Total Member Involvement-Priesthood of All Believers

On 4 Aug 2018, the pastors and employees of the Singapore Adventist Conference (Singapore) gathered at the Seventh-day Adventist Community church to witness the ordination of Pastor James Tham to the gospel ministry.

While preparing to share the message, there was a significant point I had shared before which continued to resonate within my heart. This point applies not just to pastors but applies to every member of the Christian faith.

The point is: Every Christian believer is called to be involved in ministry. It is not an option. We may function in different capacities and emphasis based on our spiritual giftings, natural abilities, experiences and training. However, our ultimate goal is to share the gospel to every kindred, tongue and people. Ministries and programs are merely tools to introduce people to Jesus.

We come from all walks of life. Regardless of our background, all of us are chosen and called to be priests and priestesses. I Peter 2:5-9 clearly expresses that we are a chosen nation and a royal priesthood to proclaim God’s marvellous grace in every circumstance. Based on the apostle Paul’s explicit instructions to pastors as found in Ephesians 4:11-13, one of their primary functions is to equip and train their members for ministry and works of service so that the body of Christ will be strengthened.

Now, imagine there is an assigned trained pastor to a church congregation with an attendance of 100 members. These members have an unceasing passion for “lost” people. In Luke 15, the Bible uses analogies of a shepherd going to seek out the lost sheep; a woman searching for her lost coin, and the father awaiting the return of his lost son.

Just imagine every member who has been trained, equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit, is now sent to share Jesus with everyone in their home, community, workplace, school and all public arenas. The church will not just have one pastor! It will have one hundred active serving “priests” (or “pastors”)! The calling of the ordained minister will be to organise and lead the church toward outreach and evangelism. Imagine what difference would that make to the vitality of the church and the spirituality of every member? There will be a great revival and lives will be impacted on every level. It will be evident that in that church, the power of God is genuinely moving in every direction.

If every member functions as prescribed by these two bible passages, pastors would be freed up to do more evangelistic work. Our churches will be able to break new ground in engaging non-believers in various community initiatives and establishing a centre of influence for the purpose of soul-winning.

Ellen White once wrote, “Brethren and sisters, how much work have you done for God during the past year? Do you think that it is those men only who have been ordained as gospel ministers that are to work for the uplifting of humanity?– No, no! Everyone who names the name of Christ is expected by God to engage in this work. The hands of ordination may not have been laid upon you, but you are none the less God’s messengers.” (RH November 24, 1904). This message of bringing salvation to every was repeatedly emphasised, not just in her writings but in her life as a testimony, because she is God’s messenger.

In closing, I thought it would be appropriate to repeat what I had shared in my message at the ordination service: the ten basic statements of ministry as a framework for our involvement as royal priests for the kingdom of God.

Ten Basic Statements about ministry:
1. The foundation of ministry is character.
2. The nature of ministry is service.
3. The motive for ministry is love.
4. The measure of ministry is sacrifice.
5. The authority of ministry is submission.
6. The purpose of ministry is the glory of God.
7. The tools of ministry are the Word and prayer.
8. The privilege of ministry is growth.
9. The power of ministry is the Holy Spirit.
10. The model for ministry is Jesus Christ


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Rekindle Our Passion

Many church members have great plans and focused determination to reach great heights for their own personal accomplishments and that’s good and understandable. But I wonder how much of their energy is channeled with the same intensity and passion, if not more, to local church ministries for the advancement of the kingdom of God.

When we first experienced God’s love, we loved spending hours thinking about Him, studying His Word, dwelling in His presence and sharing how much He is transforming our lives. Then our demanding and hectic schedules slowly dampen our passion and shift our priorities. Our desire to do the Lord’s will and our daily spiritual discipline of coming into His presence gradually fade away. Studying His Word and imitating His life are now rare and irregular.

The Bible talks about the church at Ephesus who wrestled to keep their spiritual passion. Jesus saw they had abandoned their first love (Revelation 2:4). Their faith experience was akin to a marriage that is technically intact but without much love and desire. Perhaps the busyness and distractions of their lives had diluted the affection once wholly reserved for the Lord.

Jesus wanted to help the Ephesus Christians restore their love and zeal for Him. He badly wanted to rekindle their passion and love for Him, and to restore His kingdom values in their lives. Are we like the church at Ephesus?

The Seventh-day Adventist Church began operations in Singapore in 1904. Despite being in the country for more than 100 years, our membership growth has plateaued over the past two decades. There may be many possible reasons for it but I believe it is largely because we have allowed something to steal our passion away from the Lord. Consequently, we are weakened, maintaining a form without much spiritual substance. Our lives, marriages, families, institutions and even churches may appear intact but inwardly, we may be spiritually rotting away.

But there is hope. God wants to bring healing and revival to His beloved church right now. The lost passion and love can be reawakened and restored as we remember God’s amazing love demonstrated at Calvary. In Revelation 2:5, we are called to repentance of our sinful self and unchristian attitudes, and renew our love for our Lord and Saviour. I pray each of us will sense the call of God to rededicate their life to Him and to always seek first His kingdom and righteousness.

The signs of the times tell us we are living in the final chapter of earth’s history. Some 1400 members gather in one of our nine churches every Sabbath. Every Adventist in Singapore has the potential to be a living witness to what God is continually doing in our lives. We are called to fulfill the Great Commission. As important as the media outlets established by the church are for doing that, they can never replace a living witness whose life is filled with spiritual passion. God longs to reveal His love and truth through His faithful witnesses. Just imagine, 1400 witnesses standing tall for the Lord on all levels of society and walks of life.

Let’s pray unceasingly for each other for God to revitalise our passion for Him.

Johnny Kan

President

Singapore Adventist Conference

 

P.S.: I will be communicating via this blog on a fortnightly basis.


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