Recently there were some “rumblings” in the church. Some concerned members opined that the way the church is being run doesn’t quite meet their expectations. That led to a meeting with the leaders to talk about it. It is a good move in that they really care for BC. Amongst others, issues touched on were leadership succession, church programmes, church governance, etc.
But the deep underlying issue is overcoming relational problems within the body. Some members have since left BC and will not return because of misunderstandings with the leadership which occurred over time. And unfortunately, the church has not been very good at healing the injured. It is no wonder that Jesus and the writers of the epistles devoted much of their teaching toward brethren loving and getting along with one another. We must all learn to dwell much on kindness, love, forgiveness and continually find ways of bringing people together to interact and fellowship with one another.
One distinctive of Brethren churches (and BC) is that of multiple elderships. We thank God that concerns of the church becoming “OMO-elder-led” is now alleviated by Richard Lai returning to the Elders’ Board. And whilst the church council is still severely short-handed, we thank God for the many volunteers who came forward to help in the respective ministries, music & AV teams, IOT, PA teams, Sunday services registrations, Prayer Service co-ordination, Sunday schools, as Treasurer, Safe Management Officer, etc. The list goes on. In Gal 6.2, the apostle Paul highlighted the need to bear one another’s burdens. These burdens were made more bearable because God moved these men and women to answer to His call.
On programmes, we have to reset our priorities, aiming higher than just entertaining worshippers on Sunday mornings. Our ultimate priority must always be to worship the true and loving God, with a radically different type of living that seeks to please Him continually. It is quite often that we hear someone say, “I didn’t get anything out of church this morning” or “I didn’t get blessed by the message”. We go to church to give glory to God and bless Him, not just to get blessed. This should be our objective and understanding of our church experience. And since blessing comes from God in response to worship, if we aren’t blessed, it isn’t usually because of poor music or preaching (a common “justification”) but because of a selfish heart that does not give God glory.
One of the more difficult aspects of leadership is managing expectations. Our leadership skills will not always be perfectly practised in our lives. Many times, we’ve struggled and realise our limitations as leaders as we reach out to the members who need us to minister to.
But for members, let’s not have standards for the church that are higher than God’s. We all know we’ll never find a perfect church that appeals to all our personal preferences and offends none of our sensibilities this side of heaven. The church is an imperfect place full of imperfect people. Remember the early church was started by a motley crowd put together by Jesus comprising of fishermen, a (much-hated) tax-collector, and even a terrorist. Sometime later a notorious Pharisee of Pharisees who was miraculously converted after a close encounter of the heavenly kind joined the gang and together, they turned the 1st century world upside down. Incidentally, if we perceive that we did find a perfect church, we would ruin it the moment we walked through the door. We’ll have to be gracious and not just write off the church over secondary matters.
Here’s the challenge: be part of the solution. Don’t walk away or just be critical. In the words of one council member: let’s put our hands to the plow, and get some work done on this little vineyard that God has placed us in. May BC ride out the storms with Christ in the vessel!
Dn Henry Leong