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Ride Out the Storm to Carry the Holistic Mission forward

Writer: Ness Ma (Communications officer)

When churches start new projects, they often face many challenges regarding resources, manpower, and knowledge, which can be inevitably overwhelming. C&MA Living Stones Church (hereinafter referred to as Living Stones Church) encountered the same when establishing Queen’s Hill Service Station. Over the past year, CEDAR has worked with Living Stones Church to share experiences, and provide mentorship and financial support so that the service station could work well. In an interview earlier, they summarised the unforgettable experience and outcomes.

Living Stones Church shared that initially, not all the church members agreed on opening a new service centre. The argument is based on a lack of manpower, insufficient funds and resources. Moreover, they are not familiar with the needs of the residents in the area. The church was more concerned that the congregation would become polarised rather than being encouraged in a way that those for the centre would become active in the service. In contrast, those against would remain in the inner circle of church life. There is just a fine line between mobilising the people and differentiating them.

Participants are receiving SALT training

In addition to insufficient resources, members’ mentality is also in consideration; Living Stones Church values evangelism, and its members tend to share the gospel on the first couple of visits. However, they discovered after the visits that some recipients would no longer come and get their meals from the centre, attend the activities or even never come back to the centre. The church staff realised they might have used the wrong approach or lacked understanding of the audience.

When Living Stones Church encountered these problems, CEDAR walked with them to explore a partnership. After a thorough discussion, they agreed to carry out the ‘Building Holistic Mission Church’ project together. To motivate the church members to participate in volunteering actively, CEDAR has been giving sermons, providing Bible studies and organising community prayers to help members understand the relationship between integral mission and community service. CEDAR also provided HK$100,000 as funding support.

Living Stones Church ministries shared during the interview that they found the training by CEDAR very useful because the teaching of the integral mission is relevant to the need of the church. Although the concept of integral mission is not new to them, the topic was never considered a mainstream guidance. After the second training, the church members understood that the integral mission is the mission God entrusted to the Church and that evangelism is not the sole task of the Church. They put aside the idea of preaching the gospel in a hurry but switched to CEDAR’s recommended visit approach (the SALT method). They tried to listen more to each other or facilitate everyone to express themselves more. From an initial lack of understanding and failure to build a rapport, the members can now guide the respondents to ask questions and even discuss their faith proactively during the visit.

Another noticeable change is that the church members care more about the church’s work. Initially, they were not very willing to participate in the ministry, did not pay attention to the service centre’s needs and did not offer much money. After CEDAR’s staff preached at the church and shared the theme ‘Missional Church’, the members are now more concerned about the service centre than before and pray for related needs. As a result, the number of participants has increased. Some fellowships even took the initiative to distribute leaflets in Queen’s Hill Estate and get to know the community. A church sister actively explored how to use her consumption voucher to help the poor, and some others brought supermarket gift certificates to support the centre. All these are the things that move the church’s staff.

‘Evangelism is not only preaching the gospel but without practices and actions in their lives,’ the church’s staff shared.

Living Stones Church also shared that it is difficult enough for individual believers to combine preaching and action in their faith. It is even more difficult for the whole church to achieve the goal together. But thanks to the Lord, CEDAR has had the opportunity to walk with Living Stones Church, pass on knowledge and experiences, give a tiny amount of money, and witness their transformation. We hope that more churches will become like Living Stones Church, preaching the gospel and serving the underprivileged with actions and bringing people to the Lord.