Pastoral Perspectives

Because We Believe God

Since today is DG Sunday, it is proper for us to encourage and honour those who serve as Discipleship Group Leaders (DGLs). When we look at Scriptures, we are reminded that to be serving as a leader in a church is a privilege, whether it is as an elected office-bearer or a trained DGL. In addition, we recognise that the responsibility of shepherding God’s flock is a high calling (1 Tim 5:17-20, 1 Thess 5:12-13). Given that God’s people are to obey the Great Commandment (Matt 22:37-39) and carry out the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20), we are mindful that the role of a DGL is not one to be taken lightly.

As followers of Christ, we need to understand that the forming of DGs is more than just an organisational strategy. Our church is not merely advocating for DGs so that we can carry out pastoral care, impart Bible knowledge, organise fellowship and outreach activities, etc in a more structured manner. Ultimately, it is about how we seek to do God’s will and how God can be glorified through us as a faith community. And what a joy that as DGLs, we get to witness first-hand how God is working in and through our lives together as a DG and bringing glory to Himself as we are being built up in Christ (Eph 2:11-13, Col 2:6-7).

Unfortunately, some Christians tend to adopt the mindset of cost and benefit in everything that they do. Thus, when they deem the cost of being involved in a DG to outweigh the benefits, they will come up with reasons to avoid belonging to one.

To some extent, this is understandable. After all, one does not need to be in a DG to have your needs met. If you already have some Christian friends, you can turn to them for prayer and support. Likewise, if we only want to gain Bible knowledge, there are more gifted and engaging teachers of the Word than some of our DGLs, whose strengths lie elsewhere. Moreover, if one is feeling overwhelmed by various commitments, the last thing one wants is to add another few more hours into his schedule.

That is why I say that for everyone who is committed to a DG, we are invariably demonstrating faith in God. Firstly, we are putting our trust in the sufficiency and transforming power of God’s grace and love. We believe that even though it will require us to come out of our comfort zone to know new people or to bear with people’s idiosyncrasies, God is moulding us to become more loving disciples who are growing into the likeness of His Son. We believe that through God’s unfailing love, we will overcome whatever awkwardness or occasional tensions while building relationships. In addition, we learn that Jesus has solemnly instructed us against behaving like pagans who only love those who love them or are of “their kind” (Matt 5:43-48).

Secondly, we believe God’s Word teaches us that the Church is the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-31). Every member in the body should have an interest in how the whole body continues to function healthily. Furthermore, we believe God has called us to work out our salvation (Phil 2:12-13) and that this is best done through the loving and authentic sharing of lives together as a faith community. Unless the individual or household is healthily connected to the body, we are missing out on God’s primary way of sanctifying us and bringing about spiritual growth.

To be sure, there may be seasons in our lives (eg. being the sole care-giver, adjusting to parenthood, etc) where it will be difficult to be as involved as we would like to. But apart from such situations, believers should be intentional about being connected to a DG or be willing to come under the pastoral oversight of a church leader. Far too often, we have seen that believers who do not cultivate the habit of meeting regularly with other believers do not just stagnate in their spiritual lives; they are likely to be in decline and become spiritually unfruitful.

Finally, we believe God is our strength (Ps 28:7) and that His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). Despite life’s challenges, we thank God that He refreshes us and renews our strength whenever we meet together as a DG. Indeed, we believe there is no better place to be than wherever God’s presence is. And as we faithfully make disciples of all nations, we believe God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us (Eph 3:20-21), enabling us to be a blessing unto others, to the glory of His name!

Rev Edwin Wong

March 1, 2015