Monday, July 19, 2010

The Singapore missions movement

Reflections on the Singapore Missions Movement
by Ben KC Lee
Monday, Apr. 26, 2010

Like most Singaporean Christians over the years, I have been to my share of mission conferences. We have all heard the prophecies that Singapore is "the Antioch of Asia". It is also likely we have discussed what this means for the Singapore missions movement.

Recently I thought about this again and began penning down reflections. I noted the positives and then some challenges. Here I share them with the hope that it can stir us all towards greater participation to fulfill our role as “Antioch”.

The first positive is relief work. I notice that Singaporeans readily give towards natural disaster funds. We even send medical mission teams. Second, many churches set aside ten or more percent of giving towards missions. This is positive. Third, more churches are doing more outreach among internationals living and working in Singapore. My friend Chris Cheah tells me the Methodists call this “Reverse Missions”. After all, two thirds of the people in Singapore (me included) were not born here.

Fourth, churches are sending more missionaries as compared to mission agencies. These are mainly medium or larger churches. Fifth, a 2007 SCEM (now SCGM) survey discovered that over thirty percent of churches here have missions-dedicated personnel. This means that these churches already have missions staff or a missions board. Sixth, tentmaking missions is a huge opportunity. Singapore must rank as one of the best places to explore tentmaking – great access to job markets, a well regarded workforce and English speaking people. My home church is actively involved in church planting through tentmakers.

Challenges also exist. The first is vicarious missions. We can be tempted to send money or train others rather than do the strategic things like sending qualified people long enough to learn the language and make an impact. The second risk is missions by proxy. We can be tempted to put up money to pay a person from the two-thirds world to go to Africa or South America in our place. Third, life is good in Singapore. This creates inertia making us reluctant to rough it out overseas.

Fourth is the emphasis on short-term missions. Our Antioch Call is not a 2-week in a year calling. When I was at Urbana ‘06 in St Louis, short-term mission is defined at up to two years on the field. Fifth is the expansion and multiplication focus. Many churches naturally focus on church growth and expansion. Church planting or multiplication may not always be on our radar. Sixth, pastors are so busy. Missions seem distant compared to the ‘real’ pressures of weekly worship services, problem-solving or fund raising for new facilities.

Overall, things are looking up because the positive factors are growing. There is an acceptance of our call to be an Antioch nation. From GoForth NMC, I also see a great resolve among the Singapore missions fraternity. Several reports show that Singapore is sending many overseas missionaries per capita of Christians.

I thank God for the many pastors and leaders with the Antioch DNA. I encourage all pastors to intentionally put missions on the fore-front of church life and ministry. We can expect great things to happen through our church. My home church started planting churches eighteen years ago, just one year after we started. We have never looked back. I also encourage all Singaporean Christians to invest more of our lives for missions every year. Get behind your pastor, church missions board and missions pastor for world missions. Together with God, we can anticipate a very bright future for the Singapore missions movement.

First published in The Christian Post Singapore. Online:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Personalising missions

Missions and Me
by Ben KC Lee
Saturday, Jul. 18, 2009

Strangely, the word 'missions' does not appear in Scriptures though the whole idea pervades the Bible. From the Old Testament God sends His messengers to call His people out of sin back to a right relationship with Him following to the New Testament the Bible's symphonic theme of mission. Jesus was a missionary from heaven coming to earth.

Christianity is defined as a missionary religion according to a popular encyclopedia. In other words, Christianity is missions. Missions is Christianity. In this article you will notice that I mean church-planting when I say missions. A church was always planted when Paul did missions. Missions is church planting because wherever evangelism produces converts, churches are planted.

The church is to cross all barriers to reach out to all ethnic groups, clans, tribe, social classes, and cultures. The great message of salvation is to be shared with all people everywhere. Since the Great Commission is a mandate, the church is expected to be obedient.

How does world missions specifically relate to the Singaporean Christian? Consider seven areas.

The first and foremost reason is simply that there are over four billion people in the world yet to know Christ (Rev. 7:9). People need Christ. This is our business. If it is not our business, we need to make this our business. We need to stand and be counted.

Second, Singapore presents us with a reach of 4.5 million people. 15% of Singaporeans consider themselves Christian. This is good considering that there are negligible number of churches in large cities and countries (Gen. 1:28). With over 560 churches in our city alone, you could say that there are already many players here.

Third, we cannot concentrate on national missions and downplay world missions. We cannot because there are no states or provinces here. Singapore is a city state.

Fourth, the emphasis on a bilingual school curriculum has benefits. Many folks here are bilingual. A related benefit is the development of bicultural people and therefore bicultural Christians. We are comfortable or at least sensitive to multi-lingual and multi-cultural environments. We are people ready to go into new cultures.

Fifth, is the high level investment in education and training of its people. Human resource here is highly educated, highly skilled and highly motivated. Such human potential when humble and harnessed well can be a potent missionary force (Eph. 2:10).

Sixth, is the strategic location of Singapore as a platform for launching church-planting teams. We reside in a nation that has excellent infrastructure, telecommunications and is a financial hub. We have every reason to build powerful missions churches in a country where everything works.

Seventh, is the spiritual growth from missions. Our personal experiences in the starting of our home church and starting churches in Asia would have taught invaluable spiritual lessons. The process of directly participating in missions has brought the Bible alive. Now, we know Biblical truths intimately because we have seen it come to life. We can speak with a great deal of conviction because I have come to know and trust the Lord much more. Now we can go beyond the region to go global.

I believe that a Christian misses our basis for existence when we do not participate in discipling the nations. I believe that our churches will plateau and face dryness when we do not enroll in God's plans for the whole world. When the river has no outlet, it becomes a dead sea.

Some may say, "I will send money". Others might say, "I will pray". God wants our heart. Let's pray, "Lord, please let me go". God is looking for people willing to obey His Commission. Pray for a vision for church planting. Missions is our life. 'M' does not just stand for 'missions' but it stands for 'me'.

First published in the Christian Post Singapore. Online: