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 (Manna 73: Employing Our Gifts )
The True Jesus Church General Assembly in Taiwan: An Introduction
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General Assembly of Taiwan

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

Between March and April 1926, the True Jesus Church established its first three churches in Taiwan—Xianxi Church, Niutao Bay Church, and Qingshui Church in the Mid-west of Taiwan. In October of the same year, Taichung Church was established, followed by Tainan Church in April 1927. Almost immediately afterwards, many churches sprang up in the mid-southern region of Taiwan. Gradually, the gospel also spread to Erlin (mid-west), Luodong (north-east), Hualien (mid-east), and Taipei (north). Church membership was predominantly made up of Han Chinese until 1939 when the gospel also reached the indigenous Taiwanese.

CURRENT SITUATION

The True Jesus Church in Taiwan has been established for nearly ninety years. There are currently a total of 248 Churches, 47 Houses of Prayer (HOP) and 52,578 members. To pastor the churches, the Taiwan ministry is divided into seven regions.


Churches, ministers and members in Taiwan as of 2013:

Region

Churches

HOPs

Preachers

Elders

Deacons

Retired Preachers

Members

Northern

48

6

27

10

123

3

14,570

Central

31

3

16

15

72

3

7,876

Mid-southern

27

4

15

14

50

2

5,071

Southern

27

7

15

10

40

3

6,773

Northeastern

29

7

13

3

19

2

5,013

Southeastern

43

7

14

3

48

2

6,957

Western

43

13

14

1

44

3

6,318

Assigned to Taiwan GA

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

Assigned to other countries

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

Total

248

47

135

56

396

18

52,578

 


To support the Taiwanese government’s initiative of encouraging greater participation in charitable activities by religious organizations, the Taiwan General Assembly (GA) established philanthropy councils on March 1, 2001. The councils include the Rehoboth Social Welfare Foundation, Palm Trees Cultural and Educational Foundation, Po-Ai Kindergarten, Philemon Industrial Co. Ltd., and the Psalm & Wisdom Singers. The Rehoboth Social Welfare Foundation covers three entities: the
Puli Christian Long-Term Care Home,[1] the Chiayi Christian Nursing Home,[2] and the Dorcas Love Mission.[3]

Taiwan General Assembly Organizational Chart

 

 

The graph below illustrates membership growth in Taiwan. From 1945 to 1975, membership grew by as much as 8,000 to 10,000 per decade. From 1975 to 2005, membership grew by around 5,000 per decade. However, most recently, from 2003 to 2013, membership has grown by only 1,000 per decade, which is of concern.

 

OBJECTIVES

The Taiwan GA has set various objectives and a strategic direction for 2014. Through these initiatives, the church hopes to carry out the Lord's great commission that has been entrusted to her. Below is an introduction to these initiatives with specific emphasis on four objectives:

OBJECTIVE 1: BE MODEL SERVANTS

Preachers, elders, deacons, and church council members form the core for church work development. As servants of God, they need to be exemplary in the way they conduct their lives and their service to the Lord. Only then can they help members build a happy and fulfilling family life and establish a church that is like one family in the Lord. Furthermore, servants need to be adept in teaching the truth so that members do not go astray. They need to manifest the characteristics of Christ and live a life of faith, hope, and love.

A) Implement Continuous Training for Preachers and Ministers (1 Tim 4:16)

As God’s servants, we need to establish and nurture good relationships with the Lord. Continuous training and spiritual cultivation must go hand in hand with our servitude; if we do not improve, we will fall behind. This is a serious matter as it can affect the members’ spirituality and their salvation. 1 Timothy 4:16 reminds us to take heed to ourselves and to the doctrine; we must continue in the truth in order to save both ourselves and those who hear us. Only when our own spirituality grows can we save others and establish a glorious church.

B) Resolve to Offer the Best to Our Lord Jesus (Rom 12:11)

Every servant of God has to resolve to offer his best to the Lord. He should maintain his zeal in serving the Lord, not be lagging in diligence but always be fervent in spirit (Rom 12:11).

The Taiwan GA Pastoral Department requires preachers to submit monthly reports with information on on-going, newly added, and long-term work, challenges faced, resources required as well as with testimonies and other sharing. The purpose of the report is to encourage God’s servants to practice periodic self-reflection and to consider whether they have offered their best to the Lord.

OBJECTIVE 2: BE ONE FAMILY IN THE LORD

Currently, the church faces two major challenges: an increase in the rate of members' spiritual decline and a reduction in baptism numbers. We believe that one way to solve this problem is to strengthen our members’ sense of belonging and allow them to experience that the church is one family in the Lord.

A) Strengthen Family Service Groups (Eph 2:19)

Family service groups do not only study the Bible together; they can help their members practice their faith in their daily lives. Group leaders can facilitate regular interaction among group members and encourage them to share their faith with one another. They can mobilize those who are strong in faith to reach out to those who are weak and lost in their faith. When the lost sheep return, it will bring joy to the entire group and will allow everyone to experience the family spirit within the church.

B) Guide the Fellowships (Phil 1:5)

As with family service groups, fellowship leaders within the church should encourage their members to help, serve, and share with one another. This will help members feel at home in the church and motivate them to participate in the fellowship of the Spirit. A beautiful picture is created when members happily gather to discuss things pertaining to God: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name” (Mal 3:16).

OBJECTIVE 3: MOBILIZE EVERYONE TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL

The gospel is the Word of Life that can lead men out of life’s predicaments. Hence, we should have a sense of urgency to preach the gospel. We must declare to unbelievers that which we have seen and heard, that they may receive the Word of Life and share in our spiritual joy (1 Jn 1:3).

A) Testify of the True Jesus Church (Jn 1:46)

Many believe in Jesus but cannot receive His grace because they have not received the baptism that is in accordance with the truth of salvation (Eph 3:9). Therefore, when we introduce Jesus to those who thirst for eternal life, we must also introduce the True Jesus Church so that they may find the path of salvation.

When we bring our truth-seeking friends to church, we should also introduce them to the various available religious education classes and fellowships, because these can cater to people at different stages in life. Moreover, we can encourage our friends to attend testimony sessions and special services as well as to make use of the church’s various media resources. We can invite our non-believing friends to attend special worship services held in church on meaningful occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Senior Members’ Day. Through these activities, they may experience the love of the Lord and return to Him. Regardless of our age, we should cordially invite our friends to “come and see!”

OBJECTIVE 4: UTILIZE PHILANTHROPY AS A PLATFORM FOR THE GOSPEL

The church should care for the weak and be integrated into society so that the gospel can be preached to more lost souls.

A) Serve the Community

During His ministry on earth, Jesus often healed the multitudes of their diseases (Lk 6:17–19). In recent years, the church has tried to manifest and uphold the love of the Lord Jesus in a similar way. It has established several charitable facilities and philanthropic programs. These include nursing homes, a  women’s center and a kindergarten, but also the Life Education Program[4] mobilized by Taiwan GA’s Department of Evangelism, the Life Experience Camp,[5] after-school counseling sessions, and free medical clinics. Such work not only allows the church to help others physically and mentally but can also lead many more to salvation.

B) Become a Selfless Fountain of Love in This World (1 Jn 3:17)

Proactive participation in charity work is one good way to become a selfless fountain of love in this world. The Dorcas Love Mission serves as a wonderful example of this. In the past decade, it has provided support to many in need, not only in Taiwan but also internationally, such as in Africa, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Sabah.

CONCLUSION

The Holy Spirit continues to work within us, equipping us with wisdom and capability. Therefore, we should not be stagnant in our servitude. Instead, we should pursue excellence through the Holy Spirit so that others can see the glory and beauty of the church.

Even though serving God seems to require sacrifice, it is actually a form of grace. As Paul said, “His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor 15:9–10). May the love of the Lord compel us so that the longer we serve Him, the sweeter He grows.



[1] The Puli Christian Long-Term Care Home can accommodate 140 people. It serves both as a retirement and nursing home.

[2] Both the Puli Long-Term Care Home and the nursing home in Chiayi provide care to elderly church and non-church members.

[3] The Dorcas Love Mission supports brethren and the public at large in Taiwan and abroad; it provides emergency aid to disaster victims and the critically ill.

[4] The Life Education Program supports schools through student counseling and assisting in classroom management. This is done through character education classes that include gospel elements.

[5] The Life Experience Camp is held on an irregular basis. Camps are usually held for a short period of time and include active and passive character education, and the teaching of biblical values.

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Author: Taiwan General Assembly
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