Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Second Question

Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 27 April 2011

TEXT: "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)

MAIN POINT: Are we ‘doing’ Church or ‘being’ Church? If anyone asks you the first question, see it as an opportunity to VOLUNTEER the second question. Are we stuck in doing church? (1st question). Or are we being Church? (2nd question)

What comes to mind when you think of Church? For some of us, it is basically going to Church for Sunday services. Be on time. Be on our best attire. Be present with others in worship. For many, it is also a time of spiritual nourishment, through the sermons and the overall worship experience. In any church, there are ordinary church-goers, sprinkled with a small group of gutsy church-servers. Based on the ‘pareto principle,’ a large group is served by a small group. A typical 'pareto principle' for Church is 80-20. It basically means 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people at any one time. In some cases, I hear that it can be lower than the 95-5 percentile.

Credit: Xarisbob
Over time, if there are no changes, we see a deterioration of this figure. The committed becomes overcommitted. The overcommitted gets burned out. The cost of ‘doing’ church results in the sacrifice of ‘being church.’

Efforts to address the lack of servers in Church are met with standard replies like "I'm busy," or "I don't have the time," or "I am not gifted," or "Thanks, but no thanks!"

Having served in various leadership positions in churches, I am used to people replying in the negative when it comes to serving in church. It can be discouraging. What makes it even more disconcerting is that many churches seem to be fighting a losing battle as far as the 'pareto principle' is concerned. You can say that the Church is God's House, but chances are people are more likely to tend to their own houses first. They quote 1 Tim 3:5 about the need to manage their own households first, as a convenient escape clause from Christian service.

In some cases, some church-goers even think that all the work should be done by all the paid staff in church! Why are there so few volunteers in church ministries? In this article, I shall try to list three common reasons, followed by a proposed paradigm shift for all members.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Be Thankful

WRITTEN BY: Conrade Yap
DATE: 19 APRIL 2011

The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials,” (Nehemiah 12:40)

MAIN POINT: Thanksgiving is more than a ‘Thank-You.’ Three lessons to learn from the meaning of 'Todah.'

A story is told about Michael the Archangel giving 2 angels the responsibility to travel around the world to collect requests from people. The first angel carries a basket labeled: “Prayer Requests.” The second angels carries a similar basket, but is labeled: “Thanksgiving.” Within minutes, the first angel returns with a basketful of prayer requests. The first angel decides to wait at heaven’s gate for the second angel. Minutes creep to hours. Hours become days. After more than a week, the second angel returns with only a few scraps of paper. Unlike the first angel where prayer requests come fast and furious from a world every hungry to have their needs met, thanksgiving seems to be hard to find. The second angel has to rummage through the far corners of the earth just to get the few miserable pieces of thankfulness.

The question is why are people so generous in dishing out prayer requests, but are such misers when it comes to thanksgiving?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crazy Little Thing Called 'Viral'

TITLE: Crazy Little Thing Called ‘Viral’ – killing the 'ordinary' softly
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 12 April 2011
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccl 3:11)
MAIN POINT: Viral marketing is the in-thing now. When something goes 'viral' on the Internet, it is a ticket to stardom. However, such phenomenon can unwittingly corrupt the value of the ordinary in at least two ways.

It used to be that one can only go to Hollywood if one has the right connections, the right talent, the right resources, and the right opportunity.

Not anymore.

It used to be that one can become famous only if there is enough publicity, enough media coverage, and endorsements by big names and popular stars.

Not anymore.

All it takes is the phrase: "Your video has gone viral!" and fame (or parodies) comes looking for you.

Social media networks are fast dumping the old paradigms. ‘Viral’ is a new term used by a new generation. Academics research it. Marketers look for it. Youngsters love it. Long–established stars hate it. Not too long ago, the word ‘viral’ was largely restricted to a medical condition, or close to being ‘virulent.’ Even then, it was not commonly used. With new avenues like Youtube, the word 'viral' has gone virulent.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Be Cheerful in Giving

TITLE: Be Cheerful in Giving
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 4 April 2011

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35)

MAIN POINT: Giving is not about what we do with our wallets. It's about how we respond to God in our hearts.

On Sunday, I watch how contestants in the hit reality show, Apprentice, praise one another in good times, and bicker among themselves in bad times. Strangely, the more controversial and breakdowns among the team members, the higher the viewership. Bad news sells volumes. Controversies help ratings. By making them more ‘realistic,’ real people are placed in ‘real situations’ in order to simulate a real environment. The dreaded words of each show are:

  • "You're fired!" (in the Apprentice)
  • "I'm sorry that you've been eliminated from the race." (from the Amazing Race)
  • "You have been eliminated." (from shows like Survivor, American Idol