On 13 and 20 March 2021, Alpha Malaysia in collaboration with World Vision Malaysia and Barna Group hosted Faith for the Future 2.0 – Into the Digital Era. This virtual forum was a continuation from the previous year and the purpose was to learn how to find better ways of engaging and discipling millennials to become resilient Christian leaders during this unprecedented time. Between the two days, it was a great honour to host over 700 people from more than 250 churches and organisations.
The forum kick-started with worship led by Damansara Utama Methodist Church’s Resonate Worship Ministry (DUMC). After worship, we had the first session, ‘Faith For Exiles – 5 Ways to Build Resilient Faith’ where David Kinnaman, the President of Barna Group talked about the world of resilient Christian young adults and how they are sustaining their faith.
The next session was led by Danielle Strickland, a Spiritual Leader and Justice Advocate. In this session, she sat down with a young woman named Hannah, to discuss ‘The Church’s Relevance to Society’. Throughout this discussion, both Danielle and Hannah went back-and-forth with their thoughts on the matter in hand. Danielle stated that two things are missing from the church community are their friends and opportunities to fight injustice. There were also interviews with various young Malaysians regarding their thoughts on the church.
Following from that, we went into the last session of day one which was the ‘Millennial Panel’, hosted by Paul Kong, featuring Y.B Michelle Ng, Reverend Doctor Victor Lee, Heidy Quah, and Marcus Dip Silas. During this panel session, there were many insightful sharing that we got from the panelists as they tackled three practices from the book, ‘Faith For Exile’ that was shared by David Kinnaman:
- In a complex and anxious age, develop the muscles of cultural discernment
- When isolation and mistrust are the norms, forge meaningful, intergenerational relationships
- Curb entitlement and self-centered tendencies by engaging in counter cultural mission
Once the forum ended, the participants had the opportunity to enter into discussion rooms on Zoom to discuss what they had learned throughout the day.
The second day started with worship by Skyline SIB. The first session of the day began with Daniel Copeland, Director of Research Services of Barna Group speaking on the topic of, ‘The Church and its Engagement with Millennials Online’. It was eye-opening as Daniel revealed that, “50% of practicing Christian Millennials stop attending right on set of the pandemic, they drop out. The all-digital church was not for them”. This was based on the data that they have gathered in their research.
After that, Reverend Miles Toulmin, Senior Pastor of Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang church (HTBB) and Joyce Tang, Research Manager of Alpha Malaysia took on the next session where they talked about the ‘Local Findings of Digital Evangelisation in Malaysia’. Digital Evangelisation in Malaysia is a research done by Alpha Malaysia with the aim to study how Christians in Malaysia engage digitally in sharing their faith. This research was conducted between June to October 2020 with a total of 1011 Malaysian Christian respondents. Miles later on came on to talk about the relevance of this research and how it affects HTBB and the importance of Alpha being a useful tool for young people.
The last session of the forum sees Pastor Phillip Lyn hosting the ‘Senior Church Leaders Panel’. He was joined with Reverend Benedict Rajan, Pastor Rachel Bulan, Reverend Kevin Loo, and Pastor Chris Kam. During the panel session, there were many things to takeaway from. Many of which were mentioned by Pastor Chris Kam where he said, “Whatever cultural insensitivities the older generation may have is not intentional. We just have not gone down to have a conversation with the younger ones”.
We are grateful that we had this opportunity to organise this forum again with World Vision Malaysia and Barna Group. We look forward to gathering again with the churches across Malaysia for Faith for the Future 3.0!
Click here for all the recordings from both days.