Heart of God Church Experience: A First-Hand Account
The following is a first-hand account of the Heart of God Church Experience (HOGCx) by Pastor Kerry Li from Church of Livingstones, Hong Kong. The content has been translated into English, and reproduced with Pastor Kerry’s permission.
Today is officially the start of the Heart of God Church Experience (HOGCX). Beginning from the MRT station, along the way there were a number of volunteers holding on to signages, directing the delegates to the church. They were full of smiles and passion as they hosted every guest! It was very touching.
When we reached the event venue and saw the legendary Heart of God Church, it took my breath away. But it was not because the place was extravagant. Instead, I saw how it was furnished out of a love for the young people. Everywhere was designed with them in mind.
Today after hearing Pastor How share on the “5 Pillars of a Strong Church”, namely Youth & Young Adult Revival, Mobilization, Home, Culture & Atmosphere, and Character, it really gave me lots to think about. One question kept popping up in my mind, “How can our church do the same?”
In Heart of God Church, every member is committed and passionate. I am not kidding – the moment you are seated, in less than two minutes, there will definitely be a host talking to you. It is incredible.
May God continue to bless us, and let us learn more in the remaining four days.
Today is the second day of Heart of God Church Experience (HOGCX). Yesterday we learnt “what is” a strong church, while today we learnt “how” to build a strong church. In total there are three steps. We learnt the first step today – Evangelism. There are five steps to spread the gospel – Incubate, Invite, Integrate, Follow Up, Regular/Planted. This got me thinking about how I pastored the church for the last ten years. How much time did we spend on spreading the gospel? Pastor How was right to remind us of this: Evangelism is not a department or a ministry, it’s what every Christian should do, and especially what every church must do! This is our responsibility!
After that, we had the ministry experience. I chose to observe the Guest Experience. Praise the Lord, God personally arranged for HOGC to show all the pastors how to host the new friends.
Tonight we ended earlier than expected. So the four of us went to Chijmes for supper, and had a great time chatting.
Tomorrow we will officially experience the HOGC Youth Service. May God help us to learn even more. Really expectant to meet our 8 youths who specially saved up to buy air tickets to join us for the HOGC service. Praise the Lord.
Today is the third day of Heart of God Church Experience (HOGCX). Today I had lunch with the youths who arrived just last night, then we went to HOGC together. There are mainly two services today. The first is the youth service, and the second is their family and adult service. Due to the HOGCX program, we only attended 1.5 service.
During the first service, the church arranged for us to enter their media control room, to observe the live situation as the members served. What I saw really changed my perspective. Majority of the crew were only 13 to 17-year-old youths. They are able to operate such a large-scale service – it’s simply amazing. Also, the youths were operating the equipment easily with one hand, and at the same time, lifting the other hand and worshipping loudly. This left a deep impression on me. God is in their midst even as they serve.
Later on in the afternoon, we continued the second session of the “Transformational Journey”. At night, we had a meal with Pastor How & Pastor Lia. As they shared their experience, I learnt a lot. Through this up close contact with Pastor How & Pastor Lia, while I feel their humility and selflessness even more, also from their experience, I learnt what it means to be “a shepherd who will lay down his life for the sheep”. To be honest, I was teary-eyed as I heard them share!
After service, the HOGC hosts brought us nearby to take a look. It happened that the Malay New Year is approaching, so their night market was really crowded. It’s just like the flower market that we have during the Lunar New Year.
Praise the Lord that we had yet another impactful day. God prepared the best for us, be it physically or spiritually. Looking forward to the next two days of HOGCX, and to learn more from God’s faithful servants, Pastor How & Pastor Lia.
Today is the fourth day of Heart of God Church Experience (HOGCX). We had the first session in the morning. It was the last session of the “Transformational Journey” on raising leaders. This area is also one of HOGC’s greatest strengths, and one of the most important areas in HOGC’s system.
In total there are 4 steps to raising leaders. They are Recognising (spotting leaders), Recruiting (inspiring), Refining (training & discipleship), and Releasing (empowering). HOGC has always been encouraging us to believe in youths and to let them serve. Their motto is, “Youth are not leaders tomorrow. Youth are leaders today!” Thus, HOGC mobilizes many youths, and the youngest member serving (in-charge of running a service for 2,000 people, serving on the worship team as keyboardist, projectionists, Livefeed Director directing 16 cameras and crew) is only 13 years old. HOGC’s weekly attendance is 4000. Their church average age is 22 years old, with 80% serving in ministry, 80% attend CG meetings, 70% attend prayer meetings, and the leader-member ratio is 1:3.
In the afternoon, we attended HOGC’s third service (they have two services on Saturdays). The Sunday service consists mainly of university students and young adults. Today it was Pastor How preaching. The sermon title was, “The Rise of the Samuel Generation & The Fall of the Eli Generation”. The message was very impactful. Honestly, we have to believe in the next generation, let them rise up. Do not let ourselves remain in the generation we grew up in. This is a great reminder to the senior pastors of today’s churches. We must believe that the Holy Spirit will lead the young people and that the Holy Spirit will speak to the young people. They will accomplish the mission that God has given them and the church.
At night, Pastor Lia preached about Generations. Pastor Lia emphasized that Generations are not successions, Generations are not replacements, Generations are Reinforcements. Also, Pastor Lia mentioned that the older generation might have some misunderstandings towards the young generation. So Pastor Lia pointed out that the younger generations are not here to push you OUT, but to push you UP!
Tonight the youths from our church went to the Night Safari, but this activity is not my cup of tea. Also, tomorrow morning there is an additional session. It is a Q&A with Pastor How & Pastor Lia. As it is an additional session, it starts very early. It’s time for a good rest tonight. On top of that, over the past four days of HOGCX, I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot, and felt a lot. I need some time to let it sink in, and to organize my thoughts. I also have to reflect on how I am pastoring the church practically right now. Let me enjoy the night to myself!
Today was the last day of HOGCX. We had an added session early this morning where Pastor How and Pastor Lia answered our questions. During the session, Pastor How shared with us HOGC’s organisation chart. When I saw it, I was astounded. I thought to myself, “How could they be so transparent, this chart is super detailed!”. From this, I saw how generous and selfless Pastor How and Pastor Lia are.
After that, we had a series of sharing sessions and seminars. Pastor How first prepared an entire seminar to help each pastor who was part of the Experience to string together all they had heard over the 4 days. It was a consolidated evaluation, meant to help the pastor clearly see which stage their church was at. From there, they can figure out what can be done and which areas can be strengthened, as well as see what the next step would be. It had 3 key parts: Moment, Momentum and Movement. To me, I found it very helpful. At least I could clearly understand why after a whole year of trying to push for discipleship in the church, it was unsuccessful – our church members lacked a genuine encounter with God and didn’t experience God’s power and presence. So there hasn’t been a breakthrough in their walk with God. We’re still at the Moments stage!
Following this, we had a Q&A session with the veterans in HOGC. In this session, we saw the chemistry and cooperation between the young full-time staff on stage. Their laughter filled the entire venue. From this, I saw another reason why HOGC has been successful – it was the staff’s mutual trust, respect, and friendship through the years growing up together. It is enviable and we’re thankful for them.
After this, we had a heart-to-heart session with Pastor How and Pastor Lia, where they shared the “failures” and “heartbreak” in their pastoral experience the past 20 years. As I listened to them offstage, I kept thinking about my own pastoral experience in the past 12 years and some recent unhappy incidents. I really empathised with them, and fully understood Pastor How and Pastor Lia’s pain and disappointment. However, thankfully Pastor Lia shared the key to how they managed to recover from the pain as a couple. It was really helpful and thank God, He spoke to me through this HOGCX and from Pastor How and Pastor Lia’s experiences. Thank You, God!
Then we heard 3 testimonies and saw how God participated and moved so personally in each of their lives. Each of them responded in thanksgiving in highly unexpected ways – that moved me greatly! Finally, we watched a video of HOGC’s journey in the past 20 years. We saw they started with nothing. It was played with the theme song of the animated motion picture, “Prince of Egypt”, “When You Believe”. Even though I’ve seen this music video before, but in the 2 times I’ve seen it, I always tear and I’m so moved. Moved by how God’s hand has never left Pastor How and Pastor Lia and HOGC these past 20 years. And what’s most moving is how Pastor How and Pastor Lia led HOGC’s members by faith on this journey of faith across the Red Sea. God’s grace was upon them. As the people responded in faith, it results in a music video with so many touching scenes.
Lastly, we had a night session to end this and HOGC prepared a sumptuous buffet for us. After that, they invited pastors and preachers from different churches to share their experience on stage. Of course, I took this opportunity to publicly thank Pastor How and Pastor Lia and all the staff and volunteers from HOGC (we heard over 200 of them were serving). They took care of and hosted pastors from all over the world over the various days and shared so selflessly. At the end, they even gave each of us local souvenirs from Singapore! We all didn’t want to leave and took a photo for remembrance. We also promised to see each other during the Strong Church Hong Kong conference in July.
Thank you, God for this opportunity to take part in HOGC. It truly opened my eyes and I pray that God grants me wisdom to reflect overall I’ve seen and heard, to put together all the knowledge learned and tweak it to match the real state of the churches I’m pastoring. This will lead to a revival in the church, a revival in my members’ hearts and make Church of Livingstones a strong church that is pleasing in God’s eyes! It’s true, HOGC used 20 years and I’m sure I won’t get to see the revival in my lifetime but at the very least, I want to kickstart one, so I pray for God to lead and guide me!
For the original post in Traditional Chinese, click here.