Story with Uncle Reggie: The fun of starting a new ministry
( Hongyan翻譯)

As elder from the beginning of our church in Cincinnati, I have been acting minister 7 times in its history, and every time it seemed like we were starting a new church, and I could relive the excitement and fun of that again, and again. The reason I say it is fun is that it is fun. Included in the 7 times were indeed the first time when we began the church in 1970, 49 years ago, in 1970; the time when we began the youth program; and the time we began the English congregation; plus the times when ministers had gone on to other roles, and I had to substitute for the year or more in their absence. So, in a sense, I have been blessed with wonderful opportunities to help start many ministries “from scratch,” or near scratch. Indeed, I truly believe, each time an exciting and joyful time in any enterprise, and definitely so in the context of a church.


There we are forced to do. Definitely we often feel, and rightly so, rather helpless when we are planning to start a church or ministry, and we quickly realize we are getting involved in something that is truly beyond us, a situation where prayer is priceless and necessary. And we see in the early first century church that is exactly what they did, in the famous “upper room,” and what better source of reference about how to start a church or ministry, than the original church, 2,000 years ago! Acts 1:14 “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

毫无疑问,像建教会这样有乐趣的新事工成功的关键之一,是我们被迫做的、并得到祝福的祷告时间。当我们计划开始建一个教会或开展事工时,我们常常感到无助,我们很快意识到我们正在参与真正超越我们能力的事情,这种情况下祷告是无价和必要的。我们明白这正是早期一世纪初教会他们在著名的“祷告室”所做的、以及比2000年前原始教会更好的有关如何创建教会或事工的参考依据! “这些人同着几个妇人和耶稣的母亲马利亚,并耶稣的弟兄,都同心合意的恒切祷告。”-使徒行传1:14

After 47 years in Cincinnati, serving the Lord, it is finally time to move on.

In fact, when we started planning for the church, all kinds of people started getting interested, for various reasons. Some people liked the concept of church because they felt that it would be a good thing for the Chinese community, and be a force to draw the Chinese community together. Others thought that we could become a good charitable organization, again for the Chinese community that we derived from. But reading systematically and weekly from the Book of Acts, which records the beginnings of the first church in great detail, we were quickly reminded that the purpose of the church is to be God’s representative on earth, the gospel is key to its purpose, and we should not lose our bearings and be distracted by many other secondary needs and concerns. Matthew 28: 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


So, in a very magical way, as we prayed every week, those people who just liked to talk, especially about their “pet reasons” for the church to be started, became quite disinterested in praying to find God’s will specifically for our church. Slowly they drifted away from the regular weekly prayer meetings, and we were left with a core group of believers that were very strong in their belief system, and serious about seeking God’s will for the church. We realized that this was really central to forming a good church, a core group of faithful dedicated prayer warriors, and we had gotten them, maybe somewhat “accidentally” (or so it seemed to us) the first time!

因此奇妙的是,当我们每周祷告,对于那些只是喜欢谈论、特别是对于教会启动 有“他们钟爱的理由”的人,他们对于通过祈祷来寻求上帝给予我们教会的旨意变得不感兴趣,渐渐地离开了每周定期的祷告会。一群核心信徒留下了,他们的信仰体系非常强大,并且认真地寻求上帝对教会的旨意。我们意识到这个有着忠实及奉献精神的祈祷战士的核心小组对于建立一个好的教会真的很重要,我们得到了他们,从外表看起来好像是“偶然”,但是回想起来应该是上帝的特别带领。

One good thing about starting something new is people tend to be quite enthusiastic, especially when they are coming in truly at the ground level. So, I always remind people, that the natural excitement and enthusiasm should not be wasted. Indeed, we discovered with each new venture, the enthusiasm gave us often that extra “oomph” to hang in there, even at times that were a bit difficult. Sometimes I would hear I bit of grumbling, that we are really working too hard, but to me that was refreshing, and even more encouragement that we were on the right track. Being tired when doing the right thing should be a joy, and later on, when we look back at the battles fought, we can relish the experience even more. Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

开始新事物的好处是人们往往非常热情,特别是当他们真正从入门水平加入这个领域。因此我总是提醒人们,不应该浪费天然的兴奋和热情。事实上,我们发现对于每一个新的事工,即使在有点困难的时候,热情往往给我们带来额外的活力。有时我会听到一点抱怨:我们工作真地太用功了,但对我来说这是令人耳目一新的,甚至更加鼓励我们走在正确的轨道上。在做正确的事情时感到疲倦应该是一种快乐,每当回顾所进行的争战,我们可以更加津津乐道。“我们行善,不可丧志;若不灰心,到了时候就要成 。”-加拉太书6:9

Having some good books of reference about how to start a church, and not repeat the usual mistakes, is helpful. But I always remind people that we already have the greatest Book available, and it has clear instructions, guidelines and even the history of the early church to illustrate actually what happens. It’s difficult to beat that! Theory and practice are there for our edification. It’s good to read the Book regularly together as a team, and discuss how it could apply to our setting, and we are always amazed how wonderfully appropriate it is, even after 2000 years. Every time we read the exciting events of the first century initial church, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul, we are just impressed to see how history repeats itself again and again, all over the world. And it gives us a truly correct perspective to put our own church in the setting of the greater kingdom of God, so that we do not go too far astray. Other books could be useful technically as a guide, but I’ve never found them to be as foundationally solid as the original; of course. Acts 2: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

有一些关于如何建立教会、不去重复常规错误的好书作为参考,那是有帮助的。但我总是提醒人们,我们已经有了最好的书,它有明确的指南和准则、甚至有早期教会的历史来阐明当时发生的事情。这很难被打败!理论和实践都给我们以启迪。作为一个团队定期一起阅读这本书是很好的,并讨论它如何适用于我们,我们总是惊讶于它是多么的契合,即使是在2000年之后。每次我们阅读第一世纪初期教会那些激动人心的事件,特别是在使徒行传和保罗的书信中,我们都会看到历史如何在世界各地一次又一次地重演。它为我们提供了一个真正正确的观点,把我们自己的教会置于更大上帝国度的设置中,这样我们就不会步入迷途。其他书籍可能在技术上是有用的指南,但我从未发现它们能像这本原始书籍一样坚固。“(门徒)都恒心遵守使徒的教训,彼此交接,擘饼,祈祷。” -使徒行传2:42

The church always begins small and grows. It is like a magic formula, which it is. Jump in and see it grow. Like the early children and youth program.

With the core team prayer meeting regularly every week, we found the rhythm, speed and momentum were just right. We had the week to think through some issues, and we could come back the following week to see our fellow believers and coworkers, solidly in a team praying, thinking, planning, deciding. You could really say that it was quite a heady time and, if we were not careful, it could indeed all go to our head, because of the excitement. In order to reduce our running on head drive, we needed to be truly humble before God, by making sure that the core meeting was actually focused really on prayer. If I were to “do it again,” I would like to “enhance” the process: in more recent years, during prayers for major matters, I have been encouraged by the use of intermittent prayers during the prayer meeting, pausing to pray for each important item on the agenda, as the issue comes up: thus, prayer can truly penetrate and permeate the meeting, and isn’t an “ceremonial” afterthought. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

每周定期召开核心团队祷告会,我们发现节奏、速度和动力都恰到好处。我们有一周的时间来思考一些问题,可以在接下来的一周见到我们的信徒同工,整个团队一起祈祷、思考、计划和做决定。真的可以说这是一个非常令人兴奋的时刻,如果我们不小心,由于兴奋它确实可以使我们冲昏头脑。为了减少靠我们的头脑运转,我们需要在上帝面前做到实实在在地谦卑,确保核心团队的会议真正专注于祷告。如果我可以“重来一次”,我想“强化”这个过程:近年来在为重大事情祷告时,我为在祷告会期间使用间歇性祷告感到鼓舞,当问题出现,暂停下来为议程中的每个重要项目祷告;因此,祷告可以真正地渗透到会议中,而不是事后的“仪式”。 “你们要先求他的国和他的义,这些东西都要加给你们了 。”- 马太福音6:33

Jesus had 12 apostles, and he led and taught them, and I could say drove them in the right direction, to ultimately set up the church, and to change the world. It was a very small team, not an army. It was a fragile team, who scattered in fear when Jesus was crucified. It wasn’t a team of high powered executives, just “ordinary” country folk. But they were faithful and obeyed his Great Commission, to reach to the ends of the world, knowing full well that Christ had promised that He would be with them, even to the ends of the world. And to top it all off, He precipitated the church, strategically, by leaving them! “All they had to do,” He said, was to remember what He had taught them, and to listen to the Spirit of God, which sounds simple enough. You might now agree in hindsight, it has been a wonderful prescription. Word and Spirit, you really can’t beat that! and one third of the world proves it! John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—

耶稣有12个使徒,他带领并教导他们朝着正确的方向拓展,最终建立教会、改变世界。这是一支非常小的团队,不是一支军队。这是一个脆弱的团队,当耶稣被钉在十字架上时,他们在恐惧中散掉了。它不是一个由高级管理人员组成的团队,只是“普通”乡下人。但是他们忠心并服从他的大使命、到达地极,完全清楚地知道基督已经应许将与他们同在,甚至到世界的尽头。最重要的是,他通过离开他们战略性地促成了教会! “所有他们必须做的,” 他说,是要记住他教给他们的东西,并听取上帝的圣灵,这听起来很简单。你现在可能会事后同意,这是一个很棒的处方。上帝的话和圣灵,你真的无法击败!世界三分之一的人证明了这一点! “我要求父,父就另外赐给你们一位保惠师,叫他永远与你们同在。”-约翰福音14:16

But wait, you say, people do come and go; what happens when one of the key leaders decides to leave? Well, this really happened to us several times, and it was tough I must say, at least initially. We had 3 elders initially for our fledgling church, with 2 of the elders entrusted with the actual organization of the church. Our first shock was that the senior elder-leader of the church, was called to go to a small town in Florida by his company, and suddenly I was left holding the organization bag alone, or so I felt. Then, later when this same elder returned, we were greatly encouraged that he decided, after a few years, to take early retirement and assume full-time elder responsibilities, as de facto minister. At this point, I thought that this would really stabilize the church.


But, after only a couple of years, to my shock again, he got up at a prayer meeting and declared that he had received the calling from God, to proceed to ministry on the West Coast. The transition happened within only a few months, and suddenly I was left holding the bag again, at that time, as the only remaining elder, since the third elder had retired. On both these occasions, during a time when the church was still kind of wobbly, it seemed to me like we were practically starting a church all over again. But actually, what happened was quite amazing. The brothers and sisters all suddenly woke up, and realized that the church was really all of us, and so if the leading elder left, that meant that many of the brothers and sisters had to now wake up, and help out. Which was what happened, and I thought it became a great way to mobilize the entire church! So after about 6 to 12 months, praise the Lord, it seemed like everything was back in shape again. Such are the amazing ways of God. 1 Pet. 2:5 “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

但是仅仅几年之后,我再次感到震惊,在一个祷告会上全职的长老站起来宣称:他接受了上帝的呼召,继续前往西海岸开展事工。过渡只有短短的几个月,我突然再次接手,因为第三位长老退休了,当时我是唯一剩下的长老。这两个情形都是在教会仍然摇摆不定的时候,在我看来我们几乎重新开始建了一个教会。但实际上所发生的事情真是太神奇了。兄弟姐妹们突然觉悟,意识到教会真是我们所有人的,如果带领的长老离开,这意味着许多兄弟姐妹现在必须觉醒来帮助。这就是所发生的一切,我认为这是动员整个教会的好方法!所以大约6到12个月后,赞美主,似乎一切都恢复到良好状态。这就是神的惊人方式。“你们来到主面前,也就像活石,被建造成为灵宫,作圣洁的祭司,藉着耶稣基督奉献神所悦纳的灵祭。”-彼得前书 2:5

Each time, when starting all over again, it is likely good that each congregation seeks what special vision and goal that God might have for us. God put us on this earth for a good reason, and each one of us is here for a special reason. So it stands to reason that each congregation might have a special role to play. We have to start somewhere, and focusing helps us to do something well, rather than trying to do too many things that we cannot handle. Even Jesus had only 12 disciples that he trained in Galilee and Judea, and he personally did not travel beyond these regions except for the adjacent Samaria. And his focus was initially among the Jews, so we can assume that trying to focus on our strengths, gifts and opportunities is a very sensible first approach. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

当每一次重新开始时,每个会众去寻求上帝可能对我们有什么特殊的愿景和目标是很好的。上帝把我们放在地球上是有充分理由的,我们每个人都有特殊的理由来到这里。因此每个会众都可以发挥特殊作用。我们必须从某处开始,专注于帮助做好一些事情,而不是试图做太多我们无法处理的事情。即使耶稣只有12个门徒,他在加利利和犹太地区训练他们,除了相邻的撒玛利亚,他个人并没有旅行超出这些区域。他最初关注的是犹太人,所以我们可以假设,专注于我们的优势,才能和机遇是非常明智的第一种方法。 “但圣灵降临在你们身上,你们就必得着能力,并要在耶路撒冷、犹太全地,和撒玛利亚,直到地极,作我的见证。”-使徒行传1:8

And of course what better reassurance can we have, when we know that, as the early church, we have the Lord with us, as he promised he would be with us to the ends of the earth. He will be with us as we start the church, he will be with us when we grow the church, and he will be with us as we send our young and old all over the world for Him! What better incentive is there in any work, when we know that God’s love and joy are with us, every step of the way? I really cannot think of any other venture in this world that can give us as much excitement and joy. And this can apply for any new venture we have in the church, such as starting a new youth group, new college group, new English congregation, new branch church, new church in Thailand, new church in China, etc. etc. Every time we begin a new venture, we begin this process again, with joy and adventure! Matthew 28:20b “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

当然我们知道,我们可以像早期教会那样得到更好的确据,是我们的主与我们同在,因为主承诺他将与我们一起到达地极。当我们开始创办教会时,他将与我们同在;当我们的教会成长时,他将与我们同在;当我们因着主将年轻人和年长者派送到世界各地时,他将与我们同在!当我们知道每一步都有上帝的爱和欢乐与我们同在时,在工作中我们会有更好的激励。我真的想不出这个世界上会有任何其他的事业,可以给我们带来更多的兴奋和喜悦。这可以适用于我们在教会中任何新的事工,例如开办新的青年团体、大学团体、英语会众和分会教堂,以及泰国和中国的新教会等。每次我们开始新的事业,我们再次充满喜悦和激动人心地启动这个程序! “我就常与你们同在,直到世界的末了。” -马太福音28:20b