Rocks and PebblesThe writer of the book of Hebrews instructs us to consider how to ‘stimulate one another to love and good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24). The apostle Paul encouraged churches to trust and serve God, to give generously, to be faithful and an example to other churches.
I would like, therefore, to give the example of a church in Manila, Philippines, which may stimulate you not just to copy another church but to continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ.
Higher Rock Christian Church is a fellowship of about 500 in Metro Manila, Philippines. It rents facilities in an office complex on a main road, surrounded by bars, restaurants and nightclubs. It is one of the main churches in a small denomination (Communion of Christian ministries) with a huge impact throughout the Philippines.
Of the many wonderful characteristics of this church, let me mention three things that stand out to my wife Margaret and me.
The pastors, elders and leaders really labour hard at preaching and teaching the whole counsel and Word of God. The church members respond by each bringing and using their Bibles.
Most seem to have a grasp of the major doctrines of God’s Word. The pastors strive to make the ‘main things the plain things’ so all understand. Preaching the Word takes time! Short exhortations of 6-10 minutes from the Word are given at the beginning of each Sunday service by elders and leaders, who then pray; and the main exposition is given later by the pastor for 45-60 minutes!
When I have spoken at the church, every hymn and spiritual song not only had a beautiful melody (and was easy for all to sing together), but was also true to the Word of God.
As I travel worldwide in ministry, much ‘worship time’ in churches is singing songs that have a catchy tune or are emotionally-tuned for feeling, but no uplifting biblical truth.
Many times only the worship leader and band are singing, even though the words are on a screen, as the song is not easily sung by all. This is not so with what is sung by the Higher Rock Church of Manila.
I asked how they were able to have such wonderful hymns and songs each service. Their answer was ‘hard work and strict adherence to worship guidelines’. These simple guidelines are used to measure all that is sung by the worship team (choir) and congregation.
Each hymn or spiritual song must magnify the Lord Jesus Christ, not self. The emphasis is to be on Christ, not an emotional feeling. Each is to be true to the Word of God (doctrinally sound). The music is not to be worldly sounding (not to cater to the flesh), by which one would mainly want to dance. The hymn should be easy for all to sing and worship God together.
Most in the church are either being discipled in the Word of God or discipling (teaching) others. All the pastors, elders, leaders (and their wives) are helping and training others in the things of God.
The senior pastor’s wife is very busy with four teenage children and also discipling several women as well as working with other wives of church leaders in women’s ministry. The church is especially noted for its effective ministry to women led by the women. There is a strong discipleship programme of real depth to all ages in the church throughout the week.
So dear friends, does this encourage you to work on these three items in your church fellowship? Perhaps you can do nothing about the preaching, but you can help improve the music and especially discipleship.
Let’s build our lives and churches on the rock (obedience and worship to Christ) and not pebbles of sand.
Action International Ministries