10 years. It can be like forever for some, but relatively short for the others. The question is - what will you be in 10 years time? Have you planned your next decade recently? Will you still trust in Jesus' death and resurrection? Where will you move to? Which church will you partner with? What ministry will you serve in? Are you still going to be around?
I first joined FOCUS in February 1995. Like many others, I found FOCUS (or was it the other way around) during the university orientation week, left the booth with my contact details, went to the new comers dinner, met lots of people, joined the Bible study, and started going to church. However, unlike many others I have acquainted over the years, I did little to plan my next moves. Default position is what I took, so I continued staying in FOCUS after graduation, then got married and recently became a father. There goes 10 years.
Where will I be in the next 10 years? I might still be here, blogging about doing Bible studies with overseas students that are half my age. Maybe, if Vivian and I still haven't worked out a plan.
Where will Mandarin Bible Fellowship be in 10 years? That is the real question that I would like to ask. I believe all other fellowship groups in FOCUS have got their future sorted out, so I'll target this enquiry only at MBF.
Let's look at the past first. Economists and meteorologists can always predict the future from the patterns in the past.
- 1999 - MBF started with LW as catechist.
- 2000 - AC started her MTS, partly working wit MBF.
- 2001 - DZ from TBT came and helped MBF for one year.
- 2002 - Vivian started part-time MTS. BYS ministered us as catechist for one year.
- 2003 - TH from CCC joined MBF for his two years "trial".
- 2004 - LC from EFC started full-time MTS with MBF.
- 2005 - AC is back as full-time staff worker, part-time with MBF. TH will start full-time MTS in session 2.
The history looks like a relief to me. I was a bit worried (actually, I worried about it all the time) whether there will be enough hands when LC and TH finished with their MTS apprenticeship this year and next year. There is no one on my radar (I didn't check Josh's) that will come and fulfil the role in 2007. But if the future is as predictable as the past (and if Lord is generous), maybe the exercise of "finding the one" will be much more trivial.
However, being a software developer who like to catch all exceptions, maybe I'll play with certain possible situations. What about there is no one turning up? What about CBS fund cannot afford him? And what else will happen in 2 years? In 5 years? In 10 years? What about Australia government stopped granting visa to students from China so there are no more overseas students to supply MBF?
Besides people's continuous rejection in the last days and His future coming of judgement, there ain't much certainty, especially in a volatile environment like an overseas students oriented church. Sometimes the future possibility of running short of workers really scares the daylights out of me (Who is going to preach this Friday? Who's writing Bible study this Sunday? Who is going to call those new comers this week? Arrgh!!!)
Training the students. Maybe they will look after themselves. Maybe by the time they become graduates, they will be capable enough to serve in leadership and train the other students.
But then we might need to keep the graduates.
It is meant to be a follow up to my previous post. Instead of looking at financial burden of a student church, there is also a possibility getting hit by the plague of leadership exhaustion, as the nature of ministry is high demanding and high turn over.
"Keeping the grads" seems to be Josh's new strategy. But utilising fresh grads does not equal to reforming the church to be workers-friendly. More will be discussed later.