The Future of Pastoring and Education
Rev. Silas Wong
(Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyterian Church)
Tong-Kwang has been through a tough journey over the past two decades: from its establishment by Rev. Yahui Yang, with the succession of Rev. Elias Tseng, through the period of 7-8 years without pastors, to my ministering starting in April 2014. Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship (BMCF) , the church which I ministered in Hong Kong, also had been through a period of over a decade without its own pastors. There was the ministering of Rev. Selina in 3-4 years prior to my serving there. I realized how big the challenge is to serve LGBT churches because LGBT Christians are a combination of excellence and wildness, just as a combination of masculinity and femininity. Moreover, LGBT people need to recover from oppression and it is not adequate to push them too much. What then is the best pastoring pattern for them? And how will LGBT churches thrive with time?
一、牧養的模式Pattern of pastoring
1. 關懷與輔導的結合Integration of caring and counseling
同志信徒的情緒一般起伏較大，又或壓抑情緒的情況較嚴重。因此，在人際相處上，往往容易發生衝突和誤解。教會在關懷方面，要往個人關懷和輔導方向作系統的引導。在屬靈的指導上，我們有屬靈導引(spiritual direction)，目的是引領信徒如何走在屬靈的操練和學習上。在情緒和個人的成長上，個人輔導或內在醫治(inner healing)可較有效疏導信徒的情緒，並且以更合乎聖經的方式而非人文科學的輔導作基礎，使我們的靈命與情緒結合成為更有效的控制，令我們的人格更為成熟。
LGBT Christians generally have more emotionality and/or repression. As a result, interpersonal conflicts and misunderstanding are common. The church needs to address these issues of caring and counseling systematically. Our parishioners need spiritual direction in their practicing and learning. Personal counseling or inner healing are also needed to soothe their emotions, which is based more on biblical teachings than on humanistic disciplines, to achieve more integrated spirituality and emotionality that goes to more mature personality.
2. 社交與聖言的結合Integration of sociality and Word of God
LGBT parishioners come to church to seek not only God but also friends and partners. The church ought not to be like other LGBT social scenes that are filled with partying, but to tend people with social activities such as dining or movies that would be combined with the Word of God as foundation. Now our cell groups offer Bible study/book reading as well as social activities. But the point is balancing, so that the church or cell group does not become just a social scene.
3. 同志與其他的結合Integration of gay/lesbian people and other people
Usually gay/lesbian churches focus on the pastoring of gay/lesbian people and ignore the pastoring of transgendered and other minorities and even heterosexual people. This is an issue to be addressed if our church is to be truly inclusive. For instance, as we have parents and/or children of gays and lesbians now, we need to incorporate them into our services and meetings. Parents can attend Cell Group for Partners, and children can attend Sunday school, respectively. I think we need to approach transgendered people strategically and I hope every minority among LGBT people can be attended. Meanwhile, we can reach out to more people in the larger society through campaigns and justice actions to increase knowledge of and participation in our church.
二. 教育的模式Pattern of education
1. 傳統的查經與課程Traditional Bible study and courses
Right now Tong-Kwang does not have Sunday school-based Bible study, but has faith and theology courses provided in cell groups, so that they are integrated into cell groups and reach more people. Meanwhile, this is a more efficient way of faith education since we do not have other courses for faith beginners than pre-baptism confession studies. Furthermore, Bible study can be arranged and integrated into cell groups in a more systematic way, resembling Sunday school, to consolidate biblical knowledge in cell group members.
2. 領袖的培訓與計劃Training and preparing of leadership
Leadership training is important for LGBT churches. But we lack sufficient resources and teachers, so we can only rely on the pastor and individual senior members for training, which is limited and underappreciated. In fact our parishioners are often affected by jobs and emotions and cannot attend leadership training. Right now, a few parishioners attend extracurricular theological courses. They have more knowledge of the Bible and theology and can contribute more to cell groups, but this does not mean they can train other leaders. Therefore it is an option that we seek cooperation with other theological seminaries, which in turn depends on our communication and liaison.
3. 神學的教育與展望Theological education and prospects
Common denominations and churches usually have their own theological seminaries, but LGBT churches do not. This is because LGBT churches have limited resources and manpower. Nowadays different LGBT churches hold seminars and give courses, such as the Amplify Conference. But these are not efficient ways of training in the long term. I believe we ought to incorporate all available resources to set up an LGBT theological seminary, which is the enduring way. Although we would like the other theological seminaries to accept LGBT students, these seminaries might not actually provide the training that LGBT churches need. For instance, common theological seminaries might not provide syllabus in queer theology and biblical hermeneutics related to clobber texts. Therefore, a local LGBT theological seminary will help a lot in equipping LGBT students to serve LGBT churches. Also international theological seminaries can provide a broader vision for students. The faculty and staff of the LGBT theological seminary must include well-educated LGBT people and LGBT-friendly pastors and professors.
LGBT churches and other churches are not so different from one another except in the perception of sexuality. Surely one difference is in child/adolescent ministry because LGBT people usually do not have children and artificial inseminations and adoptions are still uncommon. But the rest of ministries are basically the same, including preaching the gospel, training, and worshiping. However, LGBT people have extraordinary gifts in music and art creativity that other churches have not. Therefore, LGBT churches should utilize these gifted people to form groups for creative work in support of church ministries.
I certainly hope LGBT churches do not stand alone or fight alone, but receive recognition from various denominations. But before that, we must do our jobs well, in accordance with the gifts that the gracious Lord give us and in a steady pace. May the Lord bless all LGBT churches with a brighter future to fulfill God’s will!