2 July is a special day of MAC because we have a joint mission service to be held at Manchester Academy in University of Manchester. As MAC currently organises 9 services on Saturday and Sunday across the Greater Manchester and Warrington, we rarely have the chance to see one another of the whole congregation. Though we worship at different places and times, we still belong to the same church. We hope that we can worship together and glorify the name of our Lord. Therefore, MAC sets an aim to have such joint worship once a year, especially under the theme of mission, because we are Christian and Missionary Alliance, a denomination founded for the promotion of missional movement.
Even though the majority of our congregation is Cantonese speaking people, we have other people whose native language is not Cantonese, but different languages like mainly En glish, and then Spanish. They attend our English service. We are called Manchester Alliance Church different distinctively from local Chinese churches because we preach the gospel other ethnic groups and then embrace them to integrate in our church. But it is not an easy job which challenges our original mindset, requires a lot of discussion and accepts trial and error.
As a pastor of Chinese church in UK, I need to adjust my mindset to aware the starting point from which we develop the ministries. For example, I usually write the passages of pastoral sharing in Chinese and then translates into English with the help of ChatGPT or Google Translate. (This passage is not written in this practice.) We may say that language is just a medium of communication. But as Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian communication theorist, said, ‘”The medium is the message”, what language we use is a necessary factor affecting not only our presentation but also the content, our emphasis and the way of thinking. In most Chinese churches in UK, including MAC, English service has been started because of the second generation. We need to admit that the people organising English service and its ministry is a group of Cantonese speaking people who plan, think and carry out in a Cantonese mode, which is difficult to fit the needs of the young people whose native language is English. Even worse if we organise English service by cloning Cantonese service and then simply doing translation.
We never forget why we omit the word Chinese in the name of our church. Recently, we have developed a number of church planting projects and set up services at different time for Cantonese speaking people. Our aim is to gather the Christians to move forward for the Great Commission. However, we are not too naïve to simply blend all the people in the same setting. We are still praying and exploring how the church can be more cross-cultural and embracing.