"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Jesus, in Matthew 4:19
I have been in active ministry, first as a layperson when I was a teenager, and then as a full-time worker since 1986. One aspect of learning in my ministry journey is the work of people-building. I don't always do this perfectly but it has been one of the areas which I have been privileged to engage in. As Pas Yin Mei reminded us last Sunday, our abilities are divine gifts and apart from Christ, "we can do nothing" (John 15: 5). I share this, I trust, with that awareness. I am only mentioning about my experience add some credibility to my sharing.
Our society has a way of categorising people. Some are elevated and some are marginalised. It would be fair to say that in our doubly survivalist-minded society (firstly as Asian migrants and secondly, as a small new nation), people are often measure by their usefulness to organization or bosses.
Being Christians could make it worse, with a judgmental attitude along with the subjective and oft abused notion of "the will of the Lord." Even if we are loving, it may be selective. For some, priority is given to those who are from the same local church or denomination. And we could only imagine how cold we can be towards those who are not believers, unless they show potential as "pre-believers" and even then, only so if they are "pre-members" of our church!
How can we as Christians challenge these notions from a deeper reflection on the life and teachings of Christ and Scripture? How can we counter deep-seated cultural values that are not Christ-like? As a pastor, this has been a life-long struggle. I had to move away from the thinking that members and staff are to adjust and fit the vision of the local church. Instead, I often asked: how can the Church help each member find their destiny in Christ? How can we equip the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4:12), instead of treating them as "equipment" to grow the local church?
Being involved in the Alpha Course has also been leaning experience. It comes with some values from another culture (i.e UK with her many centuries of Christian foundation). A member once remarked to me, "Pastor, why do we welcome and treat Alpha guests so well but after they become members, we begin to heap expectations and reject them when we perceive them to have failed?" What a question and observation? It has gotten me thinking since then.
What would it be like if MPCC is a deeply loving Church, where we are ready to forgive, we are non-judgmental and we treat every member as a vital member of the family, for their entire lives? What if we take each member's call to ministry seriously, whether as a full-time staff or a lay person and seek to nurture the person and help him or her to walk in their destiny? What if every person is not made to feel they need to measure up, to be good enough to be accepted? What if we don't use people and throw them aside after their "used by date"? What if we keep every member, leader and staff for a long time - lifelong - if possible?
If a local church has these values, I want to be part of such a church! But as no local church is perfect, I think this perfecting work is worth our heartfelt commitment.
Pray and work with me - that MPCC can grow into such a church. That we will indeed be following Jesus, and if we do that, men and women will be drawn to Him.