34TH SESSION OF TRINITY ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 23-26, 2009
and nurturing new leaders
IN HIS 40-MINUTE ADDRESS to Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), President Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup (right) gave thanks for God’s grace in using the wide variety of personalities and gifts to build His church and move it forward.
Among the areas of special interest was the gradual transfer of social concerns from the Annual Conference to local churches which have the resources and experience to do so.
Some examples of these initiatives include the HOPE Fairs as mission beyond the local church by providing laid-off workers assistance in job opportunities, thereby serving the local communities and civic organisations. In fact, to continue developing relationship with the community, local churches may have to acknowledge, encourage and uphold in prayer their members who serve in grassroots community organisations.
Another new development is the concept of the marketplace ministry. The “Methodists in the Marketplace Conference” was TRAC’s way of addressing the imbalance in the lives of working members who spend more waking hours in their workplace than in church, family or even the community, and how they might be equipped to make disciples where they spend their working lives.
Closely related to this was the Rev Dr Wee’s reference to the nurturing of future leaders of the Methodist Church. Nurturing future leaders in the church must be an intentional effort of the present generation of committed leaders, he said.
There is a basic but important assumption, and this is that the present generation of leaders are selfless servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who are willing to submit themselves to one another in leadership teams, seeking to discern and fulfil the agenda that they have collectively discerned to be of God.
“It assumes that we do not have a personal or cliquish agenda competing for it to be fought out in the battlefield of the local church or that we out-manoeuvre all others and make our party interest the priority of the church,” added the Rev Dr Wee.
One of the important strategies has been the TRACkers programme that provides young Methodists with an intensive and closely supervised approach to discipleship over a period of three months of learning and ministering together.
Although training does not automatically make leaders, it is an attempt to spot persons who are likely to be disciples who will be servant-leaders in the church and the marketplace. In this way, leaders will be prepared – experienced in the workings of the church with the character of Christ.
Similar to lay training has been the Pastors’ Development Programme that is a learning experience between a number of lay persons and senior ministers who share their perspectives from experience and from which new insights are gained.
It is hoped that the first cohort that has finished the first course will be able to apply what they have learnt and thus provide the basis for future training sessions beginning in 2011.
An area of growing importance is the Ministry to Migrants. This ministry has biblical precedents. The Israelites had forefathers who were foreigners, living nomadic lives until God led them to the Promised Land. Hence, they were instructed to give special treatment to foreigners.
“We also have historical precedents, for those of us who are Chinese, Indian and Indonesian heritage,” said the President. “However, a more long-term perspective and strategy need to be applied to such a ministry.”
The Boards of Missions, Witness and Evangelism, and Outreach and Social Concerns are working together with other like-minded churches and agencies in Singapore to see “how we can move forward for the long term”. A conference on this ministry will be held next year.
The Conference Session was also told of the establishment of the Johnny and Nancy Lim Fund which will provide the capital to set up new preaching points. They represent an ongoing trend in land-scarce Singapore where premium prices have been paid for property purchases.
The Rev Dr Wee said there are “new ways of doing church”, for well-educated and better-off Singaporeans as well as foreigners. The notion that churches need to be fixed in one permanent location may have to be reviewed, while preaching points offer a practical alternative that provides flexibility in various ways.
Churches, too, need not have to meet on Sundays. They could meet on weekdays besides the Friday and Saturday services that are currently available.