10 years series in Singapore
As students in Singapore, we are familiar with this thing called the “10 years series.” This is a series of past-year examination papers from the GCE O and A’level. Maybe people are searching for PSLE ones as well. The assumption behind this search is that the questions do not vary too much. Hence it is possible to practice from these past papers and gain a familiarity of the kind of questions that will come out in our final papers.
Singapore is a society that focuses much on grades. Here, the perception is that a bad result in PSLE condemns you to a hell that even the Devil shutters. As such, the mastery of the 10 years series means a difference between a fail (which is B) and a pass (which is A+++). In the sight of the typical Singaporean parents, anything less than an A+++ would probably be unacceptable.
What does it have to do with Christian faith?
I am of course exaggerating here. But this is to spring off to another issue that I am concerned about. For many years in my walk in the church, I have heard people applying the same 10-year series label to Christian answers to difficult situations. This refers to standard answers given to situations that people encounter. To give another illustration, this is akin to giving a standard hamburger to everyone who wants a burger. But not everyone just wants a hamburger. They may need a hamburger, but they don’t like it to be a standard one. Some want to have sesame buns while some may want nacho cheese in their patties. Others may prefer triple patties and some want wagyu beef in their patties.
My illustration here also serves to make a point. Most of the time, the so-called 10-year series answers are what the people need. But because people think that their situations are unique to them, they demand that the church customises the answers. Some go further by going around and asking ministers with prophetic gifts to prophesize over them. Yet, no matter how I customised it, a hamburger remains a hamburger, whether I add nacho cheese or use waygu beef. At the end of the day, you are satisfied with receiving a customised hamburger but it is still fundamentally a hamburger.
To give an example, I remember walking through a brother about his BGR problems. He was discussing this with another brother in church as well. He told me that the other brother said that the reason why he approached him was because he didn’t just give the 10 years series answer. On another occasion, a brother flared up at me, frustrated that people were always giving him the standard answers. And there was another time when a sister in my group blasted me when I told her to teach the sister she is discipling the truths. She told me that if she was looking for such simple answers, she would not have approached me.
Why not accept 10 years series then?
I am not advocating for 10-years series answers here. On reflection, I think a lot of the accusations towards such answers are often a knee-jerk reactions. Because many think that they are facing situations unique in the history of the entire universe, most cannot accept that understanding the fundamental truths will help to address their issues. I understand that standard answers may not be directly applicable in individual situations. However, by rejecting “standard answers,” one may find himself contradicting with the very faith he is believing in and he has to come face to face with his own inconsistencies. Even if an inept person shares a “standard answer,” the listener can still adapt the answer to his own situation.
The key, I feel then, is not a rejection of “10 years series” but really for the sharers and listeners to understand the ramifications of standard biblical truths. This we do not do very often and even when we do, we do it superficially. I think it thus becomes the sharers of the word to be sensitive and be able to communicate their message, no matter how fundamental it may sound, to the listeners. As communicators of God’s word, we want to communicate the truths, not just simply tell the truths. It is also the responsibility of the listeners, whom I assume have taken the initiative to ask the sharers, to listen what the sharers have to offer.
So, I still fundamentally believe that 10 years series of the Christian faith continues to apply to every single Christians. Regardless where we are at, we cannot be afraid of 10 years series answers. God is predictable in the sense that He is immutable. He is the same yesterday, today and forever more.
So what are the standard answers of faith that you have given and how do you think we can communicate better? Comment and share with me!