Factors That Led To The Growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Singapore

As you know, an essay of 3,081 words isn’t exactly suited for a blogpost but I thought this essay by Nicolas Wong would be beneficial for the wider Pentecostal and charismatic community to give us a bigger and better picture of the revivals of 1961 to 1980. I also thought Chinese New Year and home visit restrictions will allow for reading of longer posts such as this.

Although no essay, including this essay, can give an adequate coverage of the great work of God, I liked it for filling up some of the gaps in my knowledge. Of course, different researchers have different lenses and perspectives as well as gaps in information and that is understandable, but I like it that he has done extensive readings as can be seen in his bibliography. 

Although Nicolas Wong grew up in a Pentecostal-charismatic church his viewpoint is firmly of the Reformed faith. This adds a richness to the research even though I do not agree with all his reflections. However, we should be mature and open enough to read this essay and express our contrary opinions (if any) in the comments box. The essay is titled: “What factors led to the growth of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Singapore from 1961 to 1980? Here is the essay:

1.   Introduction

The influence of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Singapore grew significantly during the 1960s and 1970s, from being limited to the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination prior to the 1960s to becoming one of the dominant forms of Christianity in Singapore after the 1970s. This period also contributed to the growth of several charismatic mega-churches in Singapore.[1]

In this essay, I will consider the reasons for this growth from 1963 to 1980. I will first discuss the reasons for the growth related to specific “revivals”, then will consider the reasons that were common to these revivals. In this essay, I refer to “revival” as a group of incidents which caused more people to identify with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. While Pentecostalism and Charismatic Christianity might differ in theology, I will consider them together as a movement due to their common emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and tongues-speaking.

2.   Reasons for Growth in Specific Revivals

I will consider the reasons for the growth in the revivals during this period. These revivals include the Kong Duen Yee meetings in 1963, the youth revivals in 1972, revivals in the Anglican and Methodist denominations from 1972, and the revivals across denominations from 1973. 

2.1 Kong Duen Yee Meetings 

The growth in this period was started by Kong Duen Yee’s itinerant ministry in 1963.[2] Kong, a popular Hong Kong actress and Pentecostal convert, was invited by the AG denomination to conduct evangelistic meetings.[3] Hundreds of Chinese-speaking people were attracted to these meetings because of her popular background, her eloquent testimony regarding her conversion, the conversion of some gangsters and healings at her meetings.[4]

However, her influence was limited. First, it was limited to the Chinese-speaking population.[5] Second, those that accepted her teachings were not permitted to return to their churches.[6] Third, her teachings had generated debated within the Chinese Christian circles, eventually leading to the AG withdrawing support for her.[7] Furthermore, her prophecy that she would rise from the dead three days after dying from cancer was not fulfilled.[8] This further discredited her teachings.

Nevertheless, her followers continued meeting and started the Church of Singapore in 1963.[9] Believers who could not practice Pentecostalism in their own churches left their churches to join Pentecostal churches such as the Church of Singapore.[10] Hence, this church grew from 100 in 1963 to 200 in 1965.[11]

2.2 Youth Revivals 

The youth revivals brought Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity to the English-speaking community.[12] The youth revivals occurred in two locations independently in 1972.[13] The revival at Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) began in June 1972 at a student camp, where Pentecostal preachers taught and the students received the Holy Spirit baptism.[14] The revival at Dunearn Technical Secondary School (DTSS) began with some students visiting Pentecostal churches, especially the Ephratah Assembly of God.[15] As the DTSS students met and prayed by themselves, they spoke in tongues.[16] From these two beginnings, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity spread rapidly among the youths.

There were several reasons for this growth. First, the AG influenced the start of the movement. The same AG preachers were involved in the ACS camp and at Ephratah Assembly of God, including Rev. Fred Seaward and Simon Chan.[17]Second, students were fervent in inviting all their schoolmates to meetings on and off campus.[18]

Third, the inter-school Christian networks contributed to the growing influence of Charismatic teachings.[19] These para-church groups, like Singapore Youth for Christ (SYFC) and the Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF), focused on conversion of youths and were involved in several schools and were also growing in size.[20] For example, SYFC clubs multiplied from 28 in 1970 to 65 in 1980.[21] These interdenominational organizations exposed Christian youths to different traditions, which made them more open to new ideas.[22] The Charismatic youths from DTSS were involved in the Dunearn SYFC group and actively shared their Charismatic experiences there.[23] SYFC did not censure them because it was neutral to the Charismatic movement and it welcomed students of all backgrounds.[24] Moreover, SYFC was largely run by youth volunteers, who could directly propagate Charismatic theology.[25] Charismatic teachings were thus unhindered by para-church leadership and spread by youth volunteers, and therefore spread to other schools across Singapore through these networks.[26]

Lastly, Hinton identifies these youths accepting Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in a “People Movement”, where they were converted in an “multi-individual, mutually interdependent manner”.[27] As more youths accepted Pentecostalism, there is also “little sense of ostracism or alienation” from other youths.[28] Senior Pastor Kenny Chee, who pastors the church that came out of the DTSS revival, similarly said that youths follow youths, and they kept bringing in their friends from different groups.[29]

There was opposition from school authorities, from the media, and from mainstream denominations regarding these youth revivals.[30] Although such meetings were no longer allowed in school compounds, they continued to thrive off-campus, at Singapore Evangelism Centre (SEC) and at the home of a Singapore Bible College lecturer named ‘Ralph Bromiley’.[31] Moreover, the widespread nature of the youth revivals across denominations made this movement hard to stop. These revivals then directly influenced the mainstream denominations from an early stage.

2.3 Anglican and Methodist Denominations 

A key factor for the growth of Charismatic Christianity in the mainline denominations is the role of leaders like Bishop Chiu Ban It and Canon James Wong from the Anglican denomination, and Rev. Richard Ong from the Methodist denomination. They were able to effectively promote Charismatic teaching in their churches and denominations.

The reason that Bishop Chiu and Canon Wong received the baptism was that they were looking for empowerment to carry out their ministries, and were open to it after interactions with literature and other preachers. 

Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit baptism, both Bishop Chiu and Canon Wong felt inadequate for their roles. Bishop Chiu had believed that studying Scripture important to church life and launched the three-year “Know Your Scriptures” campaign in 1967.[32] However he deemed it a failure because churches were not growing.[33] Furthermore, the withdrawal of the British from Singapore meant less Government funding and support for the Anglican denomination.[34]He felt “helpless, hopeless, and depressed.”[35] The reports of the youth revivals added to his despondency.[36]

For Canon Wong, he felt inadequate and unprepared as the first Singaporean pastor in the Good Shepherd Church after a legacy of Western pastors leading local Anglican churches.[37] He felt also that the church leaders doubted his pastoral experience and ability to build rapport with his members.[38] In November 1972, some youths who were associated with the revival at ACS came to speak with Canon James Wong regarding the Holy Spirit.[39] To which, he said he had no experience or knowledge about, but agreed to find out more.[40]

These feelings of inadequacy were overcome once Bishop Chiu and Canon Wong experienced the Charismatic baptism of the Holy Spirit. Both had received the baptism by themselves after conversations with other Charismatic leaders and reading Charismatic literature. In December 1972, Bishop Chiu received the baptism after hearing from another priest and reading “Nine O’clock in the Morning” by Dennis Bennett.[41] Canon Wong received it in January 1973 after visiting the bookshop run by the Pentecostal SEC, listening to tapes by Charismatic preachers, and in organizing Pentecostal meetings for Ralph Wilkerson from the Charismatic Melodyland Christian Centre.[42]  

Since the Bishop of Singapore and an Anglican pastor had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they were able to effectively promote Charismatic Christianity in the denomination by hosting faith healing rallies and charismatic meetings in church from 1973.[43] The Anglican church also held faith healing services in June and July 1973.[44] Bishop Chiu also sought more international connections to sustain Charismatic Christianity in Singapore on a national level, which also served to “counteract the considerable opposition he was facing from his clerical colleagues.”[45] He protected the movement from non-Charismatic clerics with his authority as Bishop and installed the Charismatic British missionary Frank Lomax as the Vicar at St. Andrew’s Church in 1974.[46]

The youths from the ACS spread Charismatic teachings at Methodist youth groups.[47] However, Methodism in Singapore then was liberal, evidenced by Pastor George Allen Hover from Barker Road Methodist Church who described the youth revival as a “Biblical approach called Fundamentalism which is not in our Methodist tradition”.[48]Charismatic Christianity grew in the Methodist denomination beginning with Wesley Methodist Church, with its pastor Rev. Richard Ong. Rev. Ong was initially resistant to Charismatic Christianity.[49] However, he was stricken with a terminal kidney disease.[50] During this period, youths from the ACS revival who attended his church and Rev. David Baker from SEC regularly prayed with Rev. Ong.[51] He changed his stance to embrace Charismatic Christianity after receiving a vision while in a coma.[52] Since Wesley Methodist Church, the largest Methodist church, had accepted Charismatic Christianity, more Methodist ministers and laity became accepting of it as well.[53] Charismatic Christianity became more accepted and grew as some of the youth from the ACS revivals became clergy.[54]

2.4 Across Denominations

The growth of Charismatic Christianity in Singapore did not remain within the denominations, but became an ecumenical movement. This was aided by ecumenical Charismatic home groups, Charismatic events, and leadership positions in ecumenical organizations held by Charismatic Christians. These factors contributed to the ecumenical stance of Charismatic Christianity, which legitimized itself to Christians of all backgrounds. This in turn aided the movement’s growth.

Singapore’s land limitations meant that churches struggled to find adequate sites to meet.[55] This was overcome by home groups, where believers opened their homes for meetings. These home groups encouraged the spread of the Charismatic movement by transcending denominational boundaries, and democratized the Charismatic movement, such that a survey in 1979 showed that 36.4% of respondents had attended Charismatic meetings at one time or another.[56] These home groups were known for their miracles, and even taxi drivers were familiar with some groups.[57] These home groups laid the foundation for mega-churches today like City Harvest Church and Cornerstone Community Church.[58]

There were events organized for Charismatic Christians that grew the movement. The Spiritual Renewal Seminar (SRS) was started by Pentecostal and Charismatic churches in May 1974. Its purpose was to unite and instruct Christians “who had been renewed or were open to the renewal.”[59] These meetings supported Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity by “providing sound biblical teaching and careful instruction and motivation for a large number of renewed Christians across denominations.”[60] Preachers like Brian Bailey from the Charismatic World Missionary Assistance Plan taught at the SRS.[61]

The SRS led to two movements that further grew Charismatic Christianity. First, it led to the registration of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International Singapore (FGBMFIS) in 1975 as an interdenominational platform for Charismatic business people and professionals.[62] Charismatic Christianity even influenced Roman Catholics through FGBMFIS.[63] Second, the SRS led to the formation of Tung Ling Bible School to further equip the Charismatic community with short-term courses.[64] It began in 1978 and had students from different denominations and independent churches.[65]

Another significant event that contributed to the growth of Charismatic Christianity was the Christian Summit Convention in September 1978, which featured renown preachers like “Mr Pentecost”.[66] This convention also “advocated for ecumenical unity among Charismatics from various denominations”.[67]

Given the ecumenical stance of Charismatic Christianity, Charismatic Christians were heavily involved in para-church organizations. For example, Charismatics partnered with non-Charismatics to organize the Billy Graham Crusades in 1978.[68] Charismatic Christians like Khoo Oon Teik and Elder Goh Ewe Kheng also took up leadership roles in Scripture Union, the Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, Singapore Bible College and the Bible Society of Singapore.[69]Their leadership roles allowed Charismatic Christianity to thrive and spread through ecumenical organizations. Thus, Charismatic Christianity has been able to bring down “denominational walls that have weakened the total effect of the church on society.”[70]

The Chinese-speaking Church of Singapore played a significant role in the growth of Charismatic Christianity across denominations despite Georgie’s and Galven Lee’s claim that this church “barely had any influence over other Christian denominations”.[71] Elder Goh Ewe Kheng from Church of Singapore had crossed denomination boundaries to ask Canon Wong to organize meetings for Ralph Wilkinson in 1972.[72] Elder Goh was also a founding member of FGBMFIS and conceptualized TLBS with Canon Wong.[73] The Church of Singapore also provided the premises and logistical for TLBS when it started.[74]

3.   Common Reasons for Growth 

There are four reasons for the growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity that the different revivals shared. These reasons are summarized as pedagogical, theological, cultural and personal.

3.1 Pedagogical Reasons

Charismatic Christianity grew well because the early Christians had guides to help them. Since the Charismatic experience was new in the 1960s and 1970s, young Charismatic Christians needed guidance, because they had made wrong claims in their excitement.[75] There were such guides for the English-speaking revivals.

The ACS revival took instruction from Rev. David Baker, who answered their questions.[76] The DTSS revival took instruction from Brother A.M. Mathew.[77] Both Bishop Chiu and Canon Wong relied on advice from Dr. Brian Bailey and others.[78] There were also the SRS and other ad-hoc seminars.[79]

These guides taught Charismatics how to understand their experience from the Bible. Furthermore, Charismatics were also taught to defend their view of the Holy Spirit. For example, they were taught that their request for the Holy Spirit baptism is Biblical because Luke 11:11 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”[80] They were also taught that their feelings of peace, and the fruit of godly living were further evidence that their experience was from God rather than from the devil, despite the claims of non-Charismatics.[81]

3.2 Theological Reasons

Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity also grew because of theological reasons.

During the 1960s and 1970s, many pastors from the main denominations were trained at the liberal Trinity Theological College (TTC) in Singapore.[82] Therefore, Singaporean churches where these pastors taught at would be strongly influenced by liberalism, which could lead them to deny fundamentals of the faith, including the resurrection.[83] Derek Hong, in sharing his experience at TTC, drew a link between liberal theology and “head knowledge”. He said that he received “head knowledge”, referring to liberal theology from TTC, and being dissatisfied with it caused him to desire the true God.[84]

Being spiritually “dry” is commonly cited as a reason for Christians to seek Charismatic teaching.[85] It may be that pastors coming from the liberal TTC taught God’s word with no confidence since they were taught that the Bible is fallible. The Charismatic movement in contrast believes in “Sola Scriptura”, and that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Bible.[86] Thus, Charismatic Christianity is characterized by an emphasis on the Word.[87]

However, a strong Reformed voice regarding the Holy Spirit in those days was lacking, hence there was no warning against the teaching of subsequent baptisms of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Canon Wong’s research on the Holy Spirit at the SEC bookstore would only support Charismatic Christianity rather than warn against it. Given that the Reformed voice was absent, Charismatic Christianity could grow unabated as this form of evangelical Christianity was unopposed.

3.3 Cultural Reasons

There were some cultural reasons which aided the growth of Charismatic Christianity.

First, Charismatic Christianity fits with the worldview of Singaporeans, which contributed to its growth. Our culture is familiar that there are “spirits” and dabbles in the supernatural world through temple mediums. Rather than ignoring this worldview, Charismatic Christianity regularly engages with it with tongues, prophecies, deliverances from demons, angelic visitations, and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit.[88] In this way, Charismatic Christianity was able to “maintain a healthy tension between the gospel and the culture”.[89]

Second, Charismatic Christianity grew because of society’s the acceptance of Western language and culture. English was the common medium of communication in multi-racial Singapore. English and Western culture were popular among youths in the 1960s and 1970s, hence youths were more open to learning about Charismatic Christianity from Westerners.[90] Singapore’s continued use of the British system in parliament and in its legal system further promoted Western views. 

Third, Charismatic Christianity grew because it was perceived as pragmatic for all of life. For Christians, it was able to empower Christians to “impute sacred meaning into the mundane activities of life” both personally and professionally.[91] Charismatic Christianity is also practical for non-Christians, as Chan Chee Keong writes, 

On a pragmatic contact with non-Christians, God’s power is also summoned in prayer to deal with practical issues as family problems, troubled business ventures, and stressful school examinations. Thus, non-Christians are presented with a God concerned about the daily problems in their lives who has the power to help them face these matters in a victorious way. Generally, Singaporeans want a faith that works… Missions must be ‘missiopraxis’.[92]

Fourth, Charismatic Christianity grew because it debunked the view that its adherents were hysterical. It was able to do so because Charismatic Christianity spread among the “English-speaking and middle-to-upper-middle class”, gaining it credibility and respectability.[93] Charismatic Christianity thus was perceived to be “rational” and could attract those looking for a “rational” religion.[94]

Lastly, Charismatic Christianity grew among the Chinese race because religion was not a “significant indicator of ethnic identity”.[95] The popularity of Western culture and the dwindling influence of Chinese culture also contributed to the weak link between race and religion.

3.4 Personal Reasons

Charismatic Christianity also grew because it gave a strong sense of personal motivation to do God’s work. Bishop Chiu’s and Canon Wong’s desire for more zeal was echoed by Christians as well. Charismatic Christianity grew because it fed this need through the Holy Spirit baptism, and through its other manifestations. These manifestations made Charismatic Christianity exciting, hence adherents were personally motivated in their relationship with God.

For example, Canon Wong’s vision to plant churches in 1974 caused him to be “refreshed and emboldened by the spiritual experience”, and he led his church into “a series of church planting activities, acting on the vision.”[96]

4.   Conclusion

The growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity from 1963 to 1980 has left its mark on Christianity in Singapore. I have shown the reasons for this growth for the Kong Duen Yee meetings, the youth revivals of 1972, the revivals in the Anglican and Methodist denominations, and the revivals across the denominations. Furthermore, the reasons that are common for all the revivals include pedagogical, theological, cultural and personal ones. 

To better understand the context of Charismatic Christianity during this period, more research should focus on the impact of liberal teaching on Christians.

Appendix – Theological Reflection

I would like to give theological reflection on two points from this essay. 

Misstep in the Charismatic Movement

It was enlightening to learn that the Charismatic Movement was in part a reaction against liberal Christianity that denied essential doctrines, like the inspiration of Scripture. When the Charismatic movement started, adherents were known to study the Bible and to discuss what they had learnt. However, the emphases on the supernatural and experiential has sown seeds that have caused Charismatic and Pentecostal churches today to move away from trusting in the Bible. 

Charismatic Christians today regularly seek “fresh” revelations of God rather than seeking to understand the revelation that God has already given in the Bible. They seek revelation in God “speaking” to them in their hearts or God giving them a sense of peace within them or revealing himself in a miracle. God may choose to reveal himself this way, but he has not promised to do so. God has already spoken to us through his Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Peter describes the Bible as his “precious and very great promises”, where we have “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3-4). The Bible is complete and contains all we need to know God and to live a godly life (Ps. 19:7-11). 

The movement’s beginning emphasis on “fresh” revelation is mistaken, and has led to Charismatic Christians today not knowing how to read the Bible. If they do not know the Bible, they do not know God who speaks through the Bible. If their religious experiences and feelings are not based on the Bible, they cannot be said to be from God.

As a whole, the Charismatic and Pentecostal Movement is moving away from its evangelical beginnings. The movement needs to center on what God has said in the Bible, and base their experiences and feelings on what the Bible says. Nevertheless, there are some Christians within the movement who are seeking to bring the emphasis back to God’s word, rightly understood in its literary and historical contexts, and rightly applied. 

Lessons from Para-Church Networks

The Charismatic Movement spread rapidly among youths in the 1970s through ISCF and SYFC networks. These organizations were focused on bringing youths together and sharing the gospel with them. Staff were neutral about the movement.[97] There was no evangelical voice among the staff that warned against the theological issue that the movement compromises God’s revelation in the Bible. 

There are lessons to learn from this. First, this reveals a weakness of para-church organizations. Para-church organizations could be too focused on its goals (like in bringing youths together) that wrong theology that do not take away from those goals could spread through its networks. Hence, para-church organizations must beware of wrong theology and be willing to speak against errors that its members espouse.

Second, this reveals the need for reformed and evangelical theologically trained staff and pastors. Staff and pastors must be trained in reformed evangelical theology so that they are familiar with the boundaries of orthodoxy and can halt wrong teaching. In his biography, Canon Wong had only heard Stott speak against the movement, but associated the non-Charismatic movement with the Anglican denomination.[98] Had there been more gospel workers trained in reformed evangelical theology, Canon Wong and others could have benefitted from more dialogue regarding what the Bible says. This would prevent the church from getting “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). This would be true for the Charismatic movement, but also other forms of wrong teaching that will arise.

Third, para-church networks present opportunities for good teaching to spread across denominations. These organization must be willing to seek out those who know the Bible to teach, and evangelical churches must be willing to partner with these organizations by allowing their pastors to teach there. This way more people can have access to good Bible teaching, so that they can know God through his word for themselves. 


Abeysekera, Fred, and Rita Abeysekera. The History of the Assemblies of God of Singapore. Singapore: Abundant Press, 1993.

Chan, Chee Keong. “Urban Evangelistic Strategies of Pentecostals in Singapore.” The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1995.

Chan, Kim-Kwong. “City Harvest Church of Singapore: An Ecclesial Paradigm for Pentecostalism in the Postmodern World.” Pages 286–208 in Global Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies 22. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2019.

Chan, Simon. “Chapter One: Folk Christianity and Primal Spirituality: Prospects for Theological Development.” Pages 1–17 in Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration. Edited by Michael Nai-Chiu Poon. CSCA Christianity in Southeast Asia Series. Singapore: Genesis Books and Trinity Theological College, 2010.

Chee, Kenny. “Interview.” Interview by Nicolas Wong. Personal Communication, 18 September 2020.

Hedlund, Roger E. “Chapter Four: Understanding Southeast Asian Christianity.” Pages 59–100 in Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration. Edited by Michael Nai-Chiu Poon. CSCA Christianity in Southeast Asia Series. Singapore: Genesis Books and Trinity Theological College, 2010.

Hinton, Keith W. Growing Churches Singapore Style: Ministry in an Urban Context. Singapore: Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1985.

Khong, Lana Yiu-Lan. A Study of a Thaumaturgical Movement in Singapore: The Christian Charismatic Renewal. Edited by Michael Nai-Chiu Poon. Revised Edition. Singapore: Trinity Theological College, 2012.

Lee, Georgie, and Galven Lee. Unfolding His Story. Singapore: Genesis Books, 2015.

Lim, Timothy T. N. “Pentecostalism in Singapore and Malaysia: Past, Present and Future.” Pages 126–35 in Global Renewal Christianity: Spirit- Empowered Movements, Past, Present, and Future, Vol. 1: Asia and Oceania. Edited by Amos Yong. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2015.

Michael, Mark. “Chung Chosen Bishop of Influential Singapore Diocese.” Blog. The Living Church, 10 February 2020. https://livingchurch.org/2020/02/10/chung-chosen-bishop-of-influential-singapore-diocese/.

Poon, Michael Nai-Chiu. “Introduction: The Theological Locus of Christian Movements in Southeast Asia.” Pages ix–xxxv in Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration. Edited by Michael Nai-Chiu Poon. CSCA Christianity in Southeast Asia Series. Singapore: Genesis Books and Trinity Theological College, 2010.

Poon, Michael Nai-Chiu, and Malcolm Tan, eds. The Clock Tower Story: The Beginnings of the Charismatic Renewals in Singapore. CSCA Occasional Paper 8. Singapore: CSCA, 2011.

Sng, Bobby E. K. In His Good Time: The Story of the Church in Singapore. Third Edition. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore and Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, 2003.

Sng, Bobby E. K., and Suit Chee Tong. To Whom Much Is Given. Second Edition. Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, 2005.

Tan, Christopher. Geared to the Times, Anchored to the Rock. Singapore: Singapore Youth for Christ, 2004.

Tan, Jin Huat. “Pentecostals and Charismatics in Malaysia and Singapore.” Pages 227–47 in Asian and Pentecostal: The Charismatic Face of Christianity in Asia. Edited by Allan Anderson and Edmond Tang. Second Edition. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011.

Thambiah, Joseph. The History of Anglicanism in Singapore 1819-2019: The Bicentenary of Divine Providence. Singapore: Armour Publishing, 2019.

Tong, Chee Kiong. Rationalizing Religion: Religious Conversion, Revivalism and Competition in Singapore Society. Social Sciences in Asia 13. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

Tsang, Jeffery, and Susan Tsang. Acts of the Holy Spirit at Church of Our Saviour. Singapore: Armour Publishing, 2012.

Wong, James. The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore. Edited by Lilian Ng. Singapore, 2010.

———. The Church in Singapore. Singapore: National Council of Churches Singapore, 1998.

Wong, James, and Timothy Wong. “Singapore: Generations on Fire.” Interview by Lemuel Teo. Selah, 6 August 2017. https://www.selah.sg/singapore-generations-on-fire/.

Wong, Martha. “Our History.” World Revival Prayer Fellowship, n.d. https://wrpf.org.sg/our-history/.

Wong, Zachariah. “Interview.” Interview by Nicolas Wong. Personal Communication, 28 September 2020.

Yap, David L. T., and Joshua S. G. Teo. Blessed to Be a Blessing: A Biography of Goh Ewe Kheng. Singapore: Genesis Books, 2019.

Yong, Amos. “Reading Scripture and Nature: Pentecostal Hermeneutics and Their Implications for the Contemporary Evangelical Theology and Science Conversation.” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 63.1 (2011): 3–15.

“About Us.” Tung Ling Bible College, n.d. http://www.tungling.org.sg/about/.

“Charismatic Seminar on the Holy Spirit.” The Straits Times. Singapore, 11 February 1978.

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[1] James Wong and Timothy Wong, “Singapore: Generations on Fire,” interview by Lemuel Teo, Selah, 6 August 2017, https://www.selah.sg/singapore-generations-on-fire/.

[2] Bobby E. K. Sng, In His Good Time: The Story of the Church in Singapore, Third Edition. (Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore and Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, 2003), 271; Timothy T. N. Lim, “Pentecostalism in Singapore and Malaysia: Past, Present and Future,” in Global Renewal Christianity: Spirit- Empowered Movements, Past, Present, and Future, Vol. 1: Asia and Oceania, ed. Amos Yong (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2015), 220.

[3] Georgie Lee and Galven Lee, Unfolding His Story (Singapore: Genesis Books, 2015), 5.

[4] Sng, In His Good Time, 271.

[5] Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, “Introduction: The Theological Locus of Christian Movements in Southeast Asia,” in Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration, ed. Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, CSCA Christianity in Southeast Asia Series (Singapore: Genesis Books and Trinity Theological College, 2010), xxvii.

[6] Sng, In His Good Time, 271; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 5; Lim, “Pentecostalism in Singapore and Malaysia:,” 220.

[7] Sng, In His Good Time, 271; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 5.

[8] Kim-Kwong Chan, “City Harvest Church of Singapore: An Ecclesial Paradigm for Pentecostalism in the Postmodern World,” in Global Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies 22 (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2019), 288.

[9] David L. T. Yap and Joshua S. G. Teo, Blessed to Be a Blessing: A Biography of Goh Ewe Kheng (Singapore: Genesis Books, 2019), 107.

[10] Sng, In His Good Time, 271.

[11] Yap and Teo, Blessed to Be a Blessing:, 109.

[12] Poon, “Introduction,” xxvi.

[13] Kenny Chee, “Interview,” interview by Nicolas Wong, Personal Communication, 18 September 2020.

[14] Michael Nai-Chiu Poon and Malcolm Tan, eds., The Clock Tower Story: The Beginnings of the Charismatic Renewals in Singapore, CSCA Occasional Paper 8 (Singapore: CSCA, 2011), 34.

[15] Zachariah Wong, “Interview,” interview by Nicolas Wong, Personal Communication, 28 September 2020.

[16] Wong, “Interview.”

[17] Fred Abeysekera and Rita Abeysekera, The History of the Assemblies of God of Singapore (Singapore: Abundant Press, 1993), 354; Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 34.

[18] Wong, “Interview”; Chee, “Interview”; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 12.

[19] James Wong, The Church in Singapore (Singapore: National Council of Churches Singapore, 1998), 8.

[20] Chee Kiong Tong, Rationalizing Religion: Religious Conversion, Revivalism and Competition in Singapore Society, Social Sciences in Asia 13 (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2007), 59.

[21] Christopher Tan, Geared to the Times, Anchored to the Rock (Singapore: Singapore Youth for Christ, 2004), 68.

[22] Sng, In His Good Time, 227.

[23] Wong, “Interview.”

[24] Wong, “Interview.”

[25] Tan, Geared to the Times, Anchored to the Rock, 65–71.

[26] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 16–18.

[27] Keith W. Hinton, Growing Churches Singapore Style: Ministry in an Urban Context (Singapore: Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1985), 100.

[28] Hinton, Growing Churches Singapore Style: Ministry in an Urban Context, 100.

[29] Chee, “Interview.”

[30] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 21–22; Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 56–59; Joseph Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore 1819-2019: The Bicentenary of Divine Providence (Singapore: Armour Publishing, 2019), 230.

[31] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 40; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 13–14, 16; Chee, “Interview”; Wong, “Interview.”

[32] Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore, 224.

[33] Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore, 232.

[34] Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore, 224.

[35] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 57.

[36] Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore, 232.

[37] James Wong, The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore, ed. Lilian Ng (Singapore, 2010), 46.

[38] Wong, The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore, 46.

[39] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 52–53.

[40] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 53.

[41] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 51; Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 61–61.

[42] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 48–49; Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 53; Jeffery Tsang and Susan Tsang, Acts of the Holy Spirit at Church of Our Saviour (Singapore: Armour Publishing, 2012), 16.

[43] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 72.


[45] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 73.

[46] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 77; Mark Michael, “Chung Chosen Bishop of Influential Singapore Diocese,” Blog, The Living Church, 10 February 2020, https://livingchurch.org/2020/02/10/chung-chosen-bishop-of-influential-singapore-diocese/.

[47] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 74.

[48] Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore, 230.

[49] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 45.

[50] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 73.

[51] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 64.

[52] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 64.

[53] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 74.

[54] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 47.

[55] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 95.

[56] Sng, In His Good Time, 274.

[57] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 102.

[58] Wong, The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore, 63.

[59] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 123.


[61] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 123; Chee, “Interview.”

[62] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 119.

[63] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 121.

[64] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 123.

[65] “About Us,” Tung Ling Bible College, n.d., http://www.tungling.org.sg/about/; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 124.

[66] Wong, “Interview”; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 126.

[67] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 126.

[68] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 128; Sng, In His Good Time, 281.

[69] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 65; Yap and Teo, Blessed to Be a Blessing:, 78–88; Bobby E. K. Sng and Suit Chee Tong, To Whom Much Is Given, Second Edition. (Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, 2005), 35; “Our Global Family,” Scripture Union Singapore, n.d., https://www.su.org.sg/who-we-are/suhistory.

[70] Lana Yiu-Lan Khong, A Study of a Thaumaturgical Movement in Singapore: The Christian Charismatic Renewal, ed. Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, Revised Edition. (Singapore: Trinity Theological College, 2012), 27.

[71] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 25.

[72] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 53; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 84.

[73] Yap and Teo, Blessed to Be a Blessing:, 66, 88.

[74] Yap and Teo, Blessed to Be a Blessing:, 88.

[75] Sng, In His Good Time, 274.

[76] Poon and Tan, The Clock Tower Story, 50; Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 14.

[77] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 15–16; Martha Wong, “Our History,” World Revival Prayer Fellowship, n.d., https://wrpf.org.sg/our-history/.

[78] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 53.

[79] See Appendix 1: 

[80] Chee, “Interview.”

[81] Chee, “Interview.”

[82] Tsang and Tsang, Acts of the Holy Spirit at Church of Our Saviour, 8.

[83] Tsang and Tsang, Acts of the Holy Spirit at Church of Our Saviour, 8.

[84] Tsang and Tsang, Acts of the Holy Spirit at Church of Our Saviour, 8.

[85] “Hallmark Is Its Unrestrained Way of Praying,” The Straits Times (Singapore, 30 December 1978); Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 100.

[86] Chee Keong Chan, “Urban Evangelistic Strategies of Pentecostals in Singapore” (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1995), 69–71; Amos Yong, “Reading Scripture and Nature: Pentecostal Hermeneutics and Their Implications for the Contemporary Evangelical Theology and Science Conversation,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 63.1 (2011): 4.

[87] Thambiah, The History of Anglicanism in Singapore, 237; Yap and Teo, Blessed to Be a Blessing:, 107–8.

[88] Chan, “Urban Evangelistic Strategies of Pentecostals in Singapore,” 46–47.

[89] Simon Chan, “Chapter One: Folk Christianity and Primal Spirituality: Prospects for Theological Development,” in Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration, ed. Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, CSCA Christianity in Southeast Asia Series (Singapore: Genesis Books and Trinity Theological College, 2010), 4.

[90] Chee, “Interview”; Hinton, Growing Churches Singapore Style: Ministry in an Urban Context, 24; Roger E. Hedlund, “Chapter Four: Understanding Southeast Asian Christianity,” in Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration, ed. Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, CSCA Christianity in Southeast Asia Series (Singapore: Genesis Books and Trinity Theological College, 2010), 66.

[91] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 105.

[92] Chan, “Urban Evangelistic Strategies of Pentecostals in Singapore,” 47–48.

[93] Lee and Lee, Unfolding His Story, 80.

[94] Tong, Rationalizing Religion: Religious Conversion, Revivalism and Competition in Singapore Society, 4–5.

[95] Hedlund, “Understanding Southeast Asian Christianity,” 67.

[96] Wong, The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore, 60–61.

[97] Wong, “Interview.”

[98] Wong, The Charismatic Renewal in Singapore.

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Emotionally Healthy Spirituality(EHS): the wrpf journey

Peter and Geri Scazzero
Peter and Geri Scazzero

EHS: what is it all about?

It was three years ago in 2012 that our EHS journey began. Our signed up for the EHS conference held in Bethesda Bedok Tampines Church. Peter and Geri Scazzero were there to teach at the conference. Peter taught clearly about and important need in most churches: the need for emotional health and contemplative spirituality. The church has forgotten that part of maturing spiritually is being fully human and that includes emotional wholeness. And that is what the content of the EHS is essentially about: learning to be emotional healthy and to love well. Part of the ecology that supports loving well is learning to slow down and cultivate a rhythmic contemplative lifestyle.

EHS tools
EHS tools

The EHS tools

They have a package that can be used to introduce the EHS to the church. It comprises sermons on Sundays (available on-line), a devotional to be used to cultivate the contemplative spirit, a workbook and video for cell groups to use. Peter Scazzero’s book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an also must read for those who are leading the cell groups and program. Except for the sermons and the devotional booklet which are available free online, the others can all be purchased from the Cru bookstore. When we did ours we received free about 12 videos and 20 workbooks which were leftover from a gracious Evangelical Free Church that had completed its program earlier.

These are the topics that the sermons and workbook dealt with:

  1. General Purpose and Introduction
  2. Problems of Unhealthy Spirituality
  3. Know Yourself to Know God
  4. Go Backward to Go Forward
  5. Journey Through the Wall
  6. Rhythms of Daily Office and Sabbath
  7. Grow Into an Emotionally Healthy Adult
  8. Develop a Rule of Life

More than a program

One thing we emphasized throughout was that EHS is more than a program. It is a journey.  It is a program that has a start and an end. It had systematic steps to get you to where it wanted you in order to fulfil the programs goals. Yet it was more than a program. It was an introduction to a journey – one that would take a lifetime to complete.

How it was introduced to church

The youth and the young adults were the first to launch into this. They did the program with the leaders of the youth and young adults’ ministry. It was a good faith formation as well as introduction to emotional health. This was later followed by the closure of all cell groups for two months so that all the cell leaders and their respective core team members could experience the program with the youth and young adult cell leaders facilitating the groups.

When all these leaders have experienced the EHS we went on to do a church wide in March 2015. There were seven sessions but we added an additional lesson to prepare the ground and give an introduction to the whole program. We also made use of two breaks where people were likely to be away on vacation to have breaks so that the congregation had time to reflect, and to catch up on the new things they have discovered. The cell leaders were trained and briefed before the program started, and at mid-point we conducted an evaluation. The program ended with a final evaluation and exploration of how we can follow up on a journey we had merely begun.

What was the feedback about the program

We gathered interesting program feedback from the leaders at mid-point. The people were struggling with the intensity of the program: the amount of reading, reflection and preparation required, and the depth of sharing required. Some were lost conceptually and were playing catch up most of the time. For young people it was difficult to look back at their short past but they shared freely and were vocal. The adults had a lot of past life and events to process but were not as open in their personal sharing. Most members did not do their workbook preparation. The program exposed many areas that the people needed to process with the Lord. We needed more pauses in the program for reflection and incorporation of new spiritual habits into their life. On the whole, everyone agreed that we could have gone at a slower pace and at greater depth so that the truths could get hold of people and reflection and life change could be deepened. Alternatively this is a survey, an introduction, and in the future we can spiral back to what we have learned: do workshops, retreats and sermon series that will help us revisit some of the practices, truths and things that impacted the people. One thing we did was to conduct a retreat using a movie and giving the people more time to work on the family genogram and to reflect on how their past upbringing affect their current behaviour, values and relationships.

Conclusion: a stirring among churches

There is a stirring among churches to embark on this journey. There have been pastors that have us asked about our journey. Whether from the Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican or whatever denomination, there is something in this program that will introduce important values and practices to the church. The church today is too performance oriented. The era of church growth ended years ago. Enlightened church pastors are thinking church health and have stopped dancing around the sacrificial altar of the numbers game. We need healthy churches that birth and grow spiritually healthy disciples. The EHS program is certainly a good way to introduce important truths and values that will seed for a promising harvest: churches that will model for us a healthy spiritual rhythm in its church life and that loves well in the community.

To find out more about EHS go to the source: http://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/

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A tale of two Preachers

preach the good newsA Preacher took the text and preached a rousing sermon on prayer one Sunday and exhorted the congregation to pray thirty minutes on waking every day that week. And some did and felt good, but most did not and felt short.

The next Sunday, he preached a tremendous sermon on being a witness and challenged his members to witness to one person in school or in the workplace that week. Some did and felt good, but most did not and felt short.

The following Sunday, the Preacher motivated his members to love their wives, and he did it with tears, and confessed his lack, for he had been too busy as a pastor, and he was sure others were the same. So he gave them seven things to do to love their wives. The women loved the sermon. Many men walked down the altar with tears and arose resolute. That week roses were bought, love letters were written, and romantic dinners were had. Some felt good, and those that were still too busy, felt short.

On the last Sunday of the month, the Preacher was convinced what the members lacked was time management. So he talked about the tyranny of the urgent, and underlined the importance of keeping the main thing the main thing. He listed five things they could do to manage their time better. The members were perked with hope that if they could do the list, the nub of many problems would be solved: they would wake up to pray; they would have time to witness, to love their wives, and be a better disciple. Some did it, and felt good. Most of them fell short.

And by the end of the second month those who felt good about waking up to pray no longer thought of themselves as good Christians, for their habit faltered. Those who witnessed did it only that one week. The flush of renewed romance of those men who loved their wives had chilled. And the weekly schedule in the diaries was blank. That Sunday the Preacher looked over the congregation and saw a jaded people. They looked like a people weary of religious must do, ought to do, and should do. The trust that began their relationship with God has given way to earnest but relentless attempts to reach and maintain the C+ of Christian behaviour. They now felt weary. After some months the Preacher left the church with his shoulders slouched, his face downcast, his eyes absent of the gleam with which he started.

After several long months, the congregation found another Preacher. On the first Sunday, he preached Christ the High Priest who sympathized with man’s weaknesses and who offered Himself for the forgiveness of sins. The congregation felt the love of God and they experienced a cleansing peace and assurance wash over them. They had a new found boldness in approaching God in prayer, and though they had not prayed every morning, no pall of guilt hung over them.

The next Sunday, the Preacher exalted Christ as the Baptizer of the Spirit. The people received a fresh infilling of the Spirit, nothing emotional, more a faith thing. Strangely at the cell group that week, there were numerous reports of how members had opportunities to share Christ and pray for the concerns of friends.

The following Sunday, the Preacher talked about the length and breadth, and height and depth of the love of Christ as pictured in the Song of Songs, and the people experienced a new sense of being the Beloved of God. That experience of being loved stayed with them and they found themselves feeling affection for their spouses and children, and being patient towards the people at school and at work.

On the last Sunday of the month, the Preacher talked about the Jesus the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23 and the people were re-assured that God was watching over their ins and outs, guiding them with His staff, protecting them from all kinds of enemies with His rod, and that they need not fear anything. The members entered that week with a restedness and confidence in the Shepherd’s care for they knew in their hearts that the steps of a good man were ordered of the Lord, and that God would work all things for good.

The Preacher kept preaching Christ, and though it seemed elementary, it was fresh as he drew from the wells of Old Testament as well as New with the heart of one who had drawn near and drank from the living waters. The infectious love he had for the Lord Jesus was being passed on to the congregation. Beyond just knowing, the members were catching it.

After four months the Preacher looked over his congregation one Sunday, and saw a sea of contented faces, oozing assurance and animated with joy. Though they may not have prayed every morning, nor witnessed every week, nor loved their wives as they should, or managed their time as they ought, they knew they were forgiven, empowered, loved and watched over and guided by a wonderful Man with scars in His hands, and love in His eyes.

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Making Disciples

collinsonMy main textbook was Making Disciples by Sylvia Wilkey Collinson. This is indeed a book that cries out for more readership. Well researched, readable and clear the author Sylvia Wiley Collinson has  made a significant contribution to the slowly growing literature on making disciples. Not many scholars will consider this subject weighty enough to warrant their attention, and this is sad.

The popular fare on this topic have been written by Navigators-influenced authors like LeRoy Eims, Dawson Trotman(founder), Jerry Bridges, Walt Henrichsen, Bill Hull, and  Edmund Chan. The latter two authors have written quite a bit about disciple making in a church setting but the rest write of discipling in a context that is very much independent of the church. Doing discipling one with one or with a few.

This is why I feel Collinson’s book has a place in the pantheon of classic books on discipling. The book looks at discipling in the Greece, Rome, Egypt and other cultures surrounding Israel. Then she examines discipling in the Old Testament and in each of the Gospels, Acts, and the epistles. She refines her definition as she goes along. Attention is given to the differences and changes in discipling between the gospels and after the church was formed. Then she views all her findings in the light of surveys of Australian church life and compares what she learned of discipling methodologies with recent educational research. The conclusions are not earthshaking, but give you a sense that there is much to be done in reforming educational methods of discipling in the church.It is much more than just one with one; it has to do with the whole community, with culture and values education as well.

Kenny, Dr Sylvia Collinson, Carlos

It was a pleasure to be able to discuss the content with the author as well. In lectures and in interaction inside and outside the classroom, the subject can be absorbing and exciting. Dr Collinson was able to give perspectives that come from years of research in related fields, suggesting further resources and readings in various journals and books.

The book is printed under Paternoster theological monographs and due to the niche demand, is rather expensive at $40 over. However it is worth the price and the time and effort to study and discuss it. Especially,  for those passionate about disciplemaking in the church. How I wish S.U., the Navpress, or Campus Crusade could imprint a cheaper version and make it available to a larger audience at  a lower price.

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Lost shepherds in the city

Lost shepherds and waiting sheep

The Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah, the Vicar of St John’s-St. Margaret’s Church, and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Singapore, gave an insightful message to priests and ordinands recently that was excerpted in the Diocesan Rt Rev Rennis PonniahDigest(Nov 2010). He was reminding the church of what it meant to be an Anglican priest in the church of God –the classical role of Anglican priests. Over the years, this has been greatly eroded, obscured, obstructed, and pushed aside by the pressures arising from expectations of congregations for their priests to function like CEOs. The result: lost shepherds in the church, and the consequence – more lost sheep waiting in the pews for their shepherds to do what they are truly called to do, and other sheep leaving for other pastures. The irony is that members want their priest to act like a CEO so that the church would grow, but the outcomes are exactly the opposite: priests and lay leaders suffering burnout and members leaving because their soul care has been ignored.

Lost shepherds can find themselves

What he said so accurately reflects a clear and present danger in the other churches in Singapore too, not just the Anglican. The unbiblical expectations members have of their pastors to be like CEOs,  reminded me of what Goh Keng Swee and his team of systems engineers did to the Singapore education system in the 1970’s (they killed its soul, and teachers felt lost). What Rennis said would resonate with many pastors in this land. The same has already happened in urban churches in the United States too. Shepherds today, like the ones at Christmas, need a fresh and heavenly revelation of who God is. They need to eagerly seek the One in Whom they can find their true self and calling.  Here is an excerpt of his message:

So much is expected of the priest in the modern city – chairing meetings, organizing major projects, replying emails at the speed of smartphones and sometimes initiating financial ventures – that it becomes easy to lose our way and neglect the major tasks of our calling. The affirmation of men and meeting the expectations of our congregation for dynamic leadership and management can become our priorities instead of pleasing God through our faithfulness to our calling. As one of my clergy colleagues recently remarked, “If there is a parable to describe our modern situation, it may well be entitled the ‘Parable of the Lost Shepherd.’  The hundred sheep, safely in the fold, wait hungrily for their shepherd to find his way back to them.”

We do well therefore as priests to heed the call to vocational holiness – to being true to the central tasks of our calling. What then is our vocational calling as priests? In a word, I would say that our call is not to run an organization or meet people’s felt needs, but to build a community of disciples. I often have to remind myself, “I am not running a church, I am building a community.” With this in mind, the key vocational tasks of a priest can be identified as:

1.     Preaching / proclamation of the Gospel

2.     Discipling/teaching and equipping bands of people

3.     Interceding/shaping and leading corporate prayer and worship services

4.     Pastoral care and spiritual direction(ie the role of the “wise man” in the Old Covenant)

5.     Leading the people out in mission and community service

6.     Oversight of the flock and governance.

The greatest threat to fulfilling our vocational tasks is our management responsibilities in our urbanized parishes. I am not saying that management work is not needed in priestly leadership; however, they should not stand in the way of our primary tasks. This is clear in the early account of the early church where the apostles found themselves diverted from their vocational calling because they were personally managing the task of food distribution to the needy. They learnt to delegate this task to others in order that they may give their “attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Sadly, priests today may be delegating away their primary vocational tasks, while focusing on secondary ones. We are farming out the task of pulpit preaching to frequently-invited guest speakers, and the task of intercession to church intercessors. We are called to “prayer and the ministry of the Word”. We are called to “attend to God” in prayer and the study of His Word, and then to minister to people out of the strength of His presence. Are we attending to the needs of men (emails and mobiles) but ignoring our Lord (eg. Prayers and devotions)?

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