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“CARMEL@50!” – the Road Ahead

Dear members and friends,

“CARMEL@50!” – the Road Ahead

At our ACM on 1 January 2014, I presented a paper tilted “CARMEL@50!” Why is there a need for such a paper?

There are two main reasons. Firstly, at our last two Presbytery Meetings of BPCIS we had been alerted to the fact that all B-P churches in Singapore are stagnating.

This is a matter of grave concern. Secondly, over the last year our pastors are beginning to hear members asking: “Where are we heading as a church?’ Without a clearer sense of direction, and with the imminent danger of stagnation, there is a possibility of a sudden downturn in years to come. We can’t afford to just wait for that to happen!

Our average attendances over the last seven years are as follows (excluding SEMS, which has an average of 228 worshippers last year):

Year ES1 ES2 SES Youth MWS Rhoda Children TOTAL
2007 394 168 78 73 83 8 168 972
2008 387 182 75 110 83 16 192 1,015
2009 393 219 55 95 78 15 161 1,038
2010 403 227 85 93 72 18 151 1,049
2011 401 246 80 87 80 14 143 1,051
2012 395 253 91 95 88 12 140 1,074
2013 336 317 86 93 120 13 133 1,098

As you can see from the statistics above, our growth is leveling off in recent years, and we are now facing stagnation. Generally speaking, the following can be considered as signs of stagnation:

a. Low or no numerical growth over the last five years (we thank God for the 12.9% growth we have enjoyed over the last 7 years; nevertheless, we are in stagnation mode)

b. Additions are offset by migration (while we are still having positive growth, we cannot take this for granted; major conflicts or disillusionment has triggered a sudden, mass outflow in some churches)

c. Sense of fatigue or weariness among members (we are thankful that members are still responding to serve in different ministries; as a guide, we will not launch a new ministry unless we have a core-group to wrap around it)

d. Lack of clear direction and purpose (this is perhaps our greatest need now; we need to clear sense of direction to unite our church forward)

Therefore, conscious that it is not healthy to remain passive in view of imminent stagnation, our Session sees this as a critical moment to rally our church for the challenges ahead. And since our 50th Anniversary is just around the corner (in 2017), we also thought it is a good opportunity to clarify “why we exist”, “what we aspire to be”, and “how we can get there”. The tentative answers to those questions are now summed up in a document titled “CARMEL@50!” I have also shared the gist of the paper at our ACM four weeks ago. Having conducted preliminary discussions at the ACM, our main challenge now is to process “CARMEL@50!” with the rest of our members at large. The following are the steps we propose to take in the months ahead:

a. Our pastors/ elders will be planning to visit all CGs to hear your views and seek your support for “CARMEL@50!”

b. For those who do not belong to a CG, we will also arrange town-hall meetings to dialogue with you. We don’t want you to be left out.

c. Sermons focusing on “CARMEL@50!” will also be preached by our pastors throughout this year to ensure continuous engagement with the church

d. Our “CARMEL@50!” document is still a draft and is not cast in stone; we value your feedback so that together we can co-create a better future

e. The entire process of engagement with members should be completed by April 2014. We will then officially endorse the document at our 47th Anniversary Service on 25May 2014.

f. Once we have officially endorsed “CARMEL@50!” we will then spend the rest of the time leading up to our 50th Anniversary to give our best effort to grow our church.

Let us remember: the process of arriving at a document and uniting our church behind it is only 10% of the work. The remaining 90% of the work is still ahead. It cannot be done on our human strength. It can only be accomplished with the help of the Holy Spirit as he searches our hearts, giving us conviction to love his church, and energizing us to collectively make Carmel a better place.

So, why do we exist? We exist “to build a community of disciples which impacts the world for Christ!”

What do we aspire to be? We aspire to be “a Spirit-formed Community; firmly rooted in Word and Prayer; then bearing fruit through Worship of God, Fellowship with Believers, Service in Church, & Outreach to Community; so that together we can touch lives for Christ!”

Or, if you prefer it in one sentence our tag-line is: “Spirit-formed to transform!”

Pastor Daniel Chua

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