Relationships and discipleship were the focus of Jesus’ earthly ministry; and they are also the focus of City Harvest Church this year.
By Dawn Seow
It was a Vision Weekend unlike others before it. “We’re not going to focus on buildings or numbers,” said Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church at the church’s Vision Weekend on Mar. 31 and Apr. 1.
The vision set out by Kong this year is for each member to invest time and effort into his or her relationships with God and others, and to disciple as well as be discipled, hence “Relationship & Discipleship.”
For the past month, Kong has been challenging the church to see God not as a strict judge or a slave-driver, but as their Abba Father. “Abba” is an intimate Hebrew term for father, akin to “Daddy”—a name reserved for a father that a little child loves and trusts.
Vision Weekend was the culmination of Kong’s message on the love of Abba Father. During praise and worship, a lyrical dance was performed by the dancers from O School, portraying how Abba Father brings comfort and guidance to His children.
The dance depicted a girl in distress overwhelmed by problems in life. Abba Father picked her up, drew her struggling into His embrace and comforted her. With His strength sustaining her, she was able to get up on her feet again.
Abba Father also came to a group of people who yearned for a bond. He led them into His flow and His heartbeat became the rhythm of their movement. Ultimately, the dancers followed His lead, presenting a message that when all creation breathes with the Abba Father, it flows together as one. This heartfelt performance set the tone for the service.
Kong, joined by his wife Sun, introduced The Box to the congregation. It contained items created to help CHC members develop strong relationships and seek discipleship (see box story).
KNOWING YOUR ABBA
In this year of Relationship, the most important relationship the church needs to have is with God her Abba Father.
Reading from Mark 14:32-36, Kong showed the church the life of Jesus in the last few moments before He was betrayed.
“Jesus was crying out to His Father at the lowest point of His life, but the climax came when Jesus shouted ‘Abba Father, not My Will but Yours be done! Abba, I will go through this, I trust You!’” Kong said. “In the last 22 months, many of you have gone through tough times. But God doesn’t play games with our lives—the purpose of trials and testing is to make us better, purer and stronger.”
There are six things God wants CHC to be this year, Kong explained: a people given to prayer and encounters; a people balanced in everything they do and believe; a people who lead others to God through engaging culture, and most importantly, a people who value relationship and discipleship.
“I believe God wants us to take time off our busy schedules, to slow down and spend time alone to breathe with Him,” Kong exhorted. “We can go through anything if we have a deep sense of God’s unfailing love toward us.”
Kong, referencing the church’s journey in the last two years, said that the church would have split in many ways if not for the strong relationships among the leaders and members. “But relationship don’t come automatically,” he reminded the church. “You need to invest time to build them.”
One question that Kong grappled with during this period was who he could give the reins of the church to, if something was to happen to him. “I can only give it to those who are people of prayer, given to encounters, Biblically-sound and balanced, useful as salt and light in the marketplace and culture, a loving relationship builder; in other words, someone who is thoroughly discipled,” he pointed out.
In the three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry, His main focus was on building relationships and mentoring his disciples.
“The only way we become Christ-like is through discipleship,” Kong said. “And I pray that we will all be able to find good mentors who will challenge our values, fine-tune our attitudes, and in that process help form our character in Christ.”
At the end of the service, Kong gazed at the whole congregation with gratitude and thanked members for their unity. He then encouraged the members to make a commitment in 2012, to spend more time with God and to find someone to build a strong relationship with—either someone to get to know better, or a friendship that needed repair.
The days ahead for CHC felt brighter after the weekend’s services. One thing is certain: one can go through any situation, as long as he walks with God and with others.