35TH SESSION OF THE CHINESE ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 15-18, 2010
– Youths, seniors and new immigrants
YOUTHS, SENIORS AND NEW IMMIGRANTS – these are the three target groups singled out by the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) President, the Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung, for the conference’s leaders and churches to reach out to more effectively in the years ahead.
In his President’s Address at the CAC’s 35th Session at Charis Methodist Church on Nov 16, 2010, which reviewed the conference’s eventful year, he highlighted his concerns for the Youth Ministry in the CAC churches as well as its ministry for seniors and the ministry reaching out to new immigrants, among other important issues.
He said that many of the traditional local churches were gradually losing their youth members. “These young people are of the Y-generation and it is widely acknowledged that they are very different from those of the preceding generations in their thinking, the way they do things, and even their value systems.”
He suggested that leaders of local churches would do well to make a study of the movement of youth members in their churches over the past decade. “If many do not continue to be in our churches as young adult members, we should be alerted to the situation,” he said.
On a brighter note, he reported that the Rev Jasper Sim, who was appointed Chairman/Director of CAC’s Youth Ministry last July, had, with the help of his team members, mapped out strategies with a focus on optimising resources to support all Youth Ministry work at the local church’s level.
“In the two years ahead, the Youth Ministry will work towards connecting all local conferences in a concerted effort to bond our youths and reach out to those in the community,” he added.
On his concerns for the Seniors Ministry catering to elders who were born in the 1940s or earlier, the Rev Dr Chong noted that a substantial and growing number of them now are English-speaking, besides those who speak only Mandarin and dialects. He called on the local church leaders to cater to their needs as well.
Many of them, he said, might prefer to have serious Bible Study and courses on topics relating to the Christian faith and Christian living over the more popular short country tours, recreational activities and health talks.
He felt that the Seniors Ministry should re-position and re-align itself to effect a change especially when the Singapore population is ageing and senior members in the church are likely to increase in future.
Turning to the ministry reaching out to new immigrants in the church, he acknowledged that its growth had diverted much of the church’s resources to this new group and upset some church members. Their grievances and unhappiness must be addressed, he said.
However, despite all this, he felt the church should recognise that the ministry had provided a wonderful opportunity for spreading the Gospel to these immigrants. “Our churches should not neglect this harvest field,” he added.
Other issues which he touched on included the need for the local churches to connect more and share resources, ministering to the English-speaking congregations in the conference, pastors’ upgrading and professional development, and an upcoming review of their salary structure.
Paying tribute to senior pastors, workers and lay leaders who had given the best years of their lives to the church, he said:
“They should be affirmed and not be neglected. In fact, we ought to give thanks for their loyal and dedicated service over the decades. They are the testimonies of our church and role models to the younger generations.”
Leong Weng Kam is an Associate Editor of Methodist Message.