Saved to Serve – It’s all about the people! (or is it?)
Posted on 24 Sep 2020 by CERC
CERC Foundation Day Celebration
Did you know there are around 36 ministry departments in CERC? From the cleaning team to the music ministry, we believe we are all saved to serve!
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes unnoticed, but no work is less important to our collective ministry. Everything you experience on a virtual Sunday or a Geddit event (and even what you’re reading on your social media now) is a result of many departments coming together to work for one common goal – the glorifying of God’s name.
These include work done by the Technical Services & Support (TSS) and Human Resource (HR) departments. What do they do? Why do they do what they do? To find out, we spoke to Wei Kin, the department head of the Human Resource department.
Could you introduce yourself and the department that you head?
Okay, so, hi I’m Wei Kin. I’ve been a CERC member since 2018, and I’ve been in Human Resources (HR) for almost about… two years now. So this department is relatively new – basically I’m the first Head of Department (HOD). We never really had one before this. Previously, the membership department and the church office would handle bits of the job scope that HR now is responsible for, but now that we’ve grown as a church, Elder Robin decided to streamline it into HR.
What does the HR department do?
There are two separate functions of HR: the operational and strategic HR. Operational HR takes care of the staff salary, the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) stuff, annual leaves – basically what a typical HR department would be doing.
Our main focus however, would be the strategic HR. To put it very simply, what we do in strategic HR is talent management. It’s from an Ephesians 4 understanding, where Paul talks about how God gives to His people gifts so that they can serve the local church and build it towards maturity. We believe that every part of the individual, and every skill that an individual possesses is God’s gift to the church. So the main part of the job scope would be managing these gifts. We scout for talent, get to know people and their hobbies. Although we do look into their degrees, it’s also about soft skills. We’re always thinking about what soft skills people have that they can use to contribute to CERC as a whole.
How do you recruit people into their respective departments?
Different departments have different requirements. On one hand, we do need more people who can do certain easier stuff, like admin, data entry, managing certain excel sheets… Those kinds of things. But most departments are quite skill-specific as well. And since we’re all voluntary and we all lead busy lives, that’s one of the hardest jobs for HR: to find people who can do the job and have time to do it. Thankfully we’ve been blessed with members who understand that everyone is to be a Full-Time Minister. What I mean is that – you don’t see anyone going around claiming to be a part-time Christian right? So in the same way, Full-Time Christians are supposed to live as Full-Time Ministers. We’re just as Christian on the weekdays as we are on Sundays.
You know how some people are just like “oh, you’re free? Okay come and help.” That’s not how it really works in church.
A lot of it comes from attitude. I mean, for one, you need to be Christian lah… It’s the F-A-T spectrum: Faithful, Available/Able, and Teachable. So those are the main things that we look for. Elder Robin tends to say that talent is overrated, and that what matters more is the right heart and the right mindset.
What do you mean by the ‘right mindset’?
Ah right. As HR we always want to make sure that people have established a firm foundation in the gospel before serving.
Ultimately, serving is simply a function of BEing Christian, you know?
So gospel first, competency second.
In fact, if someone is clear on the gospel, it’s likely that competency wouldn’t matter as much anymore, because the right gospel understanding would produce a servant-hearted willingness to develop the needed skills.
How does HR know if someone’s gospel foundation is firm enough yet?
We work closely with GG leaders, who are the ones who know their sheep best. HR definitely doesn’t want to just rush people into service.
We would much rather a few people serving because they realise who they are – sinners saved to serve, rather than have a huge workforce who are busy doing ministry just for the sake of doing it.
How do you determine workload? Does it depend from person to person? How do you know if too much is too much?
That’s a very good question. We don’t know until they tell us. And in departments, when we’re all doing our jobs, HOD’s tend to have blind spots and they would not be able to tell if someone is struggling unless the person speaks up. And we understand too — it can be taxing as a student or working adult, to juggle studies, student ministry, a 9-5 job, family life, and on top of that serving, in church.
HODs or GG leaders can also flag it up to me when they find out that their members have been particularly busy or feeling tired recently. From then on I would just be connecting the various parties and getting them to communicate. I’ll make sure that the GG leader talks to the HOD, and if necessary, to bring the GG member along. So it’s sort of, like, if you’re too shy and you want a no-judgment kind of environment, then you can just come to HR and say lah. You know HR in companies right, you’re literally the complaint centre. Because you can’t say anything to your boss, and your colleagues don’t have power. Basically HR is supposed to take care of the welfare of the person. And we do prioritise Word growth, so it matters that our members have time to grow spiritually and have enough time with their families. Works of love towards the church is a healthy expression of our faith. The HR department wants to find the right place for each member to use their gift to the greatest capacity. But we also want to make sure that their service does not take away time they need to grow, spending time on God’s word.
But of course I’m not going to take every statement for what it is. If you’re a bum, that’s not the main reason you don’t have enough time to read your Bible, right?
What do you love most about serving in the HR department?
I think one of the things I enjoy about HR is that you get people to know the church better, to understand the ministry better. When I assign people to their departments, it’s because I want them to know the church by working for the church, and not just be consumeristic, only listening to sermons on Sundays and coming for Growth Groups.
Part of knowing the church is serving together.
That’s how you get close, you know? All those late nights doing decorations, cleaning together. It’s kind of like an opportunity for people to understand the church better, why they do certain things.
What if someone is interested to serve in an area in an area they might not have served in before? So that’s to say that they might not have the necessary skills and giftings, and they wouldn’t know until they test it out.
Oo interesting that you asked. Our founding elder Robin is actually very open to gifts that are ‘to be investigated.’ It’s when people have interest in something, they might not be extremely advanced, but they have some skills and are interested in developing it. The reason for that is, sometimes you don’t know what gifts you have. And the church is where you explore. For all you know you could be good at art, Photoshop, stuff like that. The church is where you test it out lo. I mean, when else is someone going to ask you to do Photoshop if you’re an Accountant? You know what I mean? It’s giving the person space to grow.
So HR’s job is also a lot about caring for members in a work sense. It’s making sure that you are holistically developed for the sake of God’s church.. You might be an accountant by profession, but let’s say you’re interested in music, then I will make sure that you get that chance to do that. Because people don’t realise that even when their hobby is, like, hiking, or craftsmanship… all these things are useful for God’s kingdom. But we definitely are not condoning in a super explorer way, where you just join a department and then quit after a month. It’s not complete freedom… But we do want to give people these opportunities.
What is the weirdest gift you have seen used in church before? Like the most unexpected thing, where people would either overlook it, or think ‘this is not something you would want to do in church’, but somehow you saw it work.
Well… It’s not a gift… But it’s kind of like a gift… of patience. Sometimes there’s a gathered group of people that just cut stickers all night. So for example, for our annual children’s ministry event Little People, they have these flyers. So you know how flyers sometimes have the wrong dates printed on them, so we can’t give it out. Everyone panics, and people will be printing stickers to correct it. Then you’ll see a small group of people in a corner in church, just nicely cutting stickers. It’s not easy one you know. It’s very manual stuff. And they’re just like burning the midnight oil, because Little People is TOMORROW and you need it done TODAY. So yeah. Stickers. Cut, paste, cut, paste. I think it’s something people overlook – mundane jobs that people don’t think are important. Sometimes the things that we see that are more ‘out there’ tend to have a lot of background work put into it. Even like cleaning toilets. But those are like expected. But weird ones are like cutting stickers.
Sounds like it really does take both the on-stage and off-stage stuff to keep a church running.
Yeahhhh, it’s all the little things that most are not willing to do. So one of the encouraging things in CERC is that you see people who are willing to go the extra mile and to serve however. Like carrying chairs around and arranging them. You walk in a Sunday gathering and you see “oh there are chairs here.” But at the end of the day, who arranges them? Who organises them? Who are the ones who bring the chairs down so that the meeting can go on?
Our first instinct is that chair-carrying is not a gift, because anyone can do it. But in the end, how we should think of it has to do with having a gospel clarity and servant-hearted willingness. Servanthood is not about what you do, but who you serve.
People don’t often think of it this way, but the ability to cut stickers is a gift from God okay. You know how some people just can’t cut straight? It’s just like a “bro. Which part of ‘follow the line’ do you not understand?”
Yeah and the whole gospel understanding thing you mentioned, it really just comes from understanding that you are a nobody, and that you were saved to serve?
Exactly. That’s exactly what we learnt last year in Matthew, in sermons like the one on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 19. To think of it, no works ministry would ever exist without proper Word ministry, you get what I’m saying? People will never get this gospel centred-ness if it weren’t for our word ministers’ preaching and pulpit work.
This sounds like such a dynamic Ephesians 4 picture of the church, where the Word flows into the congregation, and in return the congregation does work that supports this Word.
Yeah, to a certain extent, we need to make sure that every part of the body is functioning. It’s the picture of the whole body that when working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15-16). So HR needs to keep this robust ecosystem in check and working, so people don’t slip in between the cracks. Sometimes people do need the work to remember they’re Christians. It’s like Know-Do-Be, right?
To be a Christian, you need to do what a Christian does.
HR sees the big picture of the body working more as compared to maybe, some other departments, where things run more independently.
I guess maybe a lot of us tend to have this kind of volunteer mindset when it comes to ministry. It’s not like that’s something we would do when it comes to our daytime jobs. We wouldn’t say to our bosses when it gets hard: “I don’t have time to finish your assignments because it’s eating into my family time.” So we don’t do that with our bosses at work, but somehow we have this sort of attitude towards the church. Why do you think this happens?
This happens to CERC as well. I think it’s ultimately an issue with gospel understanding. It’s just like the robust picture you described. If a body part is not performing, we have to ask: why are you learning but not acting? Is this person working? Even though he’s going to Growth Group and coming for Sunday gatherings.
The Word should always translate into service.
But the reality is that we are still sinful even as Christians. It is common for Christians to have double standards when it comes to church work and secular work. I look forward to the day where all things will be made new when Jesus comes again. But until then, we have to examine our hearts, starting with ourselves but also towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. All this is done by acknowledging the reality of sin and also the reality that Jesus has made us His holy people. So a lot of HR work is actually pastoral work. Developing a person, making sure he doesn’t fall behind. Making sure he has an avenue to be a Christian, to serve. In making sure that he stays true to his covenant, the covenant he makes with the church. You also can’t solve this voluntary thing lah. It’s a very sinful attitude that people have towards the church. We tend to forget that our church work actually matters more than our secular work. But that’s where HR has to step in. We act as a kind of check and balance.
It makes sense that every member should be doing his or her part in the body because it’s really the individual feeding into the corporate feeding into the individual, and ultimately, it’s God using all this to grow His own kingdom – super cool.
His sovereignty lah right? Even in terms of the gifts He gives for the building up of the church, as we see in 1 Corinthians 12. It’s actually really seeing how God cares for the growth of the church. And to a certain extent, the survivability of the church, the outworking of the gospel… it’s all one package basically.
So naturally HODs should not only be proficient in their work, but they also need to care for their sheep pastorally. They need to be able to think how to do that, and that is part of the ecosystem like what you said. Word and works are actually not separate one. It works hand in hand.
What is one department you think people don’t really know about but you think they should? And why?
Hmmm… Probably logistics. Logistics is not what it sounds like; it’s more like a transport ministry, fetching human beings rather than stuff around haha. It’s actually one of the ways that we expand our ministry as a church. You know even when you’re driving, you kind of have to make sure that you know how to speak theology to people.
But at the same time people have been converted, not in the car itself, but the conversations in the car do play a big part leading up to someone getting the gospel. Because in the car, you can’t escape right… so it’s a good opportunity to engage in serious conversations with people. The main framework that we have when we do this is, how does all the work feed back to the Word?
The logistics department is such a beautiful picture of how the church is always on mission – even as you’re driving, you’re evangelising your passenger.
Yeahh haha. Sometimes Vanessa, our seminarian at Moore now – have you been in Van’s car? She just talks on and on about ministry. She takes all the wrong turns and it’s not even on purpose, she just naturally takes the wrong turns. And the person in her car would be like: “Uh, Van, why aren’t you turning?” And she will literally just stop there at the junction and talk talk talk talk talk… But it’s actually very nice to talk in the car. You know the ride to church is PLENTY of opportunity to talk to others. Sometimes Elder Robin says “why don’t you just do the application part of the study in the car?” Driving is not just limited to sitting there right? The whole of you is still available to serve God and His church.
To wrap up: what are your hopes for HR and CERC?
This is one of my overly ambitious goals: it’s to see all the departments working without problems together. You know I always use the Megazord analogy. In the show Power Rangers, each individual zord, that is an animal, has a function – like one of them is a left hand, right hand, foot. And together they join to fight evil. So I always have this hope that CERC will have this seamlessly synergistic teamwork so that we can be soldiers for God. It’s gonna be hard, no doubt, but Christ is worth everything and then some more, so let’s keep persevering!