By Asst Ps Gift Daniel
During last weekend’s worship services, at the pastoral prayer segment, I shared about the ministry time we had in Nepal at the retooling workshop last month. The ministry time includes the Singapore team meeting with various Church Planters (CP), listening to their challenges, and praying with them. The CPs prayed for one another's physical and emotional healing and other needs. We also prayed for a person who experienced a demonic attack; instances of such kind are quite unsurprising in the context of Nepal.
The ministry time at the retooling workshop in Nepal reminded me of several aspects of ministering to one another, as spelled out in the book of Ephesians. I am left wondering how often or spontaneously we are practicing it in our community of faith.
As a church family, one of our responsibilities is to "build one another" (Ephesians 2:22). The vision of building one another expands further across the book of Ephesians like, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs …" (Ephesians 4:29). As our church grows in number, personal ministry to one another is more pertinent than ever. Here are some ways we can strive to build one another up in every capacity possible.
Encouragement, exhortation, and wise counsel
We can build one another by words of encouragement, exhortation, and wise counsel, as mentioned in Colossians 3:16 – "teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom." In the early church, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs were one of the means of teaching and admonishing. Most likely, this occurred in an informal setting where believers gathered in a house to sing and discuss their Christian faith.
These forms of informal, personal face-to-face encouragement are central to helping one another grow. Encouraging a fellow believer who perhaps is disheartened, exhorting or counselling a person in need could take place within small groups where baring one's soul is made possible. This kind of personal, face-to-face interaction is all the more necessary in today's context, where communications and relationships have become digitalized and impersonal. CARE Groups in our church are an excellent avenue to connect personally and build each other up. Are you a part of any small group of believers where encouragement, exhortation, and wise counsel are available on a personal level?
Giving to meet the material needs of a brother or sister
Another pivotal aspect in caring for one another is material giving. John raises an important question “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). The early Church gave readily and generously to meet the needs of poor fellow Christians (Acts 4:34). The ministry of generous giving is as important now as it was then, particularly given the context of the volatile economy, where members of our community could experience a crisis due to sudden job loss, ill health or any other adversity. Our church members have given generously to brothers and sisters in need overseas. We thank the Lord for your sacrificial giving. To meet the needs of our local church community, we have the Benevolent Fund to cater to such needs. As a worshipper at our church, you can receive from, as well as give to, this Benevolent Fund. Please get in touch with any pastoral staff of the church to know more about the Benevolent Fund.
Praying for the sick
Finally, yet another essential aspect of living as a community is to pray for one another. While James 5:14 speaks of the importance of anointing with oil and praying for the sick, one cannot consider this act of praying as a responsibility only of the church's leaders but as an important corporate functional role in the Christian community. Anyone who is in the church is a part of the body of Christ, which implies no one is ever alone, ever more so when he or she is ill. Therefore, all of us share the responsibility to pray for an ailing fellow believer and to initiate (on behalf of the sick believer) the inviting of the church's elders to anoint and pray for their healing.
We extend such grace in our church when we pray for physical, spiritual, and emotional healing for our fellow believers in the church prayer meetings. However, if anyone is sick, praying for them is not a grace that needs to be delayed until church prayer meetings. You are welcome to inform us to reach them and pray with them and for them. Alternatively, after every worship service, during ministry time, you may accompany the persons to the front of the sanctuary so that the leaders can pray for them.
May the Lord enable us to use these opportunities to build one another up. My hope and prayers are that we would be sensitive to discern the needs of our brothers and sisters and minister to them joyfully and spontaneously. As a result, we will be built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).