The Shift God Is Doing Through Covid-19

When The Church Begins To Sink

What You See is What You Get

The Call to Incarnational Leadership

I had a communications class recently, and was shown these familiar statistics of how people learn and imbibe:

  • Hearing about a principle – 10%
  • Seeing the principle at work – 30-50%
  • Articulating and discussing the principle – 70%
  • Engaging, interacting while practising the principle – 90%

The lecturer indicated these statistics were out-dated. In fact, he asserted that with current updates, they were even more true than ever—with people engaging, interacting and practising ending up imbibing a principle as much as 92-95%!

our people need to see, hear and engage godly leadership in order to grow to be good leaders—what you see is what you get!

When it comes down to imbibing good leadership, I believe that it also true that people learn best when they engage, interact with good leaders while practising them in their lives—that’s where incarnational leadership comes in.

When a leader lives and models good leadership principles, his followers will inevitably engage, interact with, and practise leadership under good mentors and supervisors. What they see, hear and do in these relationships are the best arenas, within which, to grow to become good leaders themselves.

Do we have enough leaders and supervisors who are committed to being good models and mentors in your organization?
Are you yourself mindful of personal modelling of leadership to your staff and followers?

Are you an incarnational leader?

The Bible show-cases negative examples of leadership models and their impact (eg. Through the books of 1 & 2 Kings). Yet, the bible calls us never to give up hope, but rather point us to God’s ideals.
Your organization may have its fair share of negative examples of leadership which inevitably have a negative impact on followers. Yet, we must not give up hope, but rather look again to biblical ideals.

And so, God sent His Son—Jesus Christ—to become a man, to engage and interact with us…all the while modelling godly leadership ideals through His life:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7)

I submit to you that more than ever today, leaders need to model and live out godly ideals through their leadership, while engaging, mentoring and guiding their staff and followers. More than ever today, our people need to see, hear and engage godly leadership in order to grow to be good leaders—what you see is what you get!

A key tenet of incarnational leadership is the philosophy that the leader himself imbibes biblical principles that shape his own heart first. From the heart and personal life comes expressions of leadership practices that impact followers or the organization. While leadership practices may change in various contexts, cultures and generations, key biblical values that shape the leader’s heart remain largely the same.

There are several current leadership principles that impinge on how values affect the leader’s heart and life. Let me share 4 of them:

1. Being the first-fruit of God’s change

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18).

When we lead people and organization into positive change, we believe God has good things in store for us! But He intends for His people to be the first-examples, the first-results of that change, especially the leader himself or herself.

For the commandos, he learnt that he could not lead them well if he could not run at the front of the pack.

A pastor I know was an officer in the paratroopers / commandos in his earlier career. He had just graduated from the officers’ training course. On the day he was introduced to his men as their commander, he could see respect for his rank in their eyes, but also a question: “can you run as fast and move as fast as the rest of us?” Later, when he joined his men for a training run, they were watching to see if he could keep an acceptable running pace with them! For the commandos, he learnt that he could not lead them well if he could not run at the front of the pack.

A leader lead best when he is personally convicted that the change for the organization also changes him. He leads best when he seeks to grow himself through the change, along with the organization.

  • Are you leading change in your organization / team?
  • Are you seeking to grow yourself (attitudes, posture, habits) through this change?
  • Are you and your team the “first-fruit” of God’s work through your leadership?

2. Being considerate of your follower’s styles and needs

Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15)

The Bible tells us to use different styles to encourage in different situations, simply because people are different! Different contexts and personalities require a different touch to motivate them towards God’s purposes. Some may need a warning, another may need encouragement, another may need a help and propping up, and yet another needs time and patience.

A skillful leader seldom uses a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but rather is conscious of whether their followers have different needs and circumstances that affect their working styles.

  • What will bring the best out in your followers?
  • Are you aware of their dreams, hopes and fears pertaining to your organization?
  • How are you motivating them in pursuing a godly mandate in their lives through this leadership journey with you?

3. Being honest about your own mistakes and learning from them

I remember working with a supervisor that once replied an email I had written in which he had questioned the validity regarding an issue I had raised. His words were careless and extremely blunt. Further, he had replied by copying it to an entire list of staff on the email list. I was really taken aback and felt a little humiliated by being questioned so bluntly and having it known by all the staff. However, the supervisor later approached me and apologized. He felt it was inappropriate to have been overly blunt and to have copied that email to all the staff. He was sorry about it and tried to make amends.
I always remember that as an example of a leader who was sincere in acknowledging a mistake that he had made. It was honest as well as healing to the relationship!

One of the most important traits that earns respect is when a leader owns up to a mistake they have made and tries to make amends. Situations and stresses often layer complexities to our leadership tasks, but owning up to mistakes and redress, or the lack thereof, often comes the state of our heart.
The Bible reminds us,

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

When God searches our hearts and speaks to us, we must remember that a leader’s first role is in standing before God with a clear conscience. We must first be honest with God in our motives for leadership. As God cleanses us and fills us again, the “baggage” is removed. This brings us back to that place of anointing—where we stand before the people to lead them as representing God’s purposes rather than our mixed motives. Incarnational leadership happens when the baggage of self is removed so that our leadership represents the best of God’s purposes and motives rather than our own.

  • Is there a mistake / issue / relationship you need to settle to clear blocks / baggage to your leadership?
  • Has God been dealing with your heart-motives in leadership?
  • Will you honour your calling and leadership highly by clearing these potential blocks to your leadership?

4. Seeking God’s purposes for your organization / team above personal preferences

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Incarnational leadership happens when the baggage of self is removed so that our leadership represents the best of God’s purposes and motives rather than our own.

Jesus’ poignant call to His apostles was to serve others and be a slave to all, for God’s kingdom purposes. Leadership is a calling to be a steward to enable God’s purposes to be fulfilled in our team / organization. This means that God’s purposes for our organization / team should take precedence over our own preferences. The godly mandate for the organization / team should be the compass which navigates our decisions, our allocation of time and our expenditure of resources. This often requires us to step out of our comfort zone, to hold-back our personal style and preference, in order for the entire team to come around and give their best in fulfilling that godly mandate.

  • Are you keenly aware of God’s purpose for this season for your organization/ team?
  • What must be done in order to achieve?
  • Is there a clash with your personal preference? What must you give up?

These are 4 current leadership principles-practices that impinge on the person of the leader. They express best when the leader has personally made a commitment for Christ’s values to flow through him.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8-9)

The godly mandate for the organization / team should be the compass which navigates our decisions, our allocation of time and our expenditure of resources.

I submit to you that unless Jesus’ washing of Peter’s feet imparted a picture of the kind of leader God intended Peter to be, Peter would disqualify himself from God’s purposes because the surrounding environment constantly imposes a worldly picture of leadership in its stead.

Jesus’ feet-washing burnt a picture of godly leadership into the heart. It is that picture that should burn, forge and shape our leadership philosophy. When it flows in and through our persons, then it becomes incarnational.

This requires a constant pull-back on ourselves in order to make clear choices based upon godly values in our leadership journey. In other words, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:28-30, NASB)

When it flows in and through our persons, then it becomes incarnational.

May God grow in expressing the values of Jesus Christ consistently through good times and the bad, until what you see is what you get—an incarnational leader for Christ!

ChurchLife Resources also offers:

  • Training Cell Group Core Teams to “Engage People through Outreach & Hospitality”
  • Training Pastors and Board Key Leaders in “Compass for your Outreach Mission”
  • Training All Members to “Reach out with Hope for Sustaining Evangelism”
  • Training All Members in “I am a Witness”

Contact admin@churchlife-resources.org to find out more.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Fellowship is Critical in Discipleship

by Jenni Ho-Huan

The longing
Growing up in faith, I have always felt something was missing. Today, I know what I longed for was fellowship. Not that I did not belong to several ‘fellowships’; I did. I was president of the Christian fellowship in school (IVCF). We had youth fellowship in church. Later, there would be cell groups, young adult fellowship, and many other interest-based fellowships.

In and through all these groups, I kept seeking for something deep, abiding, fierce, and powerful. I longed for a bond, a loyalty, a common pursuit and destiny. But church and faith activities and groups seems to revolve endlessly around tasks and goals and self-improvement.

The story of the early church intrigued me. I was taught to be careful not to confuse it with communism. But what is Dr Luke describing that we fail to find a real and living model of? The good doctor described it in less than forty five words:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous sign were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (Acts 2v42-44)

I read Church History and it pained my heart to see how we fought with each other over creeds and interpretations of truth. Today, we find it hard to read the plain sense of Dr Luke’s words.

Early as a youth, I prayed and sought out soul friends. Routinely I would ask some poor gal if she would like to be my spiritual buddy. The search lasted a long time. I was a leader in church but I was terrifyingly alone and lonely. At one leaders’ gathering, we had a session on friendship. The message was of course about being careful with our choice of friends. But at one point, the speaker said, “…if you needed to call someone at 3am, who would you call”? A fear and sadness cloaked me as I looked around the room and could not be certain of my answer.

Like good sermonising, the question brought on a knowing air where everyone seemed to agree with the speaker. But afterwards when I asked several individuals who they would call, they could not answer me. What was worse was how they seemed not to be bothered by this realisation.

 

The reflection
Perhaps mine was a pathological condition of sorts. Having grown up in a large family, I suffered from attention deficiency – not getting enough attention from those who mattered most. But as God both heals and works through our brokenness, I began to embrace that perhaps I have a passion for community and fellowship. This is confirmed along the way as I learnt to be a vulnerable leader who in turn helps others to open up their lives and receive from God and others. To this day, this remains one of the most exciting, rewarding, and mysterious parts of my pastoral calling.

Theologically, I begin to understand that this longing and its possible realization is rooted in the Triune God. Mark what Jesus prayed before his climactic hour on earth:
“May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.” John 17:21b-23a

Much has been made of how the nervous unsettled disciples became fierce and amazing preachers and rose into their stature as apostles after the filling of the Holy Spirit. According to this prayer and according to the record in Acts, an important dimension of the early church’s growth, strength and resilience is to be found in how they let the Spirit bring about oneness as they humbled themselves and acknowledged their need for each other. The bickering disciples who were wrestling for recognition and status had turned the corner. The wondrous result of such fellowship – indicative of God’s glory – is the attraction, conviction and salvation of those who are watching us.

John Calvin has taught us that knowing God and knowing self are two sides of the same coin. I would like to add that this happens safely and truly only as it develops in a community that is seeking the truth and living in grace. God seeking can and do lead to self-righteousness and pride. Self-knowledge can and do lead to the extremes of unhealthy introspection and personal aggrandizement. It is the community that demands we be honest, true, and sacrificial that prevents this from happening.

This fellowship or community can occur at multiple levels. It happens in marriage. It happens between parents and children. It happens in small groups and interest groups, work groups and even service teams. All it takes is for us to stay long enough so that our persona gives way to our persons.

Or it may not happen.

More likely, we find it does not happen. Some move on to the global beat. Others shy away from such disclosure and knowledge. It is a weight we may not want to bear. Often even though we have belonged to a community for a while, we are not asked to state what it is we truly live for. We do not know each other’s spiritual state. We are uncomfortable with areas of dis-ease in each other’s lives. We don’t want to be the ‘bad guy’, the ‘fall guy’, the ‘tough guy’.

We all want to be nice and decent.

But community and true fellowship can never occur in nice and decent worlds. Nice and decent is superficial.

 

The 3Cs of a Fellowship-Community
What does it take? How can we foster and forge such relating in a world that celebrates change, movement and new-ness?

I want to recommend that we pursue 3 Cs: courage, consciousness and conscientious.

 

Courage
Community requires risk-taking; the courage of shedding one’s mask and accepting the faces that emerge from other masks let down. Most of us struggle to really like ourselves and often nit-pick on others. Courage is refusing this habit any soil to grow further.

Courage needs an energizing source. Christian courage is rooted ultimately in God’s covenanted love for us as individuals and as a people. There is simply no other source of power to allow us to face rejection, misunderstanding, even humiliation, except to be plugged in to receive a regular dose of God’s unlimited love. Is this why Jesus’ final command to his disciples – to love one another – is weaved into that famous text about abiding in Him? We can only love ourselves and love our brethren (and others) if it is God’s love that flows into and out of us. Nothing else can suffice. Not good intentions, plans, experience or feelings. Indeed as a pastor I know first hand how these other things can turn one way or another quickly enough. It is when we recognize and remind ourselves of our inability to love, our lack of courage and honesty, our tendency to run and hide – and graciously help each other to receive and then give – that the breakthrough to agape community happens.

 

Conscious
Community requires we be conscious of its presence and it absence. If we are frivolous and callous about it, we can be sure its foundations are weak. Yes, of course we can differ and diverge and go separate ways. That sometimes needs to happen as we seek to obey God and follow our convictions. But I have learnt that there is a healthy way to do so and a totally unchristian way to go about it. Scripture is honest about the reality of conflict but it prescribes that we manage it so that the community is not broken except in the case where the person(s) persistence fractures the community and they must then be disciplined.

Being conscious begins with an awareness of self. We need to be honest about our fears of community, our pains, and our expectations. We need to allow that we have blind spots and have biases. Awareness of our own brokenness and limitations will tenderize us to others and humble us to be ready and willing to receive.

 

Conscientious
Most of us allow work to overtake us that family and community often suffer. It takes conscientiousness to build community. Relationships can either strengthen and deepen through tough times or give way. The latter is a result of weak foundations due to a lack of consistent sowing. I admit there are many times I want to skip church, small group, even hide from all and sundry. There are times for such retreat; but there are times to overcome our feelings and fatigue and soldier on; to keep at it beyond feeling and convenience.

 

What is at stake?
There are many groups and gatherings of humans all around us today. It’s on the net, it’s in the coffee shops, it’s in clubs of all kinds. What distinguishes the Christian gathering that makes her so essential and so powerful?

Firstly Christians need community. It is the seedbed of our nourishment, equipping and discernment. How often my heart aches as I see people run headlong into decisions and regret them later because they took the ‘rugged individual’ approach to life. We ought to be there to offer wisdom to each other.
It is also the place of our safety and victory. We are called to battle together against the enemy, to watch each other’s backs, to hold each other up and bear those burdens for one another. We cannot deny the fact that we are a part of a cosmic war God has planned to win. He has drafted us in to join the action and given us the weapons for it: his authority, our armour and each other.

Secondly, the world needs the Christian community. Our witness and our community are inextricably linked. I submit that a church which majors on attractive teaching but does not foster community runs the danger of becoming anaemic and endangered one day. On the other hand, it took a small community after the Resurrection to turn the world upside down.
The church is meant to showcase God glory – His oneness in us being an important aspect of it. In a world torn apart by conflict and violence; fragmented by designs and desires; the Christian community is a living audio-visual roadshow of what life can be and what each of us can become.

Finally, humans made in God’s image are meant to live in community. Dallas Willard says, “The souls of human beings are left to shrivel and die on the plains of life because they are not introduced into the environment for which they were made.” (as quoted in John Elderedge’s The Journey of Desire)

 

It’s time we rediscover the necessity, beauty and power of community rooted in Christ. It’s time we reconnect with our longings and reach out to one another. It’s time we redeem what we have allowed to go to rot because we have been distracted, disbelieving and dysfunctional.

 

Get back to a daily connection with God in His Word and let the Spirit touch the deepest parts of our lives. Let Him heal us and free us to be loved and to love. Let Him fill us with courage bright to fight for life and embrace death, to live for the Impregnable Kingdom while suffering the losses of yet living in a foreign land. Take courage, awake, and persevere.

 

“Revivals have always been undergirded by prayer, swelling into a crest of awakening to the full and final authority of God’s word and crashing in waves of obedience marked by marked by mutual confession, repentance before God and radical outreach.”

 

“Jesus is no James Bond. The latter needs no one, the former could not stop bragging about his relationship with his dad and loves hanging out with his buddies.”

 

ChurchLife Resources also offers:

  • Training Cell Group Core Teams to “Engage People through Outreach & Hospitality”
  • Training Pastors and Board Key Leaders in “Compass for your Outreach Mission”
  • Training All Members to “Reach out with Hope for Sustaining Evangelism”
  • Training All Members in “I am a Witness”

Contact admin@churchlife-resources.org to find out more.

Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash

After Celebration of Hope, Can The Changes It Brings Last?

 

May 2019 will go down church history as a significant time. Through the “Celebration of Hope” (COH) event, the Singapore Sports Hub-National Stadium was filled with people to hear the gospel of Christ, to be touched, and make decisions to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord!

227 Churches, Christian groups, 18,000 volunteers united together to declare our shared Hope found in the Good News. We pulled out all the stops to mobilize, communicate, and equip for the largest outreach event in 40 years! Churches committed to invite, bring pre-believing loved ones and to follow-up in inviting to grow in spiritual community thereafter.

events are but catalysts for the more enduring transformation we hope to see in our land

The magnitude, time and cost1 involved may cause us to question its fruit. This is natural as we seek to be good stewards, and also because events are but catalysts for the more enduring transformation we hope to see in our land. The Billy Graham Crusade 40 years ago was a tinder for ripples of growth and change as churches, parachurches grew.

 

Can the same be said of the Celebration of Hope?

 

1. Have the lives of people changed through the Evangelistic Event? Did we reach many?

On the nights I attended, one of my relatives desired to respond and I followed him down to the area for respondees to the message. I saw hundreds of people in that foyer, listening to one-on-one sharing, reading the Bible, praying to respond to Christ!  And this was only one of several areas for marshalling respondees. The statistics are 6000 people made responses – of which 2000 were first time responding to Christ through the days of the rally. What a great harvest!2

However, for the several churches I consult for, as they sifted through and called the COH respondees allocated to them, a significant number declined to come to church, or preferred to follow another friend rather than the one allocated.

For churches that received some 30 names, perhaps 4-5 would ultimately be connected to that church.3

While we may focus on only that 4-5 that got connected, I want to remind us that all 30 people made a commitment to Christ of some sort! They were touched by the hope of change and the gospel of Christ!

There are large numbers of people across the churches and the nation that made spiritual responses arising out of COH.

I believe there will come a time when God will fan into flame their experience of their COH encounter.

While we focus on the 4-5 that are connected to church, let’s remember and pray for all 30 for God to continue to touch them and minister to them in various ways.

It would be great to have a Service or Platform in church where we remember the efforts during COH, thank God for those who got connected, and pray for the numbers of those who were touched by God and responded at COH even though they may not have been redirected to our church.

Let us pray for the names of respondees in COH even though they do not end up in our own church, and partner with God to fan into flame the seed God has planted in COH, at the right time in their lives.

 

2. Has my church changed through the Evangelistic Event? Are churches stronger?

It is the personal evangelistic strength of our own church members that has greatest impact.

A number of church leaders shared that though the numbers of respondees dwindled as they were followed up, the ones who truly connected with the church are those who were brought by their own church members themselves. This conveys the idea that the strongest outreach impact is still via outreach of our own church members. Bishop Rennis Ponniah (Anglican Church in Singapore), through COH, championed the tagline: “personal evangelism on a mass scale”. It is the personal evangelistic strength of our own church members that has greatest impact.

In a previous article, I had encouraged churches to leverage the nation-wide COH outreach to build up the evangelistic muscle of the local church.

Through COH, we have been exposed to many valuable skills of evangelism:

Praying

    • Listing regularly names of loved ones (List of 5)
    • prophetic and declarative prayers over our loved ones (Prayer Altar)

Engaging

    • Art of building relationships
    • Sharing personal testimony
    • Sharing the gospel (FOUR)
    • Responding to objections to faith

Gather

    • Mapping a 30-day momentum plan
    • Developing a Church-wide system of allocating and calling for follow-up

These are valuable skills and processes that, if our people are equipped with and apply regularly, will make the local church stronger in her evangelism muscle! By making national events “work for growing your own church”, the muscle you gain stays with your church long after the event is over!

Have you trained your people in these skills?

Will you create regular opportunities and processes via Outreach Seasons to “exercise these muscles”?

 

3. Has our Nation changed through the Evangelistic Event? Has there been transformation in people-groups?

I believe many would agree that COH has stirred much prayer for evangelism and for pre-believing loved ones. COH has mobilized and equipped tens of thousands in some form of evangelism skills.

We saw the Mandarin-speaking believers integrate a seeker-outreach program that stirred heart-values, worthy of a MediaCorp level presentation! It was even reported in Taiwan’s GoodTV news!4

I have never seen so many celebrity personalities declare their faith and share their testimonies on a public platform! I believe each of them is a powerful witness in the public sphere of the nation.

Very close to God’s heart, I believe, is also the joy of seeing a deeper sense of unity amongst the Indian churches “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel”. They gathered their resources together to reach their loved ones in a united effort, many doing so for the first time!

Rev. Tony Yeo shared that he observed many churches not caring about personal denominational or church lines but working together to reach the harvest for Christ. 

If the following happened…

  • Pastoral leaders encourage church members to continue in prayer and utilizing the skills of outreach as a lifestyle
  • Christian celebrities seek out mentors and intercessors to encourage and sustain their witness for Christ amid the pressures of the media industry
  • Indian churches maintain and deepen friendships and relationships across previously traditional lines
  • More churches share resources in reaching the harvest in the community together

… then our nation would have indeed seen the hope of change after COH that last!

Those days of Celebration of Hope saw a very foundational transformation in the lives of thousands of people! The potential of a changed society begins with the seeds of changed hearts during such responses to faith.

Canon J. John, the English Speaker for the Celebration of Hope rallies once shared, that in 1975, he said to Christ, “I open the door of my heart and I receive you!” After he received Christ into his life the “light came on” for him. His mother was sceptical and said to him, “You have been brain-washed!”. He replied, “Mom, my brain has been washed! If you knew what was always in my mind, you would be glad it has been washed!”

J. John was speaking of how a commitment to Christ began the process for the change of his mind, his heart and his life.

I remember a testimony where a CEO who is a believer and had been touched by God recently faced a conflict at his work. One of his managers had confronted the CEO on some of the practices in the office. While the manager had strongly mooted change, the CEO was frustrated by the complains and bluntness of his manager. The CEO said, “If I’ve not had a change of heart recently, if you had spoken to me like this a couple of months back, I would have destroyed you!” In his honest frustration, in his heart that CEO held back his instinct to strike out.

Fundamental to all positive changes in society is a changed heart. The Bible describes the potential of such an inward change of posture, attitudes, instincts and heart:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:6-10)

 

Fundamental to all positive changes in society is a changed heart.

That “root of Jesse” is the person and the work of Christ proclaimed through the gospel, calling a response to faith and convicting one and all to make Jesus Saviour and Lord!

We may think that Singapore, being a sophisticated urban society, requires more than just traditional evangelism. One may feel that sophisticated societies instead require more NGOs, strategies to reach the marginalized, ways to lift people out of poverty, initiatives to speak into the public sphere and engage controversial issues, etc.

These are all important! However, the Bible shows us what is core foundation to these – a changed heart that is touched by the simple gospel and the love of Jesus Christ:

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. [15] And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthian 5:14-15)

I believe the work of the gospel for saving faith is pivotal and foundational to change in our society. We need to all work together as leaders, believers and churches to witness with the gospel of hope.

 

So, after COH, will hope bring lasting change?
For the church, pastoral leaders, members and spiritual families…the answer is in your hands!

 

Regards,
Rev. Dr. Philip Huan, Principal Consultant Churchlife Resources

 

[1] Event cost estimated S$3.6 million
[2] Further, there were 1.2 million view of the COH Testimony Videos, and 464,880 view of the live streaming over that season.
[3] These are sample numbers from several churches only. Numbers may vary with different churches.
[4] https://goodtvnews.goodtv.tv/goodtvnews/2019world49/

ChurchLife Resources also offers:

  • Training Cell Group Core Teams to “Engage People through Outreach & Hospitality”
  • Training Pastors and Board Key Leaders in “Compass for your Outreach Mission”
  • Training All Members to “Reach out with Hope for Sustaining Evangelism”
  • Training All Members in “I am a Witness”

Contact admin@churchlife-resources.org to find out more.

Photo by Seth Schwiet on Unsplash

Hope Not Responded

There is hope, even when loved ones have not yet responded.

 

We are just 2 weeks away from the Celebration of Hope—a major outreach event that we believe God will do great things in our nation, and in the lives of our loved ones!

At this point you may have invited a number of pre-believing loved ones. A number of them may have accepted your invitation, yet others may have rejected, or not yet responded. Some of these loved ones may be people we have been praying for a long time.

What do you do when loved ones have not yet responded in the way we hope for?

I want to encourage you to keep your faith and hope alive in Christ! This is the time to look to God for a needed breakthrough… a time to pour out your faith in prayer to God!

Keep the invitations & reminders open,
keep praying for your invitees,
keep reaching out…

Through all of this, one of the most important factors that can make a difference is in keeping your faith and hope alive in Christ, for faith and hope in God can lead to great things:

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved? Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18:24-27)

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (1 Corinthians 5:3-5)

There is always hope for your unsaved loved ones, not merely because of what you do, but more so because God has a plan for them, for they were created by God!

Most of our loved ones may trace their origins back to a great-grand parent, or to China, or India or some country before ancestors migrated here. When we go back far enough, we realize that we are birthed from God who created the first man, that we are descended from God, our lineage and potential is in Him. This is true for all of us!

No matter how much denial your loved ones present, they can never run away from who they are in God! Therefore, you can have hope that at some point, God will confront them, He will speak to them, and will touch them.

Therefore, in this journey, the best gift we can give to our loved ones is a “self” filled with faith and hope for their salvation! Our demeanour, our words, our actions and our very lives are a testimony of God’s desire to connect with them.

How can we keep this faith and hope for loved ones alive, despite their indifference or rejection?
Let me share 3 thoughts about our loved ones to keep your hope alive, even when your loved ones have not yet responded:

  1. Your loved one is meant to believe in something greater than themselves

    The Bible tells us that deep within all of us is an awareness that the driving force of our lives should not be just ourselves.

    I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

    There is a yearning for something greater and eternal that your loved one is seeking to find in life. The scientist & mathematician Pascal called this “a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator…”

    The Bible tells us that life is lived best when the driving force of our lives is God at its centre.

  2. Your loved one needs the work of God through seasons of their lives

    There are different seasons through which God works in your loved one’s lives. They may not respond in the same way through the seasons, but God’s work and word planted in different ways does His work.

    As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

    When we partner God, His word is planted in our unsaved loved ones in different ways through different seasons. While they may not be yet outwardly responsive in this season, God does deal with their hearts. There is a hope that they may be responsive in the next season!

    A church member once shared that when she became a Christian, she had a dream: her brother in law was happily swimming in a sea of fire. She called out to him from a higher place to get away from there. His answer to her was “No! I’m enjoying myself!”. Her brother-in-law was very resistant to the gospel. She thought he was condemned and would never change. But encouraged by friends, she began to pray systematically for him. She was disappointed repeatedly when she did not see the results. She brought her frustration to God, to which God’s reply to her was “not yet”! But she was always filled with the hope that God’s plan is divine, God’s timing is perfect, God’s love is immense. It was many years later that a breakthrough came to her family. Of all the members of her family, her brother-in-law was the first to open his heart to Christ. She invited him to a healing rally and there, he received a healing for his back, and gave his life to Christ!

    It is beautiful how God has done everything at the right time. He has put a sense of eternity in people’s minds. (Ecclesiastes 3:11, GWT)

    Perhaps some of your unsaved loved ones have been unresponsive to you in past times. Is this coming season one where they may have a change of heart? Would you hold the hope that God is at work, and will touch them through the seasons, if not this one then perhaps the next season of their lives?

    Our role is to keep our hope alive and keep praying for them through the seasons of God’s work!

  3. Your loved one needs a plethora of gifts to meet them at the point of their needs.

    While we bring our personality, gift and style to reach our loved ones,there may sometimes be a limit: they need a diversity of gifts to touch them and prepare them to be open to God.

    Paul asserts,
    I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour.(1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

    We may be watering into our loved one’s lives, while others may seed or harvest. You may not see the outward change at the watering time, but in all efforts, God makes things grow! It helps if we can discern the needs of our loved ones and seek the right gifts that may address some of their deep needs.

    At special outreach events like the Celebration of Hope, there are gifts of music, evangelist, healing and others that are in operation. Some of them may be the gift needed for this season to bring a breakthrough in your loved ones’ lives. Perhaps in inviting them, that gift may give that breakthrough where past seasons have prepared them for!

    1. Isn’t it worth your time and effort to help your loved one find the One who is their creator and source of their purpose in life? More exciting than climbing the ladder of success is when you see your loved ones discover the purpose for which they were born and to live it out! The start of that journey begins when they discover God in their lives!

      Don’t give up hope if your loved one has not yet responded!

      Continue to journey with them out of faith and hope—God is committed to speak to them and touch them because in Him they live and breathe and have their being (Acts 17:28). He is their creator and their source is in Him.

      Let’s put our faith and reliance in God and pour out our faith in prayer. Put our faith in Christ above all, and let’s celebrate our Eternal Hope together!


      Regards,
      Rev. Dr. Philip Huan, Principal Consultant Churchlife Resources

      ChurchLife Resources also offers:

      • Training Cell Group Core Teams to “Engage People through Outreach & Hospitality”
      • Training Pastors and Board Key Leaders in “Compass for your Outreach Mission”
      • Training All Members to “Reach out with Hope for Sustaining Evangelism”
      • Training All Members in “I am a Witness”

      Contact admin@churchlife-resources to find out more.

      Photo by Louis Moncouyoux on Unsplash