Pastor: Crisis Is in the Church, Not Outside It

The all-too-familiar evangelical message is that the world is in trouble and churches need to help.

Singapore pastor Tony Yeo, however, thinks the reverse is true.

Many Protestants here lack sincerity in faith, said Yeo, deputy senior pastor of Covenant Evangelical Free Church and honorary general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore.

The solution the pastor proposed: to live life from the inside out and to embrace the call to radical discipleship in our lives, and going back to the basics like coming back to the Word of the living God.

Yeo was delivering a keynote address Tuesday during the Global Consultation on Music and Missions at Singapore Bible College. The consultation concluded Wednesday.

Instead of challenging ungodly values in society like convenience, self-centeredness, excessive busyness and superficiality, many Christians are marching to the same tune.

Using the World Cup as an example, the Yeo noted that many people take pains to catch the early morning telecast of the games. Yet Christians tend to complain when it comes to dawn prayer or early morning service.

"It is not an issue of time," said the youthful pastor. "It is an issue of heart."

While it is wrong to be apathetic about faith, the opposite extreme is equally incorrect, he stressed. Pastors and ministry leaders could tend to think that the busier they are the better. Many think that the more important the works they engage in are, the more important their lives are, highlighted the father of two.

Yet, "it is a significant life that makes all the things we do important," he clarified.

Churches could also tend to emphasize participation in their programs, their range of programs and size of their facilities to the neglect of real life transformation.

The pastor cited "fearful" congregations as a sign of crisis in the church at large. There is a fear of losing control in these churches, he said.

Another sign of crisis is "weak foundations" or living a shallow life, according to Yeo. Two role models he mentioned were Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and well-known late British evangelist Alan Redpath.

When asked what the key to his successful political leadership was, Lee had simply responded: sacrifice.

Asked for the secret in life in ministry, Redpath replied, "Bent knees, wet eyes and a broken heart."

Other signs of a church in crisis that Yeo listed include troubled families and the high divorce rate within the church, the neglect of leadership succession, and narrowing the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to the church and attendance rather than making it about Christ and resembling His life of love.