As I begin my time serving with ChinaSource, I have been asked to share some about myself. I would like to do that as we consider two more of ChinaSource's core values.
Previously we looked at how service is germane to our calling. Here we look at two more values that overlay with service.
Engage and Collaborate
Through platforms, conferences, and contributions in both the Christian and secular media, we facilitate informed discussion around critical issues facing China and its church. ChinaSource directs its message to church and ministry leaders and to those like-minded and like-hearted who are focusing on global thinking.
Our relationship with those we serve goes beyond merely providing information. ChinaSource values the unity of the international Christian community, recognizing the unique gifts and roles of each part, as all work together toward the accomplishment of united purposes in and through China. Over two decades ChinaSource has developed a broad network of relationships. Among those leaders, ministry practitioners, and resource providers, we have played a catalytic role, making connections through convening, both formal and informal; through referrals; and by way of strategic partnerships and initiatives.
We have all heard the statement, “Great things can be accomplished if we don’t care who gets the credit.”
Jesus took this a step further in talking to us about our relationships:
Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38
Experiencing and Learning to Engage and Collaborate
When I was a young pastor—full of vision, energy, and confidence—I believed it was my calling to lead the charge to advance God’s kingdom and build his church. Very soon I learned I was taking way too much on myself and that our Lord was far out ahead of me on multiple fronts. I learned quickly that he wanted to lead me to something larger than my vision and my leadership, or even that of my Christian tradition and our little patches of the vineyard.
In the US
Very early in our ministry calling, my wife Debra and I were privileged to lead a Bible Study which turned into a church plant in a small city called Cle Elum in central Washington State. As the church was first established, we were blessed by the warm welcome of six other churches in town.
On a monthly basis these churches would gather on a Sunday night to worship together. There were seasonal gatherings and celebrations. Church leaders met regularly to pray with and for each other.
An amazing thing happened. We became friends!
In a town of 1,500 it was stunning to see how many friends in Christ we would encounter along the way in our daily lives. The larger church was encouraging each local fellowship in a way I came to understand God had always intended.
As we got to know each other better, the larger Cle Elum church became a community treasure trove of friendships and personal resources. We came to recognize who had what interests, talents, skills, and gifting, as well as who could benefit from them.
I will never forget an elderly pastor from one of the long-established churches in town. He took me under his wing. He welcomed me, putting up with my brash ways and often presumptuous attitude. He mentored me without calling it that. He made it clear that Cle Elum was in great need of another local fellowship and blessed our presence there; repeatedly offering his help.
My pastor/mentor/friend transparently shared his personal challenges with me. I was more than forty years younger than him, but he was humbly real and patiently invested in me.
Another pastor took me to Kiwanis Club so I could start meeting government and business leaders, educators, and merchants in town.
By God’s grace, I learned that despite my blind spots, independence, and stubbornness, he will build his church through his community of engaged, collaborative, and serving people.
My pastor recently said, “The number one skill of discipleship is introducing ourselves to strangers. The number two skill is asking questions and then listening carefully.” I learned this from so many kind and thoughtful people in Cle Elum and I have never forgotten.
In Hong Kong
Many years later our family was privileged to help start the Evangelical Community Church (ECC), an English-speaking international church in Hong Kong. I was Associate Pastor to Youth at the time. Harvesters, ECC’s youth ministry, served hundreds of young people, ages 10-22, through the years.
It was a time when new international churches were popping up all over Hong Kong. The Lord made it very clear to our entire youth staff that we had a calling to help those churches begin youth ministries.
I nervously wondered, if we encouraged the youth we served to be part of the youth group where they attended church or one located closer to where they lived, if we might shrink pretty fast. As I told the Father my fears, I heard him saying, “Then we’ll start again.” He reassured me and our staff, so we moved ahead, and kingdom youth ministry in Hong Kong multiplied in an engaging, collaborative, serving atmosphere.
Along the way, God had so much more for us to learn. A local Chinese church network invited us to participate in a bi-lingual effort to reach young people across the city. We served together in outreach and discipleship projects, conferences, and events. We were treated as equals though we were language deficient, more international in scope, and not as aware of local needs.
However, because we were lovingly included, we grew together. We learned to serve, respect, and love a diversity of ethnicities and the profound truth that we are “all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28b) I personally was deeply humbled and learned so much from the Chinese youth leaders who became dear friends.
About this time God was leading Brent to begin ChinaSource and was leading me into a more expansive understanding of what happens when his people engage, collaborate, and serve. More about that next week.
Indeed, monumental things do happen when Christ’s church is built up and he gets the credit!
Give and it will be given to you . . .
Image credit: Rural China by Samuel Vigier via Flickr.
Rev. Kerry Schottelkorb is the president of ChinaSource. For twenty years Kerry was involved in local church planting and youth ministry, both in the US and Hong Kong. He was the founding pastor of the Cle Elum Alliance Church in Cle Elum, Washington and one of two founding pastors of... View Full Bio
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