Gethsemane B-P Church’s Annual Congregational Meeting (ACM) is required by the law of Singapore and our church constitution to “report on the spiritual and temporal conditions of the congregation and announce plans for the coming year” (Gethsemane B-P Church Constitution, 19.8). Though it is a business meeting, we must be mindful that we are essentially meeting to recollect and evaluate the business of the Lord’s church. As such, the ACM of the church must be conducted in a manner that is worthy of the Lord’s glory. The church leaders and members must participate in the meeting with love, humility, faithfulness and prayerfulness, for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We praise God for the unity and comradeship in Gethsemane, which has helped us to hold trouble-free congregational meetings over the past years. Let us once again prayerfully take heed to Paul’s admonition that we should be “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). “A house divided cannot stand.”
I would like to share two important biblical principles which Christians must maintain in their meetings. Please heed those essential principles, and let them guide our conduct in today’s ACM so that we may glorify Christ, the Head of the Church.
The ACM should never be a platform for singing our own praise. “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29). Instead, it should be a time of much thanksgiving to the Lord, who has done great things for and through us. So, let us all gather together with boundless praise for the Lord. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). May our thoughts be about His goodness. Let every heart rejoice and give thanks unto the Lord.
When we thank God, we can neither ignore nor neglect those who sacrificially and joyfully serve the Lord in the different ministries of Gethsemane according to God’s will. We should commend them and thank God for them. Nonetheless, let no man seek his own glory but the glory of God. Let us humble ourselves before our great Saviour, as Paul did. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of” (1 Corinthians 9:16a). “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
The annual reports on the church’s activities, achievements and financial accounts should direct our hearts to praise His name. Let us “forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2b). Let us recall God’s protection, deliverance and provisions for every ministry and church member. Would God lament over us for our ungratefulness as He cried over the Israelites? “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32). So, let our minds recollect the many helps and blessings that God has bestowed upon each one of us and upon the ministries of the church.
Let there be no unthankful heart in the ACM!
The ACM documents (minutes, reports, audited accounts, etc.) have been made available to all church members for their evaluation. The Board of Elders has advised the church members to read the ACM documents and submit their questions to the office holders early. If members have submitted questions, they would be answered during the ACM.
We thank God that He has enabled the office bearers of the church to manage the church funds well for the glory of Christ and for the furtherance of the Gospel. By God’s grace, the BOE has faithfully managed the church funds for the worldwide Gospel dissemination and His servants’ support.
Our recollection and evaluation of the past year’s ministries (local and overseas) must not cause us to be prideful or slothful. Instead, we must humbly renew our commitment and consecrate ourselves to serve the Lord faithfully and fervently in the coming year.
We must render more labour to harvest souls here in Singapore and overseas. More consecration and generosity are needed to support all the existing and new ministries. We must not become weary or hesitant. Let us ask the Lord to increase our faith, resolve, courage and zeal for His work. As a congregation, let us arise in faith and consecrate ourselves to do His work according to His will. The Lord promises, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).
What should be our response to the Lord’s call, guidance and promises as we evaluate the enormous work before us and the substantial financial provision our church would need?
We should not be like the Israelites, who murmured against Moses, Joshua and Caleb upon hearing from the ten faithless spies who discouraged them from going into the Promised Land because of the giants who lived there. Though God’s providence brought them to the border of the Promised Land, and God’s servants relentlessly cheered them on to courageously go over the river Jordan to conquer the good land, they allowed their hearts to faint and fear. May none of God’s people in Gethsemane become a faithless coward in the face of this enormous challenge.
What we need today is not fear but faith, not cowardice but consecration!
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow’r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope
And my will be lost in Thine.