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Pastoral Letter - 15 Oct 17                                        

Dear Calvarians,        

The Sunset Worship Service was started in 2015 when we first moved out of 1 Tao Ching Road so that the redevelopment project could be carried out. By the grace of God, we have persevered for almost three years. When the sunset worship service first started, I had my concerns about its sustainability.  

A second worship service - and in the evening - on the Lord's Day was never the habit of Christians in this part of the world. Initially, we thought it would be difficult for us - as a family - to make it to the sunset worship service. After all, on most Lord's Days, we do not get home till about two or three in the afternoon, we just want to get out of our Sunday clothes, plop ourselves on our favourite chairs, kick up our legs and be comfortable.   

But over time - Sunday evening after Sunday evening - the "struggle" to go to Sunset worship service gets easier. The oil of divine grace overcomes the physical lethargy and psychological sluggishness. Now, it is hardly a struggle. The initial inertia has become a habit. Now, evening worship service is part of our lives. It has become second nature.  

Luke writes that our Lord Jesus "came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read" (Luke 4:16). And to the Jews keeping the Sabbath would have been a whole-day affair, and not just a few hours. 

Paul told Timothy that he ought to be "an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). Separately, Paul told Titus that "in all things shewing [himself] a pattern of good works" (Titus 2:7). In Greek, the words - "example" and "pattern" - are the same, and has the connotation of being a model of pious conduct. Paul is encouraging his younger coworkers Timothy and Titus to conduct themselves properly so that by their pattern of behaviour - they might be examples to their congregations in both word and life-style. 

But such a model would be effective only if it is consistent. And consistency is a habit. So let me encourage members and worshippers to make the Sunset Worship Service your habit on the Lord's Day.  

 

Youths in general are idealistic, which is not a bad thing. It is better than being cynical. The youthful idealism, however, is the reason that many young people are disillusioned with the Christian faith - a disillusionment no doubt engendered by the hypocrisy they see in Christians they meet. 

So we hear comments such as these:  

"The church is full of hypocrites. People who say one thing, and then act in a completely different way." 

"The people in the church are so judgmental. The leaders are acting like they are bosses." 

"The people come to church all dressed up nice on Sunday morning. They carry their Bibles. They pray long prayers. But they live differently the other six days." 

"The worship leader scolds us for being late, but he is late himself when he is not leading in worship." 

Inauthenticity in the Church

To be sure, we all stand guilty at one time or another. Every church has hypocrites and genuine believers who, while sinful, are trying to live out their faith consistently. That said, we ought not to miss the point that merely the perception of (may not even be real) hypocrisy is a major source of discouragement for young Christians.  

When young people see in older Christians - especially their parents and church leaders - lacking consistency in what they claim to believe and how they actually live, these older Christians have lost their credibility in the eyes of their young people.  

Of course, these young people are remarkably lacking when it comes to applying the same standard of consistency to the movie stars and sports personalities. Their expectations of consistent behaviour in these people are very much lower. That mindset, though, is not all bad because it means that young people do have high expectations of parents and church leaders. It means our feet are held to the fire. We who talk the talk must also walk the walk.   

The young people have an uncanny ability to pick out the faintest scent of inauthenticity in older Christians. Fair or not - nothing will turn them off more quickly than an adult who is known to be a spiritual hypocrite. If a church pastor or leader is perceived as inauthentic, he has lost the respect of the young people.  

Inauthenticity in the Home

If inauthenticity is a turn off for young people in the church, how much worse it would be for them to see it in their own parents. 

Our main aim from the very start of this series is to look at factors that prompt young people to be committed to our Lord Jesus Christ and remain active in the church. And one of the key factors is authenticity, which means that parents and church leaders must display consistent exemplary Christ-like conduct in daily living.   

In other words, parents and church leaders must show a pattern of good works. It is not enough for father to say, "Son, do as I say." The dad must show the son, "do as I do." When the parents' faith is vibrant - joyful and yet serious - and live out that faith in every aspect of life, it proves to the young people that the Christian faith is not just a Sunday show.  

The second stanza of the hymn, A Christian Home, serves as a good pattern. It reads as follows:

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,

The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;

Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster,

And praise is natural speech to ev'ry tongue;

Where mountains move before a faith that's vaster,

And Christ sufficient is for old and young. 

Thus, one of the key factors to having a multi-generational faith within a local church is for parents and church leaders commit anew to living consistent Christian lives - in and out of the home and pulpit. We must do that for the glory of God and for the good of our young people. 

We will continue our discussion next Lord's Day, God willing.

Lovingly in Christ,

Pastor Isaac

 

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