With the mission to serve the grassroots and to transform the community, Jubilee Ministries Hong Kong recently shared the method on how to become an influential community church. Dr. Agnes Liu, who has founded numerous ministries that are dedicated to serving those in the grassroots levels, pointed out that many churches turn a blind eye to what’s going on in their surrounding community, only thinking about how to take advantage of the situation, and lacks any kind of sense of responsibility.
Liu said that if the residents in a community lack a community identity, rarely communicate with other residents, and have difficulties acquiring resources beyond the community, then the community can easily collapse in self-isolation, resulting in serious issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, youth drug abuse, rise in suicide rates, etc. In Hong Kong, “Sad City” Tin Shui Wai is an example where many family tragedies have occurred repeatedly, and another city Tung Chung also faces this crisis.
Meanwhile, Liu said that the church can take on the role of making repairs - besides giving people spiritual comfort, providing fellowship gathers people together, which help them regain a sense of belonging to the community. Unfortunately, many churches do not carry the burden for the welfare of the community, meaning they are not acting as the salt and light of the community. They turn a blind eye and do not respond to big events in the community. In late November last year, there was a fire in Mong Kok on Fa Yuen Street, but only a few churches in Mong Kok and the Anglican churches responded.
Into the community, Using all means to preach the gospel
Jesus is the incarnate of word in flesh and lives among the crowd, showing the riches of His grace and truth. Many years ago, the churches in Hong Kong had been keen in becoming a community-centered church through setting up community centers, said Liu, but because of problems with finance, manpower, and will, they dwindled between stagnation and progress. She suggested the churches to follow Jesus’ model, change the mission and self-image, stop marching in place through holding events, festivities, but wisely make use of church manpower to build a man to man relationship with the community, mobilizing believers to go out and serve the community, such as baby-sitting for neighbors, fixing computer problems, repairing household appliances. These are all examples of going into the world.
In addition, communities can become strongholds of the gospel. Liu encourages the church to mobilize believers to establish businesses, such as restaurants, markets, stalls, newsstands, shops, etc., or seek for employment in the community, such as work in sports fitness centers, parks, playgrounds, McDonalds and change those places into gospel bases. These are examples of what it means to take full advantage of all opportunities to craft a truly authentic community church.
Empowered grassroots believers can also make an impact for the gospel
Actualizing this kind of community church will inevitably require a lot of manpower, so how can the churches mobilize and unite their congregations to transform their communities? Jubilee Ministries Hong Kong grassroots ministries director Ding said that in order for a community to be transformed, the believers’ lives should be the first to be transformed. Churches should lower the threshold for ministries, allowing grassroots believers to be able to participate in a variety of ministries. Not only would they be able to discover their own spiritual gifts and find suitable ministry positions, their self-confidence and sense of competence would also increase. As for believers who are in poverty, churches should assist in solving their basic living problems in order that they can have confidence and energy to participate in the community ministries.
Jubilee HK interviewed Kwun Tong Yan-Oi Church on the process of actualizing the concept of community church through ten years of step by step practice. Yan-Oi Church mobilized the entire congregation, including seniors, middle-aged, and youths, to serve. Each of their small groups adopted a street or a building to pray for the residents there. After years of hard work, many buildings that had originally barred them from entering have opened their gates and welcomed them to enter and to share the gospel within, which led to many converts and the church winning over many residents for the Lord.
Yan-Oi church also offered free tutoring on Sunday morning, giving children the opportunity to enter a church. Afterwards, they would teach the word of God to the children. Some women after learning God’s word learned to get rid of their bitterness and to pray for their family members, resulting in transforming relationships between the spouses and the family members. Moreover, young working professionals would visit families after work, deliver food to families with need during special holidays, and even the seniors will pay visits to senior homes to visit other seniors. The mobilization of the entire church has brought many blessings to the entire community.
Rev. Tsang, senior pastor of Yan-Oi Church, said that a church needs to transform according to the changes in the generation and society rather than sticking to the same methods that has been used according to experience and practice, and learn through practice, and ask God for his will and method. She said that only when the pastor’s own life is transformed and enter into God’s will can the believers in the church be transformed; when the church transforms, then can the community be transformed.
[Editor's note: reporter Joshua Cheng translated the article.]