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Church news, Resources, Tim Tseng update

Surface Relationships and Relationship Surfaces

December 10, 2014

Dear Canaan English Ministry members and friends,

Wesleyan Quad - bible firstLast Sunday’s Advent Scripture was Isaiah 40:1-11. We were reminded that the Bible is our primary source for knowing who God is because it points us to and prepare us for Jesus. While tradition, experience, and reason are also important sources for knowing and worshiping God, scripture is the most important part of the Wesleyan quadrilateral.

And Isaiah 40 foreshadows the coming of Jesus Christ by highlighting five of God’s characteristics that can provide comfort for those who follow him:

  1. God is forgiving
  2. God does not hide
  3. God is reliable
  4. God sends us
  5. God is mighty yet gentle

So when all others and all else fails, let us hold on to God with a strong individual faith!

As Christmas approaches, let us also take time to worship him with all our best. This Sunday, Canaan will have an all-church worship service at 10 AM in worship hall 1. Please come early because there may not be enough seating for everyone. As we have done for the past few years, we welcome new members, baptize new believers, and celebrate the Lord’s Supper whenever we have all-church services. This Sunday, we’ll also install our newest officers.

After service, the English ministry will have their regular community hour programs such as Everglow Youth, Adult study of Acts, and recent college grad connect.

But on Dec. 21, the last Sunday of Advent and the Sunday before Christmas, we will have a number of child dedications during English worship service and a party during Community Hour to celebrate Christmas and our newly dedicated babies.

Also, come join the Christmas Eve Caroling with Canaan English Ministry youth and adults! Sign up for singing or being a stop – bit.ly/caroling2014 or contact Shirley Tai [email] for more information.

Let’s give God our worship and celebrate his grace and love for us!

Other Important Announcements

1. The weekly Canaan English Ministry Calendar has been updated. Go to canaanem.org/calendar/

2. The next Young Adults Large Group Fellowship will be on Tuesday, Dec. 16 from 8-10pm. We will be having a Christmas Party/White Elephant Gift Exchange so please bring a $15-20 wrapped gift. Please no chocolate/food items for the gifts. Ask Pastor Chris Liu for location [email].

3. Everglow Youth will have a Christmas Party and Lock-in on Dec. 20 (8 PM). Contact Pastor Chris Liu for more details [email].

4. On Saturday, Dec 20 our Men’s Fellowship has a service opportunity for ten people atSecond Harvest Food Bank between 9 a.m.-Noon. Contact John Tang for more information [email].

5. The BASS [Bay Area Sunday School] Convention (March 5-7, 2015] is looking for volunteers to serve as ushers and information desk managers. Visit their web page at bassconvention.org/volunteer.cfm and sign up or contact Deacon Nelson Lu [email]

6. Canaan People column. Share about yourself to our community in the Canaan People column of our weekly bulletin. Please go to bit.ly/iamcanaanpeople and let us know who you are and why Canaan is so special to you! Thanks to all who have already participated.

See you Sunday!

Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: PhD
Pastor of English Ministries


EM 2.0 BLOG:

“From Surface Relationships to Relationship Surfaces”

One of the four building blocks for English Ministry 2.0 is this: “ministry is about people.” Healthy people relationships is a key for becoming the church that Jesus desires. But many of us struggle with maintaining healthy relationships within the church. Our sisters and brothers in Christ often feel more like surface relationships to us than deep, intimate friendships.

red-dice-iconIt is easy to blame cliquishness and clannishness for this But I think a more fundamental reason is because, like dice, our relationship surfaces are limited.

Maria Konnikova’s article, “The Limits of Friendship” for Oct 7, 2014 The New Yorker magazine highlights this point (and says a lot more). View article at this link.

Each of us can manage only a limited number of relationships. For those of us influenced by family-centric Confucian values and who have relatives who live nearby, our relationship surfaces are largely taken up by our extended family. Other factors that limit our relationship surfaces are getting married and having children. Each life-stage transition requires that we yield more time and energy to our spouses (and his/her family and friends) and our kids (and their friends, classmates, parents. etc.). For English-speaking Asian Americans, in particular, the opportunities to enlarge our relationships beyond our family and ethnic community is quite attractive and encouraged. This also takes up a number of relationship surfaces.

The older we become, the fewer relationship surfaces we will have available (at least until after mid-life). Some friendships get squeezed out – such as the buddies that we used to play basketball or video-games with when we were single. Often, church relationships also get squeezed out. We settle for worshiping as many Sundays as we can without investing time into relationships with church people. Most troubling is that for many, our relationship with God gets squeezed out. What do you think happens to a church when the majority its members reach a saturation point with their relationship surfaces?

That is the unhappy story of EM 1.0. in many immigrant Asian churches.

EM 2.0 requires us to be good stewards of our limited relationship surfaces. Relationships are not a dice roll. God places people into our lives for his purpose. So followers of Christ will invest in relationships with his kingdom in mind.

dice - many surfacesPractically speaking, this may mean…

  1. Finding out if you can add more relationship surfaces to your life.
  2. Reserving relationship surfaces for your brothers or sisters in Christ. Make a commitment to the spiritual growth of a small group within your church.
  3. Reserving at least one relationship surface for new friends. Allow for time to socialize and evangelism.
  4. Reducing the number of surfaces that our biological family and relatives expect of us. Our Christian relatives should understand that we don’t need to save face; they will excuse us from attending every family function. If we have un-churched relatives with high face-saving expectations, find alternative ways to sustain these relationship without sacrificing our Christian relationship investments.
  5. That if you have young children, be very selective about the many after-school activities that are available. Model to our children that we are investing in relationships that build up the church and proclaim God’s love to the world.

Can you think of any other suggestions?

For further reading:

Gerald L. Sittser, Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For (InterVarsity Press, 2008)

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About Tim Tseng

I'm Pastor of English Ministry at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church (San Jose, CA), independent scholar and theological educator.

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