Partnerships that Grow the Body of Christ (GS letter July 2021)
For this month, I wish to mention two partnerships that help us continue the flourishing of student and graduate work in the complex world of today.
The first partnership was with Rev. Dr Tan Soo Inn from Graceworks. With Soo Inn’s experience in pastoral care and mediation, we developed and conducted a micro-course in Conflict Resolution over the school holidays for our CF student leaders. We spent some weeks in June filming 10-minute lectures by Soo Inn. This was then followed by two workshops on 3 and 24 July, one focused on working style conflicts for Exco leaders, and another on theological conflicts for small group leaders. The whole course sprung from the desire to “speak the truth in love” from Ephesians 4:15–16:
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Developing this micro-course was in itself an experiment for FES. As part of our emphasis on leadership development, we tried to impart skills associated with conflict resolution such as empathetic listening, role-playing, and prioritising supraordinate goals. We also utilised some digital concepts like microlearning, active participation, and flipped classrooms to design a rudimentary form of blended learning and ministry.
Another partnership is with the Evangelical Alliance of Singapore (EAS) and the Bible Society of Singapore. Together with GCF, we co-organised Census 2020, Religions and Youth: Parsing the Trends, Pondering the Future. This is a two-part forum to respond to the recent release of the Singapore Census 2020, focusing on what it shows about religion. One of the concerns from this census is the drop in the number of residents, between 2010 to 2020, who profess Christianity and who hold diplomas and university degrees. Another concern is the rising number of residents who hold no religious affiliation. The first forum was on 19 July where our esteemed panellists Dr Mathew Mathews, Melissa Kwee, and Rev. Dr David Wong shared their thoughts on how the church should respond to the census. They also provided questions and scenarios to reimagine the future of the church in Singapore for the sake of the youths.
The second forum is coming up on 7 August at 11:00 a.m. This forum will be led by a panel of youths and young adults who will share their views of the Census and offer insight into their generation’s view of Christianity today. Wei Hao is the project lead of the Generations Project from Graceworks that seeks to bridge the intergenerational divide in Singapore churches. Jun Bo is an educator from Parables@Work and will share his perspectives from the Chinese church. Thelma, the current vice-chairperson of the NUS Varsity Christian Fellowship, will share her views as a university student leader. And Sean, a student from Temasek Polytechnic, will give his perspective as a youth and ministry leader. You can still sign up for the Forum at: bible.org.sg/census2020.
Please pray for this upcoming Forum as our students and graduates take the virtual stage to share their thoughts. Pray for boldness, courage, and wisdom, not only for the panellists as they prepare now and share on that day, but for the reinvigoration of the church as a whole in these times of pandemic, struggles, and distrust everywhere.
Many of the students and staff continue to struggle with the everyday planning and running of ministries under continued restrictions. We recognise the complexity of the task ahead as we are faced with issues of digital transitions, mental health and wellbeing, lack of job opportunities for graduates, and even intergenerational differences. In this complex world, we are exploring partnerships to continue the flourishing of student and graduate work. Pray for meaningful and blessed partnerships where every part of the body truly promotes the growth of each other under the lordship of Christ.