Facets of Pastoral Work I Enjoyed

Teaching God’s Word

Equipping the saints is not a cliché for me but a major reference point for pastoral ministry. It is therefore not surprising that teaching God’s Word through sermons and Christian education courses was something I found great joy in. I loved teaching the Bible and every year I devoured books on preaching, and experimented and incorporated new homiletical insights, ideas and styles into my preparation and delivery. I found satisfaction when I received feedback that the adaptations were effective, and concerned when they fell flat. I also enjoyed the development and execution of Christian education curriculum. I enjoyed running Life in the Spirit seminars to help members receive the baptism of the Spirit, and conducting membership and foundational courses for new believers. 

Pastoral Care and Mentoring

Another facet of ministry that I enjoyed was meeting with leaders and members individually and giving them pastoral care, personal counsel or coaching. Patient listening to members’ concerns and struggles is a powerful way of equipping and helping them move towards wholeness. When I first began pastoral ministry in the 1980s, visiting families in their homes was the norm, but gradually I noticed that with the formation of home cell groups, the pastoral care that came through cell groups lessened the need for pastoral home visits unless there were special needs or circumstances involved. Still, it was the one on one sharing and sharpening of life that I found fulfilling.

Blogging as Ministry

Halfway in my forty years of pastoral ministry, I stumbled into blogging through my son Joshua’s suggestion. At that time around AD 2000 I began blogging on Xanga to reach out to the youth in church, and later moved my blog to my own website. Somehow this blogpastor.net website was blessed by the Lord to influence its readers. Readers from around the world read the blog. The blog was cited in the Asia Wall Street Journal, the Straits Times, and in books and articles. The discussion was very active and beyond my ability to monitor and I saw that blogging allowed for conversation/discussion and thus was a good platform for teaching and influencing thought and attitudes. I enjoyed this thoroughly as it also led me to see my writing as an extension of my teaching and pastoral ministry.

Soul Care

Later in the last decade of my pastoral ministry, I was more interested in spiritual formation and spiritual direction. I saw how waiting on God in silence in a retreat setting with a spiritual director to guide helped me recover from a burnout, and I became convinced this kind of ministry to be vital for the spiritual health and vitality of pastors, church leaders and members. I completed a Master’s program on Christian Education and Spiritual Formation with AGST Alliance, went for annual silent retreats, and searched for spiritual director formation training. The whole area of spiritual formation of the soul became a focus for me.


During the last five years of my role as senior pastor, I also became more engaged with issues of pastoral succession and sought to equip a team of new ministry staff so that when I retired, the church would have a leadership team able to feed, care for and lead the church. My main concern was to equip them to do what would be a major means of equipping the saints – the Sunday sermon. As this was my main strength, I designed a simple program to give them opportunities to develop their preaching ministry. They have all been trained in Bible Schools but I wanted them to apply what they have learned in a systematic way and with peer group supervision and encouragement. I enjoyed this coaching role in the last five years of pastoral work.

If leading, feeding and caring are the main roles of a pastor, then I would rank the roles in order of personal fulfilment this way: 1) feeding, 2) caring and lastly 3) leading. 

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Blogging with a mobile

I am used to blogging on a laptop. Then two years ago, I started blogging with my iPad when I travelled, which I found cumbersome because photo transfers from my phone to iPad was ponderous.

This time round, due to restrictions on luggage weight, I tried using my Galaxy Note 9. It was not as difficult as I had thought. I only had to install an image resizing app. My pics are already in the phone gallery;  the story is ready in my mind; and I am used to typing with my index finger. Everything else is the same. In fact the the process was smooth and  convenient and required less steps!

It means I can write on the go, or while waiting I could redeem the time with blogging.

I do not have to go home and transfer and resize photos with the laptop.

I will also write with brevity and conciseness.

All the previous posts beginning with the camino were posted via my mobile. Its too early to tell yet, but I am liking this method of blogging thus far! I do hope the ease of writing will encourage more posts. However, with longer posts I would still prefer using a laptop.

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Start blogging again

Its been more than a month since I last blogged. Since then I have gone to Japan on vacation. I have seen a wonderful successful kidney transplant between two wonderful members in the church who are not blood related. I have been moving around in a Toyota Picnic that a kind American missionary friend who left for USA allowed me to use till the COE runs out in 2 January 2015. The church worship hall will undergo renovation so I have been busy with arrangements and communications of the alternate worship service space. And I have been on Whats App in a prayer group for the kidney transplant, and quite often communicating on my personal and church Facebook page. All these took time. And they drained me of ideas and the motivation to update this blog. In other words there were things to blog about but somehow the one liners of Twitter and Facebook seemed an easier and quicker and lazier way to express my thoughts. This blog is losing out but I know that if one of my goals of blogging is to practise writing then I simply have to push aside other competing demands and shun the broad and easy highways of one liners and plentiful pictures and “likes”. So here I am on Christmas Eve. I have decided I need to start writing again and avoid the easier path. Just write the ideas that strike me and reflections of what is happening around me and in the news. Ramble if I have to. Just get started again on a regular basis.

I am so heartened by Christian leaders and pastors who have continued to blog. Many have stopped as traffic moved elsewhere but these guys still keep writing regularly with persistence and quality. They are on my blogroll links on the right hand and I hope to keep company with them.

Well this is a good enough kick-start for today. Hopefully the passion will kick in and I will have something more substantial to say.

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Encouraged to keep blogging

On Sunday a guest in church asked if I was the one who wrote a blog and she mentioned reading it. I did not have the presence of mind nor cleverness to ask what she read or to inquire as to what interested her or whether she found it helpful.She must have read one of those posts that were probably from a period when I wrote about twice or thrice a week.

On Tuesday, I was in the car with a colleague talking about the thesis I have to write. I had a few ideas I was exploring. He strongly felt I should write something about the use of social media in learning and discipleship since he knew blogging was something I was enthusiastic about. In passing he mentioned that he had met quite a few friends who reads blogpastor.net.

On Thursday, I was having lunch with a pastor who mentioned occasionally reading my blog too. Hmm.

Three affirmations within five days is not normal. Something is afoot. As I reflected on this I remembered how I felt after I came back from my study module in Bangkok. My target had been to blog once a week. But I was tired from the intensity of the course. I had sermons to prepare. I had post-campus assignments to do. I felt like maybe I should just stop blogging. It is like you are jogging at a good pace and an anxiety fills you and all of a sudden you simply stopped in your track. All those incidents, so surprising, are probably the Lord’s gentle pat on the back to encourage me to continue on this writing journey. It will lead somewhere. It does me good. It helps people. Blogging sounds like slogging but I want to write as fulfillment and delight but is this possible all the time…..I wonder.


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Blogging tips from “Amazing Grace” hymnwriter

Tony Reinke wrote an interesting article listing 15 tips on blogging which he had drawn from the Writings of John Newton, the John Newtonformer slave-trader who encountered Christ and became a hymn-writer and quite a prolific letter writer too. His letters were written in an informal easy style, topical, and experience-based. This is similar to blogging. Scan the list of 15 tips and if you want to read John Newton’s own words from which Tony deduced the tips read the full article HERE.

1. Bloggers should write to learn, to meditate, and to remember.

2. Bloggers should write to edify, therefore it is preferable to write simple truth than to spread eloquent trifles.

3. Bloggers should expect the well to run dry at times, and understand some of the personal factors that explain this barrenness.

4. Women should be encouraged to blog for the benefit of the entire church, since they naturally write in a style more enjoyable, and less stilted, than men are normally capable of.

6. Blog to offer both converting and comforting grace to your reader.

7. Make it your constant aim to blog with the intent of prospering your reader in God.

8. Be extra careful when handling controversy on your blog, and if you do engage it, know that it carries with it extra responsibilities, first in the tone of how you write, secondly in requiring you to sincerely pray for your opponent(s) before you engage them, and thirdly in requiring that you address your opponent as one who has an eternal soul, and who will either be lost forever, or as one that will be your brother or sister in heaven for all eternity.

9. Bloggers should aim to write from personal experience.

10. Bloggers should also write from their observations of others.

11. Learn to blog your observations more freely, especially if you are bent towards a stilted formalism.

12. Blog humbly and in faith, knowing the Lord will lead you to offer a “word in season” for your readers in their time of need.

13. Pray that God would fill your soul with divine joy as you write, that this joy would be communicated on the screen, resulting in a shared joy with your reader.

14. Do not allow blog writing to cause your neglect of family priorities

15. Redeem your barren blogging experiences, use them to see your needs and weaknesses, and lean upon God for his sustaining and supplying grace.

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