What a great start it has been to the first month of my internship at SWCCC! Even before I began, people around me (especially my coach and our church’s intern) have told me that the internship will be more challenging than you think it will be. So even though I kept that in mind as I stepped into this month, I wasn’t completely prepared for the challenges that were about the unfold before me. However, these challenges are as a result of a whole lot of exciting things that are happening in the life of the church, my involvement in other ministries, my studies, and my personal life.
1.1 All In Meeting (AIM)
My internship started with a series of staff meetings. First in was our ‘All In Meeting’ (AIM), which consisted of all our staff: Pastor Peter Ko (Senior Pastor), Pastor Allan Mao (Associate Pastor), Stephen Fei (Student Minister), Jessica Joseph (Intern, 2nd Year), our guest Dominic Cheung (Intern, 1st year, Kirkplace Presbyterian Church) and me.
The purpose of AIM is a forum for discussion among church staff and an opportunity for more junior staffs to ask our more senior staff questions regarding ministry, a place to improve our biblical exegesis (every month, one staff member exegetes a passage that they’re working on either for preaching or bible study, then they will given feedback on that), and we go through some practical ministry training (this month, we focused on how ministers should plan their schedules).
The practical ministry training part was especially helpful for me, as it emphasised the need for rest in the midst of work. One of the first difficulties that I encountered at the beginning of my internship is balancing ministry and personal life. Because I work from home, the line between the two spheres can sometimes be quite muddled up, so I sometimes find myself either doing too much or too little in a day. So I’m grateful that this month’s AIM was on scheduling, because that gave me a good framework of how to plan my days, weeks, months, and years.
1.2 One-to-One Coaching
Another regular staff meeting is the one-to-one coaching sessions I have with Pastor Pete. As I’ve learnt from this month, the coaching sessions are quite versatile and are therefore extremely helpful. Our first session focused on what is popularly known as the 3-Cs to full-time ministry: Character, Calling, Competence. We spent a fair bit of time brainstorming my character, calling, and competence, highlighting the areas that I’ve had experienced in and areas that need more work on. It was an incredibly humbling experience, because the exercise helped me see my gaps in all 3 of those areas, and has given me a goals for improvement to strive towards. In addition, we worked out a reading list for me (which is very exciting for me), so I’m keen on biting into (not literally) some of the books that he’s recommended.
3-Cs to full-time ministry: Character, Calling, Competence.
When I mentioned versatile, I really meant it, because our second session was a quick drop-in at a bookstore and a hospital visit. Because Koorong had 20% discount storewide, we popped in to pick up John Frame’s new ‘Systematic Theology’, and we were able to talk a bit about some of the stuff we were reading individually while we were in the car. On a side note, car rides are a great time for conversation. That was followed by a hospital visit. Because hospital visits are always sensitive in nature, I was able to observe how Pete handled the situation very gently and pastorally.
1.3 Community Groups
February also marked the start of Community Groups for 2014. This year, I’ll be leading a group of about 10 university students and young workers with our other intern, Jess. We began the first week (half way through the month) with a social where we got to catch up as a group after not meeting for about 2-3 months, and we got to sit down to chat about how we can continue to grow as a group. During our second CG, we met to study 1 Corinthians 9 and paralleled that with a discussion about our church’s vision for the year. It was my first time leading that group (I was part of that group in 2013 but as a group member), so I wasn’t really sure how to group would respond to me leading. However, I think it turned out quite well (or at least I’d like to think it did), and I’m looking forward to doing more of it!
1.4 Meet ups
A vital part of my internship is meeting up with guys to journey with them in their spiritual walk. Therefore, it was a privilege to be able to begin meeting up with 2 guys to work through Vaughan Roberts ‘Big Picture of the Bible’ together. The dynamics of the group is interesting because of all 3 of us lead bible study groups, and whenever you put 3 leader types in a group together, the result is always either quite chaotic (because everyone is trying to lead) or productive (because discussions are stimulating). For us, it was the latter. Everyone was hungry to learn in order to strengthen our own spiritual walks and so that we can better lead the groups that we have been entrusted with.
The leaders of South West Chinese Church are firm believers in discipleship and training, especially of the younger generation. It is out of this desire that Sunday Afternoon Leaders Training (SALT) was formed. SALT has been running for 2 years, and it functions as a place where youth leaders can gather to be trained in theology and doctrine, and in practical ministry. In 2012-2013, Pastor Pete taught us systematic theology, taking us through various doctrines such as ‘Union with Christ’, ‘Eschatology’, and the like. After spending 2 years wrestling with big topics and answering questions, Pastor Pete will spend this year training leaders to be better bible study leaders. This month, he gave us a framework on how to study and teach New Testament narrative.
1.6 Two Ways To Live
Lastly, it is always very exciting when a church is not merely spiritually feeding her members, but also training them up for ministry. That is why there is so much hype and involvement with our church’s Two Ways To Live training program. This started halfway through February, and we’ve consistently been having over 20 young people come along to get trained in how to share the gospel in a structured and logical way. I’m really looking forward to what God can do through this group of people who are armed with a greater ability to articulate the gospel. I’m praying that God will give all of us the courage to speak the Truth to everyone around them.
2. Other Ministries
In addition to the great things that I’m involved in at church, I have also been freed up by my church to teach Scripture at a local public school. I had a lot of questions in my mind before I began, like ‘will the kids be too crazy for me? are they even interested in learning the bible? how will I keep them focused?’ But then, my teacher instincts kicked in and reminded me that I have a huge responsibility in answering all these questions. The kids will behave as long as I have content that is stimulating and engaging for them, they will be interested in learning the bible if they see that the bible is worth learning about, and they will be focused if they love what they’re learning about. However, as I was preparing, it dawned on me that I was defaulting to what I was learning in education lectures, and forgetting that I was teaching the living Word of God. And while my training at university will certainly help (and it has), I need to be soaking my lessons in prayer. So after receiving the class role, I tried to pray for every student on the list. Though I don’t exactly know who each of them are because I’m still unfamiliar with them, I pray that as I teach every week, God will be doing a special work in them. I get to hear some great stories about how some kids found Scripture to be their first contact with Christianity and have since become followers of Christ, and other stories about how Scripture was the reason they found Christianity repulsive. My hope and prayer for these kids is that they may be in the former group, that they will find each lesson inspiring, and that they may come to experience the Living God.
2.2 Preaching at REEF
I received an email earlier in the year with an invitation to speak at a youth group called REEF. I jumped on it straight away because I know God is doing something amazing in and through the group, and I really wanted to be part of it. I had the opportunity to preach there about 2 years ago, and I was excited to see how the group has been since then. So last Friday, I went along to preach from Ephesians 4, urging Christians there to continue in serving God and to grow to be more like Christ.
2.3 RICE China
As some of you may know, RICE has started a new arm called RICE China. One of the awesome things that RICE China will be doing is taking short term mission teams to China. So February has a been a month of communicating between various parties to confirm the dates for the trip and get it off the ground and running. I’m pleased to say that dates have been confirmed and emails for those who expressed interest last year at the RICE China Launch Night will be sent out soon. If you are interested but wasn’t able to come to the Launch Night or didn’t get an opportunity to leave your contact details, let me know and we can do something about that.
2.4 Another RICE Event..still under wraps
This is something I’m really excited about but I don’t think I can give out information for now because it is yet to be finalized. What I can say is that this event was very well received last year and we’ve been encouraged to do it again. So, after a bit of discussion, we’ve locked in the date, location, and even the speaker for this year’s event. You will hear about this soon, but I guarantee that this is not something you’ll want to miss. The speaker whom we’ve invited is a very well respected Christian voice in the public sphere…and I will shut up now before I give out too much information.
APRIL 18th SAVE the DATE!!
Classes for my masters at MQU are starting this week, and I received my course handbook for one of my subjects last week. The two subjects that I’m taking is ‘The Quest for the Historical Jesus’ and ‘The Jews from the Maccabees and Bar-Kochba’. I’ve already dug into the readings because I’m super keen, and I can’t wait to start with the lectures this week.
4. Prayer Points
There are a few really big things coming up this month, so I would really appreciate if you took some time to pray for the following items:
- I’ll be preaching from Exodus 5-6 this Sunday (9th of March) at Acts11. Pray for me as I prepare and finalise my sermon this coming week.
- SPUR will continue this year, with our first one this year on the 30th of March where Pastor Pete will be preaching on ‘Christ and Culture: Bend, Blend, or Defend?’ If you are a university student or young worker, you need to come along.
- ‘天歌’ is a Chinese Evangelistic Event. Last year, they held their event at the Sydney Opera House, and this year they will continue at the Sydney Town Hall. So pray that on the 22nd of March, many will cross from eternal separation from God to eternal life.
- On a similar note, please pray for the Reason for God event with Dr Tim Keller on the 29th of March. I’m particularly excited about this partly because Tim Keller is speaking, and also because I believe many will also receive the salvation that comes freely through Christ on the night. If you are not coming, then you must.
5. Specific Highlight
March started with my Ministry Supporters Night. It was an incredible night of praise and worship, and I’m super thankful for all those who came along (especially the volunteers who sacrificed time, effort, and food ingredients to make the night happen). More information on this will be available soon. Thanks to Evergreen Digital Studios, a highlight video of the night will be released along with some pictures.
I want to once again say a big thank you to all who came along. Thank you for listening to how God has led me to where I am, and thank you for those who have pledged to support me financially. There is still financial need, so if God has moved you to give, please visit the ‘Partnership’ page of the website or the ‘How to Partner’ image on your right for more information.
“The Christian worldview is both intellectually credible and existentially satisfying” – Tim Keller