Pastoral Perspectives

The Fellowship of the Post-Pandas

After the Covid pandemic, many people are still wary of going to crowded places like shopping malls, food courts or taking public transport. Some are even wary of attending worship services. We know of people who have stopped attending churches altogether. In a place like Singapore, we live in close proximity with each other. How do we share and do community life in this time and age?

On a more personal level, when you come to church on Sundays, do you feel like you belong to this community? Or do you feel like what the lyric of the old song The Great Pretender* says:

I’m the great pretender
Pretending that I’m doing well
My need is such, I pretend too much
I’m lonely, but no one can tell
* (written by Buck Rum)

It is true that there is no perfect church in this side of heaven. And there are definitely lonely people who do not feel belonged to the community of True Way Presbyterian Church – English Congregation. Some have shared that they have been around for decades but could never make it to the fellowship of the already existing small cliques. Some are just different and perhaps even difficult to explain. What is it that makes people want to stay or even move away?

Every church has its own share of problems and needs but can a church be one where God’s presence is felt, and true community take place? If Christ has promised to build the church, wouldn’t He empower and show us how? How did Christ build the first church and what did they do? 



The early church described in Acts 2:42-47 says:

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Immediately after the Pentecost, Luke describes what was taking place among the new believers. This was unlike any other thing that has happened before. We find some astounding things taking place and it gives us fresh insights as to how Christ started the church in the first place. After the ascension of Jesus, about 3,000 people who were gathered in Jerusalem experienced the Pentecost, the power of the promised Holy Spirit at work in their lives and a new community- that’s how the church was born!



To describe the event in a nutshell, they were Loving God and Making Disciples. Does that ring a bell? Yes, that is the motto of our church. Our motto is lifted from the scripture and therefore, it contains the features or DNA of what makes the church, a church.

The ingredients of a Christian community therefore have the following:

LOVING GOD:

  1. Firstly, they all loved God. They were united in their love for God. Unity is the first step to building any community. They shared a common love for God and it showed in their willingness to listen to the Word of God through the appointed apostles who were now the new leaders of the church. In other words, they were listening to the preaching of God’s word.
  2. Secondly, as part of showing their love for God, they were worshipping God together through prayer and sacraments: breaking bread together during their fellowship. They were drawn together to spend time worshipping the God they all love.

This new community consisted of Jews from different parts of the world who came to Jerusalem. There were men and women. There were young and old. There were learned and ordinary people. A new community of faith including ‘others’ was born. As they showed their devotion to God in setting the priorities right and in its proper order, God continued to work in their midst causing the community to grow. They were making disciples at the same time.

MAKING DISCIPLES:

  1. Their lives immediately reflected the love of God through their acts of caring for others. They were sharing their possessions for the needy ones. This first century caring for others was not something that was forced upon them. It sprang from their devotion to God organically. The church had no need to appeal for help to care for the needy ones.
  2. They immediately found favour in the eyes of God and others. God added to their numbers and the church grew from then on. The new community embraced others. Scholars believe they welcomed people at the table while they were having meals and thus others could feel their love for others.

From the description of the early believers, it is evident that there were both rich and poor people. The haves shared with the have-nots. It is one thing to preach and share the gospel but if it is not followed by our acts of love as shown in the lives of the new believers, others will not believe the loving God we profess to worship. It is no wonder that Jesus prayed for unity before he went to the cross. The Holy Spirit empowers us to love God and others. We can do so only if we share the same Spirit in Christ.

In many parts of the world, there is a great concern for church growth, and it is often tempting to follow the ways of the world to reach out to others. We are often afraid of offending others with our way of worshipping or preaching. But the church has survived for centuries through wars, famines, natural disasters, pandemics and even civilizations. God’s word does not change. Methods may change but the principle remains the same. The early church believers had a common fear – fear of the Lord which was enough to revolutionize the world. If we fear God, we need not fear others.


It is interesting to note that in a survey* done among churches after the pandemic, a pull factor among young adults is “Biblical Preaching and Teaching Ministry”. In other words, it is back to apostolic teaching of the Word of God. Nothing has changed since Christ established the church centuries ago. The other pull factor is “Deep Relationships.” Again, this should not surprise us because this is the DNA of the church of Christ. It is back to sharing lives together. If we do not share our lives with others, we will not know the needs of others. (https://saltandlight.sg/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/STATE-OF-THE-CHURCH-IN-SINGAPORE-2023.pdf)

At this juncture, let us ask ourselves if we are truly a community of faith that we often sing about. Do we truly love God, so much so that we are earnestly waiting to hear the preaching of God’s word week after week? Are we participating in the sharing of the Lord’s Supper as a family of God? Are we sharing our lives, possessions with others who are in need? Do we care that there are needy people in our midst? Are we embracing others at our tables- homes, DGs and other fellowships? If yes, may the Lord add to our numbers. If not, may God have mercy and help us set our priorities right. 



If we are to be a Community of Christ, we must continue to worship God; by listening to His Word being preached faithfully and sharing our lives together through prayer and caring for the needy as ‘we shall around His throne’. If we are faithful in doing these things, God will add to our numbers. The account of the early church teaches us that evangelism happens when we are united in our love for God and worship Him first.

Let us pay heed to what God told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 18:9 “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.” Let us not follow the abominable ways of the world but go back to the basics for, if we Love God, He will use us to Make Disciples.