About two months ago, a few of us attended a Community Pastoring (CP) Seminar organized by Living Sanctuary Brethen Church (LSBC). LSBC defined CP simply as a strategy for positioning the church in the community for effective evangelism. Their objectives and strategy for CP are quite similar to those we seek to achieve through our Neighbourhood Visitation (NV) initiative. The main difference is in the application. LSBC has identified engaging the community as one of the four essentials for every of its members in their character transforming discipleship journey. The success of CP is the result of its intentionality and focus on principles, processes and practices developed to support this continual effort.
One principle called “Chariot Principle” derived from Acts 8:26-40, lays down the important steps for positioning before evangelizing, organized neatly in five “Gets”.
Allow me to share briefly below:
Get Up: Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise …” (Acts 8:26a)
The first step is a volitional step, and has to do with our will and decision in relation to God’s command. Philip was asked to get up, rise and get going, and he obeyed. It is clear that God has compassion on the poor and needy (Matt 9:35-38) and Jesus has beckoned us to love as He has loved (John 15:12). To fulfil Jesus’ commission, our members must be intentional in our NV effort and move with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Get Out: “and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. (Acts 8.26b)
So Philip was asked to get out into the desert place, not a comfortable place. Going out to the HDB community to knock on doors to do NV is not appealing to many. However, the HDB dwellers are where we find the poor and needy. Like Phillip we have to get out of our comfort zone if we want to reach out to them. We have been reminded many times that our church is placed in the community to bless the community. We cannot just sit and expect the community to walk in. In this age of internet and smart devices, people are ironically getting more isolated and there is more need for us to get out to them.
Get Near: And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him…” (Acts 8:29-30a)
We need to get near to the people, close enough, to perceive their inner needs. We need to engage and befriend them in a relax and non-threatening way. Make effort to know them and make repeat visits. We must not differentiate but treat the people equally regardless of race or religious affiliation. We find reasons to talk and listen to them to get close, blessing them with deed of kindness and gifts during festivities like CNY and Mooncake Festival. Think of our LEAP initiative. The poor and needy will not resist blessings, but ask their permission to pray for them before doing so.
Get In: and he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:31b)
The objective of door knocking is to get invited into homes, as it is in a house that we may strike a meaningful conversation and to build trust and friendship. Be prepared to spend time to talk to our neighbours. Not all residents will be receptive to our visitation, and there is spiritual warfare. Pray to the Lord, and He will help us to break down barriers as we persevere, sharing authentic love and care.
Get On: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:35)
We get on with sharing the Good News only when the Holy Spirit prompts. Learn to be discerning on the right time to do so. Not all visitations will result in sharing of the Gospel. Our passion to plant and water the seed are what matter to God. It is up to God to convert.
The “Chariot Principle” is just one principle, but it puts in perspective the importance and intentionality of the positioning before evangelism effort we are doing through NV. Let’s pray for more workers to share the Lord’s compassion ministry through NV.
By Lum Weng Kiong (YCKC Bulletin 14&15 July 2018)