In the third of a four-part series celebrating teachers, CHC pastor Lin Junxian shares his experience teaching at the School of Theology.
It all began one day when Pastor Lin Junxian was asked to teach the substitute class for the first lesson of “Getting Started”, a preparatory course at the School of Theology, which recently graduated its 2023 cohort.
“They couldn’t find a teacher that day so they asked if I could do it,” he said. “From one class, I went on to teach the whole course. Then from one course, I taught another course, and then I taught another one. Then I taught other substitute lessons in other courses. I just kept accumulating classes until this year, I became the most involved teacher.”
This year, at CHC’s School of Theology, Pastor Junxian taught most of the courses—a first for him. Modules from “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” to “Homiletics”, “The Cultural Mandate” and “Pentecostalism”, the Bible school students saw him almost on a daily basis.
Those who know Pastor Junxian know that he wears many hats at CHC. Besides leading his own pastoral zone, Pastor Junxian also preaches at the weekend services from time to time. He is also the pastoral oversight for CityWorship and the President of the church’s community services arm, CHCSA.
On top of all that, he is currently studying for a Master of Arts in Theology at Vanguard University. So, why would he add one more thing to his long, long to-do list?
“I felt I could do something important for the next generation through SOT,” he explained. “SOT is very important: it is where we train leaders in every area, whether they are church leaders, praise and worship leaders, or ministry leaders. Even for those who have a desire to do missions, this is their training ground.”
He continues, “We need to pass down the truth that God has deposited into our church. Many people come wanting to learn and to experience this understanding of God that makes us City Harvest Church. Borrowing the words of Pastor Kong, I think it’s important for us to 发扬光大 (share with the world) and pass down the truth to the next generation. This was something I look forward to.”
TEACHING SECOND-GENERATION CHRISTIANS
This year’s batch of students was unique because many of them were second-generation believers, among them children of both local and overseas pastors. Pastor Junxian’s firstborn daughter, Denise was one of them. “I’m really old enough to be the father of many of them, which was a very sobering thought for me,” he says with a laugh.
He observed some interesting traits among this young generation. “In the past, I would mostly see the tops of the students’ heads as they are taking notes. This year, I saw many of them just looking at me when I teach,” he shares. “I don’t think it’s because they’re too lazy to take down notes. They probably learn through watching and listening because they are used to YouTube and TikTok.”
Disciplining this batch of students was also less of a regimental exercise. “It was more leadership by persuasion than direct discipline,” he says. “We had to constantly persuade them to return to class after the break on time, or to observe school rules.”
This new generation was also bolder in asking questions and better at speaking their minds. They were also creative when it came to doing physical arrangement duties. “In the past, we just wanted to get that week over and done with. This year, they would try to outshine each other by dressing up as angels to greet their classmates and offering snacks,” he says, smiling at the memory. “It was a good way of adding colour to the school.”
While this generation may be perceived as self-sufficient and savvy, Pastor Junxian observes that their spiritual needs are not so different from their predecessors. “They are still looking for a spiritual father—somebody who will guide them and model life for them. When I minister to them, I can sense that they need the Fatherhood of God, the love of God. There is a next generation that is rising, and I feel that SOT has a role to play in their spiritual development,” he says.
FINDING JOY IN MEETING STUDENTS’ NEEDS
An SOT lecturer’s job does not end when class is dismissed. It is common to see students gathering at the stage front after lessons, to ask questions about what was just taught. “That’s on an intellectual level. But in class we also have a time for ministry, that is when I get to pray with them and minister to them,” Pastor Junxian explains.
“After class is when all the conversation happens. We might be sitting down in the church lobby or having lunch together. Sometimes I would meet them after service or buy them a meal,” he relates. It is during these times that students would seek his counsel on issues such as relationships or ministry. “Some of them are at crossroads in their lives. Should they be serving God full-time? Should they respond to the call of God despite the fact they are doing well in the marketplace?” he recounts. “This year’s students were very open about their lives.”
A few foreign students felt the call to serve God full-time. Besides praying with them, Pastor Junxian also offered practical advice. “I asked them if they had expressed their desire to their pastors. Many of them were scared that they would be rejected if they asked,” he remembers. He encouraged them to tell their pastors what God had been speaking to them, and since, some who followed his advice were offered full-time positions in their church upon return.
“They were unsure of what to do when they came to SOT and God spoke to them when they were here. Now they are serving God full-time,” he says. “It could also be that their pastors were waiting for God to speak to them.”
He shares the story of that another student who struggled because she had a full-time position waiting for her back in her home church, but she felt that her place was in the marketplace. “I told her, ‘Don’t live for the church, live for Christ. What does Jesus want you to do?’”
The student took some time to pray over her calling and eventually picked up the courage to tell her pastor that she did not want to serve God full-time. Attending SOT gave her the clarity that her calling was in the marketplace.
“I’m saying this because it’s not just about going full-time. It’s about being sure of what God is speaking to you and being obedient,” he said.
As much as Pastor Junxian finds fulfilment in connecting with the students, the number of things he has on his plate is still taxing. Especially so when he himself is a student, attending Vanguard University lectures online early in the morning before teaching in SOT. “There were moments where I’d listen in to my lecturers on Zoom as I was driving to church. The moment my class ended, I would step up on stage and teach,” he shares.
“Once, I came back from a mission trip on a Monday and we had an overnight prayer meeting on Tuesday. The prayer meeting ended at 5am and I had to do a class presentation at 6.30 am!” he recounts. “That one was difficult. I remember saying to myself, ‘Why am I doing this? What was I thinking?’”
Even though things sometimes got overwhelming, Pastor Junxian relied and continues to rely on the grace of God. “All that we do, it’s really through a grace that God gives to us. We used to pray to have the opportunity to serve God and I’m now living in the fulfilment of that prayer. I’m just very thankful that God has chosen us to do this.”
The most rewarding thing for Pastor Junxian at SOT was to see his students grow in God. “Their understanding of God strengthened, and their spiritual life grew. We taught them to pray at SOT and many of them took another step forward in their prayer life. At the same time, we saw them building relationships with one another. My daughter was at the airport almost every day after graduation, sending her classmates off. I think they have a Zoom meeting to catch up with their classmates from various countries every week—it’s still happening today,” he says.
He adds, “I think we have helped them to build a community of faith, which is something very precious.”