October 24, 2013
Dear Canaan EM’ers and friends,
Over the years of researching Asian American Christians, I’ve come across many who grew up in churches like Canaan and then chose to leave. One of the reason given to leave Taiwanese churches is the desire to escape the repeated messages of obligation, guilt, and performance. One sister is now attending a mega-church where grace, affirming messages, and feeling connected to God is emphasized. When I asked her about how this church organizes its worship and meals, she told me that lunch is served by professional caterers and worship is led by professional musicians. Furthermore, professionals are hired for counseling, child care, and other services. The affluent members don’t do much “front line” work for the church.
Now I’m not opposed to hiring “professional” help. One can argue that professionals would attract people who insist on the highest quality worship experience, meals, or social functions. Hiring professional staff can free up many of us whose talents and gifts are better used in other ways.
But it bothers me when Christians, who are called to follow in Jesus’ suffering and death for the salvation of the world, want their churches to be like country clubs or luxury hotels. I wonder if the rejection of duty, obligation, and sacrifice cheapens God’s grace – a grace that required the death of Jesus on the cross?
In a recent interview with Christianity Today, soon-to-be 95 years old Billy Graham warns against the “epidemic of easy believism” among many Christians today. “Easy believism” is a mindset that “if people believe in God and do good works they are going to Heaven.” [View at this link] Graham continues,
It should not be surprising if people believe easily in a God who makes no demands, but this is not the God of the Bible. Satan has cleverly misled people by whispering that they can believe in Jesus Christ without being changed, but this is the Devil’s lie. To those who say you can have Christ without giving anything up, Satan is deceiving you.
It is refreshing to know that the world’s greatest evangelist today, one who was often accused of preaching an “easy believism,” also believes that Christians must experience personal transformation and sacrifice in order to have real faith!
Which brings me to the importance of volunteering and serving at Canaan. When asking for volunteers, I try to avoid the word “need.” When we give money, time, or energy to serve the Lord, it shouldn’t primarily be about meeting a need. Meeting a need does little to transform the giver – except maybe to reinforce the giver’s sense of self-righteousness.
Rather, when we serve it should be about an opportunity to imitate Jesus, who came to seek and to serve. It is an opportunity to learn how to see the world as Jesus did and therefore be a complete human being (i.e., one who is redeemed and sanctified by Christ’s blood). It’s an invitation to fully experience God’s love. Paul notes this in his letter to the Galatians:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13, NIV)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2, NIV)
So when you receive an invitation to serve at Canaan, please do not see it as a guilt-laden and obligatory demand on your time and energy. Don’t see it as meeting the church’s “need.”
On November 3, if all goes well, we will have a Ministry Expo during the lunch hour. This will be an opportunity for your to identify what area of ministry at Canaan you can serve.
Please come and serve!
P.S. Who was Hideo Hashimoto? Check my blog and find out! Go to http://timtseng.net/2013/10/23/asian-american-legacy-hideo-hashimoto/
1. This Sunday:
– English worship (10 a.m., WH3). I will preach on “The Guilt in the Sack” (Genesis 44:1-13). Is Joseph sadistic? Why does he “plant” a silver goblet in Benjamin’s grain sack and then accuse him of stealing?
– Adult Second Hour (11:30 a.m., WH3). According to Jesus’ parable in Matthew 20:1–16, the last person hired gets paid the same as the first. Jesus says that the is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. So, is the kingdom of heaven fair?
– Youth Sunday School (11:30 a.m., Room 160). Confident Christian study, part 5: All God’s Children
2. The next discipleship class, Movies, Life, and Faith, will meet on Tuesday, Nov 5th (6:45 p.m.) at Chinese Church in Christ, Milpitas. We are screening “Wreck It Ralph.” Let me know if you can come.
3. Children’s Ministry Announcements. [email Nicole Lu at this link]
– Join the Children’s Ministry 2013-2014 School Year Team!
Enjoy working with kids? Enjoy sharing about God? Please come and serve as Teachers or Assistants. Talk to Nicole Lu for more info.
– Help your child prepare for church…
- Prepare offering
- Bring a snack
- Bring signed “Take Home Paper” if child did an activity or memorized Bible verse
- Be on time – Little Worship and Children’s Worship begins at 10am
- 1st to 6th graders – bring Bible
4. Operation Christmas Child
- Please consider packing 1 or 2 shoeboxes as a family to bless needy children.
- Or donate goodies (check brochure for ides) or $20 to Ms. Wendy Huang who is organizing shoe box packing party for kids on 11/10 during Sunday School hour.
- Return all packed shoeboxes by 11/24.
5. The four-week Advent Season begins on Dec 1. Let me know by the end of October if you’d like to help plan and lead our special Sunday worship services.
6. Our EM Christmas Party and Town Hall will be held on Sunday, Dec 8 during second hour (11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.). Volunteers to plan and lead the party are sought! Please let me know if you are interested.
7. Our next new member welcome service will be Dec 15. If you are interested in joining Canaan through baptism, confirmation, or member transfer, let me know by Nov 17. All are encouraged to join the Canaan Basics introduction seminar on Sat, Dec 7 at 9 a.m.
8. Christmas Music Celebration (12/14, 3pm, Jubilee Center) hosted by Nor Cal Taiwanese American Christian Churches (NCTACC). Canaan will join an interchurch Hallelujah Chorus Choir at the celebration. We are looking for 20 EM members. Rehearsals will be held on 10/19, 11/9, 11/23, 12/7 (4-6PM, WH1) with a final one on 12/14 (11:00-12:30, WH!) with singers from all churches and a stage rehearsal at Jubilee after lunch. Please contact Wendy Huang if you’re interested.
See you on Sunday – on time 🙂
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: Ph.D.
Pastor of English Ministries