Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Struggle Of A Priest-In-Charge And The Parishioners

The Struggle Of A Priest-In-Charge And The Parishioners
Galatians 1:1  Paul, an apostle-- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father,

In the Anglican Church, every priest and pastor is subjected to be transferred to another parish or to mission field. In fact, every priest and pastor has different call as in some are called to be missionary, church planter, or to shepherd a church. They have different gifts as well – some are good in administration, some are good in interpersonal relationship, or some are good in evangelism. One of the responsibilities of the Bishop is to look at the Diocese as a whole so that the needs of the Diocese can be met and be strengthened to fulfill the Great Commandment. Therefore, the Bishop has to discern and decide which priest to be sent to parish according to the needs of the parish. And we need to know that there is not perfect pastor that can fully meet the needs of the parish.
Because we are in Anglican Church, all of us, both priest and parishioners struggled. This has been one of my reflections during the silent retreat. I also got to know that some of us are “sick” or afraid of having another priest in our church. This resulted that some unwilling to serve with the priest to avoid another disappointment. In any transfer, we need to know that not only that the parishioners got affected, but the priest himself also got affected. He needs to find time to adjust to new environment. He will also miss his congregations like how the parishioners missed their former priest. In fact, this is one of the loneliest times for the pastor. With this, both priest and parishioners have to build trust again.
As ordained minister, firstly we need to know that it is God’s will to send us out. We are sent by God, not from men nor by man. Secondly, we are sent to spread the gospel, and also to strengthen the church. 1 Thessalonians 3:2  says, “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.”

So, may I urge all of us to work together as a body of Christ  “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).  

Monday, July 17, 2017

My personal thought on current church

#还我教会 Personal reflection on church. (Posted 1 year ago)
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mark 6.5-6
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I personally feel that today we are "doing" church in a very wrong way. In Annual Meeting, we try to select people to represent particular group so that their voices can be heard. Not entirely wrong in a sense. But sometimes the voices are to control the the priest power and authority who genuinely wants to develop the spiritual and physical of the church.
We make decision based on finance but not faith. Although it is important to use and invest wisely by looking into our financial condition. But in church, we cannot ignore the aspect of faith and also compassion.
Churches today lost its faith and compassion. We concern how money is used. Even when it is used to help the poor, to train future leaders, it got questioned by people "Why spend a lot?" and forgetting that money have been given to Church. People show concerns by words and not action and they got the applaud by saying the right thing and not doing the right thing.
There is a new wave of ministry that caused by this situation that entangles people of faith. Jesus just leave an assembly that doesn't have faith.
If an assembly doesn't want to please God with their faith, is it worth to stay on? How long will institutional churches can last?
Sometimes I feel so guilty and as sinful that we just build the church, solve church problems where if the people don't repent or change the problem can never be solved, and have totally ignored the salvation of others, the welfare of neighbors and to build the next generation to prepare to face spiritual challenges.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Leader's Voice

John 10:14-16,26-27   14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--  15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my life for the sheep.  16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

This thought has been bugging in my mind. It keeps bugging in me perhaps because of the reality that we are in today.

The leader's voice is very important in any organization, nation and church. Miscommunication happens because the voice are not clearly heard or the voice of the leader is misrepresented. The voice of the leader carries the words of the leader, the instruction of the leader. The words of the leader create picture, emotion and also vision from the leader.

Miscommunication happens not only because the voice of the leader is not clearly heard or misrepresented, but it happens also because there are too many voices on top of the leader's voice or instruction. How does this happen? One of the thing that I have encountered was that personal opinion has been put on to of the leader's voice. We think another type of voice or "repackaging" of the leader's instruction is better than the original instruction from the leader. Second thing that I have encountered was that leader doesn't know how his/her voice has been carried out. This has been the frustrations of the leader and the follower. The leader got frustrated because his/her instruction is not carried according to his intention. The leader's voice creates an apple, but it was delivered as orange to his hearers. The followers got frustrated to because they got the correction and rebukes from the leader himself. And mostly, the voice has been miscommunicated and misrepresented by the communicator whom the leader entrusted. This is also how the "messenger" or the entrusted communicator communicates the voice from the leader. The messenger certainly could not convey the voice as if he/she was in the position of authority! This would create more resistance from the hearers. "Who are you to say this?" "Are you the boss?!" The messenger should always position him/herself as a messenger of the voice. Look at the prophets in the bible. Why they begin the with "Thus says the Lord"? It is to tell the people that he is bring the voice he heard from God to the people.

The voice of the leader is so important because it will set the sentiments of the team. The passage quoted above says, "there shall be one flock and one shepherd (verse 16)." One flock (one team), and one shepherd (one leader) which means there must be only one single voice in a team to lead us to the vision that God has given to the team! Read carefully on verse 27, "My sheep listen to my voice (singular one voice!). When you have a clear one voice, the leader will know his people and they will follow the leader. Why no people follow you? Perhaps it is because your voice is not heard or it has been miscommunicated and misrepresented by your messenger!

What happened if there are more than one voice in a team? I could not excuse my mind from thinking what happened in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve listened to the second voice, the voice of the serpent instead the voice of God. The whole team will fall!

Next, I will post (hopefully no procrastination) on "How can we ensure our voice being heard correctly"


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Can you put old wine into new wine skin?

Luke 5:36-39   36 He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.  39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"

We often struggle to keep or to balance with tradition and doing new things. When you want to do new things, older people would worry that their tradition will be lost. And if you keep the tradition, younger people would find it irrelevant. And sadly and mostly, most established organization – churches, schools, companies or even government, would rather choose to keep the tradition in order to please their current people. With this decision, many younger generations are left out and eventually leave the church (coming from my context). We certainly cannot please everyone. But can each generation tolerate with one another?

Jesus teaches a very familiar parable which we often use if we want to do new things. He says that “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.” This is really a familiar passage to many Christians. But one day, as I was doing my devotion and was reading this passage, one interesting thought in the form of question came to my mind – “Can you put old wine into new wineskin?”

If we cannot put new wine into old wineskins because it will burst the skins, can we put old wine into new wineskins? I have the great conviction that we certainly can put old wine into new wineskin. Look at the wine shops nowadays, how many of them using wineskins? Most of them are using bottles! You could transfer the old wine from the wine barrel into the bottle. Of course you would argue that the taste would be different so on and so forth. But the question is that will you lose both wine and the wineskins? The change in taste is perhaps what I call toleration. Older generation should tolerate with the new wineskins, the new method of storing wine.

When this came to my mind, the first illustration came to me is about smartphones. I was asking how many older people are using smartphones. I believe many older people (over 60 years old) are using smartphones so that they can continue to communicate with their children. If they can tolerate with the change of method of communication, they should be able to tolerate with changes in church so that younger people can continue be in church and find that we are still relevant.

If we choose tradition over next generation, we are putting the new wine (new generation) into tradition (old wineskins). In the end, we lose both younger people and no one would continue the tradition. And perhaps we often preserve the wrong tradition – the manmade tradition rather that God’s commission.

As church leader, this is ultimately important to us because we are losing the younger generation – children, youth and even the young adults! When our preference is to keep the tradition so that people could remain, we are losing the next generation. We are not reaching out to them. I am inspired by Carey Nieuwhof saying, “Focus on who you want to reach, not on who you want to keep.

Inasmuch as I am saying all these, I don’t mean that the older people are not important that we should ignore them. Remember that Jesus said in Luke 5:39 that the old is better. I think inasmuch as the next generation is important, we should educate and work with the older generation to reach out to these generation. If they can tolerate with changes in smartphones, why can’t they tolerate in tradition to accommodate the new generation?

No doubt that my mind was thinking also how Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone. If you have watched the presentation, I personally like the part when he dismissed the QWERTY keypad in traditional phones. In fact, he did not really dismiss the QWERTY keypad on a phone. He just changed it a different method to type messages. This is one of the things that make iPhone iPhone. Can you imagine if Jobs listened to criticism by consumers to put back the physical QWERTY keypad because without it, it would not be a phone? I think the phone would lose its identity.

It is the same with the church, we have heard too much criticism about the next generation without even trying to understand them and going into their lives and world.

So, can you put old wine into new wineskin?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Baymax has died. Baymax is "risen". Baymax will come again

Baymax has died. Baymax is "risen". Baymax will come again
(ps: Don't kill me with this title :P)
"Are you satisfied with your care?... I will always be with you"

I was watching this particular part with two children during Chinese New Year. There was an impromptu moment that when I saw this part, I said to the children that somehow what Baymax did is like Jesus - He sacrificed to save Hiro and where he said, "I will always be with you." Of course, the children suddenly got the connection.
It might not be theologically sound here. Somehow, "Are you satisfied with your care?" is a question to all of us on the sacrifice that Jesus did on the cross. Unless we satisfied or in another words, unless we accept the reality of Jesus' death, we will not be saved!
As tomorrow is the Resurrection day, we know that in the end of this story, Baymax was resurrected.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

God's Love

It has been a long while that I posted my last entry (sound like every blog). I have already become a father! The journey was fun, exciting and tired because of the sleepless nights, but it is a joy to see my son growing each day. I began to understand the feeling,struggles and of course the joy that parents need to go through. What is more important also, I learnt so much about theology, or about God through parenting even from the beginning of my wife's pregnancy.

In light of Holy Week and coming Good Friday, one particular thought has been bugging in my mind - God's love toward this sinful world. In this post, I would like to share this thoughts about the co-relation of parental love to children (even to the unborn) and God's love to this is sinful world.

When my wife and myself were going through the pregnancy process, the doctor asked us if we would like to do a scan of the baby in the womb if the baby has the symptoms of down syndrome or any abnormal occurrences. But the doctor being a Christian shared to us that this scan would only cause uncertainty to the parents because if they really found something abnormal, abortion is not encouraged at least from ethics and faith perspective.

This has caused me to think, if as parents, we found out that the baby is abnormal and it will not affect the life of the mother, will we decide to keep the baby's life and bring the baby into the world? That is the real challenge. Of course it is easy to be said than to be done.

Somehow, our lives is likened to the abnormal baby that will cause a lot of problems, stresses and uneasiness to parents when the baby is born. I am saying this in the sense that we human beings are sinful and problematic people, abnormal in the sense that we have been deviated from the original plan of God - from God's normal plan. The real question is, "Has God given up on us? Has He 'aborted' us?" The answer is a CLEAR NO!

But we human often selfish as it is, will always think that if the abnormal baby is brought to the world, a lot of time, effort, energy and attention need to be given to the baby. In another words, it will be problematic for us and it causes a lot of inconveniences. And we would feel we lose our "face" because we don't have a normal cute baby. For these few reason, PERHAPS, we choose the convenient way. Often, the problem is not the baby but us! Abortion is just a temporarily solution with serious side effects. Forever you will be traumatize with the decision especially you do it consciously.

God knows we are problematic because of our sins. Yet He chose to sacrifice us and to "deliver" us so that we could be with Him. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two Questions For Good Samaritan Church

2 Corinthians 12:9-10   9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I have entered into my first year in Good Samaritan Church. It was like yesterday to me because I still remember how quick I have to prepare everything for this unexpected transfer. But I have faced the whole year with challenges, difficulties, struggles, stress, and at one point I even got into a minor depression that I was considering if I should quit. But God’s grace is sufficient for me and his power is made perfect in my weakness. This one whole year has helped me to get closer with God and my faith level has grown as well. I spent more in prayer and reading the Word of God. I never pray for a church as intense as I did in my first year in Good Samaritan.

Throughout the year I asked the Lord what is His will for Good Samaritan Church. In this one year, God often asked me these two clear questions repeatedly in different occasion, whenever I pray for this church:

1.       How many pastors and priests have Good Samaritan produced?
We have produced many fulltime staff in the past. The question is, how many of them still remain? How many have become pastor and priest?

2.       What will be the first impression of people, especially young people, when they see our church – physically and relationally? Will they stay after visiting us for one time?

These two questions have thus become the vision of the Church. I want to impart these questions to you as Good Samaritan Church. God’s grace is certain for our church when we come together in unity to achieve what God wants us to achieve. All we need is to embark with faith and to see God’s work in this church. 


The Struggle Of A Priest-In-Charge And The Parishioners

The Struggle Of A Priest-In-Charge And The Parishioners Galatians 1:1  Paul, an apostle-- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Chr...