Thursday, May 31, 2007

Present Challenges: Conclusion

I have been Vicar of Christ Church, Kowloon Tong for 7 years. In this series of posts, I have been trying to examine some of the Challenges that I see facing myself and the Church.

On the positive side, Christ Church is a Church with a tradition and strong roots in the local community. Given that we are an English-speaking Church this is very important. We have a wide circle of adherents, that is, people who feel attached to the Church even if they are not regulars at the services. We also have a committed core who support the regualr life of the Church. Services are well-attended. We are in a good position financially with our buildings in a sound condition. We attract many young families because of the Schools, one of the benefits of which is a thriving Sunday School. People who come to Christ Church frequently comment on the friendliness and the warmth of welcome they experience here. Meetings are free from acrimony and there is little argument or divisiveness. This, and much more besides, is a cause for thankfulness.

However, as I have said, I do still think there are serious challenges that need to be faced. Essentially, they all come down to the question of how we can grow spiritually and avoid the danger, as I wrote last time, of being simply a successful, spiritual club. Growing spiritually, as I see it, means 'growing in knowledge and love of the Lord' and engaging in mission. We have amazing opportunities for mission because of the numbers of people seeking baptism and places at the Schools. The problem here occurs because those in this position seem to be uninterested in anything other than advancing their children’s educational careers.

It would help if I had some help. It would make a huge difference to have some clergy support. This need not be full-time stipendiary support. What we call a NSM (a non-stipendiary minister) would make a great deal of difference. There are such people around in Hong Kong; unfortunately, they are attracted to ministry at the Cathedral, which makes for a real imbalance in clergy provision amongst the English-speaking Anglican Churches here. I don’t wish to complain, but being the only clergyman in a Church of this size is very demanding, and means that most of my time and energy is spent on maintenance rather than mission. So while we have the financial and material resources we need as a Church, we do not have the ministerial resources we need to meet the challenges that face us.

Perhaps I am being unduly pessimistic. If I am, then it is only because I find it tragic that we are not fulfilling our spiritual potential and as the spiritual leader of the Church, I must bare the responsibility for our failure to do so. I am convinced that renewing the Church spiritually must now and in the next few years be our priority just as renewing the buildings has been in the past few years. Quite how to achieve this is another question altogether! I’ll keep you informed as to how we get on.

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