Practical wisdom on how to take action in the Springtime that is upon City Harvest Church, from the senior pastor of Abundant Life Church, Bradford.
By Yong Yung Shin
As we understand, you did not preach from the original sermon notes you prepared for the first weekend service on Apr. 21, Saturday evening. Tell us, how often is it that you get your preaching “interrupted” by the Holy Spirit?
It’s very rare. I can’t remember the last time we had a service like we did that night, maybe 15 years ago. Having plans is good but we need to be prepared—be open and ready—to be interrupted.
So how can we as a congregation best take hold of this Springtime that is upon us?
The best follow-up would be to exercise practical wisdom to run with the season; Jesus Himself sought to equip His disciples for the three years of Springtime He was with them. Once the farmer understands the season, he has to start doing something—however small that thing is; most movement begins in the heart, even when it seems as though nobody is doing anything.
But as we could sense in the gathering of the people last night and this morning, there is a movement inside the people toward the future, toward a new beginning. This energy must be channeled into something practical as soon as possible. People must start to do something, get involved in lifting the weight of the church and taking the church forward.
Start cultivating different ways of thinking that create different habits, look for new circles of relationships that are future-oriented, have less negativity and more creativity and more faith. More people need to step up to volunteer more, attempt new things. Give up the areas in which you have become rusty and gotten stuck in a rut, and serve in new areas in the church.
It’s been a little more than a year since you visited us. Bring us up to speed with what’s been going on at Abundant Life Church this past year.
We’re doing great! We’re very involved in the community as you would probably know, reaching many un-churched people—98 percent of the people in our country do not go to church. We’ve experienced a resurgence of strength and confidence, a lot of young people have been added to the church, and in terms of music, a new album is coming together. There’s been a lot of growing the past year, which was a very creative year. We also had what was probably our best leadership conference to date—the Stronger Conference in March, which Pastor Kong also attended.
With CHC being in a year of relationship and discipleship, what is the key to effective discipleship?
The most effective form of discipleship is that which is attached to a task or a purpose. When Jesus took His disciples under His wings, He said, “Take My yoke and learn from Me.” In other words, learning is in the context of a yoke, which is work. Jesus created a growth environment that was uncomfortable for His disciples, which made them want to listen and pay attention more—people are better students when they feel that they’re out of their depth. We need to create some discomfort in our church, where people will feel that they have to pray, have to read the Word and have to ask questions.
Static discipling such as having Bible studies that is not attached to anything practical becomes stagnant, very academic and religious. The best form of mentoring is one that’s attached to a purpose, something bigger than the mentoring itself, otherwise it becomes mentoring for the sake of it, where people get more knowledge but don’t do anything with it.
What is one important lesson you’ve learned in building relationships with others?
The most valuable lesson I think I’ve learned is to be yourself. Don’t be what others want you to be, don’t be who the group says you should be and don’t be who you used to be. You cannot connect with people until you are being yourself. Authenticity is the greatest form of communication—once you know you are dealing with the real person dealing with connection and progress is fully possible. Give people the gift of your authentic self.