“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
We give thanks to God for how He has been leading PSPC over the first half of 2015. In this Pastoral Letter, I hope to give us some key updates as we begin the month of July. As we give thanks and say farewell to Pr Joshua Woo who completed his 3-year term of service and has taken up a job posting as a Political Secretary back in his hometown of Penang, there were concerned congregants who asked how the Pastoral Team is coping. I have shared at the Annual Congregational Meeting (ACM) back in April that the optimal size of PSPC Pastoral Team is a 5-member team. In fact, our target is to have a 6-member team to build in capacity for growth and respond to further outreach opportunities. Now that we are down to a 4-member team, we are actually having a manpower shortfall.
I had reported during the ACM that we had been pre-empting this manpower shortfall since the beginning of this year. We asked the English Presbytery for recommendations of prospective Pastoral Staff for youth and young adult ministry. We had approached Presbyterian seminary lecturers to recommend suitable students and also put up recruitment notices in the seminaries. We had also surfaced our recruitment needs to some para-church organisations to ask whether there are prospective staff members who may be considering church-based ministries. However, all these attempts did not surface any suitable candidates. In fact, there is a general shortage of Pastoral Staff in many other churches. But as I have shared with the Elders and Deacons Court (EDC) meeting on 1 July, I don’t lose sleep over manpower shortfall because I have seen worse situations. In fact, there are at least 2 signs of God’s sustenance for our manpower situation.
The first sign of God’s sustenance is our Elders and Deacons Court. At this year’s ACM, all those EDC members who were finishing their first term renewed for a second consecutive term; no one stepped down from the EDC. Furthermore, we had 4 additional EDC members, including 3 new Deacons. Therefore, we have a total of 19 EDC members (excluding the Pastoral Team) – perhaps the largest leadership team that I have ever seen during my term of service in PSPC. The strength of the Presbyterian governance structure is the Elders and Deacons who are elected church officers. As the Elders fulfill their key responsibilities of leadership, teaching and shepherding and the Deacons fulfill their key responsibilities of ministry, administration, finance, building-management, our governance structure is best placed to absorb any fluctuation in Pastoral Team manpower situation. The second sign of God’s sustenance is our intern, Adriel Yeo, who has begun the second phase of his internship by being attached to the Pastoral Team. A key aspect of his internship learning objective this year is to focus on the generational ministries: children’s ministry by being attached to the BB 1st Junior Company; youth ministry by continuing as a PLH mentor; and young adult ministry by continuing in the TCH leadership team.
Meanwhile, the Pastoral Team will reorganise ourselves to cover all the ministries. After I have presented this reorganisation plan at the Session meeting in end July, we will announce this to the congregation in August so that you will know which Pastoral Staff is providing pastoral oversight over which ministry. It is necessary for me to highlight that not all ministries that are under our portfolio require equal weightage and time commitment. My philosophy for the deployment of Pastoral Staff is to channel them to focus on key generational ministries where their theological training is best deployed for Christian education, pastoral care and spiritual formation. For all other ministries where they are deployed as Pastoral Advisors, the ministries should first approach and work with their respective Ministry Leader, Deacon or Elder who are in charge of those ministries.
Ultimately, God’s kingdom is not merely built by Pastoral Staff or the church leadership, but all of God’s people. A Pastoral Team manpower shortfall is an opportunity for the entire church leadership and congregation to rally together, trust in God’s provision in His own way and time, and continue to abide in Him to bear fruits. As ingrained in our EDC leadership culture, the church is not a rowboat that is powered by human strength and resources, but rather a sailboat that is powered by the wind of God’s Spirit. When the wind of God’s Spirit leads the sailboat, PSPC can reach places where we can never do so by our own limited strength and resources. Indeed, God has already opened the way for us and we are currently working on key ministry and outreach initiatives which we will be pleased to announce at the 172nd Anniversary Service on 20 September. There is no better time for us to remember the promises of God’s Word in Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” That’s the difference between “man-power” and “God-power”. Amen.