Disruptive. But Enriching. That about sums up 2020.
Who would have thought that we would not be able to worship together in person for nine months? Much of what was planned did not materialize the way we envisaged.
There is so much to be thankful for in a year that almost slipped by unnoticeably.
The year kicked off with a much anticipated conference as Tim Keller, DA Carson and Stephen Tong spoke on the gospel and culture. A promising start to Year 2020 which was to lead to another big event that unfortunately had to be cancelled as borders closed.
Disrupted by covid.
Undaunted, the team quickly pivoted to offering webinars online. Thankfully they were able to reach even more audiences as they cross geographical boundaries.
The Lord continued to bless His work as can be seen below.
Praxis – A Fellowship of Pastors and Leaders to Discuss Practical Theology
Pastors and church leaders of different churches, united in Christ, continued to meet online for fellowship and prayers sharing practical ways of navigating the churches through new challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“Pastoring in the Times of COVID” and “Theological Education & The Local Church” are among the topics discussed. These monthly meetings provided a platform for the overseers to come together, minister to each other as well as be ministered to as they speak the gospel to each other.
Malaysia has a diverse population with different ethnic groups. To reach the Chinese speaking segment, GCN started providing a similar platform for the Chinese-speaking pastors to discuss practical issues of leading gospel-centric ministries.
The newly formed Mandarin Praxis Fellowship has since grown to include pastors who join us from North and East Malaysia as we meet online. In fact, pastors from Hong Kong and Singapore are also logging into the calls as such fellowship in Mandarin is not easily available.
Immersion – Open Online Modular Sessions
Since GCN started the first Immersion session in March with an overwhelming response, we continued to host monthly free training. These short 2-hour sessions aim to create awareness for a fresh understanding of the gospel and its implications on believers’ personal lives and the churches’ ministries.
Short Immersion sessions allow the public to get to know GCN and to see the urgency to plant -gospel-centered churches as well as to sample a taste of more structured training for potential church planters. A total of six English and three Mandarin Immersion webinars were conducted in 2020.
Feedback from the audience has been positive with audiences staying back to chat with the trainers and further discuss questions they have.
A community is slowly forming among the audience as they continue to engage with each other after each webinar in a private online community. Still a young and a somewhat reserved community and we look forward a time when the movement control order will be lifted and we can hang out over Kopi or Teh.
Equipping Church Planters
In preparation for next year’s work, a total of four church planters and nine observers from Malaysia attended the Asia Online Intensive training hosted by City to City Asia Pacific conducted in English. We also have a representative who joined a similar training in hybrid format run by City to City Taiwan in Mandarin.
Although the cohorts lament not being able to meet and network in person, all were appreciative of the conducive learning environments put together by the organizing teams as they prepared to launch new churches in the near future.
Gospel Lab for the Local Church
Apart from training church planters, GCN sees the need to provide churches seeking renewal and revitalization with practical tools to help local church leaders re-examine and realign their ministries with vision and mission.
These training sessions are designed with the participating church in mind, so the discussions are relevant to their context. When the control movement was momentarily relaxed in Sept, we were able to have one in-person session with some 20 participants from a local church. Unfortunately, we had to revert to doing webinars when we were hit by the second wave.
“It was a good session. Content was relevant. It also challenged many of us to think deeper.” – Participant of Gospel Lab
Besides launching the Mandarin Praxis group, the Mandarin ministry organized an online panel discussion session on the “Idolatry of the Heart” in conjunction with speakers from the China Partnership.
Pastor Gideon followed up with two other Mandarin webinars on “Gospel Shaped Church” and “Sonship.”
Year 2021 will see an expansion in the Mandarin work. A series of training on the DNA of a gospel-centered church is in the plans.
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Parakaleo (In partnership with the Parakaleo Ministry)
This ministry caters to Church Planter’s wives and ministry-minded Women. It started as one small group in 2018 which has flourished to three small groups by 2020. These women meet every month to learn and speak gospel-truth to each other.
A 4-day in-person Basic Intensive Parakaleo Training which was to be held off site had to be postponed and finally cancelled due to the re-introduction and extension of more Movement Control Orders.
Disappointed, those who had registered for the training met online and still managed to have a blessed time.
Prior to the online meet-and-greet session, freshly baked comfort donuts were delivered to all registered participants and managed to bring some cheers amidst the disappointment.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The Lord willing, we plan on having an Incubator training for church planters in March 2021.
This is a more spread-out training where cohorts meet once a month. They get to spend more time discussing case studies and practical implementations issues. You can read about the Incubator here.
Details of the training will be released soon, and you can stay updated here.
The Immersion training sessions will also be back. And the first session will kick off in January.
If you have not yet joined our community or mailing list – you can leave your name in the form and we will notify you of the details nearer the time.