The Laborers are Few
Looking Into Full-Time
By Mr Danny Chua
Have you ever been severely understaffed at the workplace? Or maybe imagine that one time you were running solo for your final-year project because all other group mates were Covid positive?
Being undermanned or having insufficient hands on deck happens from time to time in the course of our work. But when it comes to the kingdom of God, Jesus seems to say that we can never ever have too many full-time paid Gospel laborers. In His words, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:37-38)
In Zion Bishan, we believe that every single follower of Jesus has been ‘called’ in Christ as citizens of a new Kingdom to join in the Master’s work of Christian ministry regardless of who our employers are (Eph 4:11-16). Yes, we are saying with Biblical conviction that all of us from pulpit to the pew – whether student, or stay-home parent, or vocational worker or church ministry staff – are bestowed with the great privilege and glorious responsibility of building up the Church family and drawing the lost into the Father’s house.
Yet, Jesus’ words to us are sobering. The church is always in need of many more compassionate shepherds who recognize the crowds that are “harassed and helpless” and “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36).
Indeed, the work and harvest is so great (yes, a promised harvest by Jesus!) that we need many more who would do this on a full-time basis in their day jobs! Unsurprisingly, the Apostle Paul mirrored this priority when he urged young Pastor Timothy at Ephesus to entrust the Gospel to other faithful believers who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2)!
All of these reasons have compelled us to take more seriously the nurturing of potential full-time Christian ministry workers at Zion Bishan. That was our aim in running a pilot session of Looking Into Full-Time (LIFT) earlier in July. LIFT is a safe and exploratory space for any and everyone who has any interest and conviction, or just questions and curiosities about full-time paid Gospel work.
In that session, Pastor Vernon shared from John 10 about the centrality of shepherding ministry in a local church. Various apprentices and ministry staff also shared their experiences in an open Q&A time about how God was training them in their ‘seasons’ before coming on staff, and the various challenges they faced.
Here are some reflections from our participants (names anonymized) on what they took away from our time together:
“I found LIFT quite meaningful as it helped me frame my understanding of the principles of ministry. What struck me was that all Christians are called to minister in our various social circles with the end goal of sharing God’s Word. Although I am currently hesitant to commit to full time as I am still a student, it was helpful to understand that all of us are called to ministry wherever we are.”
“The thought of full-time paid Christian ministry may seem daunting or requiring a so-called ‘leap of faith’ for some. However, God knows, and in His time, He will bring some of us there. But how or where does one start?
1. Knowing that as believers, we are all already in full-time Christian ministry;
2. Even though the demographics of who we are interacting with daily in the workplace might be different, it doesn’t mean that our network to seekers and non-believers would be shut off once we leave our workplace for full-time paid ministry;
3. Keep the thought of full-time paid ministry on the table;
4. Dive deeper and grow keeping in His word;
5. Have intentional talks and conversations about ministry work;
6. Remember that your work experience in the marketplace is equally important;
7. Most importantly, start reading the bible with someone as that is what one would be doing a lot in full-time paid ministry.
One ‘myth’ that LIFT helped me debunk about full-time paid Christian ministry: that it is an immediate and one-time thing. Instead, many others at the session shared that their going into full-time paid ministry took one step at a time. No one jumps into full-time Gospel ministry immediately. As Dietrich Boenhoeffer said “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”. There is such great encouragement to keep plugging away at the Gospel and trusting in our Lord. Being a Christian has a cost and all of us, full-time or not, must really consider this well because following Jesus is not a glamorous job. But it is so worth it!
We believe that the Jesus and His Gospel are worth it, and we are praying that the Lord of the harvest will send many more laborers to proclaim this world-changing truth. Would you consider full-time paid Christian ministry? Would you also pray along with us?
Check out the latest video on the EXCEL Apprenticeship here: https://youtu.be/LzVN94IkSFo