A church is a family, a body of Christ, a flock and an army of God; City Harvest Church learned this in the last instalment of the Church Introductory Class series.
By Jonathan Teo
What is a church?
In a hilarious skit performed by City Harvest Church’s drama ministry, members of a fictional cell group, W007, described the church as an army of God, a body of Christ, and a place to fellowship and build relationships. Although each “member” exaggerated every meaning for comic effect, there was some truth to every point.
The CIC is the first Bible study course that new members undergo when they first come to CHC, and it has two purposes. Firstly, it helps members to commit to Christ; secondly, it helps members to commit to CHC by helping them to understand the why, what and how of CHC—the reasons the church does what it does.
The early lessons covered in CIC dealt with salvation and the works of the cross, (LINK https://www.citynews.sg/2012/01/church-intro-class-the-work-of-the-cross/); CHC’s purpose and mission, namely fulfilling the Great Commandment, the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate; and the essential beliefs of CHC and the different groups of people it reaches out to.
Kong opened the final session by sharing from Psalm 92:13. The verse declares that those who are planted deeply in church will flourish in different areas of their lives.
Referencing 1 Corinthians 14:33 and 40, Kong likened the structure of CHC to be like the human skeleton: it is invisible to the naked eye, but it exists to keep the rest of the body intact. In the same way, the church structure exists so that everything can be done in a fitting and orderly way.
In 1 Samuel 8:5-7, Israel demanded a king from the prophet Samuel. The people wanted things to be done the world’s way, but in the end, the kings that reigned over them caused them much pain. Kong explained that the church is a not a business and should therefore not to be managed like a secular corporation. The success of CHC should not be measured by how wealthy or famous the church becomes. Instead, it should measures success by the number of lives it has helped and changed for the better. It is important that CHC structures itself in Biblical fashion.
The Nature Of A Church
1) The Church is a Fellowship
In Acts 2:42, the disciples devoted themselves to teaching the doctrines and fellowship. As such, the top priorities in a fellowship are unity and harmony. The Scripture backs this up by stating the importance of walking together in Amos 3:3. A place of agreement is a place of power.
Disunity poses great danger to a church. Kong, quoting a number of Bible verses, explained that a good structure downplays division and promotes unity. He gave the example of the Corinthian church which met very often, but because of the divisions among the people, the meetings did more harm than good.
“The Church is only as strong as its ability to unite,” Kong summarized.
Ephesians 2:19 says that all Christians belong to God’s own family, and as a family the church should operate on basis of relationship, not rules. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 talks about the importance of maintaining good relations within a family and in church.
3) The Church is a Body
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:27 that every Christian is a vital and important part of the body of Christ. As a body, CHC functions on the basis of spiritual gifts, not on random appointments.
In CHC, every member is a minster while the pastors are administers. This means every member has a role to play in the church and the pastors’ job is to take care of them and help them excel in their ministry.
4) The Church is a Flock
Like a flock of sheep, the church is tendered by shepherds. Every church is led by the pastor whose focus should be on pastoral care, not control.
There are three different Greek words used to describe a leader: Poimen, which means pastor or shepherd, is the role of caring, Presbuteros which means an elder of spiritually maturity and Episkopos, an overseer. In the Bible, the function of all three are interchangeable, Kong explained.
While CHC does not use the titles such as “Elder” or “Bishop”, there are cell group leaders, ministry leaders and board members in place to serve in the same function.
5) The Church is an Army
Unlike a military army, the army of God downplays egotism and focuses on discipleship.
There are three levels of Christian development in CHC. Firstly, there is the “buddy system” where members are encouraged to stay accountable to a friend in church who has the same spiritual maturity. Secondly, there is mentoring where a senior member in a ministry trains his junior to grow in skills. Lastly, there is discipleship, where a pastor or a spiritual leader imparts to a younger Christian, helping him stay in line with the commandments of God and to become more Christ-like.
Many members felt that the course gave them a clearer understanding of what CHC is really like. For 29-year-old telecoms system engineer Carlos Huang, CIC served as a reminder of what CHC is all about. Undergraduate Timothy Seet, 20, felt that he “learned a lot about my role in church and how I can be more committed to God and to CHC.”
Student Marvin Ng, 18, said, “Sometimes as we go through life, we forget the basics of what we have learned. CIC really helped me to go back to our roots, to our purpose and calling.”
Kong has declared that 2012 is a year of relationship and discipleship. More than giving new members an understanding of what CHC is all about, CIC helped the entire church to comprehend and remember the reason for its existence, and the need for every member to be fully committed to the church and to Christ, laying a strong foundation for this year of discipleship.