I have been a part of five church communities in my 30+ years of being
a Christian: Glad Tidings Assembly in Petaling Jaya (Malaysia), St John’s - St
Margaret’s Church (SJSM), St James’ Church, St Andrew’s Cathedral and now, MPCC.
As you can see, each move was caused by factors outside my control. I only had the option to choose when I first came to Singapore in 1984. As a first year Uni student, I was a “church hopper.” Typically, we visited the “megachurches.” They often come with very good music, comfortable seats and inspiring speakers. In fact, some of the seats were so comfortable that they caused a certain measure of snoozing disattention.
One day, a fellow student suggested that we visit a small nearby Anglican Church called SJSM. She was a little church on top of a hill. I can still remember that Sunday morning. It was a small congregation of less than a hundred. The worship started and the music band was, well, far from polished. The pastor dramatically jogged in a track suit before he preached a sermon about running the race. We thought we were in a Sunday School class.
You can guess what was going on in our minds - we are not returning.
After the Service was over – unlike the other huge churches – you get to not just shake the pastor’s hands, but have a little chat with him as well. When they found out that I was an experienced guitarist, they asked me to return next Sunday and play in the worship band! This will be unthinkable in most churches today.
But it got us to return.
And so we stayed, at least for a while, we thought then. The sermons were still
strange, including seed throwing as the preacher continued to ensure his sermon
was a “4D” experience. We were longing for better spiritual food. Sometimes we
went to another church in the afternoon for a more "complete meal."
This SJSM pastor would visit us during our exam time. He would come right into our rooms and on one occasion, knelt next to us and laid his hands to pray for us one by one. Over time, SJSM was slowly becoming a community for us. We felt
loved, welcomed and needed. There was room for us to serve and give.
We stayed. I stayed.
I always wonder what I would be or doing today if not for my sinking of roots in SJSM. Eventually, she became the loci for my family, friends, ministry and career. I started my full-time ministry there. I met - and married - Jennifer there.
I am a great believer in the local church as a community. I don’t go to church. I belong to one. She is more than a just a worship service. It is about being a part of the Lord’s people somewhere. I don’t run away when she goes through difficult times. Not even when the pastor turns up in a track suit.
Is MPCC your home truly? I can promise you that I won't wear a tracksuit to preach though some funny antics can be permissible on suitable occasions. But whatever I may do, MPCC is not about me or anyone for the matter. If you sense you are called to this family, do sink your roots here.
And journey with us.
I recently recorded an old song - "We are One in the Spirit" - which I first sung when was in my church in PJ. The song captures the essence of being a Christian community.
We Are One In The Spirit
We Are One In The Lord
And We Pray That All Unity (2X) May One Day Be Restored And They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love, By Our Love; Yes, They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love!
We Will Walk With Each Other We Will Walk Hand In Hand (2X)
And Together We Will Spread The News, That God Is In Our Land And They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love, By Our Love; Yes, They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love!
We Will Work With Each Other We Will Work Side By Side (2X)
And We’ll Guard Each Man’s Dignity, And Save Each Man’s Pride. And They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love, By Our Love; Yes, They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love!