You Walk, He Leads

I’m so glad that my book You Walk, He Leads: Discerning, Aligning & Waking in God’s Will is finally printed and published. The delay was because my printer had to temporary shutdown its operations due to Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s Movement Control Order.

The event that sparked the writing of the book was a seminar I did for a young people’s church in October 2019. It was not my first time teaching the material. However, an evaluation the seminar made me realise that there was just too much material for the participants to digest. I decided that it would be better for me to put the teaching into a book so that people can read it at their own pace. They can also take time to think through the principles and apply them into their lives.

A second reason for the book is because the teaching I have to offer on the subject is really important. I should make it available to a wider audience. I concluded that publishing a book would be the best thing to do. (Besides, writing a book has been one of my ambitions in life.)

Since I already had my seminar notes I didn’t have to start from scratch, which made things much easier. Nonetheless, the journey to publish a book was still a long and challenging process. My seminar notes that were written in bullet points for oral presentation had to be reconfigured for a written publication. While I had the general Christian readership in mind I also wanted to make the language and writing style suitable for the younger generation. That took great effort and submissions for feedback from different people—old and young, mature Christians and pastors. This led to revisions of the draft.

The process of publishing a book has many steps and even layers. They include the hard work of editing, proof-reading, page layout and cover design. I am thankful to the Lord for the people who came around me to help me with these. They made the book look and read so much better than it would otherwise have been.

Then, the final part—printing the book. A slot for early March had been set with the printer to print the book. It was rush time for the layout artist to get everything print ready by the deadline. We managed to do that by a whisker. The printer sent me a mock-up of the book for one final check. And even at that final stage there were still typo-errors. Corrections were made and the file was sent to the printers again with a go-ahead. Then came the MCO!…and a wait of nearly three months!

But now, when it’s all done and the book is finally published—what a thrill! My first book. Hallelujah!

Now, I’ve got to market it, when churches are not physically meeting due to government restrictions to curb the pandemic! That’s another challenge. Nonetheless, I am absolutely certain that as the Lord has caused me to write the book He will also ensure the book will get into the hands of many Christians to bless them. My thanks and praise to the Lord for giving me this privilege to write You Walk, He Leads.

The Church Thriving Inspite of Social Distancing

Ugh! The Movement Control Order (MCO) has been extended for another two weeks till 28 April. Even for an introvert like me it’s getting a bit too much of time alone! But that’s not the point of this blogpost.

Even when the MCO is finally lifted there is a real possibility that Putrajaya may ban large gatherings for the rest of 2020.

What constitutes a large gathering? According to a report in TheEdgeMarkets it is anything above 250 people (13 March 2020).  However, according to theStar online it is anything above 50 people (4 April 2020). On top of this the authorities may still require people to keep a distance of at least one metre (maybe even two metres) from one another. If this is implemented the capacity of a church’s worship hall will immediately be reduced to hold at most one third of the usual crowd at any one time.

I believe churches will want to abide by the directives, and also to keep their members safe. What can we do to adjust to the situation, and yet thrive in it? Here are some suggestions for the worship service.1

  1. Have multiple services.
  2. Provide overflow rooms with close-circuit TV or live-streaming facilities.
  3. Live stream the service so that members2 can join the service at home. Those who prefer to play it safe can stay home and join the service online. Perhaps, it ought to be made mandatory for the less healthy and elderly.
  4. Members to take turns to attend a live worship. One suggestion is for people to pre-register until the quota is filled, with preference given to those who do not have the technical resources to join the live-stream.

An alternative is to schedule attendance at the live worship by cell groups. What about those who are not in a cell? It then depends on a church’s philosophy of ministry. Either some places are set aside for those who are not in a cell, or they be asked to join a cell as a pre-step to attend a live worship.

The implications of “no large gatherings” is going to be huge on the church. I’ve not begun to address two other important groups, the youth and the children (maybe in another post). And also about outreach—how will we be doing it in the day of social distancing? Here’s the bottom line: I don’t think we can do church in the same way as we did pre-MCO.

Clearly, church is not just about the worship service. Church ultimately is about relationships (vertical and horizontal), discipleship (or discipling) and reaching out to the world (to win the spiritually lost and to impact our world). If worship services are cut shorter to cater for multiple services and the live-stream “audience”, coupled with social distancing and quick exits from the church building, the worship services are not going to cut it as far as the above mentioned objectives are concerned.

A couple of pastors shared with me that this is where the small group ministry is critically important. Small groups can fulfil all the three objectives. We used to think that the establishment of cells was in preparation for persecution. Little did we know that they would also be critical for a time like this.

I want, however, to add that these small groups must be intentional about discipling, if the church wants to thrive, and not to simply ride out this period of uncertainty. A critical factor rests on a very important person—the small group leader. The above-mentioned pastors said that helping their small group leaders to recalibrate and to empower them for their role will be their primary focus. I’m sure one of the areas of training will be about making effective use of online facilities to connect and disciple their members.

So, during the ban on large gatherings there are at least two things your church should do. One, restructure your worship service and make use of the online platform. And two, recalibrate and strengthen your small group ministry with the focus on caring, discipling and reaching out to others.

1 These include suggestions from the pastors who responded to my query.

2 By “members” I do not mean registered members but all who worship regularly at your church.

Lim Soon Hock Empowering Churches

The Disciple’s Growth Process

growing plant

I had a great time teaching again at Harvest Generation Church’s Bible Study on 28 & 29 August, as I did the previous two times. The church is primarily made up of a bunch of passionate, hungry and teachable young people. Their attentiveness and responsiveness make teaching them such a great delight.

Over the two evenings I taught on “The Disciple’s Growth Process”, which included: The Call to Spiritual Growth, The Areas for Growth, and The Growth Process. One of the key points in the Call to Spiritual Growth is that growth is not automatic. Growth for a Christian can only happen if we “remain in the Vine” (Jn 15:4) and, when we use what the Lord has given to us. The first calls for us to draw from the resources of Christ, the second is like going to the gym and pumping iron—we work our muscles to grow stronger and healthier.

When I presented to the group the Areas for Growth, I think they were overwhelmed by the fact that there were so many; such as, Truth, Spiritual Disciplines, and Ministry Development. Furthermore, the breadth that these subjects cover are vast. For example, one of the spiritual disciplines that Christians engage in is prayer. Often the first things we learn about prayer is that we are to pray in Jesus’ name. We may also be taught to use the acronym ACTS to guide us and to give us a balanced approach to prayer. As we progress we may learn to pray conversational prayer, praying the Word and praying in the Spirit. Later on we may learn to engage in prayer warfare, prophetic prayer and ministering to people through prayer. There is so much more, from the elementary to the deep things of prayer. This gives us an idea of how deep we can go in the many other areas of our spiritual lives. God’s spiritual ocean is very deep. The question is, How deep do you want to go?

At the two evenings with HGC the prime focus of our study was on The Growth Process. Here I attempted to show them through a chart and with the use of a roadmap imagery how a clear process can help a disciple grow spiritually. Jesus did that with his disciples. Mark 3:14-15 tell us that Jesus trained his disciples (“with him”), empowered them (“have authority to drive out demons”) and sent them to do ministry (“send them out to preach”). While the details of the process will not be the same for all Christians, nonetheless, there is a process that the Lord uses to develop us.

A church needs to understand this. Besides providing an environment conducive for growth a church also needs to put in place a process in order to help Christians grow in their discipleship and ministry.

If you want to know more, I will be more than happy to conduct this seminar or tailor something suitable for your church.