Faciliatators: Dr Rosalind Lim, Dr Sunny Tan, Dr Alex Tang
MCO Day 4 20 March 2020 Do Nor Covid Your Neighbor
Luke 10:25–29 (NIV)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is probably one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Jesus narrated this story to answer the question “who is my neighbor?” Christians, along with the rest of the world, have their lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments are enacting draconian measures such as lockdown to try to contain the spread of this virus. Many Christians, like the rest of the population, are confined to their home with restricted movement. All this means an abrupt change in lifestyle. However, this did not negate Jesus’ teaching about loving and helping their neighbors.
Unfortunately, Christians were mainly focused on arguing among themselves on whether they should still meet in persons in their regular Sunday service, or to suspend these services. The decision was made for them when the government imposed the Movement Control Order which banned small or large gatherings. Now the argument is about whether to record the sermon and make it available online or to stream their worship service live. Pastoral care has suffered because many pastors are not social media savvy and did not know how to continue to serve their congregations online. Many pastors themselves are in some sort of emotional and spiritual crisis as they live very sheltered lives. They are still processing the disruption in these trying times. As a result, many congregations are suffering from a pastoral care vacuum and there is little left over for caring for their neighbors. It is time that churches become less inward-looking. Christians should be encouraged to look out for their neighbors.
First, many Christians do not know who their neighbors are, so this is a good time to get to know them. This is especially important if their neighbors are elderly and infirm. In this MCO period, they are unlikely to be mobile enough to go out to buy food and grocery. Many do not stock much in their larders. Christians can demonstrate their love by buying food and grocery for their neighbors. They can offer to send them to their hospital appointments. After all, since most Christians are staying at home, they have time to do so.
Second, getting to know their neighbor may be a worthwhile activity to while away the long hours during a lockdown. It is not standing at the fence to chit chat but to connect by phone either through voice calls, texting and even using zoom and skype. Communication is the first step in building a relationship.
Third, it is their responsibility not to infect their neighbors with the virus. If they suspect that they have been exposed to the virus either by not practicing social distancing or have had attended a large gathering where it is found later to have infected participants, it is their duty to seek medical care to check if they are infected. They should avoid spreading the virus by going into their neighbors’ houses. If their neighbors are elderly, they should not allow their children to play with them. Studies in Italy have shown that even though children suffer from a mild form of COVID-19, mostly fever and sniffles, they are potent spreaders of the disease to the elderly and those with chronic immune weakening diseases. Children may have played a major role in the spread of the pandemic in China and Italy.
Finally, Christians should pray for their neighbors as they pray for their families and church members. Pray for God’s mercy as the number of infected cases in Malaysia has soared to 1,030 and there are already 3 deaths due to the disease. Pray that God will halt the pandemic and save us all.
About this talk
About Seth Godin
Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. His newest interest: the tribes we lead.
Some sobering statistics from Pastoral Care,Inc.
- 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
- 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
- 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
- 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged as
role of pastors.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they
thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if
they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
- 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and underappreciated by church members.
- 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose a different
- 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
- Moral values of a Christian is no different than those who consider themselves as non-Christians.
- The average American will tell 23 lies a day.
- The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month , many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
- Many denominations report an “empty pulpit crisis”. They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.
#1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastor’s believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
Statistics provided by The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.
In his Grace@Work Commentary GRACEWORKS MAIL 31/10 August 6, 2010 Edition.
(A ministry of Graceworks: http://www.graceworks.com.sg) Rev Dr Tan Soo Inn writes about National Day Celebration in August. For Singapore, their National Day is on 9 August and for Malaysia it is on 31 August. I like what he writes about the needed pro-active role of the Singaporean and Malaysian churches.
The church represents the Kingdom of God in society. In the words of Newbigin, the church must function as the “hermeneutic (interpret, unfold the significance . . . ) of the gospel.” (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 222 ff) Newbigin also suggests six characteristics that will mark church communities that are trying to flesh out the gospel for society. (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 227 – 233)
1. It will be a community of praise.
” The Christian congregation . . . is a place where people find their true freedom, their true dignity, and their true equality in reverence to One who is worthy of all the praise we can offer.” (228)
2. It will be a community of truth.
“A Christian congregation is a community in which through the constant remembering and rehearsing of the true story of human nature and destiny, an attitude of healthy scepticism can be sustained, a scepticism which enables one to take part in the life of society without being bemused and deluded by its own beliefs about itself. ” (229)
3. It will be a community that does not live for itself but is deeply involved in the concerns of its neighbourhood.
” . . . the local congregation (must be) perceived in its own neighbourhood as the place from which good news overflows in good action . . .” (229)
4. It will be a community where men and women are prepared for and sustained in the exercise of the priesthood in the world.
“It is in the context of secular affairs that the mighty power released into the world through the work of Christ is to be manifested. . . . (The validity of our preaching) carry weight only when they are validated by the way in which Christians are actually behaving and using their influence in public life.” (230)
5. It will be a community of mutual responsibility.
“If the Church is to be effective in advocating and achieving a new social order in the nation, it must itself be a new social order.” (231)
6. It will be a community of hope.
” . . . the gospel offers an understanding of the human situation which makes it possible to be filled with a hope which is both eager and patient even in the most hopeless situations.” (232)
read more here
Newbigin is an importance influence in my own thinking about the church and I am glad that Soo Inn brought him into the discussion about the hermeneutic role of the churches in Singapore and Malaysia.
Jimmy Wales: Founder of Wikipedia
With a vision for a free online encyclopedia, Wales assembled legions of volunteer contributors, gave them tools for collaborating, and created the self-organizing, self-correcting, ever-expanding, multilingual encyclopedia of the future.
Jimmy Wales went from betting on interest rates and foreign-currency fluctuations (as an option trader) to betting on the willingness of people to share their knowledge. That’s how Wikipedia, imagined in 2001, became one of the most-referenced, most-used repositories of knowledge on the planet, with more than one million articles in English (compared with the Britannica‘s 80,000) and hundreds of thousands in dozens of other languages, all freely available.
The “wiki” in the name refers to software that allows anyone with Internet access to add, delete or edit entries. This has led to controversies about the reliability of the information, prompting the Wikimedia Foundation to set tighter rules for editors, while still keeping Wikipedia open-source. One thing is certain: Wikipedia will never be finished. In the meantime Wales has started working on Wikiasari, a wiki-style search engine.
“Wikipedia represents a belief in the supremacy of reason and the goodness of others. … From the respectful clash of opposing viewpoints and the combined wisdom of the many, something resembling the truth will emerge. Most of the time.”
Technology is changing education. William Drummond explores using Facebook as a learning management tool and a panel explores the 21st century student. [12/2008]
I have read the book recently and find it a fascinating read with many new insights.
This Is Your Brain on Porn
The science behind the struggle, and how the church can help.
William Struthers is dedicated to understanding the brain. In his role as associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College (IL), Struthers teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience—biological reasons why people make the decisions they do. In Wired for Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain (IVP, 2009), Struthers explores the science behind why men find pornography compelling, what it does to their brains, and how they can find freedom. Leadership associate editor Brandon O’Brien spoke with Struthers to find out how pastors can help men break the patterns of pornography abuse.
|2010 > May||Christianity Today, May, 2010|
What if church is a relational entity? challenges Joseph Hellerman, professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He is the author of When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community (B&H Academic).
His definition of church resonances with my thinking on what being church is all about.
Spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. Persons who remain connected with their brothers and sisters in the local church almost invariably grow in self-understanding. And they mature in their ability to relate in healthy ways to God and to fellow human beings. This is especially the case for those courageous Christians who stick it out through the messy process of interpersonal conflict. Long-term relationships are the crucible of genuine progress in the Christian life. People who stay grow.
Do you get irritated by people who invites you to be his or her friend on Facebook? Or are you happy to be invited. What if you decline? Are you worried about offending someone? Richard Baum of Reuters writes about How to decline Facebook friends without offence. He offers some suggestions
One is to accept the invitation and then use Facebook’s privacy settings to limit the flow of information between you and your new “friend.” To do this, you can create a “colleagues” list from the Friends menu and then add to it your new friend. Then navigate to the privacy settings and use the “Profile Information” section to control what information people on the “colleagues” list can see.
An alternative, says workplace etiquette expert Barbara Pachter, is to suggest to the colleague that you connect instead on LinkedIn, a social network for professional relationships.
“You can just go ahead and ask them to join you on LinkedIn and hope they forget they sent you a Facebook friend request,” said Pachter, the author of New Rules @ Work.
“Or you can say, Thanks for asking me. I’m keeping Facebook for my family and friends. I’m asking you to join me on my professional network instead.'”
Pachter said that whatever you do, it’s important not to offend your colleague — and that’s not just because politeness is good etiquette.
“The person you offend might end up being your boss next year,” she said.
Ha. That’s unlikely for me but I do like to make friends on Facebook. Each friend brings new aspects and perspective of humanity. For a student of human nature like me, that is a bonus. Some reveal too much of themselves while others reveal too little. Yet each life is of value and I am constantly being amazed at the diversity of my friends’ interests. I am also amazed at how much time some of my friends spend online with Facebook. I assume they do have a life somewhere.
It is interesting that Facebook was started only 4 years ago according to Wiki but 6 years ago according to founder Mark Zuckerberg in his Facebook blog. This is because Facebook seems to be around like forever. Entertainment Weekly notes its value, “How on earth did we stalk our exes, remember our co-workers’ birthdays, bug our friends, and play a rousing game of Scrabulous before Facebook?” This was also during the peak of blogging. Nowadays, many bloggers are Facebookers (yes, there is such a term. I checked).
Many Facebookers are also gamers. The top 5 games on Facebook today are Farmville, Mafia Wars, Cafe World, Fishville and Zunga Poker. CNN Doug Gross gives us the highs and lows of The Facebook games millions love (or hate). No, I have not played any of these games yet. I am still trying to figure out Star Trek online.
Facebook is a virtual watering hole for the gathering of the futurists, the nerds, the internet addicts,the technocrats, the lonely, the bored, the seekers, the gurus, the joyful and the sad. Facebook is a pub in L-space. It is also a place of interconnectivity for people to connect with one another, keep abreast of each others’ activities, and retain a sense of control in our fast moving fragmented world. It is also a safe place to hide from intimacy and the emotional investments of a ‘real’ human relationships. As in the television series Cheers, it is a place where everyone knows your name!
After writing this post, I read a blog post on Facebook Friendship by my Facebook friend Bob.