On 23 September, City Harvest Church held its first ever Young Adults service, featuring eight new interest groups to join, a powerful testimony, and an eye-opening Q&A session with co-founders of the church, Kong Hee and Sun Ho.
Going from being a youth to a young adult is a challenging transition for many: fresh challenges—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual—abound as some move from school life in a polytechnic or university to being employed in the marketplace, while others may enter marriage and parenthood for the first time.
At City Harvest Church, most of the young adults have grown up as part of its youth movement Emerge, but now find themselves in a different place, physically and metaphorically. Hence, “the Young Adult service aims to bring all young adults into the presence of God where they are empowered and equipped with God’s truth,” explains Pauline Kong, a zone supervisor. “We want to see a generation of young adults who can become successful in the working world without losing their hunger for God.”
On the night of 23 September, the aroma of hotdogs, popiah and other refreshments filled the hall as more than 1,500 young adults began mingling with one another before the service started. To warm the audience up, there were games to play, with shopping vouchers to be won. The pastors also took the opportunity to greet, chat with and take photos with the members.
THE REALITY OF GROWING UP
The service opened with a powerful time of praise and worship, before a young couple Oh Yan Ming and Lee Seow Shi came up to share their testimony. The two met in church and have been married for eight years. They were cell group leaders during university and at the same time, started their relationship.
Yan Ming struggled balancing being a cell group leader and staying on top of his university studies at the same time, but by the grace of God, when he graduated from NTU, he received opportunities to work in Google and other companies. But he declined all these and chose to create a Christian start up instead.
Running a startup came with its own set of challenges. Two years later, the business became untenable. At the age of 27, Yan Ming and his partners had to shutter the business, and debts piled up.
Meanwhile, Seow Shi had left her job with a fixed income and moved into the finance industry. This instability following Yan Ming’s business closure caused the couple to fight: Seow Shi demanded to know why and how the failure happened.
Choosing not to seek help from their families as they did not want to be a burden to their parents, the couple instead sought help from the Housing Development Board to solve their housing payment issues.
Also, instead of giving up on God, they chose to intentionally spend time with Him and to serve Him together.
At this difficult time, Psalms 121 became Yan Ming’s favourite verse. He believed that God had not forgotten him. One day, he received an interview invitation from a global consulting company, and as he was worshipping, God asked Yan Ming that if the job was not His will for him, would he still go ahead and accept it?Yan Ming told the congregation that he prayed the most difficult prayer he had ever made in his life. He told God that if it was not His will, he would not move ahead. In the end, the company offered Yan Ming a job that was two ranks higher than the role he initially applied for. Seow Shi also excelled in her career: she received her first two awards that same year, and thereafter, yearly awards became regular for her.
Yan Ming emphasised to the young adults that time and partnership with God is very important. He shared that in his life, he would always ask God how to navigate through the problems he faced, even how to parent his children. “Life becomes an adventure when I partner with God,” he shared.
Seow Shi shared that the key to a successful marriage is communication. Once, both she and her husband had forgotten to dress their daughter up for Racial Harmony Day at school. Seow Shi said when she came home, she had to communicate with Yan Ming such that they would set aside time to check their inboxes from their child’s teachers.
At the end of the day, Yan Ming and Seow Shi agreed that while most young adults “emerged” and served God in our youth, as they progress into young adulthood, continuing to serve God is entirely plausible and to be encouraged.
PASTOR KONG & SUN ANSWER BURNING QUESTIONS
Kong Hee, the senior pastor of CHC, together with his wife Sun, the executive pastor of the church, pointed out to the gathering that Jesus was not an Emerge youth—he was a young adult just like them.
“Jesus was 30 when He started His ministry, and at 33, He changed the world. This is your time, but God cannot force you to do anything if you don’t want to,” Pastor Kong said, in reference to serving the church and the community as a young adult.
He also shared an intimate revelation that he was reminded of his and Sun’s first child. “Suddenly I was reminded during worship that we had two miscarriages. The first child we named Andrew. Andrew would have been 25 this year. If he was alive, he would be here today at our inaugural Young Adults meeting, excited that as a young adult he can serve the Lord and live for Jesus. I just felt like, my boy would be here, excited to serve the Lord.”
The pastors answered a series of questions from the young adults, sharing their honest opinions on several issues.
“I am a parent who is busy in my career and with young children to take care of. If I can prioritise only one spiritual meeting a week, which should I attend? Would it be cell group meeting, weekly service, or ministry night?”
Pastor Kong answered that the Bible says that God rested on the Sabbath, not because He was tired but because He wanted to enjoy time with His creation. He pointed out that if one only had time for one spiritual meeting a week, one should attend the weekend church service in person and sit with one’s cell group, because community is important. “Spend time with your cell group, enjoy community, encourage each other and pray for one another,” he urged.
The pastors also encouraged young parents to make friends with other parents in church and share with each other their lessons from the Bible and their encounters with God.
“What are some practical tips for young adults who want to serve but not burn out?”
Pastor Kong shared that as a young man, he held a full-time job while giving 23 bible study classes a week, on top of having other responsibilities. The pastors’ short answer to not burning out: learn to prioritise. They shared that even to this day, they are learning to prioritise.
Pastor Kong brought the young adults back to what he has been teaching in the main service about priorities: God first, family next and work or ministry third.
“What is most important? Your quiet time,” the senior pastor asserted, adding that God had to fill one’s mind more than Netflix, gossip or any other noise. “As we grow up from Emerge to young adults, we may feel that prayer is burdensome. Maybe when you were younger, someone traumatised you by telling you that you need to pray 30 minutes a day. That gives a lot of stress! But prayer is really just talking to God! I love talking to my best friend at the end of the day. I would tell God about my day, how people made me feel loved throughout the day.” Sun added that she would share daily with God about her struggles, likening the whole experience of talking to God to a “spiritual shower”.
“After quiet time, your next priority is family commitment,” said Pastor Kong, noting that while his family always encouraged him to carry on with ministry, he knew he still had to be a good father and husband. The third priority is ministry or work, and the pastors encouraged young adults to adjust their lifestyles in order to achieve these priorities.
The pastors also shared some practical tips, like serving in love and getting enough physical rest. “When you’re dealing with people, there will be hurts and offences. You must choose to live in an atmosphere of forgiveness, then you won’t be jaded or cynical,” Pastor Kong advised. “If you don’t get enough rest, you’ll be like a ticking time bomb! When you’re not rested, you will feel angry and depressed. Sleep!”
Sun added that there was nothing wrong taking a season off from serving. If one was on the threshold of burning out, every ministry head would agree that this volunteer must take care of himself first. “Then you can come back with great joy, and then there will be sustainability,” she encouraged.
Some of my cell group members are only coming together for fellowship, and not cell group meetings or service. How do I encourage them to love God again?
“Tell them the good things that are happening in cell group,” said Pastor Kong. “Be positive, loving, encouraging! Never guilt people into coming. Pray for them. Meet their needs. The same four steps that Jesus gives for soul-winning in Luke 10 applies here too. Don’t scold people either. Spend time with them and meet their needs, and only then, preach to them.”
Sun agreed. She said that when spending time with people, she felt it best that it was one on one and face to face. She suggested meeting in a quiet place where they could have an honest heart-to-heart talk. When people did not come for church anymore, it was most likely that they were struggling. “It doesn’t mean that they don’t love God, even when they struggle,” she said.
THE FUTURE IS IN THE HANDS OF YOUNG ADULTS
“A flourishing young adult is someone who knows what God has given to him or her, and wants him or her to do,” Pastor Kong described. “You are totally convinced of preaching the gospel to the world and spreading the vision and City Harvest way of life. This, to me, is a flourishing young adult in City Harvest Church.”
Pastor Kong and Sun closed by emphasising to their audience that the future of CHC is in their hands.
“I feel like we have done our time. In a few years I’m going to retire. It’s your time,” said Pastor Kong. “You can make a difference. God has given you so much: you have a great DNA. We are not a new kid on the block, we are a church that is more than 30 years old. The church of Ephesus was about 30 years old when Paul told Timothy, ‘you have a solid body of truth that’s entrusted to you and you have to guard it well.’ In our 30 years as a church, we have a system of belief, a way of doing things, a ministry style that is very effective, that we should be very grateful to the Lord for. We should protect this, fight for this, live for this.”
Sun added, “You have to know that soon, the baton is going to be passed into your hands. Whatever God is doing in our church today, the future of Christendom, that baton is soon going to be passed to you. Pastor Kong started the church when he was 25. I was 19 when I joined him to build the church. Don’t say to yourself that you are too young, or too old, or too busy. We were very busy. We prioritised. We considered it a great privilege to be used by God, to partner with Him to change the world and to change lives one at a time.
“The future of Christendom in our part of the world is in your hands.”
YOUNG ADULT INTEREST GROUPS
There are certain passions and interests that appeal to the young adults in our church. If you’re a young adult, you can join in activities for any of the eight interest groups next year: Coffee Lovers & Café Hopping, Dog Lovers, Fashion & Make-up, Food Hunt, Fun & Fit, Jogging, Soccer and Volunteerism. Find out more here