In retrospect, it was great experiencing revivals, but sometimes revivals can make a church lazy. When we see God working so much for us, there is a tendency to just sit back and become passive.
The truth is that God wants to work with us. Mark 16:20 says that Jesus' disciples "went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through...accompanying signs" (NKJV).
Effective evangelism: Finding needs and meeting them. Since that revelation from Matthew 22, the Lord has been working mightily among the people in our church. Since 1995, 2,000 new members have been added to the church annually. Today, 72 percent of the people in our congregation are first-generation, first-pastor converts. Relatively few are transferred from other churches.
The church now hosts a program called "Jesus for All Minds" (JAMs), a ministry to the mentally disabled. We run the largest children's church in the city with about 1,200 children. Every week, our volunteers minister to scores of HIV patients through our ministry to the terminally ill. Among others, we also run a community service center that provides marriage counseling, student tuition, health and homecare assistance to the poor and disadvantaged.
Like many other Asian communities, the city of Singapore places a great deal of emphasis on academic performance. To meet this need, our church implemented an unusual "policy," which states that any student who does not study 20 hours per week after school hours is not permitted to attend cell-group meetings or other church activities. Because these cell and church meetings are so exciting, the students are determined to finish all their class assignments just to be able to join them.
The result? Many young people who were previously failing eventually turned out to be in the top of their class. Every year, the youth of City Harvest Church consistently score higher than the national average in major 10th grade to 12th grade high school examinations.
Education is so highly valued in our society that many unchurched parents, after having seen the transformation in their children, were drawn to the church. They became open to the gospel, and eventually many got saved.
It is such loving, radical friendship evangelism that has helped City Harvest Church stamp a strong presence right through the fabric of its society. Both young and old flock to our services every week.
By God's grace, the church's influence is slowly beginning to be felt beyond the shores of Singapore into the whole of Asia. At present, we have planted nine churches in three other countries. A recent equipping conference attracted more than 3,200 pastors and church leaders, and is now sparking church planting efforts across the Far East.
HOW TO WIN YOUR CITY TO CHRIST
All of us in City Harvest Church believe in making a difference in our world--and there are several core beliefs that have propelled us toward this goal. Perhaps the steps we have implimented can help you in your calling to win your city for Christ.
1. Win the lost through relationship. The first motivating factor is based on Proverbs 11:30: "He who wins souls is wise." Our church leadership often challenges members to see that soul-winning is more than just preaching the Four Spiritual Laws to the lost. It really means winning the trust and friendship of the unchurched first to yourself and thereafter, in that process, winning them to Jesus.
The key to developing a soul-winning church is building relationships. We constantly encourage our members to evaluate their lives to see how many true friendships they have built and how they can improve their relational skills in order to have even more friends. When they have won friends to themselves, it will only be a matter of time before these friends will be won to the Lord.
Apart from friendship evangelism, we also encourage our congregation to demonstrate Christ's love by honoring and serving their respective family members. These displays of love have impacted many non-Christian parents and have brought healing, reconciliation and salvation to entire homes.
One of our members, Alice Chan, shared openly with the congregation on one recent Sunday morning: "Pastor Kong constantly preached about living a life of significance through relationships, challenging us to do something nice for our moms on Mother's Day. Sitting there, a question popped into my mind: 'Alice, you have always shown love to the lost and the unchurched without hesitation. But what have you done so far to demonstrate Christ's love to your own mother?'
"I have always prayed that God will change my mother's heart and cause her to be more understanding toward my commitment in church. But that day, I felt that I had to do something tangible for my mom. I purposed in my heart that I would make her the happiest mother in the world on Mother's Day."
Alice did just that. She cleaned the whole house, took her mother out for dinner, bought her a present and even composed a song for her. The gesture moved Mrs. Chan so much that she became very open to God and the gospel.
2. Go for "actual" souls. We get people involved in the "actual finding" of the lost. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin remind us that God does not believe in "token hunts." He goes after the one who is lost until He finds it.
There are so many songs we sing today about "revival in the land" and "pushing back the darkness." However, in reality, how do we actually push back the darkness in our land? How do we win our cities for God?
I see it this way: At conversion, a sinner is translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Jesus says that every believer is the light of the world (see Matt. 5:14). As such, every time a sinner gets saved, a city actually becomes one soul brighter, or one soul less dark.
So at the end of every church meeting, camp-meeting and revival campaign, we really need to ask ourselves, "How much brighter is our city tonight?" If the lost are still unsaved, then nothing really has changed. All our efforts would have been in vain.
3. Create a strong spiritual atmosphere of faith and purity. In the parable of the sower, the reason why there was a harvest on some grounds and barrenness on others was the environment the seed was cast into. In the right environment, the seed will bring forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty-fold and some a hundred-fold (see Matt. 13:8). Similarly, the right spiritual environment is vital to the reaping of the lost.