Church leaders’ 2020 call: Focus on God’s glory
Five leaders in the Church today share their thoughts on the year ahead. Salt&Light wishes all our readers a Happy New Year!
Salt&Light // January 1, 2020, 6:00 am
Winds of change? Conflicting voices and pop culture threaten to cause a shift in position for many Christians who once stood firm on God's word. Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash.
The ability to discern God’s leading and apply His truths to all that is at hand is a precious gift. In looking ahead, Salt&Light gleaned from the wisdom of leaders across the Singapore Church: Bishop Terry Kee, President, National Council of Churches of Singapore; Bishop Rennis Ponniah, the Diocese of Singapore; Rev Christopher Chia, Senior Pastor, Adam Road Presbyterian Church; Ps Lawrence Khong, Chairman, LoveSingapore; and Ps Yang Tuck Yoong, Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Community Church.
In 2020, what would you want Singaporean believers to focus on?
Rev Chia: I would like Singapore Christians – indeed believers everywhere – to focus on God’s glory. At the heart of God’s glory is sharing Jesus (evangelism) and becoming like Jesus (maturity).
Christianity is “simple”. Let us not compromise it with all kinds of manmade health, wealth and fickle gospels.
Christianity is “simple”. Let us not complicate and compromise it with all kinds of manmade health, wealth and fickle gospels.
Bishop Ponniah: I believe that in this season the Lord would have the Church in Singapore focus on personal evangelism. This is because the favour of the Lord is upon His Church. It does not mean that the field is uniformly fruitful or that there is no opposition.
Rather, God’s favour means that God opens surprising doors for the spread of the Gospel and the making of disciples.
But, personal evangelism must go hand-in-hand with personal discipleship because our effectiveness in evangelism is affected by the credibility of our personal and collective life as Christians.
Every local church will therefore do well, with the help and inspiration of the Spirit, to relook and revamp their processes to mobilise their members in personal evangelism and personal discipleship.
Bishop Kee: As we enter into the next centennial, it is important that we do not lose our love for our God who, in His love, gave Himself for us. And in our love for our neighbours, introduce them to the God of love, that they too may believe and be saved (Mark 3:14).
Given the rise of ‘celebrity-culture’ Christianity and high-profile leadership failures, how would you encourage the Church?
Ps Yang: Huge on the agenda for Singapore Christians is to love and believe the Truth. There are so many opposing and conflicting voices now that many Christians, who were once standing firmly on God’s Word, have shifted their positions because of pop culture.
No one is above the danger of experiencing a “shipwreck” of faith. There is absolutely no exception.
I see this as the biggest threat to the Singapore Church. The Word of God is the gold standard; we need to move away from celebrity Christianity.
Ps Khong: If the devil wants to snuff out the influence of a church that is making an impact, he will take down the leader of the church. Once the shepherd is struck down, the sheep will scatter. We must have the prayer covering of our church.
And spiritual leaders, while they must be strong leaders according to the calling God has given them, must always remember that they are only servants of the Most High God. Pride will destroy them.
No one is above the danger of experiencing a “shipwreck” of faith. There is absolutely no exception. Every time I hear about a prominent leader falling away in one form or another, I remind myself that I could be next; this keeps me humble and compels me to walk close to the Lord.
Bishop Ponniah: In a pluralistic age, the criteria by which people assess and relate to truth-claims changes. Integrity and authenticity of life become more important. Ethical holiness, unity of the body and the practice of doing good works for the welfare of the city all affect people’s receptivity to the Gospel.
Hence, Satan majors on inciting moral failures, disrupting the unity of the Church and distracting the Church from its central mission and ministry.
Pursuing a thorough-going discipleship model is the best way to fulfil God’s purposes for His Church.
Pursuing a thorough-going discipleship model (building the Church as a community of disciples) is the best way to counter Satan’s strategy and to fulfil God’s purposes for His Church.
Rev Chia: Discipleship simply means three things: Dying to any effort of self-redemption, taking up the cross to follow Jesus unashamedly and following Jesus with no U-turns.
Living in increasing awe of our Lord Jesus and blossoming delight of Him, His humble character, His saving mission, His beloved people for His eternal glory is the greatest antidote to against Satan, sedition and sin.
There was a global rise in persecution, especially in Asia. What does this mean for individual believers in Singapore?
Ps Yang: Persecution often begins – subtly – with discrimination that usually leads to loss of rights, property and freedom. Then comes the violence and the bloodshed, and then finally, persecution in its most brutal form: Martyrdom.
The Church in Singapore must prepare for it. It is inevitable, and consequential – and there will be no safe haven. We must ready ourselves.
Rev Chia: We are encouraged to never forget our persecuted brethren. How? By making praying for them our highest prayer, above and beyond our fleeting and fickle needs. And then, moving from passive prayer to real action – what can we give spiritually and materially to our beloved persecuted as an expression of God’s love (1 John 4:19-21)?
Bishop Kee: It is important that we are prepare ourselves for persecution. And then endure it with hope and joy when the time of persecution comes.
Many giants of the faith passed on in 2019: Your observations of this for the Church in Singapore?
Ps Khong: We are thankful for giants of the faith who have faithfully served God till the end in discipling nations. They are like David, who “after he had served his generation by the will of God fell asleep” (Acts 13:36).
God will raise a new generation of great spiritual leaders to lead the Singapore Church in fulfilling her spiritual destiny. They must be trained and empowered to take national leadership for God’s people in Singapore.
I pray for a new guard; a new crew of leaders who have a pulse on what’s happening in culture and society.
Ps Yang: I pray for a new guard, a new cohort of young Singapore leaders to arise; old wineskins cannot work in this fast-paced world. While we need a new crew of leaders who have a pulse on what’s happening in culture and society, we honour those who have been faithful because they paved the way for us.
Bishop Rennis: “Spiritual fathers” in the community spur us on by their passion for the Lord and guide us in our pilgrimage because they have a more fully orbed experience and knowledge of God – as the Scriptures put it, “they have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13).
Let us press in to God’s future for His people in Singapore, not dwarfed by the problems and challenges before us, but with hope steadfastly fixed on the Lord. He will provide, He will strengthen and He will lead.
With our God, we shall do valiantly for His praise and glory! Our nation and the nations He has assigned us will be blessed with Gospel blessings as the people of God rise to follow Jesus!