“Because you want to, not because you need to” should be the attitude a Christian has when it comes to serving God. Last weekend, Pastor Kong explained the reasons why Christians stop serving God and encouraged the church to find the right heart to serve.
It was another exciting weekend at Suntec Singapore on 20 and 21 Aug, as City Harvest Church held the first of its ministry recruitment weekends. Hall 605 was set abuzz with a roadshow featuring 19 of City Harvest Church’s ministries. The congregation was given an opportunity to find out more about the various serving opportunities for ministries such as the Indonesian Service, Interpretation and Translation Ministry, and the various Church Without Walls ministries and CHCSA.
During the service, the leaders of six ministries—CityTV, Visual Communications, Usher, Security, Drama and Makeup—were invited on stage to shed some light on how their ministries worked and to encourage members to get join their ministries.
CityTV is the video department of the church that responsible for broadcasting church services over the Internet, through platforms like the CHC App and YouTube. This was one of the most indispensable ministries particularly during the Covid pandemic, as church members could continue to attend weekend services online.
Working closely together with CityTV is the Visual Communications ministry, which creates the high quality visuals the church sees on the large LED screens every weekend, from the lyrics to the praise and worship, to the verses and visuals that appear during the sermon. Training will be provided for new volunteers for both ministries, so no prior experience is required. CityTV is looking for 20 and VC for 15 volunteers to join their teams.
The Usher and Security Ministries are two frontline ministries that CHC members encounter every weekend at church. They are positioned around Level 6, from the top of the escalator to the auditorium, ready to render help to members and visitors. The Usher Ministry is looking for 70 volunteers while Security needs 40 fresh faces.
Finally, the Drama and Make-up ministries showed off what volunteers would get to do if they signed up. The Make-up ministry, which is calling for 10 new volunteers, not only makes all those on stage look good, they also create realistic looks for the big productions, such as Jesus’ bruised and bloodied body during the Easter drama. The Drama team demonstrated the fun and lively ministry that it is with a skit about who should not sign up for Drama ministry. The ministry is looking for 10 volunteers in each of the different categories, from actors to costumers to backstage crew.
THE TRUTH BEHIND WHY CHRISTIANS DON’T SERVE
Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, began his sermon by acknowledging that while the act of serving God is meant to be uplifting, the reality is that not every Christian feels that way. Some grow weary, discouraged, or even bitter after years of serving. “It shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be like this,” Pastor Kong stated.
The pastor also recognised that there are times Christians may feel there is a disconnect between the promises in the Bible and how it actually works out in their lives. One example is Matthew 11:28 where Jesus promised to give His people rest.
“When we come to Jesus, sometimes it seems that He actually increases our burden,” the pastor said candidly. Jesus calls His disciples to be holy, to win the lost, to help the poor and needy and also to serve Him. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus instructed His disciples to take up His yoke—this seems contradictory to attaining the rest that He promised.
However, Pastor Kong clarified that this yoke is an “easy yoke”, a light and restful burden. “If serving is a very heavy burden for you, then either Jesus is wrong, or we are not following Him in the right way,” he reasoned.
Pastor Kong then unpacked several reasons behind why serving God is no longer a joy for many.
1. When we have a wrong view of God
Some Christians may feel that they have to work hard to be good enough—they want to be deserving of Jesus’ forgiveness and salvation. The parable in Luke 18 describes a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the temple. The Pharisee’s prayers revealed that he thought his spiritual disciplines made him superior to the tax collector standing next to him, who clearly fell short. Ultimately, the Pharisee’s works were driven by his need to feel good enough for God.
There are also those who may be motivated to serve so that they can get God’s blessings. This is the mindset of the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-31). While the older brother appeared loyal and dependable, his heart harboured the selfish ambition to take over his father’s estate, in the same manner his younger brother demanded his inheritance early. The only difference was that the older brother wanted to wanted his father to be indebted to him and thus obligated to give him the inheritance.
The older brother did not love his father. When he did not receive what he thought he deserved, he went into a seething rage. Jesus told this story to call out the true intentions of the Pharisees. Pastor Kong cautioned that it was easy to fall into this trap and end up feeling that God has let one down, when things get tough.
Then there are Christians who feel indebted to God and view serving as paying their dues, as if they are paying off their mortgage. Paul revealed that if Christians serve God to pay Him back, even if they sacrifice their entire life, they will gain nothing (1 Cor 13:3). The motive for serving has to be love.
Pastor Kong gave an example. He and his wife Sun knew that their son Dayan wanted a video game. It was not cheap so they had to cut back on expenses and saved up to buy it as a gift. On Christmas Day, they gave it to Dayan with much excitement.
The pastor expressed that if Dayan’s immediate response was to work hard to repay them for the gift, he would be heartbroken. It would mean that their son viewed their love as transactional rather than unconditional.
“If you think you must pay God back for your salvation then you never really believed it was free in the first place,” stated Pastor Kong. “And the truth is you can never repay God for the gift of salvation and eternal life, not even by serving Him.”
2. When we have a wrong view of others
Some Christians serve God so that they can impress other Christians. Pastor Kong highlighted Matthew 6:1-18 which tells Christians to avoid practising spiritual things in public to get the honour. While it is normal to enjoy encouragement and validation for one’s contributions, serving becomes self-serving when one makes it a habit to seek praises to boost their own reputation. When their service goes unnoticed, they feel unappreciated and unloved.
“Underlying that desire to impress people is the sin of pride. And this is where you get a lot of anger and resentment and gossip,” the preacher elaborated.
In Acts 8, mighty men of God like Phillip the evangelist and Apostles Peter and John were preaching the gospel in Samaria, and when they laid hands, people were baptised in the Holy Spirit. A prominent new convert, Simon the Sorcerer witnessed this and offered the apostles money to “give this power to him”. He wanted to receive this gift, not for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, but to belong to this “A-Team” of evangelists.
“Serving becomes very hard if you want to impress people or when you want to belong to the ‘in’ crowd,” the pastor explained.
3. When we have a wrong view of ourselves
Some Christians think too highly of themselves and serve because they think Jesus needs them. That was the problem with Martha. Her busyness preparing for Jesus’ visit hides her belief that everything would fall apart without her. She was so busy that she did not even have a minute to converse with Jesus.
Many Christians live the same way. “We don’t even have time to spend even a little moment with Jesus, to enjoy His presence, to read His Word, to listen to Him,” the pastor preached.
There are also those who are so competent that they do not think they need Jesus. In Mark 9:14-29, the disciples attempted to deliver a demon-possessed boy for an entire day. Finally, they admitted to Jesus that they could not do it, and He told them that it is only by praying and fasting that this could be done—in other words, they could bot do it without God. “Serving becomes hard when Jesus is not in the mix,” the pastor concluded.
JESUS CAME TO SERVE AND NOT BE SERVED
Mark 10:45 is a familiar verse: “For even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” “So, while you think that Jesus expects you to serve Him, He actually came to serve you,” Pastor Kong highlighted.
Embracing the irony of such a sermon on the day of ministry recruitment, the pastor zeroed in on the servitude of Jesus, the servant King. Pastor Kong reminded the congregation, “the greatness of Jesus is not that He can command the service of millions, but that He is the one who serves the millions.”
The contrasting attitudes of Mary and Martha allow Christians an appreciation for the type of yoke that Jesus wants Christians to take on. Martha was busy serving and became angry and resentful. Mary just kept loving Jesus and found rest in His presence.
“This means that following Jesus is not about doing things for Him and becoming a very busy and distracted Martha,” the pastor stressed. “It’s about being a Mary, sitting at his feet, listening to His words and enjoying His presence.”
Pastor Kong shared that he has spent 36 years in full-time ministry, and he has come to understand that even if he does not preach another sermon or do anything else for Jesus, Jesus would still love him. “Only when I’m fully and utterly convinced of this, will I willingly surrender my heart to Him and serve as I have never served anyone before, and live for Him as I have never lived for anyone,” the pastor shared openly. “Not because I have to, but because I want to. There is absolutely no pressure in this.”
Pastor Kong reminded the congregation that Jesus called His disciples friends, not servants (Jn 15:13-15). “We are friends of the King,” the pastor reminded the church. “He lets us in to the business of the Kingdom and the strategy. He reveals the secrets of His Father’s heart. This totally changes the way we work with Jesus.”
At the end of the service, Pastor Kong prayed for those who are tired of serving God and encouraged them to find rest in His presence.
As Pastor Kong’s 58th birthday fell on the Tuesday after the weekend, the pastors and the church presented him a cake and the congregation sang Happy Birthday to him.