January 22, 2006

Laboring For The Gospel

Church had Annual Congregational Meeting today. This annual event is 'highly encouraged' (if not compulsory) for members of the church. Constitutionally in the Presbyterian circle, we have to re-elect some elders and deacons in our midst. As members, we have out voting rights for our leaders and over major decisions concerning the church and its use of finances.

The exciting part of the meeting was to have the presentation of the proposed major renovation for our current church unveiled to us. Where we are sited now is getting too small for us for a long long time. But because we believe in focusing in the 'software' (people), rather than the 'hardware' (church building), most of the finances has been used for training gospel workers in theological training and ministry apprenticeship programme. But our church has outgrown itself so much that we now have to have 4 services per weekend to cater to our growing numbers.

It was back to the historial roots of our church... Having been in the church for 7 years and a member for 1.5 years (I was baptised only in July 2004), we were brought back to the humble beginnings of the church where there was only 20 persons in a semi-detached house. In 15-16 years, congregation size grew to about 1300 persons with 690 members. I am not boasting about the jump in numbers but when Pastor brought us through the history of the church and how other Presbyterian churches have been so gracious to us in helping us in many big and small ways.... I could understand and feel the same thankfulness to God for His hand in this. To me, I see my Pastor standing up there... aged a lot since the day I first stepped into the church. This man, so humbled, so Christ-centred and gospel-centred.... I was moved when I once again learn how he has put his life to pastor the church, teach the Word, share the gospel. It is not difficult to see how he love God's people - the church. It hasn't been easy for him and his family through theses years.... and because I know him and his family and through these years I see his labor for the sake of the gospel, it does makes me a bit ashamed... what have I done for the sake of the gospel?

I am thankful for the church, its leaders comprising of elders, deacons and pastors... for their good leadership and stewardship. It came to a point where there is no choice but to do major renovation to our current small building. Many alternatives have been considered but this is the best and cost-effective solution for us - to do major revamp of our existing building... such that we can double our congregation sitting capacity and make better use of the limited space that we have. Even then, I suspect after we move back in about 12-15 months time, we will probably still need 2-3 services per weekend.

As for me, I sat amongst the congregation, thankful to God for sustaining our church... and that we have Bible-centred and gospel-focused leaders, always reminding us that we must not move away from the gospel and never tire from it. The numerical growth is a good thing but I am certain that this is not a prayer of the church leaders. In my say, I am thankful that there are more Christians becoming more Word-focused and Bible-centred. I pray that as we are trained and taught in this manner, that our lives will show it in our testimonies. Like what Pastor kept saying today "We have to be big-minded and big-hearted". A good outworking of God's word taking root in our lives is LOVE - how much we love God's people, how we show love to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, sometimes we may fail but let's not give up persevering. Sinners are difficult to love. But hey, God loves us - sinners. His love is already shown in the person of Jesus Christ. If He loves us, so are we to love one another....

I am reminded of what Paul said in
the book of Philippians...

Philippians 2
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed; —not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence; —continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life; —in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

I am certain that my Pastor and the church leaders will not labor for nothing. They labored for the sake of the gospel, trying their best to be accountable in good stewardship of the resources given to us... leading us in every possible godly manner. I thank God for their faithfulness and love.

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