Yvette Lau on worship in Hong Kong
Conversation with Yvette Lau about a worship symposium in Hong Kong.
Worship pastor Yvette Lau helped plan the “Let God’s Word Be Alive in Worship” worship symposium for May 19-21, 2011, in Hong Kong. Here she talks about her hopes for what is likely a first for Christians in her region.
Who came up with the theme “Let God’s Word Be Alive in Worship” and why?
At the January 2010 Calvin Symposium on Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan, some of us asked, “What if something like this happened in Hong Kong?” We had an initial meeting with Anne Zaki and Emily Brink. I was still in the U.S. studying for my M.A. in worship at Calvin Theological Seminary. The committee that formed in Hong Kong came up with this theme because, in Chinese evangelical churches, most pastors think worship is the music or sermon, nothing else. We want people to think of worship as a whole and pay attention to letting God’s Word be alive in different parts.
What is the situation for Christians in Hong Kong?
It’s totally different from mainland China. Because we were under British rule, we have many Christian hospitals and schools from missionaries. We have more freedom and resources. Many Hong Kong churches have some kind of ministry in China, but we may not speak of it openly.
The Christian population in Hong Kong is only 6 to 7 percent, but churches are everywhere. Hong Kong is very crowded. We have small space for everyone, so most churches are very small. By God’s grace, my home congregation, North Point Alliance Church, has multiplied to 6,000 members and has been able to move to four larger locations near each other. It is the main venue for the symposium.
Who will attend and what do you hope will happen?
Our maximum quota is 800 people, and 529 participants had enrolled till April 13. They are from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore and from Christian and Missionary Alliance, Baptist, Church of Christ in China, Evangelical Free Church of China, Methodist, Chinese Rhenish Church [Lutheran World Federation member], and other denominations.
Many evangelical churches don’t have a lectionary or systematic reading of the Bible. We hope to inspire them with more practically and theologically significant and sound ways to let God’s Word be heard and experienced in worship. We’ve invited musicians and choirs from different churches to work together in organizing services.
In what ways will your symposium be the same or different from those you’ve attended at Calvin?
All our committee members have been to the Calvin worship symposium, and we’re trying to do something similar. Hong Kong people speak Cantonese. Mainland China people speak Mandarin and read simplified characters. Some presenters and participants from other countries speak English. We’ve planned our five worship services and three plenary sessions to be inclusive of those three groups. Everyone can choose four workshops. Not every workshop is in every language, but each group can have more than enough to choose from.
We will present many ideas to plan worship, for example, how to read the Bible, use drama to present Scripture, plan the entire service around the Scripture, do Taize worship, or divide the sermon into different times throughout the service.
What changes do you hope to see in the congregations you serve?
I work as a part-time worship minister at Kornhill Alliance Church and conduct a choir at my home church. I am a member of the worship training team of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Union of Hong Kong. Many pastors and staff from these congregations will attend.
Worship is so important for healthy congregational life and individual spiritual formation. All the churches need to put more gifts from God, talents, resources, and money into giving worship a more important role. We hope participants have a fruitful experience and share it with their fellow brothers and sisters and that God will be glorified. I foresee some good changes. But for a very big church, change cannot be introduced in short time. You have to know how to pace it. Actually, I’m very excited to see how this symposium goes and hope it can continue in two or three years.
In this roundtable interview of international seminarians, you can read about Yvette Lau’s experiences of prayer in Hong Kong family and church life.