Senior pastor Kong Hee presents City Harvest’s congregation figures at a leaders’ meeting last Sunday.
The atmosphere was one of expectancy and curiosity: 711 City Harvest Church members gathered for a leaders’ meeting at Halls 601 and 602, Suntec Singapore last Sunday, March 27.
Chaired by senior pastor Kong Hee, the meeting covered updates and detailed information on topics spanning CHC’s investment in Suntec Singapore and the church’s latest audited attendance figures. This was the second installment of a two-part dialog session to address some of the frequently asked questions about what is happening with the church.
There were six sections on the agenda, making the meeting a lengthy one of nearly four hours, but the attendees eschewed all but one of scheduled breaks for a full delivery of all the points. After each section was presented, time was given for questions from the floor, for issues to be clarified.
Of all the ground covered on Sunday, the one that drew the most attention was the updated attendance figures of CHC. The last 10 months have been, to say the least, challenging ones for the church, and it has been on the minds of individuals within and outside of the church whether attendance had been affected.
Over two weeks in March 2011, CHC commissioned two independent international companies—Stanfield & O’Dell, a full service audit and business consulting firm from Oklahoma, USA, and Global Church Solutions, a church management consultancy from Sydney, Australia—to conduct a full review on the accuracy and validity of the flow logic and reporting of CHC’s church management system, as well as the membership statistics from 2008 to 2010.
With regard to the church management system, GCS states that “A review was completed on the logic applied within the database and its accuracy … GCS … believe[s] that the church management system captures and records the decision-making process in a timely manner, and as closely as is possible in a dynamic environment to the actual event.”
On the topic of membership statistics, attendees are categorized into five Cs which all members have learned about in CHC’s Church Introductory Course: the Core (made up of executive members), the Committed (includes ministry members, ordinary members, visitors who have integrated into a cell group and others), the Congregation (attendees that have come for weekend service three times or more in the year, and once in the past eight weeks), the Crowd (attendees who come for services three times or more in the year) and the Community (attendees who come once or twice a year, usually during Easter, Christmas or church anniversary celebrations).
In 2009, the church announced that its “database name list,” made up of the Core, Committed, Congregation and Crowd, is 32,731. By the same methodology, this “database name list” for 2010 is 30,878. This figure is authenticated as valid and accurate by SOD.
However, Kong made note of the fact that two changes to CHC’s attendance methodology will be made as of now. The first is that the term “database name list” will be replaced, on the advice of both GCS and SOD, by “congregation size.” The second is that, upon the advice of GCS, CHC’s attendance numbers will now include the Core, Committed and Congregation, but not the Crowd.
“After consultation, the Board feels that we want to take GCS’ recommendation for counting our congregation size and has decided not to include the Crowd,” Kong explained. “It is also good to start our move into Suntec Singapore with a more humble number. After all, this is a new day, signifying a fresh start. As such, as of 28 February 2011, CHC’s congregation size is 22,049. The congregation size comprises attendees who attend our weekend services regularly in the past one year.”
The members actively clarified matters with the Board, turning the afternoon into a lively session of to-and-fro.
Jean-Jacques Lavigne, executive director of the Superyacht Association and the general manager of One Degree 15 Marina has been a member of the church since 1998. “CHC did everything by the book, with the highest level of integrity. I’m fully satisfied with the explanations provided—I’m very happy with the strategies the church has employed. My thinking is that our future as a church will be bright.”
“With the increase in disclosure and transparency, CHC is showing greater accountability and better governance,” notes Christine Seah, an advocate and solicitor. “It helps to strengthen and expand the Core and Committed groups of members. That will pass on and more members will be able to catch the vision and move together in unity.”
As the meeting came to a close, Kong united all with a reminder of the call of CHC. “It has been a very difficult 10 months and we did lose attendees. But you guys have chosen to stay and together, we will choose to love. Let’s be encouraged! It’s a new day for CHC! Let’s continue to reach out to the unchurched and meet the needs of our members and make a difference in the lives of others.”
“It was a very good meeting we had with Pastor Kong: I deeply appreciate the fact that he took time to share with us such details,” commented Stanley Quek, a district manager of AIA, adding that Kong brought the focus back to the heart of CHC. “Our church has always been focused on loving God and building lives, making a difference one life at a time. I believe the church will continue to grow as we continue to do that.”