A Report on New Life In-Conversation held on 15 Feb 2014
By Bro. Lim Chin Hong
The fellowship began with the singing of 3 hymns and prayer by Rev. Gan. Pastor Lim was the moderator of this programme and he shared on the Year of the Horse. Days before the Chinese New Year, many newspaper articles predicted 2014 to be a good year. However, the New Year began with natural disasters in some parts of the world. No one knows how this year will turn out. Yes, we do not know about tomorrow, but we know who holds tomorrow. Our confidence and hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Lim read to us Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
He then told the story behind the US dollar bill having the tag line: “In God We Trust”. We are familiar with the name “Mayflower” – this was the name of the ship that took a group of Christian Pilgrims from England to the United States. They left because of persecution and the volatile political environment in England at that time. By the time they arrived in US, half the number of people on board the ship had died of diseases. When they came on land, they were confronted by hostile people. Despite their ordeal and traumatic experiences, these survivors did not lose hope as they trusted in God. This is why these 4 words: “In God We Trust” were printed on the American dollar notes.
Pastor Lim proceeded to lay the ground rules for this dialogue fellowship:
- Consider one another (Hebrews10:24)
- Provoke one another into service- edification (Hebrews 10:24)
- Promote unity (Ephesians 4:15-16)
- Maintain orderliness (1 Corinthians 14:40)
- Glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Since there was no questions submitted prior to this fellowship, Pastor Lim then handed out some blank papers for members to send in questions. The church leaders would answer all questions concerning the church and her work to the best of their knowledge. Pastor Lim entreated the members to be gracious in accepting the answers. Some answers may not be completely satisfactorily due to sensitivity and others may need further data references.
While waiting for the questions, Pastor Lim discussed the criteria in the nomination of candidates for the Election of Session Members. He highlighted particularly the section on New Life specifics:
1. In nominating someone for candidacy the person should have maturity both in spirituality and age. The other consideration is his ability and continuity to function and serve. Therefore a guide of an age between 30 and 65 is determined. Members should remember this is only a guide and the condition begins with the words: “Be preferably.”
2. Points 2-7 were clarified or discussed, and these are quite clear in themselves.
Pastor Lim then opened to the floor to ask question on the criteria for leadership:
Question 1: Is there a screening process? How do you define attending meeting consistently?
Elder Prasad shared that the BOE reviewed every nomination carefully, and also ensured the exercise is not a popularity contest. The leadership is constantly looking for people with commitment.
Question 2: All the criteria listed are stated as “must.” Does it mean that only those that met all the 7 criteria qualify?
The short answer is “yes.” Pastor Lim explained the importance of these criteria and the BOE thought through them carefully and extensively. He took one criterion as example: the candidate must attend worship service and prayer meeting regularly. The bottom line of this condition is whether the person is not able to or he does not want to attend these meetings. If the person does not want to, then he is automatically disqualified.
The Q&A – the questions were collected and the pastors and Elder Prasad took turns answering the questions.
Question: What is the succession plan of the Church?
Pastor Gan answered the first question on leadership succession. He shared his plan on “discipleship.” Succession of leadership is part of his pastoral responsibility and he has made it one of his key goals. He hopes to retire at age 65 or 67, and if God is willing, he would prepare a new generation of leaders for NLBPC. Pastor Gan also made an observation of New Life having too many activities and therefore lacked focus. He borrowed a phrase from MOE – “teach less, learn more”. He would be sharing this matter with the church leaders. He would make some recommendations for changes after meeting with the leadership.
Question: Why is there a lack of transparency in information and sharing concerning church matters?
Pastor Lim mentioned that some information is sensitive and cannot be shared prematurely. For example, the BOE may delay releasing news of staff resignation as they may need time to persuade the person to stay behind. Once such information becomes public, there will almost be no chance of retaining the person. Pastor Lim shared that Pr Lek’s case was a good example: his departure was announced 3 weeks before his last day and the church organized a farewell for him. The session also gave their blessings as he had gone to start another ministry, which was always his desire.
In moving forward, Pastor Lim felt that the In-Conversation fellowship meeting is a good platform for sharing some of these sensitive topics, because the Newsline is far from ideal as a platform. For example, some members objected to having their “news or phone numbers” posted, and we have to respect their point of view.
Question: Can we be informed about renovation of the church?
Pastor Lim said, “Yes, if it is major, the church will need ACM or ECM for approval.” For any feedback concerning church maintenance, members are to contact the Maintenance Committee: Dn. Ivan Lim, Bro. Steve Tan, Bro. Seow Thiam Lok (Chinese Cong.) and Bro. Chew Teck Hin (English Cong.)
Moreover it will be good to announce in the Newsline or on the Church Bulletin whenever a committee is formed so that members are informed. They will also know who the Committee members are. This will be the practice.
Question: Our worshipping or praising God is solemn. Is this the kind of worship we will see in heaven?
Pastor Nathan said that our form of worship is focus on the Biblical teaching. We emphasize more on scripture and not the emotional outpouring preferred in charismatic churches. It will be difficult to share in a short interval on the theology of worship. Pastor Gan added that in fact, he will be starting a new series on the theology of Worship.
Question: Could we have a younger pastor to understudy Ps Gan for succession planning?
Pastor Gan answered, “Absolutely!” He requested that we please let him have the contacts or names of any potential young pastors.
Question for Pastor Lim: Are you returning to serve after your sabbatical?
Pastor Lim said, “Yes”! He is going on leave 1 June 2014 and returning on 30 May 2015. He will attend a course in BJU on counselling and will also take up some short courses in the summer before the actual programme began.
Question: There seem to be a lot of initiatives being launched. Can we share the problems or challenges we are facing?
Pastor Lim explained that all the activities for 2014 were actually planned in July 2013 during a staff retreat. For example, this year’s Combined youth seminar is a follow-on from the youth programme at last year’s church camp. About 40 youths were present at that youth programme. We are expecting 70 youths from the 3 congregations at this year’s Combined youth programme.
The difficulties the church faced are that we cannot agree with everything that congregational members wanted. However, we can learn to sometime agree to disagree and have the grace to accept differences in areas that may not be too controversial.
Question: We are not addressing the concerns of people who are emotionally hurt or have serious relationship issues. Do we have a leadership support structure to take care of these people?
Elder Prasad mentioned that in such issues, the person usually needed privacy and so it is normally the leader who has exclusive knowledge of the problem. It is good for the leader to ask permission from the person regarding a request to share with the leaders of the church. Thereby, it will be easier to facilitate communication across the session members. Elder Prasad thinks that the NBC is really set up for a smaller grouping to stay close and trust each other enough to handle such sensitive relationship issues and also to support the person. Elder Prasad thanked God for Pastor Gan who is well equipped in this area, as he is a trained counsellor. Finally, Elder Prasad encouraged that the answer is still in prayer, and he is encouraged by the increased number turning up at our Wednesday nights prayer meeting, and hoped that more members will bring their issues to the Almighty God.
The meeting ended with two questions which remained unanswered because of the lack of time. Pastor Lim will follow up in the next round of In Conversation on 17 May.
Before the closing prayer by Elder Sim Chee Seng, Pastor Lim highlighted the coming events of the church and mission trips:
- English Youth Fellowship 29th Anniversary on 22 Feb 2014 at 3.30 pm (Event Completed)
- Combined Youth Seminar on 15 March 2-7 pm in Church. This programme aims to bring our youth from the 3 congregations together to interact, connect and to study topics relevant to their needs today.
- Mission Trips 2014:
- China: 13-21 Feb 2014 (Event Completed)
- India: 24-29 March and 13-18 October 2014
- Cambodia: 10-13 November 2014
- Philippines: 1-10 December 2014
- Church Camp 2014 will be held in Tanjung Puteri Golf Resort from 11-14 June 2014
- English Gospel Meeting on 28 June 2014
RESULT OF THE NOMINATION EXERCISE
The Board of Elders had met with all the nominees and the following people will be standing for Election on 27 April 2014:
- Rev. Lim Chee Boon for the position of Pastor
- Rev. S. V. Nathan for the position of Pastor
- Elder Sivaraj Prasad for the position of Elder
- Elder Sim Chee Seng for the position of Elder
- Deacon Tan Wee Boon for the position of Deacon
- Deacon Ivan Lim for the position of Deacon
- Deacon Yap Chee Kian for the position of Deacon
- Deacon Tan Cheng Teck for the position of Deacon
- Deacon William Lee for the position of Deacon
- Deacon Hubert Leni for the position of Deacon
- Bro. Ronnie Tan Soon Bin for the position of Deacon
- Bro. Emmanuel Gumapon for the position of Deacon
- Sis. K Indravathy for the position of Deaconess
- Sis. Dorcas Chionh for the position of Deaconess
Elder Tow Siang Yeow, Preacher William Goh and Deacon Thomas Tan will be stepping down from Session for the new term 2014-2017. The church would like to thank them for their faithful service for the many years they were in the Session. May the Lord guide them in their future service for Him.