At the final Young Adult Service of the year, CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee and his wife Sun gave candid answers to some tough questions posed by the congregation.
How can one love God unreservedly? What does it take to serve God full-time? Pastor Kong says he is passing the baton to the next generation, what does that really mean?
These questions and more were asked by the congregation at the Young Adult service held on Friday night, 11 November.
The questions focused heavily on the rite of passage experienced by those who have “graduated” from Emerge, CHC’s youth movement. This demographic have now entered the working world and some are starting families. On top of navigating these transitions, they also have to manage their spiritual lives. The aim of the YA service is to see them through this daunting season of their lives.
The senior pastor of City Harvest Church, Kong Hee, and his wife Sun took to the stage to address such heartfelt issues raised by the young adults of the church.
How do I love God fully, totally, and unreservedly in a culture where money and earthly pleasures are idolised? Is it possible to be rich and successful, but not get into the love for money?
In the Bible, there is no rule mentioning that Christians are not allowed to become rich. On the contrary, Jesus says that they are to be above and not beneath. Yet the danger of obtaining immense wealth is that the wealth that has been blessed upon the believer may become their idol, just like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 who was unwilling to separate himself from his wealth.
Pastor Kong began by sharing that love naturally does two things—it elevates and trusts. Hence, when someone loves God, He becomes their priority.
“God is your focus. You don’t want to have an action or any attitude that replaces or grieves Him,” Pastor Kong explained, going on to state that loving God means trusting in Him. Just as Jesus says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, what you eat, or what you wear”, a believer who trusts God for all these things places importance on Him.
“In the same way, if you love money, you will naturally elevate the importance of money,” Pastor Kong continued. “You will put your trust in your career, in your assets, and in your investments. They will become your priority and your all-consuming focus. I can say the same thing for earthly pleasures.”
While God is not against money or pleasure, the pastor warned against falling into the temptation of pursuing worldly success and becoming so busy that they lose their fire for God.
To encourage the young adults, he told them about Dr Ken Eldred, the co-founder, and CEO of the Living Stones Foundation. A billionaire, Dr Eldred believes strongly in the spiritual discipline of tithing. He told Pastor Kong in a recent conversation that “If you can’t even tithe $100 when you have $1,000, why would you give $10,000 when God blesses you with $100,000? And do you honestly think that God would trust you to tithe $1,000,000 when He blesses you with $10,000,000?”
Pastor Sun added that God is focused on obedience rather than the amount. “We must start by being faithful to God in the little things,” she says. She also told the young adults that every offering and tithe is part of a believer’s worship.
She told the how her own mother watches CHC services online every week because her father was not mobile. Every time Sun visits her, she would give her an amount of money and ask her to give an offering on her behalf. “It touched me so much that my mom understands that giving to the Lord is not tipping God,” Sun shares. She explained that her mom does not have income except for the allowance her children give her, yet she always gives an amount she had prayed through. She reminded the church that the attitude in which one gives to God is important, every amount must be given in gratitude and in complete obedience to Him.
“By doing that, you guard your heart against idolising success and money.” Pastor Kong added.
How do we tell apart what is our calling from God and what is from our own desire to serve God? How do I know if God really called me to serve in full-time ministry or in the marketplace?
A call to serve God full-time in the church may well be one of the most important decisions one can make. Pastor Kong tells the young adults present that they must have a very clear calling from God before making the decision to serve Him full-time.
“When that calling comes, often you will have Scripture as a rhema to back it up. And there is an overwhelming desire to want to obey—you just can’t shake the desire away. You try to push it, you tried to not think about it, but this desire, it just will not go away. It keeps coming back. Coming back and also you will have the support of spiritual leaders that you respect.”
Pastor Kong then shared his personal encounter with God about serving full-time, “My calling came at the end of my first year in NUS. One day I was sitting in a bus, and I had an encounter with the Lord. Jesus asked me a question, ‘Kong, do you love me? More than all that the world can offer you.’ I said yes. And the Lord said, ‘You will give your whole life to serve me and to look after my sheep.’”
Sun also shared that she had the desire to serve in full-time ministry when she was still studying. At one point, her father wanted to send her overseas to a university to study. While Sun felt honored by that offer, she also felt conflicted as she was at a period where she was serving fervently in church.
She recounted the experience she had with her best friend Lillian Cher, now a City Harvest Church Board member, “The two of us, you know, we went to a chalet and we told each other that we were going to be there for three days. We’re going to pray. We’re going to fast. We’re going to pray to God and ask God what the next phase of our lives is.”
During those three days, they made sure they did not share any thoughts on the matter with each other. Upon walking out of the chalet on the last day, Sun felt clearly in her heart that God told her to serve Him.
“Serving God full time is a very serious decision,” Pastor Kong went on. “And let me tell you, there’s nothing glamorous about full-time ministry. If you want to serve God this way, you must be prepared. You will probably never earn like any other graduates; you will see your friends climbing up the corporate ladder of success. And you may not even afford a house or a car like this. Your kids may one day come to you and say, ‘Dad, why don’t we have what other kids have? Why is our family not like other normal families?’”
He adds, “If you want to serve in full-time ministry, you must be prepared to suffer for the gospel. And be despised for your faith and mocked for the vision that God has given to you. And you live with this assurance that one day you will be fully rewarded in eternity. That is the only assurance. Only if you can live with that should you even consider full-time ministry.”
Having spent the last 36 years in full-time ministry, Pastor Kong shared that it is possibly the hardest thing to do. “But God will give you the grace for it,” Pastor Kong shared. “For sure, there are a lot of sufferings and hardships and disappointments. But I will never regret the day I said yes to Jesus. Because the joy of walking in the center of His will every day surpasses all the pains and disappointment of this life.”
While full-time ministry offers no promises of bonuses, pay raises, and promotions, Pastor Kong reminds the members that they have the assurance that God will always meet their needs.
“During the last young adult meeting, Pastor Kong and Sun talked about passing on the baton to us. What do you mean by that, and what should we do now?”
This was something Sun said at the end of the 23 Sep service, that the baton of church leadership would be passed on to the young adults of the church.
Sun shared that CHC has had the privilege of living under an open heaven: it has experienced having hundreds of people respond to altar calls as well as miracles and healings. All these things are not to be taken granted for, she emphasised, adding that it is up to the young adults of CHC to keep on carrying this anointing.
“It is very easy to think that there are always leaders in front of me to take care of things,” Sun said. “The day will come when Pastor and I will retire. And one day Pastor Bob, Pastor Aries, and the rest of the pastors will also not be around. What will happen to the church in the next generation? Will City Harvest Church still have that wide open heaven over us?”
Pastor Kong said that another senior pastor recently said to him that a leader must have the “shoulder”. “You must be able to shoulder the vision and purpose that God has for the church,” he elaborated. “The challenge here is this: you don’t grow a shoulder only when you become the leader. You develop it way before that by faith, by taking responsibility for the purpose of God for the house.”
Pastor Kong likened it to King David, whose “shoulders” did not develop only when he became king. He was developing them when he was looking after sheep, dealing with the lion and the bear, and learning to take responsibility in his father’s house. As his shoulders got broader and stronger, he began to take on more responsibility for his kingdom.
Sun encouraged the young adults to start taking responsibility for the house of God simply by asking the Lord to use them, and by becoming serious with God. “Are we serious in wanting to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit? To want to be more like Jesus?” she asked. “Are we really serious about walking in our calling and helping others around us walk in their calling from God?”
She gave the example of a group of volunteers who offered to help when the church needed a ticketing system to resume service on-site. Not only did these volunteers have to wake up early on Saturday mornings to monitor the ticketing system, they also had to answer many tough questions from the users. “Why did they do that?” Sun asked. “They did that because they wanted to help every member who desired to come to church for service.”
While taking responsibility sounds like a lot of work, those who want the baton will see it as a privilege. “It sounds like a destiny, a purpose, a calling. If you really want the baton, you must enjoy responsibility,” Pastor Kong said. “The baton will come with sacrifice, and for some, it will cost you a lot. There may be pain, there may be suffering. But in Acts 14, the early disciples were not easily shaken. They considered hardships for the kingdom a high privilege.”
Before the service ended, Pastor Kong and Sun asked the young adults if they would once again make that choice to fully follow God and serve His house. This was the same question that the pastors had asked years ago when these same young adults were still youths attending Emerge conferences. However, the question holds much greater weight now that they have grown up and have more responsibilities in life. Will the young adults of City Harvest Church still make the same choice once more to shoulder the calling and destiny God has for the church and its people?
In answer to the call, thousands of young adults flocked to the altar. Many had tears in their eyes as they reaffirmed their decision to carry the vision and serve in the house of God.