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Life Community: From Bottom-Up ~ Reflections upon visits to the churches
Rev Dr Li Hau Tiong
(Advisor for Community Outreach Ministry)
Jun 2021

From the end of March, together with several co-workers in the Synod, we started on our weekly visits to the member churches of the Presbyterian Church in Singapore. On the one hand, I came to know the pastors and co-workers of the churches and learned about their current situation, outlook, challenges and the needs of the church ministry; on the other hand, we also shared the missionary vision and ministry plans of the Synod. During the visit, I felt the warm hospitality and sincere interactions of the pastoral staff, and also experienced the blessings and strength of unity in the community of faith.


I am envious that the pastoral ministries of the local churches are generally carried out in a team, are well organized, and with division of labour. Their ministries cover pastoral care, cultivation of faith, witnessing in the community, and support for overseas missions. Several churches have also long cared for migrant workers in the community, and provided warm support for these people who are away from home, during the COVID-19 period.


The churches also face several challenges: these include the trend of aging preachers, the high demand for young and middle-aged pastors, the impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for renewal and transformation of pastoral care within the church, and the outreach ministries in the community. In addition, the desire of the church members (especially young people) to return after the resumption of physical worship remains to be seen.


Traditional Western theology is based on philosophy and emphasizes a top-down approach, with church leadership defining the content of faith and ministry strategies; whereas contemporary contextualised theology emphasizes the "bottom-up" approach, using sociology as a medium, taking in consideration of the actual situation and needs of the local church for theological development. Also, "Putting into Practice as Priority" and "Being with those suffering" are the "Ministry" strategies and principles of this theology. The visits by the Synod co-workers to the churches provide a good opportunity for dialogue between traditional and contemporary theology.


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