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3 February 2019 | Vicar Writes

At the Heart of being a Church Family

By Terry Wong

We had a wonderful and inspiring regional prayer meeting on the last Friday of January. Watch out for the next one on Friday evening of 22nd February.

There are many meetings and events in the Cathedral but for me, prayer meetings are special. These meetings are not merely a presentation of a list of requests to God.
 
We don’t often say this very clearly, but the Lord Jesus is the Shepherd of this Church (Eph 4:15). The local church is a spiritual family and entity. We are a people of His presence. I co-taught the book of Revelation last year and through the letters of the seven churches, we were reminded again of the Lord Jesus’ presence and His love for each local church. This truth, more than anything, governs how I have served in every parish and how I see my role as Vicar. We live in an age where we are enamoured by the CEO and the power of leadership.
 
But the Church is different. When the human influence is exercised without reference to the Word, His Spirit and koinonia acceptability to His Body, something is tragically lost. And over time, the work can be seen to be "wood, hay and stubble" (1 Cor 2:11-13).
 
This is an insight which I found in greater clarity when I was serving in my previous parish. We were facing spiritual stagnation and the parish was struggling. I became acquainted with one of the leaders of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), who later became a very close spiritual friend. I was quite curious about the YWAM leadership approach to ministry and their deep emphasis on prayer and worship. Decisions made were collegial and often through prayer and seeking. This leader helped us to focus on the spiritual life of the parish, and our prayer and worship life took a positive turn.
We learned to be a people of His presence. We learned to "give the church back to Him."

My years of working in the Alpha Course ministry also exposed me to the spiritual culture and values in Holy Trinity Brompton. How can one local church exert so much influence globally? There I caught a vision of what it meant to be a church measured not just by attendance but influence. I saw a rich prayer and worship life and a leadership culture which aims at people becoming authentic followers of the Lord of the Church.
 
Worshipping and praying sharpens the clarity of what God is doing in our midst (Acts 13:2,3). It keeps us from an activism which is devoid of His presence. Prayer, worship and mission can never be separated. They are not separate events or activities, but a singular expression of a people who know who the Lord is and relate to each other as such.
 
Church prayer meetings also reflect home and family. It is one meeting which separates family from guests and indeed, the latter are very low in numbers, compared to our public weekend Services. We come “home" and we do what a church family should do. It has a different intensity in worship and prayer compared to your public Weekend Services. There are some who are affected or stumbled by the forms of worship or prayer in our prayer meeting. I will encourage one to get past that and get into the essence of these combined gatherings. There will be noise. There will be silence. Old and new. It does not matter if we are family and share a common vision that goes beyond forms.
 
Chinese New Year is round the corner. As families celebrate, it is the ontological and unchangeable family ties that gives meaning to a family gathering. This goes deeper than external forms and activities. It is just being family. Likewise, the church family experiences this when they assemble before the heavenly Father.
 
I don’t think I can share all this at one go. I know all this sounds a bit mystical. Understanding it will need some experience as well. This is a journey I encourage you to discover as well - together -  and I pray you will find it here.


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