The Evangelical Formosan Church of Berkeley held a retreat this weekend on July 15-16. The retreat theme was “Finding the Path of Life,” a two-day lecture by Rev. Susan Chou, the senior pastor of EFC of Orange County, that guides the listeners to search for the very source of life and the calling of God. About 80 people attended the retreat daily.
The retreat was a mainstay for EFC of Berkeley to help the congregants to build visions in their lives. Rev. Xu Min Zheng of EFC said that the retreats are essential for the church each year to help congregants find their path to God’s service once again, as well as leading non-believers to the Lord.
This year at the retreat, Rev. Xu said, a vision was given to the Berkeley congregation to build a fellowship for youth believers. He said that the church members realized how there are very few ministries that serve those who are in their teens. Their vision is to hold worships through their Christian ministry to encourage young people to serve the Lord and to found a fellowship among themselves in EFC. The church plans to hold a meeting around August to discuss details for constructing the fellowship.
The concern is not EFC’s alone, but among the majority of Chinese churches in San Francisco Bay Areas, the development of youth ministry is a growing priority among the elderly-dominant congregations.
The one church that experienced unexpected success over the years with their youth ministry was Chinese Sunset Baptist Church in San Francisco (CSBC), led by Rev. Jeff Louis. Since his arrival to San Francisco, he has transformed the youth ministries of CSBC into the main service of the church with 300 plus youth congregants each week. Earlier this year, Rev. Louis told The Gospel Post that the contribution of his success has primarily to do with his appeal to youths in his preaching and his struggle to build the English ministry for non-Chinese speaking Chinese Americans within the Sunset District.
Among others, Cumberland Presbyterian Chinese Church of San Francisco (CPCC), the largest church in the SF Chinatown with six worshipping congregants, holds weekly fellowship every Friday and Saturday that attracts youths each week. The expanding Youth congregation is among the primary evangelistic force that draws the younger generation to church in the heart of Chinatown and the surrounding areas of San Francisco.
Other churches around the San Francisco Bay Area are beginning to place the future of youths as utmost importance in their agenda as youth programs and activities are among the most widely publicized in church.
Rev. Xu referred to a story mentioned during Rev. Chou’s sermon about a young man who did not do well in school, yet his life was transformed when a coach entered his life and helped him on his feet. Rev. Xu said that the congregation felt that they could play a role in the turning points of youths today and lead their paths to Christ.