Twelve good years, fruitful and challenging
TWELVE good and fruitful years on the whole, although the first few years were “challenging years”.
The Rev Dr Isaac Lim said this at a recent farewell interview with Methodist Message after he retired as President of TRAC last November. He announced his early retirement at the 29th Session of TRAC at Faith Methodist Church on Nov 23 last year.
Throughout the interview, the one topic that kept cropping up was leadership, an area, he said, he was concerned about.
“As I led TRAC these past 12 years, I learned a lot about leadership myself, and I was glad I was able to share these insights on how God has blessed our leadership.
“For example, I have put in place a leadership development structure that will guide a person or a young leader to fit into the life of the church. Thus, the Conference of Young Methodist Leaders, which serves as an important feeder for church leader-ship, has in fact provided pastors as well as leaders from among the laity.”
He said he had also put in place a mentoring programme for pastors and an-other for newly-appointed pastors-in-charge.
“We spend time discussing issues raised by local churches, issues relating to ministry, theology and administration, and looking at how we could handle them.
“The younger pastors, especially the MOTs, find the guidance and advice given them helpful. And these sessions help them to jell as a team and make their contribu-tion to the Conference.”
The Rev Dr Lim said that the institu-tion of the “Four By Four” meetings to further strengthen TRAC has proved to be very meaningful. He and top conference officers would meet from time to time to discuss conference matters and to keep each other informed of what was happening within TRAC.
Perhaps his greatest joy these past 12 years, he said, was the building up of a culture of prayer and raising the profile of prayer in TRAC churches, culminating in the International Prayer Conference for Wesleyans in Renewal in June last year. He highlighted the importance of guiding church members to lead spiritual lives, and said that leadership could facilitate spiritual renewal and “oases of worship”.
He described the International Prayer Conference supported by leaders from 22 countries as the “high point” of his 12 years at the helm of TRAC.
There is another area of leadership for the Singapore church to be involved in, he said. “Many people believe that Singapore is the Antioch of the East, and the Singa-pore church can help make this a reality by playing its part.”
He also found it “very gratifying” that whenever there was a call for funds for church building and other projects, all TRAC churches had always responded. Even the smaller churches would stretch their resources and help, and “this is very commendable”. In his term of office, several churches and preaching points were started.
Asked for his views on restructuring and streamlining The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), he said: “If we are thinking of merging the three Annual Con-ferences into one conference, we must study carefully the issues of finance and administration and other implications, and see how they can be handled.
“However, if the restructure is to share resources and synergise the work and ministry of the MCS, then it is a good idea and is worth exploring.”
Asked what his plans were now that he has retired from the MCS, he said he would want to move into leadership devel-opment of pastors and lay leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. To this end, he would want to realise his dream of setting up a leadership centre in Singapore.
Peter Teo is the Editor of Methodist Message.