….give Canaan a chance!
June 22, 2011
Dear Canaan EMers and friends,
After returning from the All Church retreat on Sunday, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and appreciation. Aizaiah Yong’s messages challenged our youth to live out their faith. Our children enjoyed the ministry of our children’s retreat leaders. Sofie T. professed her faith in Christ, as did five youth: Caitlin C., Christine C., Alina C., Timothy H., and Joanne H. Please welcome them into our family of faith!
This Sunday at 9:45 AM (Room 150 – note change), we’ll have a session to introduce Canaan membership to newcomers and those who have recently decided to receive Christ. Please let me know if you plan to attend.
Back to the retreat…Amos Yong’s messages encouraged us to see that the most important evidence of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence is in how we build up one another in our faith community. Spiritual gifts, signs and wonders, and prayers are all important, but being part of and building a community that cares for one another is how we become “Much More than Okay.”
This only scratches the surface of Acts 1-8, so I hope you’ll sign up to order Amos’ new book Who Is the Holy Spirit? See http://www.paracletepress.com/who-is-the-holy-spirit-a-conversation-with-the-apostles.html. Let me know by Sunday if you are interested in buying a copy and I’ll place a discounted bulk order. Perhaps some of us can form study groups this summer and fall.
Canaan is a church that does many things well (e.g., the retreat). We have a very bright future. But in my opinion, our English ministry’s two biggest challenges are: (1) not enough sensitivity to newcomers to our church and (2) negative perceptions of the church by many who have left us.
The first challenge can be fixed relatively easily. But the second is much more difficult. Once branded, it is very difficult to rebrand. We have been and are being hurt by judgmental and closed-minded attitudes within and without.
So I urge everyone to help build a community that has an unquestionably positive reputation of faith and love. Let us become like the Thessalonians to whom Paul said,
… you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it… – 1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 (NIV)
And the first step is to follow Paul’s principle regarding the use of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 14:12 – Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
Building up the church was the criteria that Amos Yong suggested when asked about how to discern spirits, spiritual gifts, and visions. The “edification” principle restrains us from speaking and acting out of selfishness and self-righteousness. In other words, the more we think about how we can build each other and our church up, the better our experience will be in the church. The more we try to model Jesus’ example to young Christians, the more credible our faith and our church will be to them.
This principle can be translated into our roles as citizens or residents of the United States, too. As the late historian-journalist Studs Terkel once said:
Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: ‘This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.’ Interweave all these communities and you really have an America that is back on its feet again. I really think we are gonna have to reassess what constitutes a ‘hero’.
So, to those who have left Canaan or want to leave because of dissatisfaction, reputation, or simply because it is the church of your parents, I encourage you to apply the “edification” principle first and be a true “hero” wherever you are. Take another look at Canaan because something powerful is happening. All we are saying is give Canaan a chance!
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨
Pastor of English Ministries
P.S. The original mantra is from John and Yoko Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance. Check out this youtube to see how widespread the anti-war movement was in the late 1960s and early 1970s: http://youtu.be/tlKX-m17C7U