacred and holy in our worship. While we should embrace and harness technology, let’s not forget it’s a means to an end. We perceived that there is a need for us to reclaim a sense of reverence on the Lord’s day and in our lives. Secondly, the virtual world can never be a substitute for forming real world relationships that is the basis of discipleship and doing life together. That’s where the focus on Life Group comes in.
- Reclaiming our sacred space for worship
On Sunday, do we prepare our hearts for worship and acknowledge we come into the presence of God? While we can’t be together in space, do we at least join our spiritual family in time and “in spirit” to worship punctually? Or has our Christianity been reduced to watching a sermon a week on demand much like keeping up with the latest episode of a soap opera? Admittedly, the enforced isolation has curtailed our worship experience and daily lives. But we have to find ways to regain a sense of reverence for all things sacred that we may have lost. We have to be mindful that we are to be engaged in our worship instead of merely being entertained. Our lives have to be transformed instead of merely being informed. To achieve that, we need to first and foremost have a high view of God. We need to reacquaint ourselves with the Holy character of our Creator and Sustainer and allow that sense of awe and wonder to permeate every aspect of our lives. Therefore, “Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
- Life Groups
Our life groups will continue to be an important avenue where we live out our profession of faith. It’s where we demonstrate our love for one another, spurring one another to good works (Hebrews 10:4). We want to be a church of life groups, not just a church with life groups. Therefore it’s our desire that every member should be part of a smaller group where we can help each other to mature in faith and be accountable. We will need to find creative ways that will help to foster deeper relationships since we are temporarily prevented from larger gatherings. Perhaps the answer lie in having smaller group meetings in public spaces and more one-on-one engagements. Whatever the answer may be, we will have to be intentional in investing our energies in connecting with one another which forming any meaningful relationship would require.
- Leadership (Servanthood) Renewal
Servanthood is really the essence of Church leadership. We have already seen some new faces from the pulpit and on the church board. Going forward, it’s our hope that many more would seek to exercise their gifts in serving the body of Christ. We are not only talking about young and fresh faces but also the more mature amongst us who would bless our church with their spiritual wisdom, strength and endurance. So let us together heed the exhortation of the apostle Peter when he said, “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Our leadership is committed to help everyone develop their gifts to serve.
The year ahead will bring fresh challenges and uncertainty. But as Dr Peter reminded us last week in his new year article, even in the midst of change, we can continue to lean on what is our constant and firm foundation, even our Head the Lord Jesus Christ!
In His Bond,
Leong Yew Lum