Church leaders meet in annual planning retreats | CERC News | Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)

Church leaders meet in annual planning retreats

10 Dec 2021

In November, CERC’s leaders met in their annual Leaders’ Planning Retreat (LPR), as did the Sunday School leadership team just 2 weeks apart. At the LPR, department leaders, growth group leaders, and upcoming leaders met together with the Lead Elder, Robin Gan, the council members, and the pastors-in-training over the course of 3 days to reflect on the past two years that have been, the growth of the church, and to plan for the coming years ahead. 

Having been unable to meet physically for LPR in 2020 due to the pandemic, it was both a sobering reminder of how virtual meetings could never truly replace physical ones and an encouragement to finally meet to talk about the church and pray for her growth. 

LPR 2021 on church premises

Over the past 2 years, despite setbacks and challenges, CERC certainly has seen growth as this could be reflected in the number of new faces at LPR 2021. Departments have grown and new roles have been introduced – all for the sake of striving to run and nurture a church that is worthy of Jesus. 

While some of these leaders are young and inexperienced, they are not without a genuine passion for the gospel and a deep love for the Lord. It is seen in their Christ-centred lives, their hunger for the Word, their willingness to sacrifice their time and money, and their desire to love and build up the church. 

General Manager Penny Lai shared her thoughts on this year’s LPR, “The tangible experience of gathering physically at LPR this year reminded us again of the joy of serving with like-minded brothers and sisters. Whether the ministries have successfully achieved the goals that they have set out for Jesus this year or not, we have all been encouraged by the servant-heartedness of those who worked tirelessly for the gospel.” 

The retreat started off with leadership training sessions that helped the leaders to take stock of their respective departments and how they work together with other departments to contribute to the growth of the church as a whole. Over the next two days, time was also spent confronting the brutal facts – dealing with what needs to be improved in our operations. 

It was also a time to thank God for the growth in our existing and new ministries and to think about mission, discipleship and growth. On top of that, financial matters of the church were discussed, and the leaders reflected on their convictions and how they can continue to love the church in the many years to come. Tan Kok Khai, CERC’s new head of Property Maintenance, shared, “LPR opened my eyes to a well-organised, detailed and purposeful planning for the work of the Gospel. It was very encouraging to see that members were being mobilised for Christ and I’m humbled that I can serve alongside the rest of the leadership for His sake.” 

Having all been screened for COVID-19 prior to physical attendance, LPR was also a precious opportunity for the leaders to bond over games in between sessions and mealtimes at nearby eateries. It was certainly a much-needed retreat for the leaders, not only to discuss department matters but also to catch up with each other.   

Two weeks later, the Sunday School team also had their own planning retreat (Sunday School Planning Retreat – SSPR) where they planned for the whole of 2022’s teaching syllabus. Lessons for the first quarter of 2022 were also drawn up. Emma, head of Children’s Ministry, who works as a speech therapist at her own clinic, Brighton Therapy Hub, explained why training Sunday School teachers was important, “the teachers need to know that they play an important role to get it right for the kids from a young age because they (together with the kids’ parents) are building the foundation of their faith. If they get it wrong, the impact is really big.”  

CERC Sunday School’s syllabus writers and teachers

A session of training in pedagogy was conducted by Joshua Tay, to help the teachers think through what it means to provide better quality Sunday School lessons, and how to cater lessons to specific age groups. Joshua is a member of CERC and is currently working as a Mathematics teacher at St. Joseph’s Institution (International School Malaysia). He holds a Masters in Engineering from Imperial College London and a PGDE from Universiti Utara Malaysia while doing Teach For Malaysia for 2 years. 

Carmen Lee, also a member of CERC – a psychology graduate from HELP University with experience working as a counsellor for MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and Rafflesia International School – ran two sessions on children psychology in order to help the teachers understand the children, so as to be able to teach them in a way that engages them and helps them learn about God. Aside from training, throughout SSPR, resources were shared as teachers worked together to brainstorm fun and creative ideas that would help the kids to learn big biblical truths better. 

When asked what the dream is for CERC Kids, Emma shared, “it’s all about showing kids the true glory of God. We don’t want kids to think that learning about God is a boring thing when it is in fact an extremely important and wonderful matter. We want to grow their curiosity about God, their love and reverence towards God and his king Jesus. That will bring them to live a life of service and worship to Jesus.”

Suffice to say, there is much to be thankful for in the years that have passed, and still, much to work on as ministry never stops. May the church’s leaders have great wisdom and deep love as they serve the church in their capacities, and as they lead their departments in building up the church.