Pastor Arthur Simonyan agreed to answer our questions, summing up the year and speaking about the plans awaiting the church in 2017. We also asked him to share about what in the church makes him happy and upset, what dream he has in his heart, and what the main challenge for modern Christianity is.
1. Pastor Arthur, what was special about the church in 2016? In what aspect did it become stronger, and in what aspect does it yet have to become stronger?
I think the church has become much stronger in terms of pastoral and spiritual guidance, as well as in terms of organization. We have intensified our prayers. The worship team has improved a lot. Before, we had a single worship team, now we have four, and all of those teams are gradually becoming more powerful, which is a spiritual level indicator.
Spiritual education has become stronger, and so has the Bible school, which has undergone certain changes. Among students I see a great striving towards the spiritual, the stepping into the gifts as the teachings have influenced them greatly.
Of course, the staff is very strong, ready to work toward moving within vision and building the future. By the way, the office of the church is now moving to the church building for the interaction with people and the working process to be more efficient.
I must mention that the Mercy ministry is conducting huge work, especially in villages.
The mission is experiencing great progress. A Bible school was opened this year in Lebanon where we have fine students.
I think we have had progress in terms of quality, too. The construction works of the lower floor of the church are almost finished. We are almost fully ready to have children and youth gatherings, we are ready for the 24-hour services, which we will announce and start in 2017.
So in spite of economic issues and the crisis, the church was able to make an investment to finish the lower floor. As a pastor, I would like to express deep gratitude to all church members who did not falter in their efforts. Due to that, we are now ready to conduct more activities.
All of this that I am mentioning is, of course, only one part, but if we look separately, each aspect has become better.
Naturally, in the passing year we also had issues, but I believe we have come out of those with victory and we have seen God’s glory.
2. What year is 2017 announced to be for the church?
For us, 2017 will be a year of gifts. The passing year was announced a year of the Acts of the Apostles, and the gifts are the continuation of that.
A year of gifts so that the church will be filled with the five gifts of service, be those deacons, elders, bishops, also the gifts mentioned in Romans chapter 12 – encouraging, giving and so forth. Each person ought to find his/her gift, and serve God.
We really desire for the gifts to exist, grow and intensify, and for that we will create schools. Parallel to that, we will wait for miracles and for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to pour into the church. By miracles I do not only mean healing, but miracles from every sphere.
3. One of the main visions of the church for 2017 is the 24-hour prayer and worship service: what stage is the formation of the service in?
Yes, in 2017 we want to start the 24-hour service. At first we might not be able to provide an all-day worship, but we will provide a 24-hour teaching, prayer and worship.
I am certain that this is a new field which we are entering. We do not yet know how it will turn out, but, thank God, the whole church is ready to enter that vision.
I don’t think there will be hundreds of people praying and worshiping for 24 hours, but the main purpose is for the light of the temple not to fade; at least two, three or ten spiritual lights will be lit, from where a prayer will rise to the Lord. This culture will be formed here; later it will spread to the Middle East, and then, we believe – throughout the whole world.
4. As pastor, what in the church makes you happy and upset?
Those believers, who faithfully attend services, prayer meetings and keep God’s word, make me happy. And when secular people speak of them, how good they are and what good deeds our church members do, I take pride and rejoice.
All of the successes of the church make me happy, even a small lamp that is attached, even a picture, any small detail which the church needs and which makes the church fancy, makes me happy.
I rejoice when during church services I see people who have come for the first time, who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. People’s enthusiasm also makes me very happy.
What upsets me is that there are people in the church who do not know the Scripture well, are not active in the life of prayer, seldom attend church services. This really makes me sad.
On Saturday and Sunday we have two church meetings, but with the number of our church members, we can have three services with packed halls. We pray and wait for people to want to attend the meetings, interact with one another after the services, and experience God’s presence together, not only in home groups, but also in the church.
I am also made upset by people’s economic condition; often people do not participate in services due to absence of money or clothing.
5. Pastor Arthur, what is your dream for Armenia and Armenians in general?
I want every Armenian to be saved. I have faith that our whole nation is going to be saved. While others say – some percentage of the nation, I believe it is the Lord’s will for the whole nation to be saved.
This is my vision, the dream that I hold, and nobody can blame me for this. For this reason, I find it very important to preach Christ among our nation both in Armenia and throughout the whole world. This is why we have started to establish Armenian services, churches, and this is going to last for the future years.
We now have around 100 churches, but our aim is to reach 250 churches, where the sermons, worship and prayers will be in Armenian, and we will also teach children separated from their mother tongue to read and write in Armenian. I believe that in those churches our nation will be saved.
6. In your opinion, what challenges are there in modern Christianity; what should be avoided and what should be encouraged?
In my opinion, the challenge for modern Christians is not to become worldly. I have noticed such a tendency where Christians become fleshly, especially the youth, who get spiritually weak and do things which oppose God’s Word.
For instance, in the epistle to Timothy the apostle encourages us not to be pugnacious, but today many people love to argue. God’s Word tells us not to envy, gossip or hate, but we see that all of this exists among modern Christians.
People often think that if they do not commit adultery, then they are spiritual, but it is not so. A spiritual person walks through the whole Gospel; Christ and the Gospel are in his/her heart. And people can see the fruit – he/she is filled with amazing joy, peace and holiness; I believe we must reach this. Secularization destroys both the person and the church.
Thus, my advice to Christians is to step out of secularization and walk toward the Gospel.