What was the retreat about
The Pastors’ & Marketplace Leaders’ Retreat on 23-25 August 2015 at the Changi Cove four stars hotel began with an atmosphere of anticipation as senior pastors and marketplace leaders mingled over a 5.30pm Sunday dinner. Catching up and talking shop with acquaintances and fellow pastors made for relaxed banter and laughter.
This retreat was organized by Love Singapore movement in collaboration with Arrows Resources. At the first session, Pastor Benny Ho, founder of Arrows Resources, mentioned the earlier retreats they had. The first was a pastors’ and marketplace leaders’ roundtable luncheon at Orchard Parksuites. This was followed by a second retreat at Changi Cove where the senior pastors sat down and came up with a common framework to lubricate future communications. I missed that retreat. The fruit of that retreat was a booklet titled, “Perspectives on Marketplace Ministry”, which was given to every participant in this retreat.
I was accompanied by Francis Shin (Board President) and Donnie (a youth leader), and the others in our roundtable were from River of Life Community Church, and Revival Centre Church. We had lively discussions, and the mutual sharing from our respective contexts aided our understanding of localized challenges. We remained in the same group for all the sessions.
What I learned
Here are a list of things that I learned over the six sessions, each comprising a short 20 minutes talk, and 45 minutes discussion.
1. The “Perspectives on Marketplace Ministry” provided a common framework of understanding about the kingdom of God and it’s relation to the marketplace. It gave us working definitions of words like marketplace and clarified the purpose of Christians in the marketplace. It put everyone on the same page as to how we view the marketplace and the types of Christians in the marketplace. At the end of the retreat, it was decided that some of the material needed clarification.
2. There are different types of Christians in the marketplace and one way the church can help equip Christians is to help them evaluate themselves and tailor a curriculum to help Christians in each stage move to the next level. The types of Christians in the marketplace are: struggling>surviving>stabilizing>succeeding> significance attained. The idea is to do a kind of questionnaire to help people evaluate themselves like a “spiritual gift inventory”.
3. I saw that for the church to help people be salt and light in the marketplace there needs to be an intentional disciple-making process established in the church. In addition, the church needs to proclaim a full incarnational gospel of grace. Unless Christians are walking in faith, hope and love there will be no Daniels in the marketplace. What we will have instead are the dry bones of Christians eaten by beasts in the gladiatorial politics and temptations of the workplace.
4. The church needs to examine and trim off the fats of church ministry and involvement that overtax the member and nullify his effectiveness in the marketplace. Christians are too church-chained as they labour for numerical growth, that they hardly have time, and are often too jaded to serve the needs of people of the marketplace. The mind shift needed is to focus on equipping, encouraging and supporting members to be effective salt and light out there rather than focus too much on attracting prebelievers to church, as though it were the church activities or pastors that saved souls.
5. I loved the idea of designing an interactive session for people who are entering the workforce for first time. It’s purpose is to orientate all young adults and others who are entering into the workforce and seeding them with a vision of the kingdom and of discipling in the marketplace.
Interactive format great for learning
There was hardly any breaks, but short talks and more interactive learning has helped make this round-table a great learning experience: engaging, stimulating, and interesting. The seminar format keeps you awake and helps you digest, assimilate and apply the truth and ideas.
Thank God for the sponsors. The cost was generously subsidized and the rooms were very comfortable without being luxurious. I almost missed this retreat. I was still having a slight problem with a lingering vertigo attack. I was glad that by the grace of God, I made it through all the sessions.