Graceland 2018-10-21

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of … is a land of the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it… (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)

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Words from the Editor:

Dear brothers and sisters:

Spreading the gospel is the Great Commission from Jesus Christ to us. In addition to supporting the missionary work around the world, CBCSD also has brothers and sisters participating in short-term services or missions every year. Locally, different campuses have different evangelistic strategies. Thank God thatwe could invite Rev. Yang, Senior Pastor of Kaohsiung Blessed and Blessing Church, to lead the “Happiness Group” Special Event from 10/26 to 10/29 at CBCSD. In this issue, we also have many pastors, brothers and sisters to share about what they experienced at the “Happy Group International Conference” in July. May God lead our church in unity to be Christian soldiers to spread the gospel.

Evangelistic Strategies

“Blessing” the Multitude with “Happiness” / By Rev. Albert Lam

Before going to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to attend the Happiness Group International Conference, those brothers and sisters who had registered for the conference, along with the pastors, had already been constantly praying for this exploratory trip, asking the Lord to guide our steps toward the future of CBCSD. And the Lord indeed answered our prayers so that at the completion of the conference, all of us who attended the event (truly all of us, without any exception) affirmed, as if with one voice, that the concept of the “Happiness Group”” is what CBCSD should adopt for future expansion and that the “Happiness Group” should also be CBCSD’s evangelistic strategy.

After we returned to the United States, many brothers and sisters observed that those who attended the conference appeared very excited, as if they had picked up some sort of treasure in Taiwan. Indeed, they picked up treasures: they picked up inspiring messages; they picked up moving testimonies; they picked up effective evangelistic strategies; more importantly, they even picked up the platform for experiencing the wondrous work of the Holy Spirit. To make other brothers and sisters know and understand exactly what we heard, what we saw, and what we learned, we especially held a testimonial sharing event on August 19.  Nearly all those who attended the conference in Kaohsiung had a chance to share what they experienced and gained. At the close of the event, I summarized our vision. Everyone present indicated afterwards that the event was full of unity, motivating energy, and vision. All of them were inspired, and all felt that they had gained a great deal.

After six months of waiting, seeking, praying, communicating, listening, visiting, Missionary Kao’s sharing, the observation in Kaohsiung by 44 brothers and sisters, along with all the pastors, let me fervently announce that CBCSD has decided to adopt the strategies of the “Happiness Group” in order that the non-Christians in this city will become God’s people and Christ’s prized soldiers so as to praise His glorious grace.

As Senior Pastor of CBCSDSD, I envision the following outcomes after we have put the concept of the “Happiness Group” into practice.

Our Kingdom Dream

We believe and hope that, by adopting the “Happiness Group” strategies, we will be able to not only evangelize with greater speed but also enable Christ’s disciples to live with true grace so that CBCSD will grow in quality and quantity in the future 10 years.

Our Vision (The Five “Re”) 

  1. “Returning” to life’s greatest purpose

Returning to life’s greatest purpose is to gain the Lord’s pleasure. And God’s greatest pleasure is to “save the multitude and let no one perish.”  We must please Him by whole-heartedly devoting ourselves to the saving of souls. The primary responsibility of a church is to save souls and gain disciples; everything else should be secondary to this responsibility. A saying goes, “Embracing Jesus is to emerge into life from death; evangelism is to bring on life by entering death.” Remember! When God is the most pleased, we are the joyous, and when God is most well pleased, we are most contented.

  1. “Recapture” our first love for God

Once again experience God’s love for us humans: “insane love,” “boundless love,” “unconditional love.” We must learn to respond to this love with “crazy love.” We must use the “Happiness Group” as a platform and channel to practice God’s crazy love for humans. This is not just a strategy, a tactic, smartness, or wisdom; it is the concrete manifestation of Christ’s life.

  1. “Rekindle” the earnestness and zealousness in saving souls

Do we dare beseeching the Lord (as Abraham did on behalf of Sodom) to help CBCSD and other interested churches to increase the number of Chinese Christians in San Diego from 4% to 10% in the next ten years?

  1. “Rebuild” the most effective and most compatible structure and system for evangelism and training

Just as a healthy body needs healthy cells, as well as healthy and normal organization and system to function, evangelism needs an effective structure and system.

  1. “Remold” CBCSD’s honorable, special characteristics

We earnestly beseech and hope that, in the process of employing the strategies of the “Happiness Group,” the Holy Spirit who renews and the Lord who alone performs miracles will help us in our church’s life as a whole, as well as ecological and cultural work so that the life of CBCSD may renew, evolve, and manifest the following ten glorious bride’s special characteristics:

1) A missional church

2) A spirit-led church

3) A prayer-driven church

4) A Word-based church

5) An action-minded church

6) A creative church

7) A church in search of radical believers

8) An integrative church

9) A community-engaged church

10) A unity-seeking church◆

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Background on and Direction for Promoting the Happiness Group / By Pastor Wanda Lam

As a result of the Lord’s wondrous guidance and after six months of preparation, a group of us 44 people—11 pastors and 33 brothers and sisters—arrived in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, at the end of July to participate in the “Happiness Group International Conference.” This was an exploratory trip. Aside from learning about and observing the system of the happiness group training conducted at Kaohsiung Blessed and Blessing Church, our purpose was to find out if establishing the “Happiness Group” would be the evangelistic strategy of CBCSD in the future.

Our church has always emphasized evangelism and mission.  Take, for example, the themes of both Main campus and 4S campus from 2014 to 2018: “Be the Living Proof of Abundant Grace,” “Becoming a Disciple with a Mission,” “Remembering His Grace, Declare His Glory,” “Letting Love Flow Abundantly.” We clearly understand that the purpose of receiving blessings is to bless. This is the core value of CBCSD. As such, it is exactly like that of Blessed and Blessing Church.

When we examine our evangelistic strategies and means, however, we can see that there is much room for improvement.  Thanks be to God that the system of training for establishing the “Happiness Group” provides us with some helpful suggestions:

  1. From an individual’s crusade to a group’s evangelism

Although we tried Evangelism Explosion for some time, most of our work has been conducted individually. One individual aimed at a non-believer, spreading the gospel to him/ her, inviting him/ her to church, praying for the non-believers… As a result, the individual brother or sister may experience failure to achieve his or her mission and lose the fervor to save the souls. We need to have a strategy and platform to unite brothers and sisters’ blessings and resources so as to make a consolidated effort in spreading the gospel.

  1. From an expert in evangelism to everyone for evangelism

There is an unhealthy tendency at our church. For doing the work of leading others to the Lord, church members often rely upon the pastors or a few brothers and sisters who are gifted to spread the gospel.  Through the “Happiness Group,” every brother and sister can bear witness to the Lord’s love.  Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary deeds.

  1. From the attractional mode to the incarnational and missional mode

The evangelistic method we often use is to prepare engaging programs and inviting non-believers to participate in them. To attract and to convert have been our method, whether it is just preparing for evangelistic ministry or actually conducting evangelistic events. The method used by the “Happiness Group” encompasses the attractional mode, the incarnational mode, and the missional modes, with greater emphasis on the second and third modes. Brothers and sisters actively get acquainted with non-Christian friends, inviting them as the “BEST” (honored guests) to special events. At the same time, members of the “Happiness Group” would improve themselves and mingle with people in villages to bear witness to God’s love. In addition to attracting non-believers with interesting programs, they touch them with God’s love.

  1. From one-shot evangelism to belt-shaped evangelism

From large evangelistic events to individual evangelism, we often give only one chance to non-believers to embrace Jesus Christ as their savior.  If they cannot decide at the moment, we just leave them alone. This is one-shot evangelism. Members of the “Happiness Group,” on the contrary, would approach a non-believer multiple times, systematically giving the non-believer many opportunities to accept Jesus Christ. This belt-shaped approach is decidedly more thorough and more effective.

  1. From a fellowship that pleases neither group to a fellowship that focuses on function

We have always hoped that fellowship groups can not only care for one another but also attract new friends to participate. However, the fact is that it is hard for our fellowship to please everyone. Take the program of a fellowship meeting, for instance. Fellowship that meets the needs of both Christians and non-Christians are far and few between. As a result, fellowship tends to cater to the likings of Christians. In time, fellowship members tend to form friendship among themselves, making it awkward for non-Christians to break into these inner circles, even if there is an occasional newcomer. Having the “Happiness Group” designated for non-Christians would be an effective solution to this dilemma.

  1. From applying the experiences in short-term overseas mission to local mission

In the past ten years, CBCSD has been sending short-term mission teams to serve and to spread the gospel all over the world. Many brothers and sisters have gained experiences in working as a team to spread the gospel, to pray, to share their responsibilities, to invite non-Christians to hear the gospel, and to share the joy of leading non-Christians to God’s grace. The “Happiness Group” works in the same way, though on home turf. Those of you who have had the experience of participating in short-term mission agree with my perspective, I am sure, that an overseas short-term mission is both challenging and full of pleasant memories. We team members adhered closely to our Heavenly Father. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we carry out the kind of work that Jesus Christ would have us do, witnessing the power of the gospel and Jesus Christ’s love touch the human heart. What could have given us ordinary people greater happiness than to have had the blessing to participate in extraordinary work? ◆

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Happiness Group International Conference / By Pastor William Fu, Interim Pastor of North Campus

As I stood at the Kaohsiung Arena with thousands of Christians together, outstretching our arms to heaven, singing from our hearts, praising our true God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I was stricken by the worship that involved all our hearts, minds, and souls, as though we were “here as in Heaven”. It was as if the worship in Heaven depicted in Revelation: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were say, ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:11-12)

The theme of Happiness Group International Conference is to “have ordinary people do the extraordinary”. The key is whether churches are willing or able to support them in Christ, and to provide the framework and platform for them to complete their mission. Moses was not an eloquent speaker, but an eighty-year-old shepherd; however, he saved the Israelites. King David was the neglected youngest child in his family, but killed Goliath with some small pebbles, and then became the king of Israelites. Apostles Peter and John were both fishermen at Galilee.  Neither was highly educated, but they established churches during the Apostolic times. Being small, weak, or ordinary is not an excuse for being useless, but an opportunity to unfold the almighty power of the gospel. God looks for humble servants who are willing to kneel before Him.  There was a slogan at the Conference, “You don’t need to be awesome to start, but you need to be willing to start, and you will be to be awesome!” This is exactly what is said in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Through the “Happiness Group”, these ordinary people experienced the power of gospel, and witnessed the U-turn in their lives. Churches grew and revived, the faith in our true and living God consolidated, and we were reaffirmed in following Jesus’ path. A sister who was a clean freak submitted herself to the Lord, and was willing to open her house to lead the Happiness Group. She led more than seventy people to baptism. Another one, chained by drugs and alcohol for 23 years, was in and out of jail several times. However, after he went through discipleship training, he was touched and convinced that he is still a treasure in God’s eyes. He led 18 people to Jesus in three years. His motto is, “Even if my entire life is a pile of crap, it could still be fertilizer to others!”

Happiness Group is an evangelistic strategy for outreach and a platform of gospel. It turns a church into Christ’s church, motivates the disciples of Jesus to be more mission-driven, and shows that every single one is called to be a “part-time” missionary. The power of “Happiness Group” lies in the revival of disciples: outreach with the whole heart, every modicum of strength, and extreme professionalism. ◆

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The Happiness Group Gospel Movement / By Lucy Chu, 4S Campus

Out of curiosity and driven by mission in heart, forty-four people from CBC headed to Taiwan to attend the “Happiness Group International Conference.” We came before God to ask for God’s plan at CBC, and what is in store for us to construct, reverse, or change the constitution of our spiritual beings.

Through the three-day conference, we have been reminded over and over: Christians, after being baptized, are not meant for gatherings, but for “spreading the good news.” This is a calling from God and a mission for every disciple. All we need are our submissive hearts, and God will do His part to partner with us, and make us awesome, fearless, and without hesitation. One slogan that was well circulated through the conference stated, “You don’t need to be awesome to start, but once you start, you’ll become awesome!” In the Happiness Group, disciples learn it by doing, which turn the “mission” into reality, not just a plan on paper.  In reality, everyone gets to practice, and learns what we really need. Through the discipleship training, we can make up for the areas in which we need help. This is exactly the evangelistic strategy where experience and knowledge merge.

If we have already learned the evangelistic strategy of the “Happiness Group” at the Blessed & Blessing Church, could we just copy and paste it to our church? As a matter of fact, many churches went there to be trained, and later found out it was not an issue of strategy. What’s important is that every brother and sister know their mission, with the help from the church that turns missions into actions. Through this we are ignited with the fire of the evangelism, and we witness its almighty power, and become willing to sacrifice. Many people reflected on how they clung onto the cozy small groups among brothers and sisters, and became indifferent to people who had not been saved. They further admitted that they had peace of mind but not peace in faith. We ask God to help us stand fast and be instruments for His use, no matter how difficult it is.

We listened to every single testimony at the conference. Those who testified strive to heavenly things, and are willing to try their best and sacrifice for the gospel. All the coworkers work together, through which everyone learns to work in unity. Although the ugly old self is usually revealed, though not completely, isn’t that the first step towards a change of life? Every BEST who’s invited not only feels the love, care and respect, but also sees the loving atmosphere among the coworkers. They have not seen God yet, but they feel the devotion and sacrifice through those whose lives have been changed by God. No wonder the Blessed and Blessing Church’s population grows exponentially. Within the past 6 years, they have accumulated 3000 people who were baptized since 2012.

I pray that God would help us experience the power of Gospel through the Happiness Group at our church. ◆

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Our Thoughts about Happiness Group International Conference / By Amanda Tsai, Wenzhong Zhao & Huifang Qin, 4S Campus

When we heard that the Blessed & Blessing Church was going to have a Happiness Group Conference with more than 10,000 people anticipated to attend, especially during hot summertime and on non-holiday weekdays, we simply could not imagine! After knowing that the conference had been held many times with more than thousands in attendance, we were filled with excitement and were eager to take a peek at this gospel wave happening in Taiwan these past years. As expected, this happiness journey has filled us up, and we were greatly touched and inspired!

One of the most impressive parts is that we witnessed great examples! It was not a small group of people, but a great mass.  They saw the heavenly value of the gospel, and decided to be willing to sacrifice, and put all they had to spread the gospel proactively. They persisted, and witnessed the living life and joy inside themselves. There was one saying mentioned many times during the conference, “There is no debt we can’t pay, there is only value that we can’t see.”

The theme of this conference is to “have ordinary people do the extraordinary,” through which there were also many testimonies from brothers and sisters, and the BEST (seekers) from the Happiness Group. In front of 10,000 people, they eloquently told their stories with sincerity. None of them are full time pastors, many of them are even young Christians, but why are they so willing to spend that much time, energy, and money in the “Happiness Group?” The answer is simple: for the Gospel and for saving people’s lives. These testimonies deeply touched our hearts.

The great part is that the Happiness Group is not only an evangelistic strategy, but also character building in Christ.  Humbleness, submissiveness, and unity are lessons for a lifetime. Happiness Group is also a platform for prayers and our love for others. Since everyone can participate, everyone can practice and learn along the way, and we could all give it a try. As a matter of fact, leading people to know Jesus isn’t as difficult as we thought. It could even help our family members to know God. This truly is an indescribable joy and excitement!

At the conference, we witnessed the coworkers of the Happiness Group and the BEST’s life being changed into people with new life full of joy and enthusiasm. In the meantime, we also felt the Holy Spirit working among us. We were ignited and inspired to pass on this seed of fire, just like how Pastor Yang encouraged everyone, “You don’t need to be awesome to start, but you just need to start, and will become awesome!” ◆

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Race Against Time / By Pastor Eva Huang, Children’s Ministry

The Happiness Group International Conference was held in Kaohsiung on August 19. It not only inspired the participants’ enthusiasm in evangelism, but also turned emotion to motion. At this very moment of calling for action, I would like to share from the Children’s Ministry perspective.

We are running a race against time. If you are a parent, you know what I mean. Our children were just babbling yesterday, but with a blink of the eye, they are sent off to college. We are grateful that our next generation grows up at the church, and God’s Word has already been planted in their hearts. Even if they might be led astray, they certainly will return. God will use the next generation of immigrants who grew up in churches in North America, and they will be called to be the workers of cross-cultural missions.

As for the children outside of the church, we need to look at them through the merciful lens of Jesus. We have the desire for them to encounter God, the understanding of truth, and be able to live life to the fullest according to God’s providence. However, only when the parents get to know God can they bestow the authority from God to guide their children’s spiritual growth; otherwise, the children will be easily lost in the flow of the world.

The Happiness Group Ministry emphasizes on “everyone is a Christian solider” (Gospel flatten), “team up” (small group evangelism instead of individual), to encourage and guard one another, step out of church together, and mobilize to bring individuals, even families (adults and children) to become Jesus’ followers. No matter what the age group is, as long as they are invited to the Happiness Group, they are our BEST. During the continuous fourteen weeks of gatherings, God uses us to be part of His work. The change in our lives and the gospel messages are sent to touch hearts, and let them understand the truth so they can become God’s children. We also need to plant our roots in our church’s fellowships and small groups.  We hold fast in the truth, serve in the Happiness Group Ministry, and grow stronger through serving others.  Through this, we pass on the legacy of serving and let the gospel reach more lambs in darkness, and we fight for them to get back to God.

We pray that God implants the urgency of evangelism and the guilt of lacking it in our hearts. We also pray that God implants the need to grasp great opportunities, and that God gives us the urge to follow Jesus quickly, because we are the ones who are running a race against time. ◆

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2018 Outreach Strategy for Cantonese Congregation / By Ka-Lun Pau, Local Mission Deacon

Theme: We Are All Christian Soldiers

  1. Encourage brothers and sisters to keep personal evangelism in their prayers. The prayer requests are published on the church Sunday Bulletins.
  2. Sunday School curriculum shall be provided to support the theme of “We Are All Christian Soldiers.” Its aim is to help brothers and sisters understand the outreach strategy and the method of personal evangelism. Another aim is to foster and train disciples to be equipped with these understandings so they can overcome difficulties. Starting from the end of 2017, we have:
  • studied the Book of Acts (September through November 2017),
  • spread the good news, learned how to be an influential Christian (December 2017 through February 2018),
  • done discipleship training (March through May 2018); and
  • we are currently learning Hard Questions Real Answers for evangelism (September through November 2018)
  1. Held theme-related workshop in June and August with a total of thirty brothers and sisters participated. The workshop introduced some gospel tools, such as personal evangelism sharing, personal conviction testimony, personal evangelism practice, and understanding the Great Commission from Jesus.
  2. Church gospel outreach gatherings include:
    1. gospel Sundays on the fifth Sunday in every quarter (4/29, 9/30, 12/30),
    2. annual church picnic (8/18), which included gospel hymns, testimonies, and gospel games.
    3. Cantonese Evangelistic Event (11/2-4), themed as “The Guaranteed Value Added Investment” with guest speaker Sau-Wing Lam.
  3. Designed the “We Are All Christian Soldiers” questionnaire in order to understand the potential seekers’ ages, number of people, interested topics, and any hard questions received from the seekers.
  4. Invited fellowships to incorporate the “soldiers” personal evangelistic strategy.
    1. on 7/27 meeting, we made bookmarks and invitation cards for the Brazil short term mission in August and the Evangelistic Event in November.
    2. a special meeting in September to pray for the Evangelistic Event in November. ◆