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by Rev. James Wong
Go for 10 … are you one? This is the theme for all our EGC churches in Sabah. We are striving to move our churches from the maintenance mode to a growing mode; from inward looking to become more outward looking.
The number of people attending our worship services tells a lot about the condition of our church. When a church has stagnated in its attendance, it is a sign that the church is in the maintenance mode. Church activities are church members centered rather than people outside the church. The stagnation also means that members are not bringing their friends to church.
Boring Services. Over the years many members told me they are ashamed to bring their friends to church because the sermon is boring and the worship service is boring. Is this serious? Absolutely! According to an Australian Community Survey (ACS) on Why People Don’t Go To Church, with responses from some 85,000 people across eight community types, the top-ranked answer was “it’s boring.” Although we may bear with a boring service because we grew up in the church, generally people do not want to waste time on something that is boring or meaningless.
Common Sense. To grow our church requires a paradigm shift of mindset; moving from boring traditional conditioning to common sense. Jesus says, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). Those who follow Christ must be able to win others to Christ. But, all fishermen must fish on the terms of the fish. On one of my fishing trips I was unable to get a single fish but the guy beside me got so many fishes. The reason was simple. I was using KFC chicken meat, (which was my lunch that day) as my bait whereas the guy was using worms as his bait. Fish does not like KFC chicken meat but worms. We need more common sense.
The style of our worship service on Sunday is not set on stone. It must be subject to constant change for improvement. A worship service must be inspiring and not a repetition of a meaningless liturgical order. Teaching can be done in classes, life group discussion, seminars training and special teaching sessions. However, Sunday must be designed to be more ‘seeker sensitive’ if we want to help non Christians to come to know Christ. We need to be more sensitive to the needs of visitors, friends and seekers.
Friendship Issue. What can you do as a member of this church? Be proactive and spend some time connecting with the not so familiar friends or new friends who are with us on Sunday. Since they are here, why not make them feel very welcome. Put on a smile and extend your hands of friendship. Everyone loves a friendly church.
I) Friendship makes life fulfilling
8There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. For whom am I toiling, he asked, and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is meaningless— a miserable business! 9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: ~Ecclesiastes 4: 8-9
II) Friendship provides warmth in a cold world
10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? ~Ecclesiastes 4: 10-11
III) Friendship provides protection
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~Ecclesiastes 4: 12
by Rev. James Wong
Happy Chinese New Year to all my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Continue from last week, Go for 10 … are you one? is our corporate vision for all the eight EGC churches. “Go for 10 …” refers to 10% growth in membership and 10% growth in offerings. “are you one” is a challenge to every church member to be involved in achieving this vision of growth.
This week I will share with you on the importance of 10% growth in offerings for our church. To be blessed we need to give. Here are a few important truths to remember when we talk about Christian giving.
1. Giving generates abundance
God will always give to us more than what we have given away. Jesus says, “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands — all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.” (Luke 6:38 TEV). This is a spiritual principle of living a blessed life. It is like sowing. The more seeds we sow the greater is the harvest. This is not a bargain. It is a spiritual principle. God bless us through our giving. God promises us abundance when we give.
2. Giving helps us to honor God
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Prov 3:9-10 NIV). First fruits refers to “tithing’. Tithing means taking the first 10 percent of our income and give it back to God. Why do we need to do this? It is to recognize that everything that we have achieved up to this point, all belongs to God and we want to give 10 percent back to God to honor him. According to our church record, only 13.88% of our church income comes from tithing. Let us practice tithing this year and see how the Lord would bless us.
3. Giving helps us to put God first
Deuteronomy 14:23 says, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first (TLB). Tithing is a reminder that God is really first in our life and it helps us to set our priorities right. Many of us made the mistake of honoring God with our leftovers. We pay all our bills and if there is anything left we will give something to God. Many financially successful people uses the 10-10-80 principle; 10% for God, 10% for saving and 80% for others. When we keep our financial priorities right, we will be careful with the wealth that God has entrusted to us. Let us increase our giving, thus, increase God’s blessings upon our life. May the Lord grant us peace of mind, cordial relationships and material prosperity as we celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Matthew 9:9-12, Luke 5:27-31
One survey done among 15,000 people in the US shows that 80% of them believe in Jesus through friendship. The percentage will be higher among Chinese because of the importance of relationship in our culture.
1. Reach Out And Be A FRIEND
Be pro-active of being a friend to others. Jesus reached out to Matthew who lacked no money but friendship due to his profession.
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.”
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” ~John 15:15 (NIV)
2. Connect and CARE For Friends
Matthew invited his friends to his house for dinner so that they too have an opportunity to meet Jesus. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. ~Matt 9:10-11; Luke 5:29 (NIV)
12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.” ~John 15:12-15 (NIV)
3. SHARE the Blessings of the Good News
Jesus mixed around with Matthew’s friends. Sharing the blessings of the Good News is to let others know that God loves them and cares for them.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
By Rev. James Wong
Go for 10 … are you one? is our corporate vision for all the eight EGC churches. “Go for 10 …” refers to 10% growth in membership and 10% growth in offerings. “are you one” is a challenge to every church member to be involved in achieving this vision of growth.
Go for 10 … are you one? is a shift of focus on moving our church from maintenance mode to growing mode. Such paradigm shift of emphasis demands us to think beyond our traditional methods of running our church. It calls for new strategies, new emphasis and new concentration of effort and resources to achieve our vision of a growing church through caring and loving and inviting friends to church.
1. Growth in membership by 10%.
Why must our church grow in numbers? We see a clear pattern of growth in the early church. The church grew tremendously after the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and three thousand new members were added to the church (Acts 2:24). The church continued to grow in great numbers (Acts 2:47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:1). Anything that is healthy will grow. A healthy church will grow in numbers as well.
2. Growth is the central heart beat of God
It is the central heart beat of God “who wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” concerning salvation that is found in his son Jesus Christ. (1 Tim 2:3-4). In the parable of the lost sheep Jesus said: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:3-7). To Go for 10… is to, perhaps, leave the ninety-nine who are already saved for a while and search for that lost sheep out there. Heaven will rejoice more, as Jesus put it.
3. Growth in our local church. Few people are being added to the church today. According to the statistics of last year Jan—Jun 2011, All the EGC churches combined, every week we only had an average of 1,072 adults and 239 children in our Sunday services all over Sabah. The number is extremely small. We have big church buildings but small congregations. If we have a consistent growth of 10% per year, we will need 7.2 years to double the numbers. Even if the weekly attendance is doubled, it is still very small compared to the long history of each congregation. This gives us a general perspective of the future situation of our church.
Healthy churches average around 10% growth each year. Hospice churches, by definition, bring no one to faith in Christ. The time has come for us to focus on outreach—inviting our friends to all our services. Most importantly, being a loving and caring friend to them when they do come. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Let us bear fruit of salvation this year.
1. ATTITUDE: Have The Right Attitude Towards Your Goal
Setting your goals is important but the attitude that you hold towards your goals is even more important. Are they important or frivolous goals to you? Do you run to win or just simply run?
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~Phil 3:14 (NIV)
"Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win." ~1 Cor 9:24 (NLT)
2. DISCIPLINE: Discipline Your Life-style To Reach Your Goal
Let your goals detect your lifestyle. You must be disciplined to live your life with activities that are intentionally directed to the accomplishment of your goals. Your daily life is a microcosm of your larger life. Your tomorrow is what you do today.
"All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize." ~1 Cor 9:25 (NLT)
3. FOCUS: Fix Your Eyes On Your Goals
There are many distractions that will hinder you towards reaching your goals. All failures to reaching one’s goal is often caused by a broken focus. Writing down your goals and keep them visible will keep you focus.
"So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches." ~1 Cor 9:26 (NLT)
4. DETERMINATION: Be Determined To Reach Your Goals
“The spirit is willing but the body is weak” can be a lame excuse. Your decisions are the primary determining factor of reaching your goals. You must exercise your determination otherwise you will give up.
"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." ~1 Cor 9:26 (NLT)