Malaysian Bishop gives Sydney vision

Joseph Smith

Sydney has become home to a very special visitor who is looking to take Chinese ministry to the next level.

Former assistant bishop of Sabah Bishop Yong Chen Fah, who has been in Sydney since August, is here by invitation of Archbishop Peter Jensen to assist Sydney Diocese's 18 Chinese congregations in ministry growth.

Bishop Yong has received a three-year license from the Archbishop, which will see him work closely with Bishops Ivan Lee, Peter Tasker and Glenn Davies to grow Chinese churches in the Western, Georges River and Northern regions.

"Archbishop Peter Jensen invited me out to help the Chinese speaking ministry move forward and grow. The leaders say "it has reached a plateau'," Bishop Yong says.

Taking training to new levels

Bishop Yong has spent 10 weeks surveying the Diocese's Chinese congregations and has encouraged the church leaders to begin a second phase of growth strategy.

"I want to move them into the training phase. Pastors will do the training of the next generation of leaders. In four or five years time I want them to have a team of 50 to 100 people in each parish to work with them and grow the church further," he says. 

"This will be carried out through a transformation in discipleship and servant leadership training and ministry through spiritual gifting."

Bishop Yong wants churches to move away from a culture of the pastor doing all the ministry tasks and towards lay people being trained and having a ministry in their own life.

"We want clergy and lay people to team up together in partnership for the gospel. When one clergyman does it alone, it has a limit. But when a hundred leaders work together, the growth will have no limit. This is the excitement we have for the future of Chinese ministry," Bishop Yong says.

Four stages for growth

Bishop Yong has a four-fold plan for this next stage of growth, which he has been promoting amongst the Chinese clergy.

"First, we need to build up more disciples. Second, we need to be training up future leadership from existing lay people. Third, we have to recognise the limitations of our current church facilities and expand for the future. Fourth, the Chinese churches need to build friendships with their Anglo brothers and sisters in Christ and reach out into the community together."

Bishop Yong is also encouraging Sydney Anglican Chinese congregations to combine their efforts with Chinese congregations from other denominations and independents.

"There are about 100 Chinese churches in Sydney so through combined efforts with other churches we can carry on some large scale evangelisation. We want to reach Sydney's 400,000 member Chinese community," he says.

"This is what the Lord have done in Sabah for 15 years and we more than doubled our numbers. We are not talking about 10 per cent growth, we are talking about doubling and redoubling."