Recommitting ourselves for His service
Dear BPCWA worshipper, In mid-February, we distributed the commitment forms to all teachers, facilitators, Nursing Home speakers, and pianists. These forms are not new, as they were introduced back in 2019 to those serving in these particular areas of service which require more specific commitments due to the nature of the ministry. Just as even the government does not give an individual a “lifetime” certification in their “Working With Children” check but requires the applicant to renew their passes regularly, we have our annual rededication and recommitments as well. While I had already written about them in a pastoral back in 2019, I want to take the opportunity to refresh everyone on the purpose of these forms so that we have the right ideas about them and can pray for those in service.
Why commitment forms are required for these roles. These ministries were specifically and intentionally selected because they are very significant areas of service that affect the soundness and health of the church. 1) Teachers, whether in Sunday School or fellowship groups, are important in undergirding and reinforcing the key doctrines and the faith of the church. Those who facilitate DHW and speak at the Nursing Home outreaches are also included in the teaching role. We thank God for peace in the church, and that can only be maintained when the people in the church are also taught doctrines and principles consistent with our system of beliefs. Without this, there will be confusion and chaos, and ultimately disunity. As the pastor, I am responsible for the promotion and ongoing purity of Biblical doctrines in the church. God’s church is the pillar and ground of His truth. It is way easier to be a man-pleaser and allow anyone, regardless of their convictions, to teach so that they will be happy. But if I did so, I am negligent in my role and you should never vote such a pastor into office. Teachers are very important in maintaining and promoting the doctrines we uphold and believe in. Those who, having different convictions and persuasions, teach in Sunday School and fellowship groups can cause confusion when they start to introduce erroneous or the wrong system of doctrines into the church. If we don’t take the necessary precautions, unbiblical concepts and convictions contrary to the BP faith and BPCWA’s constitution are easily introduced into our young children and also into adult fellowships. As taught during our Tuesday night prayer meetings, even a subject like love, taught according to the understanding of the world, is different from what the Bible teaches of “love in the truth” (2 John 1:1). Over time, unsound ideas can change the character of the church moving forward if teachers say that we should accept all and sundry doctrines to avoid criticizing anyone. If this happens, there can be no peace in the church if we are not of “one mind” (2 Cor 13:11). This is especially dangerous if the teachers use their lessons to promote their own system of beliefs to draw men to adopt their viewpoints – especially if the teachers are unhappy with the church’s doctrinal stances. These commitment forms help BPCWA by making clear to every teacher the expectations of the church by requiring teachers to reaffirm that their convictions have not changed. Beliefs are something that one holds strongly and very close to their heart. It is what stirs them. And if these beliefs are different from the church’s beliefs, there will eventually be in the heart the spark of unhappiness and even anger that will grow. Arguments can break out with different viewpoints, affecting the peace and unity of the church. They can use their teaching sessions to propound their views and cause strife in the church. Mark 3:25 “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” For those of you who have received these forms, please read them carefully, and sign them not in order to continue to be in a teaching and speaking position. You must sign with a clear conscience that you are committed to the beliefs of BPCWA. For those that labour together with us and will rededicate themselves to continue to do so, I understand that teaching is a great commitment of time and am thankful for the many that have put in long hours to prepare for their duties. 2) Pianists play an important role in the music of the church. Music changes the thinking about God and how we worship Him. It can do so by how it is played, almost without the hearer consciously realising it. Contemporary Christian music changes the church and reduces the focus on the Word. Unlike secular musicians, the purpose of sacred music is to point men to God. We have taught this in great detail at our earlier fellowship meetings on worship music. In order to achieve this, pianists must commit not to listen to pop, jazz, and other worldly genres of music. This is because their influence can creep into the pianist’s playing style, not to mention that such music is not meant for any Christian in the first place. Also, the importance of consistency and a conservative playing style is important. The commitment to playing according to the score (unless there is a sound reason to make some alterations) helps worshippers to sing without distraction. This means not slowing down at the end of the stanza and not including filler notes which are not in the scores. As a church, we do not want to have the need for our worshippers to adjust to the different playing styles of pianists. If we have consistency in each week and each service and meeting, worshippers can then focus all their heart on the words of the hymn, singing toward God. I certainly do not expect perfection, and mistakes do occur. As we have learned, growing includes growing in our gifts to be used for God. This growth is not about growing more fanciful, but growing to become more disciplined and to be consistent, all of which helps worshippers sing without drawing attention to themselves. Hence, I do give my feedback regularly to all pianists without exception on some areas for them to improve and watch out for. I sincerely thank God for the many times that our pianists have responded well to keep to their commitments. Just as in a choir when the voices blend into one, it is not about one pianist desiring to maintain their unique “identity” or “trademark”, but for all to play consistently and predictably and not to try to outdo each other.
What are in these commitment forms. As mentioned earlier, these forms have been in use since 2019. These forms serve to formalize what is already existing in the church. 1) The first section of the forms is simply a recommitment to what every member vows when they join our church in membership. Namely, the acceptance, support, and promotion of our doctrines, the promise of maintaining their personal Christian walk, the support and submission to the church and its leaders, and faithful attendance of our worship services. While it ought to be a “given”, ie the minimum expectation for members of a church, yet people do change in their views, and that is the reason why there is a need to recommit to these annually for those in key roles. 2) For the teacher commitment forms, as mentioned earlier, there are 2 expectations in addition to what I have already mentioned in item (1). As teachers, it is important that they are foremost in setting the right examples for those that they teach. Hence, teachers are expected to also commit to a) attending prayer meetings (since many of their students attend it), as well as b) the use of hard copy Bibles in church. 3) For the pianist commitment forms, so as to achieve what has already been discussed above, their commitment in short is primarily to play according to the hymnbook scores. It also means that they must not introduce styles found in contemporary Christian music, jazz, or pop etc into their playing, as well as maintain a commitment that they do not listen to such music in their personal leisure time as earlier mentioned too.
The importance of these forms. From the above reasons, I hope we realise that the design of these forms is not only intended to promote the unity and peace of the church but also for the protection of the BPCWA. As those who are serving currently have signed their respective forms last year, this is once again required for this year and will be renewed annually, in preparation for continued service in the year ahead. It is a reminder of our holy service, especially in these key roles. But whatever the roles, let us, as we prepare for Rededication Sunday next Sunday, as part of His body in BPCWA, prepare our hearts to vow to
“by the mercies of God . . . present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom 12:1
Yours in our Lord’s service,