All Annual Conference stories by Peter Teo and Grace Toh
36TH SESSION OF THE CHINESE ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 14-17, 2011
More challenges ahead for the church: CAC President
WITH THE ADVANCE OF SCIENCE and technology and modernism, there will be changes to social life and more challenges for the church as Singapore continues to progress rapidly.
Making this observation, Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) President Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung said the challenges include:
The shortage of pastors; the issue of new immigrants and locals; school ministry; community services; establishing mission points; and the affiliation of local preachers.
Presenting his Presidential Address at the 36th Session of the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) at Hinghwa Methodist Church on Nov 15, the Rev Dr Chong said in recent years, all levels of ministries in the Mandarin, dialect and English worship services have been hit by a shortage of pastors. This problem is further hampered by the difficulty of finding pastors who can speak multiple languages in today’s CAC churches.
A few churches have encountered some tensions in the sharing of resources between their members and Chinese immigrants. There is feedback that while pastors have been actively involved in sharing the Gospel with Chinese immigrants, they should not neglect the other ministries, especially in meeting the needs of the various congregations.
There is yet another problem: While churches encourage their congregations to embrace the new immigrants of different cultures, there is a need to acknowledge that some church members do have difficulties integrating with these people. “These are good problems, but they need to be properly addressed,” said the Rev Dr Chong.
Continuing, he said schools are huge potential harvest fields. “If a local church can allocate some resources to a school, meet its needs, give support to Christian work and build a good rapport with the students and parents, the board members of the school will definitely welcome the church to be its partner.”
The Rev Dr Chong said CAC churches now have a better understanding of the plight of the country’s chronic poor after having participated in the 125th Anniversary Community Outreach Project of The Methodist Church in Singapore last year. The project also created opportunities for the churches to show care and concern for the community.
Turning to future development, he said one area to look at is children’s evangelism. “We need to present the whole Gospel to our children and help create for them a sense of belonging to the church. We should not neglect this.
“Therefore, I encourage the church to hold evangelistic rallies for children periodically and to develop a systematic nurturing programme. Our children will become youths, our youths will become young adults, and our young adults will be the ones who will continue from where we have begun.”
The Rev Dr Chong also highlighted the importance of establishing a good relationship between the Annual Conference and the local church. The leaders must serve as a bridge, connect and promote good interaction between the Annual Conference and the local church, he said. They must intentionally nurture the next generation of lay leaders and lead them to connect with the Annual Conference.
Additionally, he proposed that every local church organise an annual retreat for the pastors and church stewards to enable them to enhance their relationship.