Leaders Loved by Christ
By Danny Chua
Basic AG Leaders Equipping Course 2023
As Zion Bishan presses on ahead with The Next Lap vision in mind – to present every member mature in Christ, we continue to face an immense task ahead of us. As we prayerfully toil to welcome visitors, evangelize the unbelieving, and strengthen the saints in our midst, one thing becomes more and more urgent.
We need more and more godly men and women proclaiming Jesus, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom from the Lord (Col. 1:28). Godly believers who personally disciple others, and who model a gospel culture are our God’s way of forming missional communities, as we especially see throughout the book of Acts.
But we must be careful. The pressing kingdom needs should not cause us to operate like a ‘machine’. What I mean is this: we must be cautious not to function like a cold, ‘disciple-factory’. As we build up under-shepherds and equip Word teachers, we must be wary of unconsciously trying to ‘produce’ AG leaders one after another (or frantically multiply AGs one after another) as though that were the goal in and of itself.
No, we ought to diligently reflect on the kind of Jesus-followers we are nurturing. We ought to be attentive to the kind of teachers and under-shepherds we are cultivating. What kind of people, or what kind of Christians are they?
One of our central goals as the people of God is to help one another gaze so often and so deeply at the beauty of God revealed in Christ (Ps 27:4; 2 Cor. 3:18). Indeed, so much that God’s goodness and love, and indeed Christ Himself overflow from our lives endlessly in loving discipleship and organic mission.
So, yes, in AG Leaders training, we equip leaders and potential leaders for the tiring work of shepherding their members, and the faithful teaching of the Word. But underneath it all, we “struggle with all God’s energy that he powerfully works within us” (Col. 1:28) to help every AG Leader always delight in Jesus and grow in deeper intimacy with Him.
Echoing Jesus’ words “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34) the Puritan Richard Sibbes believed that those who enjoyed Jesus the most would naturally speak most of Him to the church and to the world. Such Christians who sing God’s praises and words to all around them are like birds who sing the loudest when the sun rises in the morning and warms them. As Christ’s love warms believers’ hearts, we sing and declare Him loudly. This must be true most of all for those who are models and imitators of Christ in positions of shepherding and leadership within His church.
This is why in BAGLE, we talked about whether (or not) we are enjoying Jesus. We spend the very first session reflecting on our walks with Jesus, and only later on do we engage with the role of an AG Leader.
Here are some of the reflections by participants from the course that recently ended:
Dn Herman Low (AG77, 4.30pm Congregation): I realised that in discipleship, we tend to be overly concerned about how God’s word is applied and often times use that as a yardstick to determine if we are good leaders. The truth is that God’s word is slowly changing our hearts and often times the transformative results may not be so apparent and immediate.
Amanda Ang-Phan (AG2, 10.30am Congregation): Hearing from the current AG leaders who shared their struggles in AG-leading reminded me that AG ministry is hard work and sacrifice. Yet experiencing their joy of seeing the fruit of their labour was inspiring. Caring for an AG is like caring for a child – long tough days, needing to ask God for strength and patience to persevere, but seeing results if we faithfully plod at it. I was reminded to be in it for the long haul and not to get discouraged when nothing seems to be happening.
Teo Huiqing (AG50, 4.30pm Congregation): One truth that stuck with me was this: the chief source of joy is that my name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20) and that I am His child, and not in how well (or poorly) ministry seems to be going. I pray that my heart will always find joy in this truth for as long as I live!
Soh Kok Hong (AG23, 10.30am Congregation): From my conversations with the other leaders and our reading of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, I was reminded that we are living out God’s agenda and not our own. It is difficult to live this truth when we live in a result-driven society that demands a different mindset. It is a struggle to unlearn a mindset that is so ingrained into me by the world – but it is good that there are other AG leaders who will be there to help remind me of this important truth.
Dn Mervyn Phan (AG2, 10.30am Congregation): It struck me how Jesus was very personal in Discipleship. This means that like the analogy of ‘the trellis and vine’, a lot of the ‘structures’ (programs) that we seem to be building may be for nothing if we do not tend the ‘vine’ (personal discipleship). The efforts, plans, ministries and AG work that we do must go toward building each other up with Christ in mind.
Please continue to pray for our AG Leaders, that each of them will be grounded in the matchless love of Jesus and that all their ministry will overflow out of their joyous relationship with Him!