Missions

The way to go: Building self-supporting churches

Jul 2007    

AT A recent meeting, the main governing body of the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) – the MMS Executive Committee – decided to concentrate on planting self-supporting churches in the region.

This is not how we do it here in Singapore, but for our work in the region, we must adapt and use a different model.

Since 1985, I have had the privilege of serving as a pastor in The Methodist Church in Singapore. I am paid a reasonable salary to do what I want to do with my life even if I were not paid for it.

This is a huge blessing and I remain grateful for the support I receive every month to give my full attention to serving the Lord. This is the model of the “professional pastor”, receiving adequate financial support to serve in the church, and it works well in Singapore.

The trouble about using this same model in places where the church is not as strong is that the offering collected is not sufficient to support the pastor’s salary. I appreciate the generosity of Singapore churches that have come forward to pay for the salaries of these pastors.

They tell me: “The American Methodists supported us in Singapore for more than 70 years before we could be financially independent, so why can’t we do the same for others?”

We can. And those who are so convicted should. But we are also going to use a different model which the Lord seems to have blessed as well. It is not a new model.

St Paul himself sometimes used it. He stayed for a year and a half in Corinth preaching and teaching the Gospel. He stayed with Priscilla and Aquila who were also tentmakers.

He supported himself during that time by working alongside them, making tents to pay for his keep. (See Acts 18).

Our main strategy will be to go into the region and look for lay persons who have a heart to serve the Lord.

Men and women whose lives reflect the character of Christ. They are responsible and financially stable members of their community. Our role will be to equip them to pastor their churches and plant new ones.

We are currently developing a training programme for these lay pastors to enable them to grow their own church and then plant another church which in turn will be able to plant another church.

Throughout church history, the Lord has used both models – the “professional pastor” and the “lay pastor” to build  is church. We sense the Lord leading us to concentrate on developing the “lay pastor” model for our work in the region.

The Rev Dr Norman Wong is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society.

Every Methodist is a part of the Methodist Missions Society. Find out more about your missions society at www.mms.org.sg

160,000 people baptised in one year

THE more I read, the more I began to see what God is clearly doing on every continent and corner of His earth. He is building His church in a very powerful, dramatic way.

In one province in China alone, 160,000 new believers were baptised in one year! And this is not an isolated example.

American missionary and author David Garrison also carefully examined powerful movements of the Holy Spirit in India, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and North America which have produced similarly amazing results all in the last 15 years.

The Methodist Missions Society (MMS) wants to learn from these experiences. We are bringing together all our MMS missionaries – currently 22 – for a short retreat at the end of August.

This year we will study Garrison’s book together, Church Planting Movements – How God is Redeeming a Lost World, which draws out the lessons we can learn from these recent revivals. Pray for us. – REV DR NORMAN WONG.

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