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Exploring shifts in leadership, evangelism, and youth: 900+ ministry leaders unite at Alpha Regional Gathering 2024

Over 900 youth workers, pastors and ministry leaders from 19 nations gathered in Kuala Lumpur to reimagine leadership, youth and evangelism at the Alpha Regional Gathering this week. 

From church deconstruction and managing transition to digitalisation, emergent trends were discussed over three days, with voices heard from across the generations. 

Organised by Alpha Asia Pacific, the gathering on 24-26 June aimed to identify shifts, insights and practical handles surrounding youth, leadership and evangelism in the Church. 

Invited speakers shared their experience and expertise, digging deep into the Word of God, offering counsel and encouraging those in ministry to stay the course. 

Fresh oil for every generation

Pr Benny Ho of Faith Community Church at ARG 2024

“Every generation needs a revival. The winds of the Holy Spirit may sweep people into the church, but it is the ordinary works of the Spirit that will sustain the revival. We cannot depend on yesterday’s anointing,” said one of the mainstage speakers, Faith Community Church Perth senior pastor Pr Benny Ho. 

He continued by saying that ‘firewood’ must be added to our hearts daily, namely; 1) the discipline of persevering prayer, 2) the hunger for God’s Word, 3) the need for godly community and 4) the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts Church’s founding senior pastor Pr Kenneth Chin honed in on the importance of discipleship in preserving the life and relevance of the Church. 

“Real power is not through the songs, lights, music. Real power is found in the true disciple who loves Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. Before you can be a leader, be a good, strong disciple,” he said.

Pr Kenneth also shared the four-generation discipleship model based on 2 Timothy 2:2 — Paul, Timothy, faithful men and others. 

As long as four generations are being discipled at any one time – the Church will continue to grow.

Cities need a ‘mixed ecology’ of churches

Rev Dr Miles Toulmin, HTBB vicar and Alpha Asia Pacific executive director, shares on church planting and discipleship.

On the third day, HTBB vicar and Alpha Asia Pacific executive director Rev Dr Miles Toulmin shared data-backed observations on shifts in discipleship and evangelism. 

“[We have observed] that there are four aspects of disciple-making movements: a replicable set order of liturgy, simple reproducible bible study resources, accountability for evangelism, and frequent communal prayer and fasting,” he revealed. 

Rev Toulmin highlighted the importance of church planting movements in urban centres, emphasising the need for these churches to be unique and diverse.

“We need a mixed ecology of churches. For example, if we took HTBB and replicated a hundred churches across KL, would we win the city for Jesus? No. We need biodiversity,” he said. 

Other shifts include creating safe spaces for young people to freely explore questions on life, faith, identity and meaning, and taking evangelism beyond the four walls of the church. 

Afternoon ‘labs’ featured panel discussions on specific topics including generational leadership, growth, discipling Gen Z and Gen A congregations and how to make the most use of Alpha resources. 

A gospel of grace, followed by Truth

Deevinnath, 30, from Emmanuel Christian Assembly in Taiping, Perak said one of his takeaways is that when God brings revival, He also prunes the ministry and as leaders, they must be ready to bear any seeming losses, whether people or otherwise, without losing faith.

“I’ve also learned that the upcoming generation is very different. As millennials, we must be ready to cooperate, walk and guide them in good ways. It’s not a fast process… but we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he added.

A panel discussion on Holy Spirit Hotspots in Asia saw Baptist World Alliance president Rev Thongchai Pradabchananurat, Skyline SIB senior pastor Pr Dr Philip Lyn and Rev Peter Yang Ning-Ya sharing stories of transformation in Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Moderated by Alpha International global senior vice president and Alpha Asia Pacific regional director, Vinnie Tang, the Holy Spirit Hotspots in Asia drew stories from the ground.

Alpha Australia national director, Melinda Dwight, also took to the stage to share practical handles to effectively use Alpha in ministry. 

“We often see Alpha as just a course, but we can establish a culture in our churches where people who may not look like Christians… would feel welcome to explore life [together],” she said.

The final mainstage session was led by Pr Dr Philip Lyn as he explored where the Church has to move to take Asia for Jesus. 

“There are five shifts the Church needs to make if we want to win Asia for Jesus, starting with living incarnationally — meaning we live as Jesus did on earth. Grace followed by truth, the gospel lived out in our lives. In the Asian context, we must understand not just law, but grace as well,” he explained. 

The other shifts identified were to share sacrificially, work luminously (let our light shine in the workplace), collaborate digitally and pray globally.

Winning Asia for Jesus

Elysse, 20, from SIBKL, said the four Rs of leadership development shared by HTBB associate vicar Rev Abel Cheah during a lab stood out to her. 

“I really loved the mention of the 4Rs – reach, recruit, raise and finally, release. As a person going through such a season, I found it applicable and resonated with the challenges and impact of discipling the next leaders of this generation,” she shared. 

Another key learning was that the Church must not forget to be the church outside its four walls. 

“In one session, Rev Miles [Toulmin] mentioned that the church is good at doing church in the church, but we cannot forget to be the church outside its four walls. And Pr Phillip Lyn closed with the grace-then-truth gospel through our lives, which I firmly believe in exemplifying,” she said. 

“We must not forget to be the Church outside the four walls of the church,” – one of the main takeaways shared by Elysse (seated, third from left).

With representation from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, Malaysia, the UK and more, there was an air of excitement and kingdom-building throughout the gathering. 

The Alpha team also shared on-ground stories, future plans and unveiled new resources for churches and ministries largely focused on youth and the Chinese-speaking global church. 

All in all, ARG 2024 was a time of fellowship, learning and encouragement for both the fired-up and perhaps, ministry-weary. 

Capped off by heartfelt sessions of prayer and worship, it was a time of refilling and refreshing. 

Senior pastors, youth leaders and ministry workers alike left not just equipped, but recharged to keep the faith and advance what the Holy Spirit is doing in Asia. 

To stay updated on Alpha’s latest happenings including the Alpha Youth Festival (October 2024) and Global Chinese Alpha Conference (March 2025), visit their website here.

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