The Closing of a Chapter: A Tribute to Lisa Palm

God and His Word are constant. But everything else changes. We are resistant to change because of our natural inertia. We like the tried, true and familiar.

But change is often a catalyst for growth. When God brings something to an end, He also brings about the birth of something new. When one chapter closes, a new one opens.

Today, the worship ministry of Faith Community Church (FCC) farewelled our beloved Worship Director, Lisa Palm, as Lisa and her husband, Peet, are sent out from FCC to plant a new congregation in the northern suburbs, Kingsway Christian Church. I am excited for them because of their vision and heart not only for their congregation, but for the kingdom of God in the city.

Lisa and Peet have been in FCC for about three years, and they were very much part of the reason why I ended up there as well! Not that I knew them before, but I knew that they were part of the ministry of Harvest Evangelism which was committed to the work of city transformation. I had followed the work of Ed Silvoso and Harvest Evangelism for quite a while, and was surprised to find that an offshoot of that ministry was actually now based in FCC.

I remember seeing Lisa lead worship during one of the first few times we visited FCC before making it our home. There was such a strong worship anointing on her! There was no question that I wanted to be part of such a worship ministry!

But getting to know Lisa, I would never have known (at least not from her own mouth) that I was working with a worship leader with an international ministry. Lisa was always easy-going, infectious in her laughter and low-key. She walked in grace and humility. The younger members of our team called her Momma Lisa, because she never saw her position as something to lord over others. Instead, she truly believed in the next generation and always pushed others out in front of her.

I remember once saying to Lisa that “with a ministry like yours, you should really put yourself out there more…” What I meant was that she should stamp her personality more on our church’s worship. But then I realised keeping a low profile, humbly walking with people, encouraging them to reach their potential, creating opportunities for others – that was Lisa’s ministry. A public profile was incidental and a God-ordained bonus as a result of her faithfulness in the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Many people today, including myself, will reflect on just how much we have been impacted by Lisa. It has truly been an honour to serve beside such an amazing servant of God.

But of course, today was not really a farewell at all. Now that Lisa is in a new congregation, it is another opportunity to reach across congregational boundaries and work together. I’m looking forward to serving with Lisa in different worship projects beyond our respective churches and also helping out from time to time with worship in her new congregation.

So Lisa, may this next chapter in your ministry be your best one yet. May the glory of the latter exceed the glory of the former. Your best days are ahead of you!

Thanks for believing in, and activating the seed of greatness, in so many of us, especially the younger ones at FCC. You have left some difficult shoes to fill!

Here is a video which we played in our final worship team meeting as we paid tribute to our outgoing worship director.

Special thanks to Mark Loy and Nooch for putting the video together!

Worship and the Marketplace

I just got back from lunch and coffee with some of the people from my new cell group, all of whom are successful and influential in their workplace and it got me thinking.

Today at church was the first time I had heard Pastor Peet Palm preach. I understand that he works with Ed Silvoso as part of Harvest Evangelism so I was excited to find out that he is also on the pastoral team of Faith Community Church.

Today’s message was on Marketplace Ministry and it was a timely reminder of the importance of Christian, Spirit-empowered ministry in the workplace.

I have to confess that I have always been very much “church-centred” in terms of my ministry involvement. Worship ministry (like pulpit ministry) is one of those areas of service where you see direct impact within the church itself. When you talk about “church”, you think about the people gathered on Sunday to express praise to God and to encounter His presence.

But as Pastor Peet reminded us today, the concept of “church” goes far beyond what happens on a Sunday.

I was quite convicted by what Peet mentioned: how some Christians think that they just have to survive Monday to Friday and go to church on a Sunday to “empower” them to face the river of filth in the marketplace, in the hope that as we wade in that river, we don’t swallow too much of its water.

Even though I have read a lot of Ed Silvoso’s material and understood conceptually the importance of marketplace ministry, I had always entertained this personal schism: that because God has called me to worship ministry, it means that marketplace ministry for me is of secondary importance.

Peet made this stunning point: if the marketplace is the heart of a city, then to see a city transformed, its heart must also be transformed.

There certainly is a role for worship ministers to rally the church in unity. I really believe for example that just as worship has been the fracture point for the church since the Reformation, the bringing together of the church through worship is also a key to unprecedented revival.

But that is just one side of the coin. There needs to be reconciliation between the primarily church-focussed ministries and the workplace ministries to see real transformation in the city. After all, if there is a river of filth in the marketplace, there is also a countervailing river: a river of life that starts from the throne of God (worship in the church setting) that gets deeper the further it goes from the temple (see Ezekiel 47). This river brings fruitfulness: trees planted next to the river bring forth a new fruit every month and their leaves are for the healing of the nations.

In this sense then, the temple and the market are inextricably linked: transformation and life starts in the temple through worship, and ends in the marketplace through worship.

So, I feel that God is realigning my paradigms in this area. Yes, God has called me to worship ministry, but He has also put me in the workplace for a purpose, not only to be a positive influence, but also to believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can be responsible for transformation in the marketplace.

Can it be done? I end with this statement which Peet made: “Nothing can stop the church from filling the city with the Word of God, except the church itself.” It is God’s will. May it be done on earth as it is in heaven.