Update on the New Covenant Church, Petaling Jaya

Breakfast with pastor Peter Sze

It was a good time of catching up with the founder of The New Covenant Church, Pastor Peter Sze. It’s been some time since I wrote about the church that I have tracked since it opened its doors almost 3 years ago. Here are some interesting and amazing facts about the new church in Petaling Jaya.

It is the fastest growing church in Malaysia. Starting with a few families and some friends it has multiplied and having maxed out their previous sanctuary, they recently expanded and leased a whole third floor besides the floor they were at.

Despite its size there are no full time pastors or administrative staff. Everyone chips in as they best can, including the pastor, who holds a busy managing director’s post in a Malaysian multi-national company.

Shangri-la sophisticationThe pastor was a Methodist lay leader who has “been there, done that” in every charismatic wave from spiritual gifts, church growth, worship, to prayer warfare, and missions and cell group system, etc. What finally liberated and gained a permanent grip of him was the message of grace which he first heard from Joseph Prince’s tapes. They ran with the message but at the same time made it uniquely theirs.

There is no personality cult and the pastor is a level headed, humble, unassuming and wise leader who also welcomes and allows others with gifts and maturity to help in the task of serving God’s Word and His people. He has built a strong team of preachers and teachers of grace.

He is discerning and wary of doing church the way he used to, having seen the futile and frustrating fruit of human-reliant efforts. So he observes the motions of grace and life in the congregation and facilitates their expressions, rather than imitate whatever is currently popular in the conference circuit, or merely adopt best practices of bigger churches. “Want to” instead of “have to” is one such sign of such movements of grace within the church. The church is growing naturally and organically and at a pace that does not become a yoke of burden.

The church does not teach tithing and believes that it is part of the Old Covenant but believes that new covenant giving comes out of gratitude and overflowing life and the amount given should be as a person decides in his own heart. There are no offering bags passed around but there are boxes located at different parts of the facility for those who wish to give.

They teach the Bible systematically in their services working through books of the Bible or topical themes and highlighting and explaining how the texts point to Christ, the new covenant and the grace of God.

They have informally networked with many other “grace-based” churches in Malaysia and are helping a network of churches in Jakarta, in addition to their partnership with Cambodia’s Barnabas Mam’s church planting movement.

You can read my other reports on the new covenant church in these links:

Jun 2010 report

Jan 2011 report

April 2011 report

From job description to the dictates of love

Law There was a man who employed a maid and gave her a job description. She was to wake up at 7 every morning and prepare breakfast for him and his elderly sick mother and make sure she took her medicine. Later she was to clean and tidy the whole house and do the laundry. After that she was to cook lunch for his mother and to make sure his mum took a nap. Later she was to cook dinner and take his wheelchair-bound mother for a walk in the nearby park. After dinner she was to iron the clothing and prepare his mum for bed. On Sundays she had her day off, and he would take care of his mum then. The maid did her best to follow the job description but she often failed and faltered, and she did her best to cover her failures.

The man fell in love with the maid and confessed his love for her. She responded in kind and soon they got married. After the wedding, the man took out the old job description and tore it away and said to her, “You are now my wife. We have a love and trust relationship with one another. We do not need a job descriptions. Do as your love dictates.”

The wife did everything she used to do for the man, now her husband, and his mother, now her mother in law. However she did even much more, giving them both much love, affection and she bore three children.  She did more than her old job description and with more love, energy, purpose, devotion and faithfulness.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of written code. (Rom 7:6)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.(Gal 5:18)

Dr Eugene Peterson on what he looks for in a sermon

Eugene Peterson was for many years James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. He wrote many books on spirituality and pastoring, and he is probably most well known for The Message, his translation of the Bible in the language of today. Now retired from full-time teaching, Eugene has something significant to say about preaching. It should not be about what we should be doing, but what Christ has already done- “kerygma” or proclamation.