Homecoming: Free Community Church (FCC)’s 10th
Anniversary Gary Chan (Singapore)
This is an edited and annotated version of a sermon that was delivered at the Free Community Church, Singapore on October 13, 2013 on the occasion of the Sunday Service celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Church.
Happy birthday FCC! It has been such a
privilege to call this church my home for the last ten years and sharing this
journey with all our friends and members that call FCC their home.
reflected on the journey that we have taken over the years and how that
paralleled the exodus experience of the Israelites. Over the next ten minutes,
I am going to share about where we are heading as a church.
Renew-Vation – Renewal + Renovation
Some of you may remember a project that Zihao led
back in January this year as we were in the midst of our search for our new
home called RENEW-VATION.
RENEW-VATION was a combination of two words – renewal and renovation.
The month-long project gave us an opportunity
to ask ourselves as a church thoughts and ideas of what we wanted our future
home to be – the kind of spaces that we need, the kind of activities that
happen in the space.
Hundreds of ideas came in about what we can
do and get out of the space. Some of these ideas were simply not achievable due
to the physical constraints of the space like a gym or swimming pool.
Some ideas were – you wanted spaces to meet
and eat together, comfortable places to hang out with friends and play games,
showers, high speed internet, reading areas, a sanctuary for reflection and
prayer, space to work in, and importantly – adequate soundproofing, so that the
noise outside like the lift opening couldn’t come in, and what was happening in
one area wouldn’t spill over to other areas.
These are all certainly elements of what we
see as Home to us, and we have incorporated a lot of this into the design of
the space, reflecting what we want the church to look like when we renovate our
new building at One Commonwealth that we will move into in August next year. I
will be showing you some of the work in progress of the space planning in a
short while as an output of the RENEW-VATION project.
But while the ideas were coming and starting
to be compiled and considered, the real RENEW-VATION process had only just
You see everything we were asking for were
like the Israelites wanting to have things their way – it was all for their
comfort. Chong Lip shared
last month in his sermon about how the Israelites were making complaints about
not having food and water (Num. 21:5) even though God had provided water from
rocks in the desert, and enough quail and manna each day (Exo. 16). They just
didn’t have their pots of meat, grain, figs and pomegranates.
A process of “renew-vation” had to first
begin in the hearts of the Israelites before they could possess the promised
land - their promised home as a people.
Not just that, it was a journey that they had
to take together as a people – not just one tribe or by one individual.
If you remember when the twelve spies went to
survey the promised land that would be given to them in Num. 13, they all came
back and said that the land was good – that it was everything that God promised
it would be. But in their report they also said that the land was filled with
“giants”, much bigger and stronger than they were, and that these “giants” were
living in large fortified cities.
That day Caleb wanted to possess the land and
said that they could certainly do it (Num. 13:20), but the other men that had
gone with him focused on the size of the problem instead of the opportunity –
that they looked like grasshoppers compared to the “giants,” and their enemies
saw them as well in the same way.
We know that later on – forty years in fact –
that they did successfully possess that land. What changed? Well the change was
not outward – they were the same people – a bit older, and some may have passed
on, but they were the same people.
You see, the land was ready – but as a people
they weren’t – they needed to be renewed. They had to be united as a people
with a single purpose and to be in one heart for the people to enter the land
Over the last 9 months, we too have begun
that process of renewal. I am so glad that when we bought the place that we
couldn’t immediately possess the property and move in. We had to wait 18 months
before we can move in. We could have chosen a place with vacant possession, but
this was the place as a church we voted to purchase.
And thank God for God’s leading, because I
think we needed all that 18 months. Not only did it gave us time to fund-raise,
we have more importantly been through a series of conversations of what it
means to be a member of the church, the purpose of why we exist as FCC, what
were the needed systems and structures and support to enable the ministries in
the church and how that connects with the purpose of the church.
Like Jethro, Moses' father in law, advised
Moses to form structures to govern the people. So as we made the purchase of
our new property in March, we have since taken time to formalize our
structures, systems and accountability to manage our church.
This is the same journey that the Israelites
undertook on their way to the promise land, forming themselves as a community
and organizing worship, civic and community life.
And through these conversations over the last
9 months, we saw something more importantly begin to happen.
Conversations about hardware and what was
missing were starting to be replaced by conversations about the heart-ware and
the opportunities we had in the church.
Conversations about what the board or pastors
should do better to serve the church were starting to be replaced by
conversations about how each person can have their ministry enabled in and
through the church.
Conversations about what is not working well
were starting to be replaced by what one wanted to do to solve these issues.
And I realized how important this part of the
journey was as a community on the way our promised land.
You see, in talking about the RENEW-VATION of
the space, the thing that had to happen first was a RENEW-VATION – renovation
and renewal – of our hearts.
God is so much more concerned about our call
and our character than our comfort and convenience.
For many of us, we have just stopped at
comfort. We have found FCC, a place where we are accepted, a place where we
find community and then we stop and then make it all about us.
But as the Israelites prepared to enter the
promise land, they were given in two separate passages of scripture one
You are to love those who are foreigners, for
you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt
The foreigner residing among you must be
treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in
Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
So when we say "Welcome Home", we
need to move from only being a place we call home, but a place where we call
If you have been here for a while, you know
that “FREE” in Free Community Church is an acronym for "first realize
everyone is equal" – a reflection of Gal. 3:28 of being one and equal in
Christ Jesus where all are welcomed.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither
slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ
But not just welcomed, but celebrated and
freed from the yoke of slavery of oppression based on the pattern and value of
the world where your worth is earned instead of received by grace by anchoring
ourselves in the identity we have in Christ.
We needed as a people to move beyond seeing
ourselves as categories or labels like race, gender identity, sexual
orientation, social-economic class, educational level, religion, - and see
ourselves, and each other - as beloved people created in the image of God.
When we move beyond these labels and
categories, we no longer see the “us” and “them,” the “us” and the “others”.
We began to see in each and every person, no
matter how different in appearance, culture, vocation, action, the same identity
as the beloved children of God and in them, the image of God that needs to be
recovered and redeemed.
As we prepare to enter the space to move into
next year, it is so much more than a place that we are promised.
This church is both our community as well as
the enablers that makes church happen (the structures, the systems, the
ministries, the support) with the objective of making the church more
effective, personal and relevant to the people we are called to reach.
God is giving us an opportunity to join in
what God is already doing to bring the reign of God close to a generation
typically on the margins of religion and the church.
And in the process we will continue to allow
God to transform us as we move from being inward looking to reflectors of
Christ love, grace and mercy.
From just being comfortable to join what
Christ is already actively doing in the world to give others an opportunity to
be welcomed home in God’s love.
We are planning to take over and move into
our new church at One Commonwealth next August, right next to the Commonwealth
In overall space, it is 50% bigger than this
place we are in. But size alone is not important - what is important is who we
the church will become in the space.
As we close, I am excited to share with you
the work in progress we are making on the space planning to enable all of these
things at One Commonwealth.
This incorporates already many of the ideas
have you have already brought forward and answered many questions such as:
How do we go from doing the church on Sundays
to being the church throughout the week?
How do we enable ministry to our community
and to connect over geographical boundaries to other communities?
How do we become witnesses of Christ's love,
and bring forth justice issues to those who are marginalized?
How do we engage and support the LGBT
community and other communities on the margins?
How do we utilize communications through the
Word, music and videos to reach and impact others who are outside the church?
How do we create spaces to commune with
others and build relationship?
How do we train disciples (followers of
Christ), raise leadership, teach the Word?
Ultimately, how do we make FCC your church
for the sake of the world?
I am pleased today to reveal the space plan
for our new church.
Are you excited?
You see, we are the ones that we have been
waiting for. This renew-vation must begin with you and with me.
The journey of our own homecoming is the
realization that we exist to call others home.
Whatever your own call is to BE the church –
whether it is to reveal God’s love, grace and mercy to the other, whether it is
to restore relationships, to recover lost identity, to redeem others from
oppression, or to rejoice and celebrate the abundance of God’s blessings and
love. Your own journey of transformation, your ministry, your gifts, your ideas
will be released in and through this process of RENEW-VATION as we prepare
ourselves for this Homecoming.
As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we
look back in thanksgiving of this miracle that is FCC, God’s continued abiding
love, provision, presence and faithfulness in our lives.
We also look also forward to unite together
to achieve the vision our church “to be an inclusive community that celebrates
the diversity in living out God’s love and promise of abundant life for all.”
Let us now together commit to the journey
ahead as a people to not just say, but to live out “let Your Commonwealth come,
Your will be done, in our through our lives and the life of this church, for
Happy birthday church and welcome home. As we
have found a place we now call home, let us now make this place a place we can
call others home.
Rev. Miak Siew, the executive pastor of FCC. 
The Head of Worship Ministry at FCC. 
The Design Lead for the FCC Building Project is called “Renew-vation.” 
Elected Member of the Board of Directors, FCC, and aYouth Lay-Pastor FCC. 
http://www.freecomchurch.org/ (accessed November 26, 2013).
Gary Chan helped to start the Sunday Service at the
Free Community Church (FCC) and actively serves today in the church leadership,
worship ministry and missions. He graduated in 2011 with a Masters in Theology
& Ministry from King's College, London.