Faith

When churches unite: Got hope?

Thir.st // August 30, 2018, 3:21 pm

JDOP

You might have heard these three words floating around Christian circles: “Celebration of Hope”. Maybe even recall briefly what it is: A big event next year.

The Celebration of Hope is a 3-day evangelistic rally set to take place in May 2019. With the event some time away, and details yet to be released, a series of informal dialogue sessions – the Dawn of Hope – were held twice in the middle of August to discuss the COH.

This is what the organisers of the Celebration of Hope have announced so far:

  • The COH will centre around 5 rallies to be held in the National Stadium over May 17-19, 2019
  • There will also be separate, decentralised rallies for Tamil speakers and migrant workers
  • Canon J John will be the evangelist for the English rallies
  • It is the highlight event of the Year of Proclamation (yearly themes as declared by then-president of NCCS, Bishop Rennis Ponniah)
  • Key church networks, including NCCS, EFOS and LoveSingapore, are uniting to bring the event to fruition
  • All churches are invited to participate in this call to personal evangelism on a mass scale

Hoping to gain more insight into church sentiment before official public info-sessions start next month, a group of young people from several churches decided to gather for Dawn of Hope.

Those at the dialogues were asked to discuss the following questions: What is the significance of an event like Celebration of Hope to you What should Celebration of Hope look like that will faithfully reflect Jesus as the hope of the world?

A STRESS TEST FOR CHURCH UNITY

“It’s a stress test for unity in the greater body of Christ beyond just one church,” shared one of the participants in the Dawn of Hope dialogues. (Due to Chatham House rules, the names of the participants quoted have not been published in this article.)

“Calling for every church to collaborate will immediately show just how different we are. But it also creates opportunity to finally work together – to put aside those differences and unite for the salvation of souls.”

If the Church ever needed a reason to unite, now would be the time to, many agreed. It’s always a good time to put the Great Commission back in the foreground, said another participant, “instead of the ‘Great Suggestion’ as we tend to treat it.”

But it’s important that a narrative of “hope” underpins these efforts. The aim, said another dialogue participant, is not merely to create just another touch-and-go mass evangelistic event, but that an event like the Celebration of Hope is part of the larger depiction of how Jesus offers hope to a world so in need of it.

“Perhaps we should see it as a rally of evangelists instead of an evangelistic rally.”

“This is a Singapore bursting with hope: I want to see depression numbers lowered, divorce rates dropping …” said one church leader. “We are offering the world an alternative, and these rallies just allow our friends and family to step into that hope we have seen whenever Jesus enters into whatever situation we’re in.”

The difference between any other church rally and a rally held by the Church? The power of the Holy Spirit unleashed by the unity of believers, as seen in the book of Acts, suggested another forumer.

“And while staying with them, Jesus ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘… You will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ … When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 1: 4-5, 2:1-2)

“This is a chance to see the book of Acts coming alive,” said a youth leader. “We’ve never seen revival at an exponential level, so why not work together in the hope that it will happen?”

ALL ARE INVITED

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32)

Uniting even half the churches in Singapore for a single event would be unprecedented – a hope in itself, and a worthy celebration, some participants noted.

“Isn’t that what God loves? For the churches to share resources and unite for a common cause, for the same God,” said one of the older participants at the dialogue.

“Perhaps we should see it as a rally of evangelists instead of an evangelistic rally.”

Indeed, the strongest sentiment over the course of the dialogues that prevailed was this: Celebration of Hope wouldn’t be about filling the stadium or the number of decisions made to accept Christ, but a “family banquet” of epic proportions where “all are invited to the banquet table” to experience the One who overcame death and offers life abundant.

A celebration of true, living hope for the next 40 years and beyond.


If you’re a leader or pastor of youths or young adults in your church/ministry/fellowship, join the COH Young Leaders’ Engagement on September 4, 2018, 7.30pm, at the St Andrew’s Cathedral Prayer Halls. The panel session consists of Bishop Rennis Ponniah (Chairman, COH), Rev Tony Yeo (Executive Secretary), Rev Edmund Chan (Founder, Global Alliance of IDMC) and Rev Pacer Tan (SP, Lighthouse Evangelism). Sign up here.

The Celebration of Hope will take place on 17 to 19 May 2019, National Stadium. COH is a united initiative by the National Council of Churches of Singapore, Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore and LoveSingapore. Visit celebrationofhope.sg for updates.