42nd TAC Conference – Nov 17 – 19 2017
TAMIL ANNUAL CONFERENCE
PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS 2017
Theme: Seek God’s Glory
I thank and praise God for the great privilege of serving Him in this capacity. It is His doing and I am deeply humbled by His divine appointment. This year has been a learning curve experience. I thank my fellow pastors and the lay leadership for their kind prayers and support. I sincerely urge all of you to pray for me and my family daily. I pray daily for all pastors and members and especially for God to give us His direction and guidance as a conference.
- SEEKING GOD’S GLORY BY GIVING HIM THE OWNERSHIP.
This is the first thing we need to do. We cannot give God the Glory if we cannot give Him ownership. It applies to both the Clergy and the Lay. In my visits to churches, I am indeed glad to see pastors and leaders committed to do all the ministries of the work within the vineyard of God. However, there is a real need to give God the ownership of the ministry. What it means is that firstly, we must always be careful to consult God at every juncture, especially in our LCEC. Secondly, it is by ensuring that we do not seek our selfish desires or bring our own vested agendas into the ministry. Pastors or leaders who do not give God full ownership and control of their own hearts will never be able to lead their churches to seek God’s glory. There will only be politicking and recurrent divisions at every turn.
- SEEKING GOD’S GLORY THROUGH CONSOLIDATING THE LOCAL CHURCH.
The subsequent thing we need to do is address our weaknesses in a truthful, honest way. Each LCEC must have plenary sessions to identify one or two areas of weaknesses that they will need to specifically work on for the year 2018. The questionnaire at the back of this address will be helpful.
- Preaching/ Pulpit Ministry
It will be not be possible to see the flames of revival without fire in the pulpit. Though many of our pastors are good preachers, some pastors are struggling even with the basics. The problem becomes acute when they do not see the need to improve because they do not get any type of feedback. They then carry on without realizing that they need to do something about their preaching, especially when members are too polite to convey the reality. I have asked the Board on Ministry to do two things in the coming years. Firstly, to find ways of bringing feedback on preaching to all pastors. This will bring encouragement to pastors who take time to prepare and preach well, while indicating the need to improve to the others. Secondly, the Board on Ministry will need to find ways to conduct personal level coaching and training to help specific pastors who are struggling in this area. If we do not address this problem, we will then find members leaving to other churches as they find spiritual food, comfort and edification elsewhere.
- Visitation/caring Ministry
It needs to be a two-prong approach. Firstly, pastors will now be required to set aside one day of the week as visitation day. They will need to give report on the names of the families visited to the LCEC on a monthly basis. Secondly, the lay leader and the LCEC Chairman must team-up to visit members. They should visit those who have not been coming to church for some time, the sick or even new believers. They could visit either three of five families within a month. They too will report to the LCEC on a monthly basis. This will help the two key leaders of the church to work together and also feel the pulse of the grassroots. Together with this, most churches need to improve the way we embrace newcomers and visitors. Efforts need to be taken to consciously work on this area.
- Being conscious of the Family unit.
All our churches must ask whether they are conscious of developing family centered ministries. There is a danger that we deal with individuals separately and subsequently lose out on the family aspect. This is the reason pastors and leaders need to visit and connect with members in their family setting. Just having ‘family camp’ may not be enough. To begin with, families can be taught to have daily family prayers and someone within the LCEC assigned to monitor whether families really do so and gather feedback to help families who do not meet for prayer. My humble plea is for each LCEC to consider this very seriously and pray and ask God what to do.
- Burden for the lost / Evangelism
The Go Challenge is very much still before us. Churches must not forget that the primary reason for their existence is to reach out to the lost. Many churches are weak in this area. It upsets me when churches do not even have an outreach or even a preaching point. Churches must at least begin to pray earnestly for the lost in their area. If God sees our heartfelt cries he will surely open shut doors for us to work. Only then we will be able to Bring in the Sheaves with Prayer and Perseverance. If we lose this vison, we will then become a social club, existing primarily to organize programs that only serve to keep us make us happy.
- Children’s Ministry
Many churches have good Children’s ministry. Local leaders must take this ministry very seriously especially because the environment in schools has become really perilous. The following needs to be done A. We need to get a committed group to pray for them and their future. B. Teachers with passion need to be identified and trained. They will need to see themselves as spiritual models and mentors. C. Lessons must ensure salvation and faith development instead of giving head knowledge alone. D. Parents must follow up on the weekly lessons and ensure a spiritual environment is maintained at home. E. Pastors must ensure VBS and other programs do not just become another annual affair but actually bring spiritual growth and faith development.
- Youth Ministry
We are glad to see many churches having good programs and assigning budgets for youth ministry. While this is good by itself, it becomes dangerous if it only excites them and keeps them occupied. Rigorous discipleship must be in place with conscious mentoring concurrently taking place. Only then will our youth ministry be complete. This happens when the adults can open their arms to allow them within the circle of ministry among the larger body /mainstream ministries. Pastors and LCEC leaders need to understand that individual faith development primarily takes place in the local church. The youths return to the local church after what happens to them in their camps. What happens after that? In this aspect personal mentoring becomes a key strategy. Although the District and Conference MYF have their own roles to play, the main and foremost action needs to take place in the local church, consciously, week after week.
- CANDIDATES FOR FULL TIME MINISTRY
We are glad that we had four students graduating from STM this year. However, we need to pray and encourage more youths and young adults to commit themselves. Churches must begin to earnestly pray for this during their Sunday services, weekly prayer cells and other groups on a regular basis. The Board on Ministry is open for both men and women to come in. The role of parents in this matter cannot be overstated.
- CARING FOR OUR PASTORS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Pastors are also human and they need much encouragement from all of us. The sacrificial ministry of the pastors needs to be appreciated. The pastor and the family should be encouraged to go for breaks. We are happy that the P.D Methodist center is now offering discounts for pastors during off-peak seasons. Furthermore, it will be good if our Laity Board can initiate something on a regular basis; like having a Pastor Appreciation Sunday/month or something similar. Very often, young people are afraid and shun pastoral ministry because they feel that pastors do not get appreciated for their labor. Usually, this is a wrong assumption as members do appreciate pastors but it is done mostly in private.
- CARING FOR OUR RETIRED PASTORS
We already have 12 retired pastors. Two more pastors will be retiring this year. By the year 2024 we will have 24 retired pastors in TAC. We need to remember that we are a growing conference today only due to the previous work of our retired pastors. We are merely building upon the foundational platform that was built by them earlier. While we are happy to have our retired pastors who still continue to serve when asked of them, we need to care for them further. The medical insurance stops at the age of 70 and health issues become a major challenge. This year we called for a meeting (October) for all the retired to inquire their needs and also to encourage them. Many of them are currently relying on their children. The EXCO has mandated the Pensions Board to look into a Pension Fund which will be explained further by the Finance Chairman. This small token will help mainly in their health / medical needs and also to cover some of their monthly bills.
- ANNUAL CONFERENCE AGENCIES
The ministry of the MYF, MYAF, Methodist Women and MSF is greatly appreciated. Their detailed reports will be given later. It is my desire that each local church agency would prayerfully adopt one component of ministry when the three separate ministry brochures are given later.
- ANNUAL CONFERENCE BOARDS
We also need to appreciate all the chairpersons of the Boards. They will need to be more focused in the coming years. Their detailed reports will also be given later.
By God’s Grace, this year I have been able to visit many churches. The list attached at the back of this report. I am grateful for the hospitality and also for the opportunity to minister and conduct training. Next year I am also planning to visit more outreaches as well. It will be good if pastors of the churches that I have not visited this year give their dates for me to come in 2018.
- TAMIL CHURCH FRATERNITY
- The TAC is part of the CCM Indian Work Committee. They are planning for a program next year.
- The CICLM had their first conference this year and it was attended by some of our pastors. Rev C. Jayaraj is the Chairman while Rev Devadass Ratnam is the Secretary. Some of our pastors are also the regional representatives.
- The FIDC met in May this year and it helped to bring all of the Malaysian and Singaporean denominational churches together.
- MALAYSIAN INDIAN BLUEPRINT
This is an important initiative by our government. It contains vital statistics that can give us much to mull over prayerfully. I would like the Lay leader and the Board on Laity to work on ways of harnessing information from it for future ministry in. They will need to form a sub-committee, which will then organize district level seminars to help our members to understand it. It needs to be regional in order to will attract better attendance and participatory process.
- THE METHODIST CHURCH IN MALAYSIA
Bishop has always been supportive to our TAC concerns. We are happy that that we can contribute meaningfully into the life of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. Bishop has asked that we continue to use the P.D Methodist Center as the home of our Annual Conferences. We are glad to see improvements in service. However, please note the following aspects:
- We need to be cognizant of the long-term roadmap that was previously set before us, especially in areas where the work among the Orang Asal as Bumiputera believers are concerned.
- We need to support our upcoming Methodist Prayer Convention in Sibu which will be from the 31st August to 2nd Sept 2018.
- Our private education initiative to bring our Christian ethos and agenda back into our schools is coming on well. The Penang School will be dedicated on the 9th of March 2018. Please attend if you are able to.
- The Vocational Training Centre (Aluminum works and Air conditioning) in Sitiawan will be fully functional in 2018. Please use the brochures to help needy youths who have not excelled in academics. Churches can support the particular student over the one-year program.
- The General Conference Pastors’ School for 2019 has already been scheduled. It will be from the 2nd to the 4th of April 2019.
CCM continues to represent our concerns as the main protestant bloc. They will be having their 70th Anniversary Dinner next year and it will be good if many of us can attend it. Archbishop Julian Leow has been elected as the new CFM Chairman. Bishop Ong is one of the Vice Chairpersons. We are thankful that both CCM and CFM regularly bring out Press Statements on current issues.
- NATIONAL CONCERNS
It is sad that many matters in our nation rock the life of the masses. Those hardest hit are the poor and from the minority communities. Because of this, the Orang Asli in West Malaysia and the Bumiputera in East Malaysia are very much lagging behind in development. We need to see ways to empower them as well as help them to reclaim their rights and privileges. We need to pray much for the upcoming General Election in 2018. Our people need to involve themselves and not shy away from political participation. We need to pray for God’s will to be done and wholeheartedly accept the outcome even when it is not what we anticipated.
I wish to thank our Bishop and all the other presidents for their fellowship and wise counsel when needed. I also wish to place on record my gratitude to all our pastors and lay leaders who toil hard to spearhead the local churches in TAC. I also wish to thank the EXCO members, Conference Secretary, Conference Treasurer, all the Board Chairpersons and the Agency Presidents for their support and hard work. The office staff Bro. Peter, Sis Mercy, Sis Jayam and Bro Shakespeare have really been helpful to say the least. I also appreciate the prayer team and all our members in churches who pray for me regularly. Lastly, I wish to appreciate my family for sharing me with all others in TAC.
LOCAL CHURCH MINISTRY CHECKLIST FOR 2018
- What are two weak areas that my church will focus on for this year? What will be some of the steps taken to address this?
- What are the steps taken to assure that the Children in the church receive Christ as their personal savior?
- What are the steps taken to ensure that the Youths are given opportunities for ministry to grow as disciples for Christ?
- What are the steps taken to pray for and encourage people to commit for Full Time Ministry?
- What are the weaknesses in the Evangelism Ministry of my local church? How is it being addressed?
- How does my church ensure that members are being ministered to within their family context?
- Is my local church visitation effective (both pastors and leaders)? What else can be done?
- How can we improve our welcome and follow up of newcomers?
- Is the Commitment Fund and the Development Fund offering being sent monthly?
- Is my local church praying earnestly for TAC and for the nation? How can this be increased?