THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF SINGAPORE (NCCS) is to hold a National Day anksgiving Service at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Aug 12 at 7.45 pm.
Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, President of the NCCS, will be the speaker. His message is entitled “ rough All Generations”. It is based on the text from Psalm 102:11-18; 25-28.
All Christians are invited to attend the service to oﬀer their thanksgiving to God for protecting Singapore and bringing peace and harmony to the nation.
It is God who grows the church
IN MY GROWING YEARS I looked up to my father as my hero and model. Many people in our neighbourhood knew that he was a very serious person who did not tolerate nonsense.
Interestingly, after I became a father myself, people said the same thing about me, especially the friends of our children. But I did not mind much because I am actually very proud of my dad, and have always felt secure being with him.
Similarly, many children take pride in their father, often boasting about them or arguing fiercely with friends over whose is better.
I recently came across an American TV show called “My Dad Is Better an Your Dad” in which many fathers had to try very hard to win a sports competition. I sympathised with those fathers who were completely exhausted in the end and yet failed to impress their child by winning the game. ank God my sons have never registered me for such a competition! It is unkind to compare anyone’s father with another, when both are so uniquely diﬀerent.
The apostle Paul was very concerned about the church in Corinth, which was divided because they compared and competed among each other over the greatness of their spiritual “dad”. (Read 1 Cor. 1:12). As a result, diﬀerent political parties started forming within the church, with much jealousy and quarrelling between them. Paul in his letters pointed out that this was a sign of immaturity and worldliness.
Sadly, throughout Christian history, this behaviour has often proved a hindrance to church growth. And even today, there are Christians who boast about the greatness of their leading pastor based on the size of the church’s congregation, and Christians who refuse to associate with people of other denominations.
Some take pride in their own Local Chapter or Annual Conference and look down on the rest. And within each local church, there are ministries and committees which compete with each other, forcing church members to take sides.
Paul taught that shifting our focus from God to the achievements of godly men creates fatal divisions within the church. He wrote of the importance of serving together and turning our focus back to God in 1 Cor. 3:6, and from his letter we can also draw the following spiritual principles for church growth:
UNIQUENESS: The first principle of growth is to acknowledge that all of us are created as unique persons in the eyes of God, and we are also called to serve God in the body of Christ. Paul knew that he was uniquely called to plant the seed of the Gospel for the expansion of the body of Christ. He did so faithfully and consistently, and never boasted about the importance of his role or looked down on the job of Apollos, who watered and nurtured the young converts after him. Similarly, we need to recognise that no single part of the body of Christ is insignificant.
INTEGRATION: The second principle of growth is working towards the integration of every unique individual or ministry in the body of Christ. Paul did not see himself serving in isolation in the body of Christ, though many of his followers thought that he was a “super dad”. Likewise, we should move forward from serving independently to serving interdependently with others in our church. We may be very eﬀective on our own, but teamwork and integration are necessary to facilitate growth in the church.
PRAYER: is is the third and most important principle of growth, as prayer is an indication of our dependence and submission to God’s sovereignty to grow the church. Paul redirected the focus of the church from him and some renowned leaders back to God. He pointed out that all the eﬀorts of men in planting and watering may come to nothing if Goddoes not make it grow. is is not to say that God is passive or running out of ideas – prayer is never meant to move the hand of God to work, nor is it meant to teach God what to do and how to do it. Prayer is about earnestly seeking the mercy and grace of God to meet our desperate needs and lead us in the path of righteousness.
It is when we truly understand what Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Cor. 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow”, and when we begin to practise the principles embedded in that teaching, that we will truly experience the power of God rebuilding and growing the church physically and spiritually. – is article first appeared in the July 2010 issue of Witness, the quarterly magazine of Christ Methodist Church.
The Rev Tay Kay Leong is a pastor of Christ Methodist Church.