Serving at Church

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Do you serve at church on top of working and possibly serving with other ministries? A lot of people ask me if I serve at church. Honestly, I wrestle sometimes trying to decide whether I should or not. If this was ten or twelve years ago my whole life was spent in the local church serving in our high school and college ministries.  Now things are a little different since I am traveling a lot more than ever before, long hours at work, as well as a four year old and a new daughter on the way.

I know this is a question that some people have wrestled with and so I wanted to share a few thoughts and “guidelines” that have helped me in the last ten years.   Other people may have different opinions but these are just some of my personal thoughts and opinions.

First and foremost, no matter what we do, it should bring glory to God. Everything we do can help to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ in some way. Acts 1:8 says that we are to take his Word from Jerusalem Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  However, does that mean we should take every opportunity that comes our way to serve? Here are a couple of questions to ask I think that may be helpful in deciding when to serve and when not to serve in your church:

What are your areas of strength, passion or gifts?

There are 20 spiritual gifts according to Scripture given specifically for the upbuilding of the body of Christ: administration, apostleship, compassion, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, healing, helping, interpretation of tongues, knowledge, leadership, miracles, prophecy, servanthood, shepherding, teaching, tongues, and wisdom.

What are the activities that you enjoy doing? Things that give you energy? How has God gifted you?  What does it mean to have a passion for something? It’s not always related to being gifted. Passion is what drives you to do your best because you care. It is noticeable to those around you and can influence others. Passion makes serving less of a duty or obligation. Duty and obligation can be intentional but unlike passion, the heart is not there. Without a heart in the area of service, one can get burnt out or bitter about serving. Serving with passion and utilizing the gifts that God has given you can be life giving.

After twenty plus years of doing ministry in different capacities, I now know what I am good at and what I am not. I am not a good coach or mentor.  It’s not how I’m wired, and I am not passionate about it. So, when I “have” to do that, I feel drained. On the other hand, give me a vision and I can plan future steps and get excited about putting a team together to have the vision come to fruition – project management.  That is innately in me and I believe God planted that in my design. Rarely, will I turn down an opportunity that involves project management.

Are you serving to fulfill a need within the church?

There are times, passion or no passion, we just “suck it up” and help. At home, we all pitch in some way, like throwing out the garbage, dishes or laundry. Why? Because we are family. It’s no different at church with our church family. We want to help each other and share the load. As great as that is, I noticed that if you serve out of need for too long of a time in an area that you have no passion about or in an area that you do not excel at, you run the risk of burning out or growing bitter.  Eventually, you won’t want to do it anymore. I am not good at children’s ministry, but at church, I volunteer to sub when someone backs out or if extra help is needed during the holidays. But if you ask me to do it every other week, I would not. I know, that it would not be good for me or the kids. My dislike for the job would start to show, which is bad. Be careful also not to be guilted into service. Group think within churches is huge. Whenever a new vision or project arises, people are asked by pastors or leaders. That isn’t bad, but when you do it out of guilt, then it is bad. I’ve done it and seen it firsthand.  

Do you feel a leading from God to do this?  

What is God calling you to do?  What is the burden you feel in your heart?  Do you know what your calling is or where God is leading you to focus your efforts? I believe it can change at different points of your life. For example, many of us work in the marketplace. That is your mission field to serve God. But then God can call you to focus on your family and serve them because of your children or family illness. In the book, Designing Your Life by Dave Evans, it helps us to realize who God designed us to be and how to live your life around that. In most cases, there is prayer and affirmation from peers/mentors after making the decision to switch areas of service or focus.

God calls us to be in community with each other. Why? Not only are we called to serve one another (Galatians 5:13) but to make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification (Romans 14:19). Basically, we are to spur each other on to finish this race that we have begun in Christ.  Jesus had his disciples that walked beside him. Serving involves other people – those you serve, those you serve with and those that help you serve. It’s a privilege to serve but let’s remember why we serve and who we serve as we bring the Gospel to life in our house, workplace and church.

Is serving the wisest choice for your life NOW?  

How much is on your plate? Sometimes we just need to say no even though the need is there, and the cause is good.  Serving is a privilege and opportunity for a person to be blessed. We need to evaluate what is going on in our lives before making the decision to serve. Honestly, you may not have the time to serve well.  It may not even be a good season to serve. I’ve been very active in my local church, leading college ministry, doing camps and teaching Sunday School. But with the growth of Resource Global and Createpossible, traveling constantly, and my family to take care of, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do it all.  My struggle with cancer two years ago also taught me to not push beyond my physical limits. I had to scale back and be more discerning. God doesn’t want just part of us, He wants us to serve wholeheartedly. He also wants us to take care of ourselves and treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19).

Saying no to serving is hard. But for the right reasons, God will honor that decision. Don’t say no out of laziness or apathy. Ultimately, it is your choice to serve or not. You only need to be accountable to God, no one else. Pray to hear God’s calling and leading when deciding to serve. What is God calling you to do?  

Interview with Felicia Hanitio

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Felicia is a young marketplace leader living in Jakaata.  Having graduated from Vanderily University she moved back home to work in Jakarta.  She was part of Resource Global’s second cohort in Jakarta.

What is your story? What do you do right now?

I live in Indonesia right now and have been living in Jakarta for two years. I am actually a Singapore citizen. My parents were born and raised in Indonesia, but I have lived pretty much most of my life not in Indonesia. I have lived in Singapore, Shanghai, and I studied in the states. Through it all, I had the privilege to interact with different cultures and to meet people with different backgrounds and life stories. For me, even today, this is something that continues to be an area of passion (interacting with different cultures and people of different backgrounds) and continuing to build transcultural relationships.

Another big part of my story is that when I was a university student in the states (at Vanderbilt), that is when I was really transformed and became a follower of Christ. For the first time, I understood my identity and purpose in life. I saw college as a time that really transformed me and set me on a solid ground. This is why I continued to have a big burden for university students and developing them. I continued to invested in at the university.

Right now, I work for the Djarum Foundation. I am focused on education: working a lot with educators, school leaders, and school systems. Essentially, I want to help build the next generation, starting from the earliest ages. With my work, I also see where I can work on my primary areas of ministry - whether it is building relationships with those of different faiths and cultures, or participating in God’s work to build the next generation.

Were you involved in the Asian Christian Fellowship of intervarsity at Vanderbilt?

I was involved with ACF my freshman year along with Navigators. My primary ministry was ACF.  I became a member and had the option to join a small group and coordinate new student outreach. Ultimately, they involved different discipleship relationships.

You mentioned that interdenominational faith conversation was important to you, why has this become such a passion for you?

That came out of personal experiences. In my senior year, it became a really big theme, an area of brokenness that was often talked about on and off campus. I befriended several Muslim Malaysian students who were really struggling to feel welcome and accepted. I remember just seeing how fellow Christians were some of the people who were most hurting our muslim cousins. For me, it felt like this was an area we were called to love and reconcile. As I learned more about God’s heart for reconciliation for the nations, I became more and more interested in learning how I could be a part of that.

One of my most impactful experiences during my senior year was befriending a girl from my spanish class. We started out just being partners for different conversational activities. Then we started getting meals, sharing conversations about God and what we missed about home. We even went to a basketball game together. Because of that, I became more and more interested in learning about my Muslim friends - especially those from southeast Asia, from Malaysia, and from Indonesia. Many felt that they were demonized by a the media, or that many people were misunderstanding them. I felt a responsibility to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the body of Christ and take the initiative to seek reconciliation. I wondered how do we(Christians) really share the love of Christ and how do we share the gospel, especially when what they(Muslims) experience from Christians is hate, and not love? That was one of the reasons I wanted to move to Indonesia - to continuing learning about what the relationship between Christians and Muslims looks like. What are some of the areas of brokenness? To unpack some of that baggage was to just listen.

You spend a lot of time in Kudus, can you please tell me about that city?

Kudus is indonesian for holy. Kudus is a small town in Central Java, and has a long history. It is one of the major cities for the spread of Islam. Islamic saints come from Kudus and the surrounding areas. However, it is also a city that has a very fascinating history of interfaith tolerance. As Islam was growing and spreading in Kudus (and surrounding areas), one step of tolerance that the muslims decided to take was to respect their remaining Hindu neighbors by refraining from eating beef. So today you will see that Kudus is really known for local dishes that use buffalo instead of beef. A lot of people think it is just the tradition, but actually it contains this amazing story of interfaith awareness. Today, as we see certain themes of radicalism, the question being asked is, How can they remember their story as a city? and How can they reinterpret for today's context?.

I would love to get your feedback about your time at Resource Global. What were some of the things God taught you through the cohorts?

So a big theme for me throughout the cohort and especially through the GCG, the Global Court Gathering, was gospel-based risk taking. Being a part of a high caliber cohort and a program that is all about leadership development, I think sometimes it’s easy to fall into the illusion that we always have to have things put together, and know what we want to do with our life. I think as I got to know the cohort, the people leading it, seeing transparency (seeing people share their brokenness transparently, even their failures and how God guided them through that), and talking about it during the GCG, I found that God was humbling me. I was reminded that the whole point is to be broken and be used by Him in our brokenness. To know that we can take big risks and fail, and learn and grow through failure because God is sovereign. To see other people who have gone through that, and know that they are actually okay. They are even better having gone through that process. That has given me a lot of additional courage to try things I don’t really feel I am necessarily good at, and to take an attitude of learning, and subjecting myself to God’s process, and not feeling as if I have to perform.

How was your time with your mentor? How often did you guys meet?

We met about once a month. It has been a blessing to walk with her. She was a real encouragement, and not just with Resource Global. I went on a mission trip with HMCC, and she was one of the people who really prayed with me, for me, and for the missions trip. She encouraged me in my growth in many different areas. She also works in education, just a little bit ahead of me. Additionally, she too, is a third culture kid. We really related in a lot of different passions and life experiences. In terms of personality and ways of thinking, we were really different, so that was refreshing.


Interview with Suparno Adijato, Chairman of the Board, Resource Global Jakarta

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Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an Indonesian, who has been living in Jakarta for thirty years. We have a family plantation and mining business. My wife and I are educators for preschoolers to adults. But my passion is in ministry, building up and discipling young adults so they can contribute to their cities.

What gives you hope for the city of Jakarta?

The number one word that comes to mind when I think of Jakarta is vibrant. Jakarta is full of life, even traffic jams represent the city’s vibrance. Jakarta, with a population of 30 million people, is the second biggest megapolitan in the world, just short of Tokyo. Another word for Jakarta is improving. Indonesia used to be at the bottom of Transparency International. In 1998, we had one of the worst economic crisis, along with a change of government. But amidst the skepticism by many people, things are improving in the country.Many people thought Indonesia would go down the drain, but people have been praying for the country. There is a national prayer network that has millions of people covering Indonesia with prayers.

You mentioned there are five giants (problems) in the city of Jakarta, what is the first problem?

Corruption is a big problem. It breeds inefficiency. By being inefficient, you get more money. Corruption also breeds uncertainties and risks. Foreign investors will not invest if the risk is too high due to corruption. With corruption, people can be bought. There is no security when you don’t know who you can trust. People don’t need to have integrity where there is corruption. So I believe that if our society can overcome corruption, then we would be on the right path.

What is the second giant?

The second giant is inequality. Not only are there minorities in terms of race and religion, Indonesia has one of the greatest unequal distributions of wealth amongst its people. There are three classes of people:

  • the few, who have a lot of wealth,

  • the small amount, which is considered is middle class,

  • and then the class majority of Indonesians fall into, those who are near poverty.

What is the third giant?

The third giant is vulnerability. A society works well if the law works to protect the people. The law is not perfect, but so is the implementation of the law in Indonesia. There are inefficiencies in the way the law is drafted. Due to that fact, a lot of times people feel that the law is against them. As a result, the people are wary and do not know who they can trust. There should be some form of social justice.

What is the fourth giant?

The fourth giant is poverty. Unemployment is a huge issue. The government has made improvements, but there is still a lot of unemployed people. For example, people who work on a farm work for about six months and only about five hours a day. So if they get sick, there is no money. People here run into a lot of problems because of debt.

What is the fifth final giant?

The final giant is hopelessness. There is an overarching sense of hopelessness and oppression. But Jesus has come to help those that are oppressed; God has given us hope through Jesus and hope for the future. There is hope. I believe our society can and will continue to improve going forward.

Any last thoughts?

The Bible talks about David being the giant slayer. In our lives, we have Davids, but also men who can be Davids and support Davids. God can use everybody. Although we may not be a David, we can still help to bring back the kingdom. All of us can do something to slay giants.