NEW APPROACH TO EVANGELISM
“Enthusiastically persuading people to hear the Gospel and to accept Jesus as their Saviour is not as effective today; more emphasis is now being placed on sharing and respecting each other’s feelings.’’
TO MEET FUTURE CHALLENGES HEAD-ON, the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) needs to have a fully coordinated work system that can allocate and utilise resources efficiently for the various boards and ministries.
This was emphasised by the Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung, President of the CAC, in his Presidential Address on Nov 12, 2012, the second day of the 37th Session of the conference at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church 2 (TA2).
In the next four years, he added, the CAC should further explore how it could develop an agreeable formula or model for the annual church contributions and how it could maximise its strength in the central pooling of resources.
This would create a robust financial system that would help the conference tackle the challenges ahead.
The Rev Dr Chong said: “While the current method has served us well, I believe that greater effort is required to bring in more effective and systematic processes to enhance the work of the conference.
“Such work includes identifying and training pastors, providing resources to schools to carry out school ministry, promoting courses to nurture church members and providing resources to churches.”
Calling on the conference to consider building a retreat centre to host training programmes and other activities, he said: “Many of our ministries such as discipleship training, leadership training, the Walk to Emmaus programme, silent retreats, etc., often need ample and quiet locations or accommodation. Funding of such retreats requires a fairly high budget.”
As it is almost unlikely for the conference to acquire a piece of land in Singapore to build a retreat centre, the conference can consider building such a centre in a neighbouring country where construction and maintenance costs are not too high.
Expressing concern over the CAC’s slow growth rate, the President urged the pastors and lay leaders to explore the root of the problem and relook the strategies of the churches.
He called for a “new approach” to conducting evangelism. “With the broadening of minds during these challenging times, the evangelism ministry today is done differently from the old days of 40 or 50 years ago.
“Enthusiastically persuading people to hear the Gospel and to accept Jesus as their Saviour is not as effective today; more emphasis is now being placed on sharing and respecting each other’s feelings.
“People like to choose their own faith. As long as they feel pressured or are uncomfortable with our approach of sharing, they will reject our message. We should avoid using the traditional method.
“We should try to build on friendship, social care, nurturing the young and respecting the old in order to come into contact with the non-believers.
“Such activities should not come with the prerequisite that they must believe in Jesus. However, these contacts make useful links.
“Instead of using a Gospel mega-rally, the church now invites artistes and celebrities to share their faith and bring the grace of God’s salvation across.”
The Rev Dr Chong said evangelism could also take the form of a series of talks or Bible study sessions. Through small group activities, participants could be led to Christ.
Friendship could be used as a bridge to gradually set up opportunities to share the Gospel. But most importantly, the new believers must be nurtured.
With the development of the MRT system and the easing of regulations in the use of commercial buildings and light industrial estates, the CAC should also re-look its strategy of setting up preaching points or gospel centres.
By strategically placing these preaching points along MRT lines and utilising available commercial or light industrial spaces near MRT stations, the CAC can engage the community more effectively.
The President announced that the Board of Outreach and Social Concern has decided to set up a crisis relief operation task force to enable members to give donations as well as to participate in disaster relief work. Volunteers, especially those in the medical field, are needed to support this new work.
He also announced the constituting of a new local conference at the premises of Yishun Methodist Mission on Nov 25, 2012. It will be the CAC’s 17th local church.
He said: “Yishun Methodist Mission is grateful to its mother church, Hinghwa Methodist Church, for the care and support of past years and the commitment of continuing support for the next five years.”