Thursday, August 19, 2010

How do we deal with cohabitating couples?

“Facing Challenges In Pastoral Issues”

Doctor of Ministry Degree
Singapore Bible College

8 hours per day, for five days.
15 – 19 November, 2010

Facilitator: Dr Tony Chi, BTh, MA, PhD

Course Outline


In the ministry and enjoying it! Or are you not? Needless to say that there are many issues Pastors face at home, in the church, and in society. Pastoral ministry issues may be for some, the most critical. These can impact their church’s life as well as take a heavy toll on the Pastor’s ministry in particular. There are some pastoral issues that never seem to go away, and there are some answers that never seem to be adequate. The next five days will give you the opportunity to reflect, pray about, and interact with your peers on some of these Pastoral issues (again).

Issues on Marriage and Sexuality: (2 days)

How do we deal with cohabitating couples? How do we define and understand “cohabitation”? What is the Biblical viewpoint and how should the church respond to people in such situations? There are other complications - what if the couple has a child or children? Is there a place for these children in schools, the church’s children’s ministry etc? Will you baptise such a child? Naming ceremonies and affirming children who are born out of wedlock.

Divorced members. An exercise on an accelerated research on the Biblical injunctions regarding divorce. Are there exceptions or extenuating circumstances which must be brought into consideration? There is an urgency to involve the whole church in forming an adequate and Biblical view on whether divorcees can re-marry, take positions in church leadership, or even teach Sunday School. Where does “singlehood” fit in all this, and how does a church leader respond to a “converted divorcee” who now believes he/she is now called into fulltime church ministry?

Homosexuality. Here we will explore the contemporary and Biblical view on homosexuality. Should self-declared homosexuals be welcomed in church? What are other churches in other countries doing to minister to people who currently and openly practice homosexuality. We will also need to look into new civil laws and regulatory issues covering such matters as same sex marriages, welfare aid for such families, and same sex church memberships.

Family Wellness. What are churches doing to cater to the needs of parents, their children, teens and youth ministries, as well as those who may have older parents who may speak local dialects, other than English? What innovative programs have been developed for “families” to minister together as a unit in local church ministries?

The challenges that a double income family face, and how they balance time and energy between work and home. What advice should we give to those who depend on maids and parents, or child-minding schools to take care of children in their formative years of life? What about the problems families face due to a breakdown in communication with their teenage children? How do parents cope with the lifestyle of today’s teenagers? Identifying the numerous opportunities for couples today to enrich their marital lives through Christian conferences and church organized programs.

Issues on Interfaith Dialogue (or Diversion): (1 and ½ days)

Some experts on Interfaith issues have insisted that dialogue and planned conferences are the way to better harmony between differing faiths. Others are now looking at new and more practical methods of people from differing faiths to come together at social and religious gatherings to better relate to each other as neighbours.
Consider the following issues – and help us know what you are doing about it as a local church Pastor, and/or what your local church is doing about it.

Your neighbours or your church members’ neighbours are Buddhists or Muslims, or Hindus.

The impact of inter-religious tolerance in a multi-religious society. What do you understand by “public space” and “private space”?

What are some of the positive ways that churches today are doing to connect with people of other faiths (like in their own setting e.g. housing estate)?

What advice will you give to your church members regarding active and personal involvement/participation in Taoist or Chinese religious funeral rites and ceremonies? Can Christians eat food offered to idols? What about the practice of yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and the frequent use of alternative medicine and Chinese traditional medicine?

Apart from the Bible, where are your spiritual resources that will enhance your Christian stance on the above issues?

Developing resource materials on appropriate ways in which Christians can approach people of other faiths - without threat, yet without compromise.

Evangelism in the Marketplace: (1 and ½ days)

Would the following statement sound “prophetic” to you if we say: “the days of doing church in church only have come to an end”? What is “marketplace” evangelism or ministry? What is the church’s current understanding of going out to the places of work and impacting lives for Christ there? How many Christian lay people do you know who are actively making their places of work a “mission field” on a daily basis?

This session will explore the implications as well as the opportunities of the role of the Christian Church today in contemporary society. What really is the church? Where are our active church members and what are they doing – the other six days of the week? Should “church” be done only on Sundays? Is “church ministry’ the prerogative of only fulltime clergy and paid Christian church workers?

Have you heard of the “Multichannel Church” or of a church ministry today called “”? These ministries are high powered, high tech, and widely appealing to the computer generation of pre-believers. How much of such use do you think is applicable to your own church setting? Some churches today have a “virtual audience” through cyberspace and attractive websites. Comment on some Pastors today who have very successful local church ministries by being active social networkers, using blogs, twitters, and Facebook as means of connecting with people.

If time permits, we may also deal with the question: “How large should I grow my church?” How big is “big”? Should a large, growing church engage in commercial business in order to fund Christian ministries and church programs?

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