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English Presbytery Annual General Meeting - "Recovering the Mission of the Church"
Mar 2015

On 10 January 2015 (Saturday), the English Presbytery (EP) conducted its Annual General Meeting at True Way Presbyterian Church. It was also during the meeting that the new EP Exco was installed. The newly installed EP Exco comprises Rev Peter Chan (Moderator), Rev Lam Kuo Yung (Vice Moderator), Rev Edwin Wong (Stated Clerk), Eld Seet Kai Yong (Treasurer), Rev Yap Wai Keong, Rev Jackson Wan, Rev Vincent Lee, Rev Chang Chian Hui, Elder Wang Kim Meng, Elder Loy Wee Jin, Elder Violet Lee and Elder Yeap Eng Hooi.

During the meeting, our newly installed EP Moderator, Rev Peter Chan, gave his maiden address. His message was based on Matthew 28:16 – 20, and was entitled “Recovering the Mission of the Church”.

Rev Chan framed the challenges facing the church in fulfilling its mission. Citing from observations and literature (particularly “Dismissing the Crowd” by Ken and Lois Gott, and “Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture” by Tim Suttle), he called on EP churches to recover the mission of the church. In order to achieve this there are three things that we must do.

First, we need to recover our vision of Christ. The disciples on the mount saw the risen Christ and worshipped Him. Similarly, until and unless the church recovers the vision of Christ as Lord and Saviour, there is no mission to be accomplished. Is Jesus exalted as Lord and Saviour in our churches, with lips and lives? Two implications here: First, the church must learn to exalt Jesus in our worship. Second, we must continue to exalt Jesus in our witness, believing that He is still the Answer to the plethora of problems in our world today! Are we wavering in an increasingly pluralistic and hostile world?

Second, we need to recover our mission of disciple-making. Making disciples in the local church involves three tasks.

Proclaiming and Practising the Word and Sacraments.
Word and sacraments must be faithfully preached and practised. Jesus charged us to teach them (His disciples) to observe everything He had commanded us to do. To be sure, preaching is highly valued in our churches. We enjoy good preachers and good sermon delivery. But are we looking for good sermon results – i.e. obedience? If we are not labouring towards this end, we are simply engaging in hallowed or spiritual entertainment! Similarly, sacraments (baptism and Holy Communion) are not appendices but essentials as marks of a true church of Jesus Christ! The sacraments are parabolic way of bearing witness to the world the Gospel Story!

Performing Works of Ministry.
True discipleship involves denial of self and carrying of the cross. How are these marks evidenced in the life of a disciple? Is it not through engagement in ministry service, using our gifts and talents? The church must seek to equip its members for life and ministry. The church must also seek to encourage its members to use their gifts, talents, and money for ministry. The church must seek to provide ministry opportunities inside or outside for the members who desire to serve! We do have congregations of many shapes and sizes. Nonetheless, there is one common challenge – encouraging the majority of the congregation who are not actively engaged in ministry to be more actively involved!

Presenting Christ to the world – social engagement.
Jesus commanded us to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He also called us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). This is not just about cross-border and cross-cultural evangelism. Bearing witness for Christ also involves Christian engagement in the public square. We have an increased awareness of the need for Christian social engagement, but more needs to be done! My fear is that we might be seen to be only interested in two issues: abortion and homosexuality. We do not seem to be interested in other worthy social issues – e.g. respect and rights of foreign workers.

Third, we need to recover our spirituality – Emmanuel. Jesus ended the commissioning of the church with a promise that His presence would always be with us! We need to recover the practice of the presence of Christ in the church. Much of what we do, think, and say, or much of our behaviour shows no acknowledgment of His presence among us. We also need to recover the spirituality of the presence of Christ among us so that we are able to confront the challenges that seem so intimidating and overwhelming. We must realise that without the presence of Christ and our reverence for Him, there is nothing else to differentiate us from all other peoples, groups, religions, and institutions on the face of the earth.

The presence of Christ today is mediated through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and the Church! There is much emphasis on “entrepreneurial spirit” in the church today, relying on charisma and competence to grow the church for bigger budget, building, and crowd (to be distinct from a congregation). Please do not misunderstand me: I am not against good governance, for it is also part and parcel of ministry leadership. I am concerned about whether we are spiritually discerned about what we do in the church and on behalf of the church as leaders. For example, in our Elders and Deacons Court meetings, are we there simply to discuss, debate and decide on what appear to us as best options or whose voice is the loudest or which opinion is the most persuasive? Are we not gathering as spiritual leaders to discern together the will of God on behalf of the congregation? How often do we ask ourselves at the end of our ministry meetings (and they are endless in our churches) whether we have discerned God’s will by faith, trusting in the leading of the Word and Spirit through prayer?

Finally, Rev Chan concludes the message with this appeal:

Let us build worshipping communities within the EP that are fully committed to the WORSHIP of God via WWW – i.e. proclaiming and practising the WORD, performing WORKS of ministry, and presenting Christ to the WORLD – and be transformed by the presence of Christ (i.e. the Spirit of God).

Installation of EP 22nd session Executive Committee


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