Young adult, this is what your church leader really wants to tell you
This year’s theme at Summit 2020 – Love Never Fails – encapsulated well the spirit of the 4-day LoveSingapore annual prayer retreat for pastors and leaders.
Unity, authenticity and friendship were at the heart of every session, including the special inter-generational dialogue where both sides got a chance to hear from each other.
Held from January 6-9, 2020, 660 participants from 88 churches and 54 organisations came together for a time of refreshment, recalibration and relationship building.
What was new this year: an inter-gen powwow among the younger and older church leaders.
Led by Senior Pastors Daniel Wee (Church of Our Saviour) and Daniel Khong (Faith Community Baptist Church), participants were split into two groups: those above the age of 38 and those aged 38 and younger.
One of the key questions that was discussed: What is the most important thing you would say to the other generation?
We’ve grouped some of the answers into relevant categories for ease of reading, so let’s get to it and see what our elders had to say to us.
“Self” is likely the longest section simply for the fact that many older leaders looked long and deep within themselves for wisdom they could impart to the younger folks in the room.
Going through a list like this, let’s examine ourselves soberly and consider the areas of our life we can apply the advice to.
It’s like my father used to say: “Son, you must be better than me. Every new generation must surpass the previous one.”
We have a great and glorious task ahead of ourselves in this regard, but we do so from the shoulders of giants and by the grace of God.
Thank God that such timeless words of wisdom found their way into our elders’ response sheets – this list has great reminders that personal ministry comes before public ministry.
Answers like these also remind us that the cultivation of Christian character is something that begins in one’s heart and our conduct at home.
Returning to the Great Commission was a common cry at the Summit. It’s not surprising then that these points surfaced at the intergenerational dialogue as well.
We can so easily fall into the trap of confusing Christian activities with Christian priorities. In fact, one of the statements made during Summit was this: The Great Commission has become The Great Commotion.
While attending church programmes and classes is a good thing, how are we fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)?
We also heard the need to begin bridging the fault lines in the Church despite our differences. We are one Body and must be one just as Jesus prayed (John 17:21).
Turning to those under 38 in the room, Pastor Khong said: “A lot of senior leaders grew up somewhat as orphans. A lot of them were pioneers who started the churches. They figured it out, fought battles, tried their best – but they don’t know how exactly to pass that on.
“It’s a fighting generation. It’s a pioneering generation. That is something that is very unique to them. We’re products of our time, and the older generation has a fighting spirit that has a lot of good things about it.”
“We need to appreciate the differences between the generations,” he added. “I spent a lot of time trying to understand the older generation as I took on my new role as Senior Pastor of FCBC.”
Pastor Khong shared about his relationship with his father (FCBC’s former Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong) and how this journey from rocky to rock-solid birthed his personal mantra: “Woe is me, if I have a father but choose to orphan myself.”
While he still disagrees with his father today on certain issues, Pastor Khong holds to 2 very important principles during such divergences.
- Disagree but never disengage.
- Engage but don’t exasperate.
Pastor Khong also delivered a message that was not dissimilar to his rallying cry for intergenerational unity at Day of His Power 2019. He affirmed that age gaps are less important than the fact that we’re all believers who exist in this time and space, right now.
In that sense, we’re one generation.
Reflecting on the feet-washing segment at last year’s Day of His Power, Pastor Khong revealed: “I was in charge of the programming and, when this idea came up, to be honest feet-washing doesn’t do anything for me.”
But knowing that this was “something that meant a lot to the other generation”, he shared that this knowledge made him willing to humble himself and do it.
“We must come together as a single generation,” Pastor Khong urged. “It’ll be very sad if within 5-10 years down the road, we see the divides in the church not as denominations but between generations.”
The start of this new decade proved to be apt for Pastor Khong’s closing call during the Summit. With many churches now celebrating their 30- to 40-year anniversaries, the topic of succession has been on the lips of congregations.
He said: “I see this as a golden opportunity for both sides to come together, I think both sides have something very strong to offer one another. We must choose to come together, talk to each other, engage, talk together, work together.
“Why should we restart with every generation? We should build on top of that. When both generations come together, there is so much experience and energy we can tap on.
“Maybe this is the thing we can export as the Antioch (of Asia): showing the world that generations can walk together hand-in-hand.”
THINK + TALK
- Which of these answers most surprised you and why?
- What advice do you find hard to implement and why?
- How can you begin to bridge the gap between generations? Ask the Lord who is someone you can pray for with regards to unity.