Approximately 500 participants from 50 industries and 18 districts of Hong Kong gathered at the SPARK Alpha Workplace Conference on July 14-15 at EFCC Kong Fok Church. SPARK is a movement that gathers, empowers, and releases every Christian to bring God’s kingdom into the marketplace.
Pastors Luncheon: Connecting Church Leaders with Frontline Marketplace Leaders
In order to better mobilize churches to embrace the vision of marketplace missions, Alpha HK hosted the “SPARK Pastors Luncheon” especially for church leaders on July 11, with 58 pastors/leaders from 30 churches joining. Three seasoned marketplace leaders shared what God has been doing to transform lives and communities through their ministry in the workplace, as well as the challenges and difficulties they face. The pastors/leaders then discussed in groups what each of their churches could do to serve and transform the marketplace for God. In the end, all of them prayed for the three marketplace leaders and commissioned them to be carriers of His Kingdom into the workplace. After the Luncheon, more than half of the pastors/leaders expressed interest in visiting district SPARK groups to know more about workplace ministry on the frontlines.
Conference Keynotes: Workplace Christians recognizing their identity as “Mighty Warriors” and “Sons” of God
The identity of Christians in the workplace was the focus of both keynote speeches. Rev. Lawance Chan, Senior Pastor of Celebrate Life Baptist Church, focused on how workplace Christians often struggle with fear and insecurity every day. He reminded us that we are mighty warriors chosen by God and called to the workplace. Based on his diverse work experience in finance, the public sector, and social enterprise, Mr. Stephen Wong, currently a Guest Lecturer of Global Political Economy at CUHK, shared that the greatest temptation in the marketplace is to forsake the call of God on our lives and our identity as sons and daughters of God. We are tempted to live a comfortable and self-centered life. In response to these messages, all the participants prayed for God to fill them with His love and satisfaction so that they could surrender to Him whatever might hold them back (including fortune, fame and fear) from fulfilling God’s calling on their lives.
Why Alpha in the Workplace?
On the morning of the second day of the Conference, various testimonies were shared that highlighted the core values of Alpha – (1) Real, (2) Relational, (3) Reliant on the Holy Spirit, and (4) Reproducible. For example, Pearl was initially worried that her Alpha group would not accept her because of her different faith journey. However, the fact that her Alpha group mates were so genuine and friendly eased her anxiety. She believed that she could just be herself without being judged. Just one day before the Conference, she was frustrated by the barista who messed up her breakfast order. She felt further depressed because of the challenges at work, which drove her to pray and wait on the Lord inside the washroom. Amazingly, everything went very smoothly after she prayed! Furthermore, the next day, one of her Alpha group mates surprised her by bringing her the exact breakfast that she had wanted the day before! Although Pearl is now still a seeker, the genuine friendship and care that she experienced during Alpha has given her a great love and affection towards her Alpha community.
Partnerships Between the Church and Marketplace
Meanwhile, some church pastors shared how they are supporting marketplace ministry. Rev. Raphael Lum, Senior Pastor of EFCC Tung Fook Church East Kowloon Church, spoke about how his congregation responded to the call of God and began to serve the marketplace people in Kwun Tong. Also, Ps. Matt Coulson from The Vine Church shared how he has committed to walking with Dave, a church member, as his spiritual support and missions partner so that Dave can fulfill his mission in the workplace. In addition, Ps. Coulson encouraged every one of us to be courageous and become a witness for Christ in the workplace – “What transformation strategy do we (the church) have? Our strategy is you guys!”
Workshops: Exploring Different Ways to Reach the Marketplace
Three workshops took place on Saturday afternoon. In one of the workshops, “Church & the Marketplace: How to Bridge the Gap”, Dr. Matthew Sin, President of Christian Ministry Institute, pointed out that to see the marketplace transformed, unity between the church and the marketplace is essential. The church needs to be equipped with a complete perspective of the Church and the Kingdom of God, and also with knowledge about the marketplace, so that it can be a faithful and wise steward in responding to the social and economic turmoil this city is currently facing. In another workshop, Mr. Jason Young, Executive Director of Alpha Hong Kong, provided a practical training on how marketplace leaders can work together with church leaders to help those who have finished attending Alpha in the workplace to experience church life (community), church teaching & training (discipleship), and church mission (evangelism) while outside of the four walls of a church. This is significant because “the marketplace is where God wants to transform the largest mission field into the greatest mission force!”
Friendship & Trust: Powerful Keys to this Marketplace Missions Movement
The SPARK Core Team shared their journey of walking together that birthed the SPARK movement. Before SPARK began, each of them had only been running Alpha in his/her own workplace for many years. However, in early 2016, together they received a vision of marketplace transformation for Hong Kong. Since then, they began to realize that their mission from God goes far beyond just their own workplaces. Hence, they began to gather regularly to pray and fellowship together. Over time, as deep trust and friendships were developed, they discovered that the Kingdom of God actually moves at the speed of unity and friendship! Soon, their passion for marketplace missions started igniting others, passing from one district to another!
Lastly, they encouraged everyone to remember, “when we take care of God’s business, He takes care of our business”. During the closing ministry time, many of the participants made a commitment to offer themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord, to continue igniting others with a passion for marketplace missions, and to take real action in bringing His Kingdom into their workplaces.
After the SPARK Conference, Alpha Hong Kong will focus on growing and nurturing district SPARK teams so that more leaders can get involved at a grass roots level and the SPARK movement can make a deeper and more sustainable impact across Hong Kong.