Recently a friend from Australia asked me to write an article about church and missions. I politely declined but he was persuasive. Since I have not posted recently I will adapt that article here. Here goes...
Our church has a love affair with local and global ministries. Look at the city of Singapore. It’s located on the Equator and over four million people live here. Non-citizens form a quarter of the population. For example I was born in Borneo, grew up here and spent a few years in Australia.
For us it started in 1997 when I sensed God’s leading for our church to turn the corner from being missions-minded to be missions-active. I started sharing this with our staff and leaders. It must have been at our church anniversary when I stood up and said, “We’re not going to be a church-with-missions anymore. We’re going to be a missionary church.” That was a bold vision but it resonated with the church. Our journey began.
It was especially challenging to build missions infrastructure. We knew how to grow Christians. Now we had to grow global Christians. A lot of things had to change. Members started to plan for exposure mission trips instead of annual holidays. Each cluster of small groups (of a hundred people) learnt to adopt and pray for a city each to start a church. We started to give to an annual mission fund. Staff learnt and designed training for potential missionaries. This included language acquisition, cross-culture lessons and entry vehicles. Once teams landed, we suddenly needed to pastor people spread across the globe.
The more we got into global missions, the more convinced we got that healthy churches reproduce themselves. Isaiah 55:10 tells us what is planted and watered ultimately becomes a source for future planting. We don’t just plant churches, we plant church-planting churches.
We made mistakes along the way but there was progress too. God and others affirmed our transition into a missionary church. In 2001, a book by a free lance writer here listed us as one of five missions ‘minded’ church in Singapore. This is in a city with over 500 churches.
The Spirit-inspired momentum continued. In 2002, members arrived in 16 different countries across 4 continents on short-term trips. More go teams landed in new continents over 2003 and 2004. My colleague, Cara told me that my ministry travel covered over 130,000 kilometers in the year 2005 alone. That’s the equivalent of circling the globe more than 3 times along the equator.
Much of Dinah’s and my time and focus are shared between local and global matters. We attempt to keep in touch as much as we can with members. Much of what we do relate to global work that we have been described as offshore missionaries.
With many members and churches spread across the world, we are functioning more like a senior pastor-at-large. This local and global dimension work sure makes life quite exciting. This is the fun of being part of a global city church.