2012 Church camp in Penang

over 200 at the opening night

Penang church camp

Its church camp season again. Malaysian hotels lay out the red carpets to Singapore churches and rake in the Singapore dollar. This time round our church camp was held in Bayview Hotel at Batu Ferringhi in Penang. When they proposed Penang it seemed an organizational jungle and obstacle course. That was a year ago, now it’s past tense and the organizing team did a great job of delivering one of our best camps ever.

Ps Vincent and Jenny LunProgram lite

Pastor Vincent Lun was the camp speaker and together with his wife Jenny they brought to us an appreciation of what it takes to be church that welcomes sinners the way Jesus did. They have left what could have been a comfortable pastorate at Riverlife Church and have pioneered a unique missional outpost that reaches the outcasts and rejects and despised of  society. They share what it meant to do ministry among such precious but forgotten people. We were blessed by their open sharing of their lives and ministry.

We keep our church camp sessions light. Those were the days decades back when 6-8 sessions is the norm. Now together with revised goals we have a revised program with four preaching sessions, two light sessions of icebreakers and games, and one session of holy communion and group sharing. We introduced an interesting idea: we got 4 young preachers to preach sermonettes of 10 minutes each. One thing we small churches can choose to excel in is to handcraft and develop emerging leadership.

Of chendol and durians

chendol along street

There was time for us to go tour Penang and shop twice. The memorable one for me was when we were dropped off at Komtar Shopping Mall and from there four of us went in search of the Penang durian and chendol. We found the famous chendol stall and there was a constant crowd. The sun was beating us down and the humidity was worse than in Singapore. I was not that impressed with the taste. I prefer my chendol with thicker coconut milk- a stronger punchy gula malacca in it. Beware the other store just opposite which has more signs to claim they are “the real thing”. Where there is genuine, there is the counterfeit seeking space. This happens in the spiritual as well as in the natural.

Having a durian with Paul Chan

Paul, Thomas Tan and Lee Wai Tuck: enduring love of spikey

Searching for the durian was quite a task as we had to ask locals for direction and it was after 45 minutes of walking that we determined Singaporeans finally found the stall opposite some UMNO building. The first durian he sold us was more sweet than bitter, something we could have found in Singapore. Then he tempted us with a red marked durian. It looked a pale yellow. But when we put it into our mouth it was smooth, creamy and not mushy nor dry but of perfect constitution. The taste was a perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness and a hint of wine. I have stumbled upon an unforgettable durian experience. I couldn’t figure out his Hokkien accent and though we asked him to repeat a few times the name of the durian variety we had just tasted, the closest it sounded to my ears was “Capri”. Durian has gone upmarket and Italian.

Why pastors resign

pastors salary

Recent spate of resignations

News of the resignation of two prominent pastors surprised me. It was announced in Riverlife Church, a megachurch in Pasir Ris, that Rev Vincent Lun, their senior pastor has resigned. Then I heard that so has Rev Melvyn Mak, the deputy senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church. These two in the wake of recent resignations of pastors from New Creation Church, City Harvest and Church of our Savior who have served faithfully in their respective congregations. Then there is the forthcoming retirement of many senior and experienced Anglican priests in the next few years.

Push and pull factors

It made me realize that though I have given thought to why members leave a church, little have I thought or written about why pastors resign. It was a rare thing in the many years that I have served, but recently it seemed like the drizzle of the past has turned into a tropical downpour. So why do pastors resign? Common sense, anecdotal hearsay and guesswork is all you need to draw up a list of push and pull factors. A combination of push and pull factors are usually involved in any pastor’s resignation.

resisting change

Push factors

-Frustration over resistance to positive change.

-Unhappiness with some in church board or congregation, usually precipated by conflict or disagreement.

-Pastor finds insufficient support for his vision or strategy.

-Pastor is discouraged or burnt-out and there is no provision for sabbatical or rest.comparisons and competition

-A stifling system invented out of distrust of a pastor’s consecration to God, dedication to the ministry.

-No chemistry with leadership or staff team. Personality clashes with key people.

-Disillusionment about people, leaders, and the way church is done.

-Frustration over inability to meet up to unrealistic expectations of church and self.

-Disunity and politicking in the church.

-Autocratic, unreasonable  “boss” or board.

-Poor fit of one’s gifts with the position.

-The shove of mandatory retirement age or poor health.

endless needs, needs, needs

Pull factors

-Called to another kind of ministry: whether missions, a para-church ministry or to plant a different kind of church.

-Attracted by greater freedom, flexibility and trust, or by its opposite: a clear structure and order and policy.

-Children have grown up and are independent and the need to provide financially for their education is lifted.

-Greater awareness of one’s true passion, gifts and wiring and the fit is better outside church.

Its time to move on.-Too long in a place and restlessness beckoning for a change of scenery or challenge.

-Pastor’s conviction that they have done what they could with the team and people and a change would be good for the church.

-Emigration to another country.

-Finding expression for one’s changes in convictions about doctrine, philosophy of ministry or vision, that the church cannot provide space or acceptance for.

– Better compensation and terms so that there is more than enough to meet the family’s needs, and to give to others.

-Maximizing one’s experience and insight in the senior years to focus on passing on the baton to the next generation.

And you might want to add other factors in the comment box…..