Category: Church

Carey Nieuwhof writes on emerging divides and church splits which are probably already happening or accelerating (largely due in part to the Covid pandemic) or coming in the near future. Each of these (and collectively) will likely greatly influence and impact whether churches will be well-positioned, effective in accomplishing their mission, and thrive in the future post-pandemic world.

  • Online-optional vs. fully hybrid
  • Bringing people back vs. moving people forward
  • Judging vs. embracing (loving)
  • Ideology vs. gospel-driven

Read the full article here.

I attended an insightful public lecture by BGST on the increasingly important topic, “Is a digital church a real church?” The speaker was Dr Peter Phillips, Director of Research at Center for Digital Theology, Durham University. For those interested, an M.A in Digital Theology is now being offered.

A newly launched initiative by Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, Resilient Church Leadership (RCL) hosted a webinar on the new physical and digital nature of ministry, termed “Phygital,” especially in this post-Covid era, with Eddie Copeland, Nate Bush, and Mindy Caliguire.

(Facebook video here)

Read more about RCL here.

The 2020 Singapore General Elections (GE) was an interesting experience for myself. Being away for overseas studies with family, this was the first time I was going to miss being able to vote (the nearest Singapore embassy was at least a 12-hour drive one-way). Having been away for almost a year has taught me many lessons, and also caused me to cherish and appreciate more what we have in Singapore. After the euphoria and hype of the elections begins to subside, I found myself reflecting what lessons we could learn, especially as the Church, the body of Christ, drawing from the life of David and the disciples.

1. Crisis is both a danger & an opportunity

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, several secular and religious leaders have noted that a crisis can be both a danger and an opportunity, particularly if you consider the Chinese word for crisis 危机 (wéijī), literally a combination of two words, danger (危险 wéixiǎn) and opportunity (机会 jīhuì). Nations and governments have had to deal with the widespread coronavirus from both within and without their borders, forcing massive air travel restrictions, severe lockdowns and quarantines, and ramping up of support for healthcare and frontline workers and infrastructures. Our Singapore government was hailed as a leading role model in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, especially in containment of imported and community cases, but also met some roadbumps in dealing with cases amongst foreign worker dormitories. Many questioned the calling of the elections in the midst of this pandemic as well. Although the initial predictions and political rhetoric was leaning towards the ruling party, to trust in and fall back on reliable leadership, and not to “rock the boat” in times of crisis, Singaporeans also showed that this could also be the impetus towards breaking new ground, making alternative choices, and taking a chance on new candidates.

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I had the privilege of sitting through a book talk at our TEDS library given by Dr Craig Ott, our PhD ICS director and program advisor. He was speaking on a newly written/launched book “The Church on Mission,” based on part of the EFCA’s mission statement – “To glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people.”

A big part of my enrolling and coming to TEDS and the PhD ICS program here is because of scholars like himself, who has spent time as a missionary, church-planter and seminary professor both in the States and Germany. He had also preached and consulted with Covenant EFC in Singapore, and advised and taught previous Singaporeans or related others like How Chuang and Clive Chin, who have also had a deep influence on my decision towards TEDS.

Of course, you have the big faculty names like D.A. Carson, the Feinberg brothers, Wayne Grudem, Norman Geisler, Grant Osborne, even John Stott taught preaching courses here in 1972. But it’s truly a blend of all these different persons and factors that have contributed to the success, growth and vision of TEDS, which I was and continue to be drawn to.

Church visits (Chicagoland)

I had the opportunity to visit 2 church services last Sunday. The first was a satellite extension of megachurch Willow Creek at South Lake. Worship, welcome and communion was live, but the sermon was livestreamed from their main campus at South Barrington (as they are going through a series on Philippians).
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Lessons & Carols

Every year, our church has a special Sunday service in December called “Lessons and Carols.” Ever wondered why we have this in our church calendar or what is the meaning behind the service?

In 1880, Edward Benson, at that time Bishop of Truro in Cornwall but later Archbishop of Canterbury, created, formalised and performed the service of carols with Nine Lessons. The service took place at 10pm on Christmas Eve in a large wooden structure being used as a temporary cathedral as the main Truro Cathedral was being rebuilt. Over 400 people attended this first service. Since then, the service has subsequently been in continuous use (with modifications) in Truro since 1880. The original liturgy has since been adapted and used by other churches all over the world, occurring most often in Anglican churches. However, numerous Christian denominations have adopted this service, or a variation of this service, as part of their Christmas celebrations.
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As we reflect on the topic of raising the next generation, it is worth to consider this verse in Deut. 4.9:

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

What does passing the faith on to future generations encompass? God reminds us in His Word that firstly, it begins with ourselves. We are to be careful, or to give heed to ourselves, and to watch ourselves closely, or to keep our souls diligently. Why is this important? Our life is our best witness to the generations after us, not our achievements, not our words or teachings, but the way we live our lives.

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Grace & truth

Much has been debated recently regarding Singapore’s Penal Code, in particular Section 377A, following the recent decision by the Indian Supreme Court to rule in favour of decriminalising homosexuality. Several individuals (including prominent public figures) and groups have weighed in on both sides in print and online media platforms, and some have even been aggressively garnering support for online petitions either to support or repeal. What follows is a personal reflection on this pertinent and controversial topic, and by no means reflects our church’s official position. The intention here is also not to debate on a theological level, as if to prove or defend my position on 377A or homosexuality. Instead, my hope is that it will encourage reflection of our own personal response, suggesting a more balanced approach towards this and related issues.
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I believe … in the Church

Recently at church camp, the speaker mentioned about the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of A.D. 381 in his discussion about the mission of the church, where it states, “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” Traditionally, these have come to be known as the Four Marks or Attributes of the Church. As we explore the Book of Acts, particularly the life of the early church, it is worth considering what each of these attributes mean for us and the church.

Firstly, “one” suggests a sense of oneness in the body, the Church, through what Christians have in common. The song “People of the Lord” which begins, “There is one body” (from Eph. 4:5-6) reminds us of the unity we are to preserve as we proclaim His praises, for the sake of Christ. Are we as churches guilty of building up our own little kingdoms, instead of building up the kingdom of God? Is our love marked by unity, so that others see us as disciples of Christ, bearing His image and reflecting His character and glory in our lives and ministries?
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