Frustration of Faithfulness

I kind of just bumped into this sermon from Elevation Church.

Paul was frustrated. Many pastors are frustrated. My dad was very frustrated. I am frustrated.

Often time we try to run away from frustration. We don’t get frustration if we don’t fight in our faith. Frustration is that “thorn” that bothers us like how it bothered Paul.

That frustration may help us focus, identify the problem, make changes.

Men and Women Leadership for Young Adults

When I look at the leadership at my age group, I just kind of sigh. It’s not pretty.

I am not sure if it’s just the churches I go to, but it seems women play big roles.

I have a lot of young women becoming small group leaders and being in charge of ministries at church and I don’t think they are there yet. I am not against female being in charge but I see a trend where a lot more women are in leadership roles than men. I see another problem where some of them are not really mature enough, not there yet, to take these leadership roles. Putting them there gives them a false idea about how ready they are.

I can see several logical reasons why women are taking more leadership roles at church. Men, especially young professional men, are more focused on their work/career than serving at church. Traditionally, a man proves his worth with his earnings and career.

I find that women are more industrious when it comes to serving at church. They are also more obedient to church leadership. Men are more independent. They are more pone to having their own ideas and going their own ways. There is also the difference that women are more social beings than men in general and are better at organizing events and fostering relationships.

I find that young women are in a lot of ways, more mature than young men their age these days. It is especially true in Hong Kong and it seems that many young women at church are more educated than the young men at church. I think it has to do with the education system in Hong Kong and also I wonder if the church is failing to attracts more young professional men. Women are more organized, reliable than men in general. Women are also more sensitive and and have better sense of what other needs (more nurturing) and what people are thinking. They can have blindsides too (everyone has) but women seem to be better at being civil, not offending others, keeping a nice outward appearance and keeping it to themselves. Men are often more opinionated.

But I am not sure if that’s more of the problem of young men at church these days who seem to act a lot like big, old boys. We have a term now, “kidult.” It is used to describe adults who still act like kids, think and behave like kids. I have part of that in me too and it can be unleashed at the right moment. Young women are more controlled. It makes women look more matured.

We all know that girls mature earlier. They can concentrate for longer, sit for longer, more sensible than guys and in early high school, usually perform better than boys academically. Guys catch up late high school and in college/university level. It takes longer for men to develop.

Yet, I also see how church is not attracting the mature men. I am not seeing a lot of mature young men serving at church. It’s hard to find any exceptional and intelligent godly young men. There are many smart men out there but they are not at church. They are working hard somewhere. And I can understand that to a logical, practical and successful, goal and success orientated men, church is a bad investment of their time.

Being who they are, they can go to church, go to service, listen to sermon, go to Sunday school even but that’s kind of all they need. They don’t want to be getting too involved in church because it is time consuming, difficult and complicated. At their work place or company, they can be very effective, church is a different place. It’s not boss say this and we all follow.

At my old church, we do have an exceptional, intelligent, charismatic Christian leader at church. He was a decaon and an active member of church and a good friend of the pastor. However, one day, a missionary and his old friend asked if he would take over his missionary organization. He said yes. And he’s doing great work but the church needed someone like him so much, yet he himself knows that he will be a more effective person leading a Christian organization than going through all the mess and personalities at church. It’s tough at church because you have deal with a lot of personalities who don’t really have to follow the leadership. There was also the complicated relationship web, it takes a lot of work and convincing to advance.

Despite the overwhelmingly female domination at the lower leadership level, all in all, the senior leadership in church is more half and half with slightly more men and women. It seems to me that men, in general, takes longer to mature. But men usually has one thing that women lack. Men, those in leadership, have grander visions. Women often seem to be more detail-orientated.

Women are great at tackling numerous things, logistics all at once. Women in Hong Kong generally are less pronouncing. Men are more willing and are more pronounce about confronting issues and addressing issues or problems.

In all this, I can see God’s design in the characteristics of men and women.

However, I am still worried about Christian men. There just seems to be a void, especially in Hong Kong. I don’t think it is as bad overseas from my experience.

I think it has a lot to do with the education system, culture and the work environment here. And I must say that women with the communication skills and better social sense have the advantage in the 21st century over the men in this fast-changing economy/society.

With the high cost of living and housing in Hong Kong, men has tremendous pressure to provide and they would put more time and energy to advance their career than be involved in church because church does take time, energy, sweat, heart and the whole nine yard.

Hong Kong education is a one-size-fit-all system that gives the slight advantage to girls because it is not activity-based. It doesn’t encourage and take account into the stronger motor skills and other areas which boys are more developed in than girls. Girls are naturally better at presentation, speaking and communication which guys are naturally not as good at (wiring of our brains shows that).

I find it vital that church develop godly, determined, mature male leadership. But because of the lack of men in church, I see the difficulties as well. There aren’t much male mentors and leaders to help the younger men in church.

I find that the girls get a lot more attention at church. There are more older women to provide advices and mentorship. The female mentors are also especially concerned with finding mates for these young women because there is a biological watch.

I actually find it troubling that mentors are too concerned with hooking up young church going women than building up young men at church. Many young Christian men are underdeveloped and underguided. They are just wandering on their own with little instructions whereas girls are better at sharing their feelings, getting the help they needed. They are more resourceful. Young men are more likely to find their own solutions on their own and by themselves.

Of course there is always the social context. Hong Kong is a busy place with the longest working hours on the planet. The older men who probably have greater responsibility at their work find it hard to spare time to mentor and men are generally less open.

I see the classic Chinese men at church who are quiet, nice and industrious. They don’t really talk. The more open, talking one are usually more immature. It is hard to find well-rounded men.

We need to grow them really.

 

 

 

 

Moving Around for Pastor’s Kids

Today I went to a friend’s wedding and I found out that she is a fourth generation Christian with the whole family going to the same church.

I thought to myself and I am a third generation Christian and…my grandfather and dad grew up in the same church which had a troubled past which grieve my father very much. And as for I, I never attended there, I visited it a few times when I was small, just going with my mom and dad who grew up in the youth group there. They went there as an old home and they were greet by older members of the church who still remember them.

When my dad graduated from seminary, it was his dream to minister to his own home church, to work there, to serve at his home church but they never called on him. He was disappointed.

As for me, I was just thinking. I have been to over six churches in my life and I have close attachments to three of them which I might consider my home church at times in my life. Two other churches played great part in my life. It gets confusing. In my life, I just have to adjust, try to fit in, again and again. Man, do I wish I grew up in maybe just three churches down from six or seven.

I think this is something pastor’s kids have to deal with. We move a lot. Some of us have attended several churches. And the parting are sometimes painful and haunt us. They certainly haunt me.

I get very tire from moving around to different churches, even now. It takes like three years for me to break in. And it seems that something will just happen and I will just have to start again.

 

Mixed Bag

I feel the small group is dying really. I was asking my groupmate to be welcoming because I have a friend coming but really I only had one groupmate coming up and the others just weren’t there at all.

I kind of wonder about this.

Do I miss my old church. I do, I miss the people yet there’s also so much hurt as well. And it was so hard to leave that I don’t want to go back there and had to do that all over again.

The good news is that I actually did get to go to small group this week finally after like a 3 months absence because of a course I am taking that happen that night.

It was good to be back and have a Bible study, it was on Luke 8:1-8. We had the new youth ministry pastor visiting us. I was a bit late and arrived at 8:30ish. A sister, let’s call her Lucy, was leading the study and she was going through the background of the passage, asking us questions.

The new pastor, let’s call him, Bob, got impatient and took over. It was a bit funny yet awkward and a little rude. Yes, he just took over and started talking the whole time because he thought that we all knew the background and we falling behind in time to get to the meat.

It turned into a Sunday school class lecture. I didn’t like that. He said it was fun play to look at this passage, especially verse eight.

However, Bob did ask some serious questions for thoughts.

He asked if it matter if we pray once or multiple times over a requests or need? Why do we pray? What’s the meaning of praying? Why do we say amen? Do we really mean “Amen” when we say it at the end of the prayer? He also said Christians should know their personal role and dreams as they know God better. Christians need to be sure and that if there’s no resistance or battle, it might means that you are walking a downward path.

I think he went a bit off topic from the Bible study and his taking over was a bit uncalled for but he raised some profound questions for us to think about.

I feel sorry for Lucy whose preparation kind of went down the drain because we never went back to it.

Bob is an intense kind of guy and I think it would’ve been better if he let other be involved in the discussion and not just took over as much as he did.

I do feel in one way that some pastors lead or do too much that gave little space for the brothers and sisters to learn on their own. Or in a way, and I think this is epidemic in Chinese churches, not trained people enough but pushed brothers and sisters to work, do and work.

Difference.

We got this new youth pastor at my new church and I remember talking with the interm head pastor a few months back and he talked about all the ministries that will be happening…and yea, they are happening and this new youth pastor is aggressive in a good sense of way.

I do feel that he is sincere. It’s my intuition and he is encouraging young people to go into ministry and don’t wait until you are almost 40. He said that it takes about 3 years to get into gear working in ministry.

I went to the music classes today, learning how to play the jazz drum. I learned a lot tonight actually.

He’s only been here for a few weeks but everybody already knows him and he is getting things started.

It’s nuts and it’s a bit scary. It is so different from my old church where the pastors really have their hands tied and had to push people very hard just to move an inch.

The church has a good group of young people who are kind and good-natured. I can casually talk with the young guys even if they don’t really know me. They are very pure and the new pastor is already mobilizing them.

This is so different.

There are music classes for guitar, jazz drum and ukelele tonight are in ways preparation for a more contemporary worship in the future to cater more to young people.

Contrast

I haven’t been to my old church until Sunday yesterday because there was a “Home Meeting,” usually a pre-meeting to the AGM. I just went there to see how things are going.

I went to my new church for service, ate lunch with my small group, well half of them, and then went to the Home Meeting. It started with a warm up game, kind of fun but I wasn’t there for that.

Then we sang some hymns. I felt a bit weird because we can sing all the greatest hymns and mean nothing if we don’t follow the lyrics and God’s word. Then finally it was the new head pastor’s sharing of his vision and what he would like to see happen. It was good except there were way too many prayer meeting. That might sound strange but we used to have one prayer meeting on Thursday night which only around 10 people at most go to. Most of the deacons don’t go, and then because of request for district based prayer meeting, they, the deacons opened Sunday morning prayer meeting, which is good.

Now, it seems like there will be a morning prayer meeting everyday.

Good direction but I am worried about how it would worn out the pastors and if people would show up. It might work but I would rather have the prayer meeting expanding as more and more people join, seeing how Sunday’s meeting are and then expand. So very bold.

He emphasized on discipleship and systematic visitation of brothers and sisters. Great stuff but I also remember that what my pap tried to do with very little support.

He was a bit rushed and then it was time for my two favourite deacon, Lo Sir and Joey to talk about church building development. It took like 30 minutes. It was a bunch of rumbling with the conclusion that after the survey done, 49% of all church members participated are okay with rebuilding the current building or moving to a new site. The other half are slipped on two other choices. So basically most people are okay with rebuilding or moving and then rumbling about how difficult it is to buy a place or find a place now and let’s wait for God.

It could be 80% shorter. It seems like they are restarting the whole…process again. They were also trying to explain and justify how they spent 3 millions dollars on maintenance last year, and how 6 millions dollars left isn’t all that much to buy a place.

I was like…is this a loop? We been through this, when are they going to make a decision on this and just get going? They want to ask members to join new committees to find solutions and I was like…what have you guys been doing the past decade? Wasn’t there a committee already, what was it doing all these times?

The reality is the current place is maxed out on Sunday and Saturday. The building is very old and maintenance cost is increasing every year. That is established. We had usage problem like almost 10 years ago and we did have some momentum to rebuild the building but someone, some idiot deacons put the brakes on and it died down.

And it just went too long. Then it was praying time and discussing thing for deacon group leaders of each group to record members’ responds to the things shared.

I felt that nothing has changed and the new head pastor has a tough job ahead.

Then I had tea with some old friends and went on to dinner to celebrate the ordination of 2 pastors at my new church. It was an entirely different atmosphere. It was such a contrast.

July

It’s July and I haven’t been to TC, my old church for about 3 months now. I am more involved in my new church which I actually been going to for over 2 years now but mostly just for small group. I started going to the Sunday service regularly for the past 3 months after I made the decision to do so starting Chinese New Year.

I am building up friendship and it is just so much better when nobody is out there to get you, scheming to force you out, make you feel uncomfortable and etc. It’s what church life should be really.

However, I still have some attachment to my old church. I am still in the small group whatsapp group and starting in July we are put into new groups. I was actually very disappointed with the new group set up. I think the intention of the make up of the groups is about control and containment.

There is this group of people who are just already so closed up with one another and they got their own group on Friday. I was like gees, they don’t need to be put in the small group, they already have their own group. It was like a group tailor made for them with no outsiders and with Joe in there as the leader. Great.

And the two groups on Saturday are seperated into the MS and Shirley supporters and newbies in one group and my group with mostly people I used to be really good friends with along with the pro-MS pastor and pro-MS contact person/leader. I don’t the make up of the other group because a lot of new believers are in it and MS and Shirley will just pound them with bad doctrines and weird thinking. They are going to get brainwash with help of MS and Shirley’s supporters. I don’t like my group because the contact person/leader is a guy who talked behind my back and been jabbing at me for years. I don’t like having the pro-MS pastor there as well.

So I don’t want to go back there and be part of this stupid game.