The term “Church Growth” is interpreted by each person. One type of church growth is a description of how the facility owned by a church body increases in size. A second type of church growth would describe an increase in the number of church members that choose to affiliate with a specific church body. Yet, the third type of church growth is the one that I wish to speak about today, spiritual maturing of God’s people.
As we know, the gathering of large numbers of people is not necessarily a reflection of a healthy church body. Of course, we all desire to see the church reaching out in Christ’s name and that outreach resulting in more lost persons repenting and joining in the church’s ministries. Yet, the idea that a church may have activities or entertainment that attracts persons to come to a specific church body is no guarantee that true spiritual development in happening in the lives of the people. No true Christian would desire to simply flounder in his/her spiritual life when the alternative is to move gradually toward a mature follower of Christ…true?
Sometimes when we read the Biblical books of Hebrews, Romans, Revelation, Jeremiah, or others, we find ourselves a bit “swallowed up” in the depth of the teachings presented. What I want to say to us today is that this struggle for truth and understanding is OK! To wrestle with God’s teachings is healthy. For us to mature in our Faith, we must cherish the opportunity to study and learn God’s truth for our lives. My prayer for the people of FCBC is that we may hunger, from the core of our being, to never be satisfied with anything less that true Christian growth. Let our activities be tools for outreach but never an end in themselves. Let our friends and relatives be loved by us, as Christ loves us, and let us never be guilty of just ignoring those without Christ.
當我們讀聖經希伯來書、羅馬書、啟示錄、耶利米書及其他， 我們會發現在這些書的教導深處，我們被「吞沒」。 我今天想要說的是這種為真理及瞭解的掙扎是可以的！與上帝教導角力是健康的。為了我們的信仰能成熟，我們必須珍惜機會，研讀及學習上帝給我們的真理。我對第一華人浸信會的禱告是我們從內心真誠渴慕，永遠不滿於非真實基督徒的成長。讓我們教會的活動成為教會外展的工具，而非它的目標。像基督愛我們一樣，我們愛並關心我們的親戚、朋友。我們永遠不會因為忽視未信基督者而感到罪疚。
Jesus is the model for Christians. He walks in front of us and challenges us to follow His life. Yet, we tend to forget that even Jesus had to go to Gethsemane to pray for direction and courage. Peter was certainly surprised at his own failures and Paul ended up regularly on ships headed in directions that God altered. To follow Christ is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s constant directional adjustments.
Leaders are people who feel the pressure to have the immediate and correct answers to many questions. If we are not careful, we allow that stress to motivate us to, at times, respond to some questions without wisdom or God’s guidance. Spiritual leadership is not the ability to know all but the sensitivity to recognize one’s own limitations, seek advice as needed, and the courage to boldly move forward in expectation that God will be there before us.
May the leadership of FCBC know the joy of dependency as we step out in faith and expectation to try new ministries, new leadership models, and new outreach in His name.
Please join us for our International Missions Conference on April 27-29 at First Chinese Baptist Church of Phoenix. Start times will be: Friday at 6:30PM, Saturday at 1:30PM, and Sunday at 9:30AM.
A couple of years back, I attended a meeting of ministers & co-workers in Houston, Texas. Having been active within that circle previously, it was enjoyable to see old friends as we made new ones. With only a minor role in the proceedings of the meetings, I still found myself headed to the platform on one of the evenings that a well-known pastor was to speak. As we approached the stage, I was most uncomfortable with the atmosphere of things only to find us forced through a line of about 10 young people giving “high fives” and pushing up the emotions of the moment. With having heard the very humble and spiritual message of Reverend Peter Chung (鍾世豪牧师) earlier that day, I fear that I gave little encouragement to these young people’s efforts as I really had no need to feel like a football star. Indeed, it was all I could do to continue walking towards the platform and not reject the whole atmosphere by leaving the service.
Brothers and Sisters, what motivates your life and decisions? All discomforts and struggles are not unhealthy but may be a message from the Father. Our walk, our service, our behavior, our decisions are all about the church. Feeling that we “won” or “lost”, in a church issue, need never be our priority. Colossians 1:18 reminds us that Christ is the head of his body, the church. We must not get confused nor do that which is detrimental to His name. We serve as a family and a united body as we seek to grasp the full concept of what it is to be His Servants. My prayer is that we never see the church services or ministries of FCBC become a “show.”
兩年前我參加了在德州休斯頓舉行的美加華人浸聯會會議 。 因為先前熟識那圈子，所以非常高興能跟很多老朋友敍舊，並認識一些新朋友。 我在會議中負責的事情不多，但有一個晚上當陳牧師 分享時，我還是被邀請坐到講台上。 當我們走向講台時，大約有十多名青年人排在我們面前熱烈地跟我們舉手擊掌(high fives) ； 那時大家情緒都很高昂，但我卻覺得很不自然。 因為當天較早時，聽過鍾世豪牧师一篇謙卑和屬靈深度的訊息； 我很怕鼓勵這些年青人的熱情，因為我不應該像足球明星一樣被接待。 当时我真想逃離現場，但事實上卻被迫继续向講台走。
弟兄姐妹，是甚麼推動了你的生命和你所有的決定呢？ 一切的不舒服和掙扎並非都是不健康的，可能這是天父要給你一個訊息。 我們的言行、事奉、舉止、和我們的決定都是為榮耀基督。 教會有關的事情，感覺「贏」或「輸」都不是我們的優先考慮。 歌羅西書1:18提醒我們， 基督是衪的身體 – 教會的頭！ 我們千萬不要混淆，也不要做令祂名受虧損的事。 我們是一個家庭、一個合一
的身體， 一同事奉， 一齊持守實踐成為祂真正的僕人。 我祈求我們永遠不會看到鳳城第一華人浸信会的服事成為「表演」.
Our Easter Weekend at FCBC has come and gone and it was a JOY to see God’s family gather together in serving and celebration! In unified purpose and participation did our joint family worship in prayers, singing, testimonies, and praise of the sacrifice that Christ offered on our behalves. From the Deacons and Choir that brought us guidance in the Good Friday service via music and the Lord’s Supper to the early morning Sunrise Service where we worshiped in the fresh air and listened to testimonies and words of encouragement, we found focus. We are not a perfect church without issues or struggles but to observe the hungry desire of our brothers and sisters to know Christ, and present His name to the lost, is most encouraging! Let us all pray that the Lord will motivate us to recognize we are “called of God to serve Him” even as we recognize our own limitations. The church is not now, nor has it ever been, a body that focuses on our own feelings and but is a body of Christians who pray and are concerned about the spiritual welfare of those around us. Bless you all!
我們在鳳城第一華人浸信會的復活節崇拜來了又去了。非常喜樂看到上帝的家庭合聚一起伺奉及慶祝！ 我們的聯合崇拜在合一的目標及參與中，大家一齊禱告、唱詩、見證及讚美基督為我們的犧牲奉獻。從執事到詩班帶領在禮拜五受難節崇拜的詩班獻詩及聖餐分享；禮拜天的晨曦，我們在戶外清新的空氣下聆聽見證及分享，聚焦於敬拜上帝。 我們不是一個完美無缺，沒有爭扎的教會，但是觀察我們弟兄姐妹對基督的饑渴追求和向未信者傳揚祂的名是最令人鼓舞的！ 讓我們全體一齊祈求上帝會推動我們，即使我們明知我們有限制，我們是「被上帝呼召，伺奉祂的」。 教會現在不是，過去也不曾，只是著重我們自己感覺，而是為我們周遭人的靈命益處禱告、祈求的基督徒群體。