Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The art of balance

One of the most important decision we have to make in our life is our decision to follow Christ, and after that decision is make I think the second most important decision we have to make is to which House of the Lord should i commit my life to because this can either break or help you to grow.

Christianity is like a marathon, and if you join the wrong program and did exercise meant for sprinter more often than not you will find yourself out of breath when the distance gets longer. In my time in Hope, i call this the 7 year itch. Most of my friends i knew in my 1st year in hope, left by the 7th year, those who stayed become either Pastor or just attending member. Most that left often have only 2 main reason - burnt out, personal issue ( BGR .. mainly)

I believe Hope vision was founded on good principles but often times in our enthusiasm our application becomes haphazard. One key area that sometimes confound me is that we teach our sheep that Christianity is a marathon not a race, but yet we train them like we are in a sprint.

We teach this in our lessons..

1-3 months - Train them to come regularly ( teach 18 lessons)
3-6 months - Baptise them, filled with Holy spirit, and teach them follow-up
6-9 mths - Regular follow upper and be involve in CG and help out
9-12 mths - CGL if possible

Our game plan was to in essence train them up to be leaders so that we can build the church up faster and win more souls...

The problem though is that how many will rise up to UL, CL or even SDL level ? What happen if this person's calling is not in leadership but in some other area of ministry ? So if they are suppose to reach to this level that fast would they have tired out ???

The problem though with this method is that we forego the one key fact Chracter building. Skills can be trained, we can teach people to be workers and be involve in church, one thing we cannot teach is chracter, this we have to allow the spirit to touch the person. That i think was the main problem, we rise leaders up because they were willing workers and submissive but we did not consider the character aspect. That is why all these allegations and improper behaviour by our previous leaders was brought to light and split the church


Well maybe i can give another idea.

I believe that christianity is a marathon therefore we should train like we are in a marathon, not like a sprint. Meaning we should create an atmosphere where people are given opportunity to serve, in ministry which they felt called. Eg. Worship ministry. A great paradox often exist, we want spiritual people to be up on stage, but in Hope, to be spiritual means also you must show by your committment to JDMM, SDMM, leading CG, and taking on department roles. So here is the paradox, if you work, 8-5 you come home... if you want to join music team : you have to shepherd, be shepherd, train your music, join meetings and be involve in other departments.
No wonder people get burned out.

I think one way is to understand our core, personally Shepherding is the main core, and we should work around this. Eg. I think as long as someone is a responsible shepherd, he should be allowed to develop in his calling either in Pastoral work, Worship, intercessory. We can also create cell around the ministry. Thus in essence, leadership training should be for those who are interested in this area of ministry.

I think the key is to allow people room to breath and explore, give a little push to the people under you, but ultimately allow God to help them. Its easier when the person wants to do it then they are compelled to do it.

Let us change for the better and provide a better ministry environment and greater balance in our holistic life.

32 comments:

Gid said...

I have been thinking along the exact same line. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. :)

andrew-ong.com said...

I would like to share something I wrote in relation to this entry.

Read- http://andrew-ong.com/2008/11/17/with-authority-comes-great-responsibility/


Andrew Ong
ex-member & CL (Hope S'pore)

Anonymous said...

Totally right on. I'm so glad you wrote this. For a long time I wondered why we tried to corral people into one standardized cookie cutter template .

Guo Xiong said...

Hi all,

I have been reading some of the postings in "Your Verdict". I fully agree with what is mentioned here. As it is written in 1 Cor 12 and 1 Pet 4:10-11, it is clear that each on of us have receive a gifting that is clearly determined by God according to His soverign will (1 Cor 12: 7, 18, 24). It is also clear that all gifts are equally valued and important to God (1 Cor 12: 12-26.) Thus, while leadership is important (and I strongly urge those who are called to serve in the area of leadership through the gift of leadership, Rom 12:8, 1 tim 3: 1-7), none of us should think of leadership as more important than other ministries, or put it in other way, we should not consider non-leadership ministries as inferior to leadership ministries. If we do, then we may end up with people coveting, and chasing after a calling which God has not called them into. PLease do not get me wrong. Leadership is important. THose who are called to be elders, bishops, overseers, etc, have a great responsbility to shepherd God's flock by emphasising on teaching and admonishing the disciples to understand and follow God's word,caring for the flock in their needs, and defend the flock from savage wolves that might come from within the church. These are no exhaustive. I apologise if I have not written in a right or clearer manner (such as a proper exegsis of the bliblical passages I have quoted) as I am not very free these days. Actually, I have been reflecting to some extent about some teachings which I've heard regarding 1 Tim 3: 1-7. While the preacher is right to contend that "able to teach" is a skill while the criteria for being an overseer leans much more on the aspects of character, this reasoning unforunately may lead to the conclusion that as long as I habve the "heart", the character, then even if I do not teach well, then it is alright. Sad to say, it is precisely this line of thought that could cripple the importance of sound biblical teaching. Leaders who have the responsibility to refute false doctrines, and guide their sheeps to sound teachings that could help them live godly, in the end may end being undiscerning and worst still guide their sheeps away from God. If any were to read 1 Tim, 2 Tim and Titus, you would notice that one overarching theme that stands out is the importance of the leader to TEACH and PREACH what is sound and admonish the congregation to follow those sound teachings. OF course, this is a generalisation and there is much more that could be learned in these epistles.

I am not a leader myself. I am first and foremost and forever will be a servant of God. That is what I am, a servant of God. As GOd has blessed me with certain gifts, surely I must serve GOd in those giftings. Even I were an apostle (i.e. Paul), or prophet (i.e. Agabus), or church father (i.e. Augustine), THeologian (i.e.,Thomas Aquinas), preacher (i.e.,Charles Spurgeon, Wesley, Jonathon Edwards), or evangelist like Billy Graham, I am still first and foremost a servant of God. Even Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Today, we must find the balance, and teach our congregation that each gifting is important, that while we encourage people who are called to be leaders to rise up, like wise, we must do the same all othe giftings, if it is administration, then rise up to your calling; if it is giving, rise up to your calling to give out of love for God and fellow men, if it is leading, then let him govern diligently. There are many other giftings which I have not mentioned because there are many of them. I urge all brothers and sisters to pray to God, and seek His guidance on which area He has called you to serve. Let the Holy Spirit guide you; speak to your elders for guidance; notice where there is a need in the church, you may want to serve in that area to edify your brothers and sisters.

People will have different paths in their development in their walk with God. It took me 6 years to realise and take a simple yet incremental steps to what God is calling me to do. I grew up in my church being rushed, being called into leadership so quickly when I was still so young in my faith. The notion that God "works in a gentle way" was not an option. ANd I did not really understand the foundations of my Christian faith. The crucial doctrines, like (i name them not in sequence. Calling, atonement, propitiation, renegernation, justification by grace, justified by faith, sanctification, the deity of Christ, forgiveness of sins, eshcatology, etc, were some of the things which I was very muddle headed with. I held false beliefs and wrong understanding of these essential christian doctrines. Thes doctrines were taught to the church by God through the Scriptures illuminated by the Holy Spirit and preached through his servants, such as the leaders. Yet I twisted these teachings in my own human understanding. I am very sorry to all those whom I have imparted false teachings. I seek to be taught and corrected by mature Christians who have been tasked by God to correctly handle the word of truth. Of course, I am not saying that Christianity is all about knowledge. Knowledge is one imporant aspect of my relationshoip with God, in my faith in Jesus, for I do not want to be zealous but without knowledge. God not only called us to love HIm with all our MIND, but also with all our HEART, SOUL and STRENGTH. If I have one desire, it is to watch my life closely and adhere to sound teachings by guarding it through the help of the Holy Spirit, so that I may save both myself and my hearers.

Remember, we must repsect diversity in the church. To those who are leaders, you bear a very important responsibility as rightly pointed. But to those whose calling is not leadership, do not despise yourself, as your calling and ministry would also be important to God. We must never, never fit disciples of Christ into one standard mould, for in the end it would wipe our uniqueness. Let God mould each and every one of us according to His timing and plans, so that we will be the person whom God wills us to be and for us to fulfill our purpose in life. Let us run the race with perseverance, as urged by the writer of Hebrew and which is also urged by the brother/sister who started the "art of balance" post when he/she said the Christian life should not be a sprint but a marathon.

May the grace and mercy of God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Regards,
Guo Xiong.

Guo Xiong said...

Hi all,

To amend something I've mentioned "renegernation". It should be "regeneration" which is carried out by the Holy Spirit.

Regards,
Guo Xiong.

danbai said...

good sharing, u are a good observer, thinker as well. be a doer also bro, make a difference

Hope Brisbane member said...

Just stumbled upon your blog. And i'm currently attending Hope Brisbane. I agree with what you said that people shouldn't be pushed to grow fast. But to say that the problem with the method is character building. Here i have to disagree. There is much character building in the said growing in leadership. Well that being said character building i believe is not lost but instead is learnt as you learn to serve in church. Jesus was a good example of a leader: To serve is to lead. In my opinion, being a leader is just saying you're willing to make the commitment to serve God's people by making a firm initiative. Normal members would sit back and just follow with the vision God places. A leader would say "i want to do better for the kingdom of God, teach me to enspire and encourage your people oh Lord". Burn-out happens when people have removed their focus from God and try to serve man -alone-. Sure Hope has told people to serve in this area that area. Like ive been told to do worship when i know i totally suck in it. And i felt very stress from it. But then there was a need (sorry this was in a LG setting). And everyone can't just be the "hand". Sometimes we need to forgo our personal preference or even our area where God has given us the blessing and help out where need be. But don't just hold it inside and say "why am i still in this minisitry i'm not called" but speak it out. Don't let the sun go down before you talk it out. I think that's a problem with many. I'm not yet a leader but have been approached by my shepherd about it. I don't think i'm ready and no one has pushed me to it. Just shows me why anyone would jump into a leader position. Don't be pressured by others. All being said i won't say Hope is the only church to be in and i'm not saying it doesn't have its flaws. I'm just stating my opinions in a general term with Hope as an example. Whatever church u'r in now i'm happy for you. Serve God no matter where you are.

Anonymous said...

Hope Brisbane, I think what you're saying is very typical of what Hope Brisbane does. Just reading your post makes me think how narrow minded you are in terms of 'leadership' and God's call.

"being a leader is just saying you're willing to make the commitment to serve God's people by making a firm initiative. Normal members would sit back and just follow with the vision God places. A leader would say "i want to do better for the kingdom of God, teach me to enspire and encourage your people oh Lord"

There are many kinds of leaders. IN and OUT of church. You're basically grading people's commitment based on what they do in Church. Some people are just not called to be one (in terms of leading a group). They can be leading in other ways which does not have an official 'rank'. Leaders are not define by their post, but what they do. And trust me, i've seen my fair share of crap leaders in Hope. On the other hand, I've seen heaps of people who do not hold any position but yet serving strongly.

" A leader would say "i want to do better for the kingdom of God, teach me to enspire and encourage your people oh Lord""

I believe there are people who are called to be effective in Church and others effective else where, missionaries, market place, etc.

I'm glad that you are serving sacrificially in worship. But answer me this. Did the leaders who told you that there is a need doing anything about it? Training new people who are more inclined to serve in that area? Asking people? or did they just stop at you once you took on the role?

No church is perfect, but we should all work towards building it.

ex-hope brisbane

Anonymous said...

Hi anony.

You did brought up valid points: "Some people are just not called to be one (in terms of leading a group)."
And i totally agree. Church don't just need leaders.
but my point was just regarding why they would be burnt out after becoming leaders. And the quality of a true leader.

And that brings me to my previous last point. If they think they're not capable of leading, they should learn to talk to their leaders and voice it out. Then just dropping it and leaving.

My main point was not to convey that everyone has to be leaders but was more on "being a leader burns out people" It was more on why people get burnt out fast. I believe not everyone is approached in church to become a leader unless the leaders see that they have spiritual maturity and the ability to lead. And yes it does not mean if you're not a leader you're not serving in church. Not everyone is the head.

And to answer your questions:
"Did the leaders who told you that there is a need doing anything about it?"
They too are serving, maybe not in worship as there are other areas too - i.e. teaching, chairing, etc.

"Training new people who are more inclined to serve in that area?"
Our main worship coordinator is giving lessons for those who are gifted so they can serve better every saturday.

"Asking people? or did they just stop at you once you took on the role?"
This is to answer the first question as well. Yes i'm not the only one they approach. Others who have the spiritual maturity were approached to lead in worship as well. I believe not everyone in the LG can lead worship.

ex-hope said...

"If they think they're not capable of leading, they should learn to talk to their leaders and voice it out. Then just dropping it and leaving."

I've not heard of or seen any leader or JG leave just because they're not capable of leading or want to stop leading. They leave for reasons stated all over this blog. Would you like to comment on those issues? Since we're from (I’m ex) the same church, I would like to hear from you about what you think of the current condition of the church. My friend wanted to step down from leadership, but was told he had to step down from the worship team first. I don't see logic in that at all. (This is what I meant by dodgy practices) When has leadership become a criterion for serving in other ministries?

I think you see the word 'leader' as those at the top, i.e. Pastor, UL, LGLs. I see leaders as not only that, but JGs and Shepherds as well. They are all leaders in their own right, just in different capacity. So yes, I still stand by the fact that people DO get asked/pushed to shepherd someone, to follow up someone. I’ve seen it happen. Those to me are leadership position. Whether you're leading 1 or 10000 it's still leadership. Hope would definitely not ask any Tom, Dick or Harry to become a shepherd or JG. But hey as long as they’re in line with the church, they will be asked.

I wasn't pushed to become one because I was a LG leader in my home church, so leading to me was not a problem. I wanted to do it. I know God has called me for it. When I first came, everything was fine on the surface. But as I went deeper, like rise up the 'ranks', I started to see, hear and experience things that were really appalling. I was serving in a few ministries which gave me ‘access’ to other services and people. As Hope is not my first church, I had something to compare and contrast to. Not to see which is better but to see if practices are sound and biblical. I have friends from different denominations and churches, and I've worked with people from many churches. So I kinda have a broad view. My home church is a charismatic church, so I’m definitely not traditional or have conservative views.

Because hope is such a ‘new believer’ church, many do not have any experience what so ever of how other churches are run and what practices are dodgy and what are not. So sadly, whatever they see in their ‘first’ church is going to be their foundation. I’ve spoken to some people who found God in hope, challenging them. Many were unwilling to listen because of this fact. Things like “we must listen to our leaders” is a common thing I hear. I hear people saying that more often than saying “we must listen to God”.

Interestingly, I’ve never heard of hope before till I came to Australia. When I told my pastors and friends that I’ve decided to attend hope, they all told me not to and told me their experiences. My very good friend, used to be in the same hope church, he was a leader. But he left. That was years ago, and guess what, things haven’t changed a single bit. He was telling me that other established leaders also left during that ‘era’. *At this point I would like to ask “Do you know the history of your church? How was it established?” Whatever the case, I decided to give hope a shot anyway. That was then. I’ve now witness and experienced what they’ve told me and more, that’s why I left.

ex-hope said...

Hope really has a bad reputation here on the ‘ground’ in and out of hope. They can be ‘high and almighty’ thinking that they’re doing heaps of good, but hey look at the people they’re stumbling or have stumbled. I’m not saying this just to take cheap swipes at them. But facts are facts. Some people outside of Hope think it is a cult! I’ve heard that more than once! Even non-Christians in the work force have negative comments about hope. Talking about not stumbling others. Shocking. Even till today, people are still struggling with the pressures placed on them in hope. They feel oppressed and want an escape. A church should be that escape not the direct opposite!

“And to answer your questions:
"Did the leaders who told you that there is a need doing anything about it?"
They too are serving, maybe not in worship as there are other areas too - i.e. teaching, chairing, etc.”

I know that’s what they do. You misread my question. I’m asking if they are doing anything about the lack of worship leaders, which you did answer later. From what I’ve seen (my ex lg), worship leaders in LGs are not chosen because they have the potential to do it. As long as you’re a JG, you’re EXPECTED to do it in some capacity. At least that’s what I’ve seen in my ex LG. So it’s not about having the potential anymore. It’s just about doing it since you’re up there in the ranks. If someone doesn’t want to, he/she will be pressured with statements like “hey you got to step out of your comfort zone” “you must do it for the sake of the group” – I think these statements are unbiblical and should not be used to coerce someone into doing something for God. People can be encouraged not pressured. It makes me sick in my stomach to see practices like this going on in God’s house.

Are you from another church before? Or is hope your first church? Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take the things shared here on this blog as fact. Open your eyes and ears to see and hear for yourself as you go deeper into the church. Don’t defend a church out of blind loyalty. I’ve been in the exact church you are in right now. HOPEFULLY they’ve changed for the better. But I highly doubt it since I’m still hearing oppressive stories from people in there. I do hope you’ll end up becoming an awesome worship leader though!

ex-member said...

After I left Hope Singapore, I casually shared with a matured Christian about how the BGR system on Hope where there is the shepherd thingy. Without thinking much, he asked if this was a cult.

And I explained to him about our roots from Hope BKK, and he said that explains cos of the culture there.

Therefore, I think the problem was principles were not understood with methods and teachings were transferred wholesale from our mother church then.

ex-member said...

Just to add ... The last I found out Hope Singapore had tweaked it's bgr system to a slightly liberal one where you need not seek the shepherd's permission or blessing to get attached or shepherd of the brother/sister matchmake for him/her.

I think on hindsight this is one of the major unbalanced flaws of shepherding where the shepherd assumes the responsibility of God in a person's life. This went for many years and changed for the better in late 2007.

Watcher said...

Hi all,

I used to be from Hope Singapore. And I can understand fully ex-member's remarks about the old BGR system. Since the new BGR structure, I have seen a number of couples getting together in exploration and courtship. Maybe it is because many ppl in Hope Singapore are reaching the age of marriage. Perhaps the stronger explanation is that the new BGR structure is more liberal, in the sense that it is now more biblically based. Now, the shepherds (though I am not supportive of the shepherding system, as I have mentioend elsewhere in this blog), leaders and specially set-up groups to facilitate the exploration of BGR, now act more like counsellors, giving advice on BGR issues rather than becoming the approving authority in allowing BGR. Of course this is just a summary of what I've learnt in Hope Singapore. Indeed, this is a very positive change. Those couples, which i earlier on mentioned, would not have been formed if the old BGR structure had been around. Some ppl have openly shared in testimony during church camp about how the new BGR structure have facilitated the beginning of some budding relationships. In fact, I had dinner once with a group of brothers and sisters from my NUS group after I graduated, and we were joking about who was in exploration stage, and one sister blurted out jokingly,"Must account, must account (meaning seeking your shepherd's approval)", but one brother responded also jokingly,"Hey we are now under the BGR structure." I have to qualify what I've mentioned here. While the new BGR system has become more natural and liberal and more similar to those of other churches, Christians should only marry Christians. They should not rush into BGR unnecessarily and should still seek God's will if the timing is right. Hopeful couples should still seek advice on the meaning of being a couple and the prospect of marriage. Wise counsel is still needed.

This brings me to the next point. What Ex-hope has mentioned as dodgy is what I can consider as ëxtra-biblical practices, meaning adding things into the Scripture and claims that Scrioture supports it. What should bind our consicences should only be the Scriptures, not practices or even commands or even advice that are not found in Scripture. One good example is the old BGR system. Scripture clearly commands us not to marry non-christians (Exo 34:16,Deu 7:3-4, 1 Kings 11:4Neh 13:25-27, Mal 2:11-12, 2 Cor 6:14). There are also other passages teaching us to seek counsel from wise and matured ppl for issues in life, as we can see many in proverbs. However, there is NO single scripture that says we must gain the approval of the shepherds (e.g. the christian speaks to his shepherd about his liking for a christian girl, then the shepherd will consider if the proposal is alright, then the shepherd speaks to the shepherd of the christian girl to convey the message from his sheep. Then both shepherd would consider the proposal and give the go-ahead for the couples to begin exploring). While seeking counsel is certainly a good thing in seeking to establish a BGR relationship, yet nowhere in Scripture do we see that the you need shepherds to talk to shepherds to gain approval or even discuss. That is what I mean by extra-biblical practices. To further explain my point, while it is clear from Scripture that we must read and meditate on God's word regularly, nowhere is it stated that we must read five chapters per day, 3 chapters per day, 2 from Old Testament, one from New Testament, etc (in fact, the chapters and verses were only added many centuries after the completion of the Bible). I knw there will be some ppl who would challenge my point and say that we should seek wise counsel, so shouldn't we seek our shepherds or leaders? I am not against seeking wise counsel. The question to ask is,"Have we added in some additional steps or practices into the bible when in fact the bible is silent about it?"

Regards,
Watcher

Watcher said...

Hi all,

THe verse that speaks of Christians can only marry Christian is in this verse. I forgot to quote.

1 Cor 7:39 - "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."

Regards,
Watcher

Watcher said...

Hi all,

I've mentioned:

"(in fact, the chapters and verses were only added many centuries after the completion of the Bible)."

What i meant was that the numbering system of dividing the scriptures into various chapters and verses was introduced centuries after the sriptures were written.

Hope this clarifies.

Regards,
Watcher.

Orel said...

“Reality check” time folks.

Despite his faults, faults which have been repeated time and again in this blog, I do recall DJ in a private moment during his “spiritual hey day” responding to particularly vicious criticism from Christian quarters with the words “don’t they fear God?” And his observation was right on that occasion.

Assuming that all of us who are posting in this blog are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who operate in the fear of the Lord, then I would appeal to you to be careful not to make Hope a political (or spiritual) football in this public forum. It’s too easy to criticize when a person doesn’t retaliate.

Given the Lord’s love for His church, we should be very careful, and hesitant, before labeling any Christian organisation as a “cult”. What exactly is a “cult?” For example, the Seventh-day Adventists fellowship on a Saturday and require abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other foods proscribed as “unclean”. Would we label the Seventh-day Adventists as a “cult” for these reasons? Certainly not.

The answer to the question as to whether an organization is a “cult” necessarily requires a careful and thorough examination of the doctrines espoused by that organisation first and foremost. A question should then be asked in the following terms: “Will I be ‘saved’ if I live my life in accordance with the doctrines of the organisation?” If the answer to that question is “Yes”, the organisation is part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and cannot be a “cult”.

Put in another way, “will I be ‘saved’ if I live my life in accordance with the doctrines espoused by Hope?” If the answer to that question is “Yes”, Hope is part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and cannot be a “cult”.

On the touchy issue of male and female relationships, we would do well to remember that Hope is not the only Christian organisation that has principles and standards in place in regards to this issue. A simple example should suffice – in Youth with a Mission (YWAM); aspiring couples are required to be accountable in regards to their relationship to their leaders on the base. Such accountability to leadership is required before the relationship commences. I selected YWAM as the example as it is a generous and selfless organisation which still has its original founder in leadership nearly 50 years later.

Anonymous said...

Hi Orel,

I'm saved not by living according to the doctrines of any organisation...

I'm saved ONLY by the precious blood of Jesus Christ!

Anonymous said...

Hi Orel,

I'm saved not by living according to the doctrines of any organisation...

I'm saved ONLY by the precious blood of Jesus Christ!

Watcher said...

Hi Anonymous,

You are right to say that we are saved only by the blood of Jesus. This itself is a true doctrine found in scripture that has been passed down to us. For surely, we come to faith in Christ by hearing the word of Christ. And the word of Christ is to be found in Scriptures. So you have effectively admitted that you are indeed living by the true doctrine of the christian church. It is through this true doctrine of the redemption that comes by the blood of Jesus that you have come to realise only Jesus' blood can save. True doctrine plays an important role in guiding us to know Jesus better and thus give Him the worship that is due.

Regards,
Watcher

Watcher said...

To Orel,

You mentioned that:

"Despite his faults, faults which have been repeated time and again in this blog, I do recall DJ in a private moment during his “spiritual hey day” responding to particularly vicious criticism from Christian quarters with the words “don’t they fear God?” And his observation was right on that occasion."

I do not wish to attack Kriengsak or PN. I have attempted to touch on the doctrines and practices and have given my comments on them without attacking anyone. When Kriengsak say "Don't they fear God?", I am not very sure what he is thinking about. Certainly, I am not in favour of attacking anyone, for I fear God and I would be guilty of judging without first judging myself. Today, as many of us have discussed the various faulty doctrines and teachings that have emmanted since the founding of Hope, I sense many of us are going beyond just blaming Kriengsak. Notice that some of us have clearly stated that this whole episode goes beyond the faults of those who have fallen. It goes right down to the very doctrines and practices that have been taught. When Kriengsak say "Don't they fear God?", what was the nature of the critcism? Maybe these criticisms have valid points, just that it was done in a vicious manner. That I do not support. But if those criticism touches on issues of works-based righteousness, the faulty foundation of the shepherding system, the performance based mentality in Hope church, and so on, then all I can say is what we have witnessed today in Hope is the end result of the various unsound teachings in the movement.

You also mentioned that:

"Assuming that all of us who are posting in this blog are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who operate in the fear of the Lord, then I would appeal to you to be careful not to make Hope a political (or spiritual) football in this public forum. It’s too easy to criticize when a person doesn’t retaliate"

I have no intention of making Hope a spiritual or political football.
We must not throw mud at each other, or else we would get our hands dirty. This I agree with you
However, from your above statements, it seems that you are saying we are attacking Kriengsak when he cannot retaliate. Please correct me if I am wrong in reading your intentions. But if I am right, then I have to demur from you, for we have no intentions of bringing anyone down.

Huios said...

And Orel,

We are not saying that Hope is the only one with such BGR principles. Just bacause YWAM seems a credible organistation, does not mean that they have good principles on this issue.
I think what we are doing here is to point out on past structures which are too controlling and stiffling, not in line with the spirit of the Bible. We are giving feedback on how to improve the situation. In fact, some of the posts commended on the some changes in the BGR structure which are beneficial. So we are not criticising. We do give credit where its due.

Watcher said...

To Orel,

You also mentioned:

'Given the Lord’s love for His church, we should be very careful, and hesitant, before labeling any Christian organisation as a “cult”. What exactly is a “cult?” For example, the Seventh-day Adventists fellowship on a Saturday and require abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other foods proscribed as “unclean”. Would we label the Seventh-day Adventists as a “cult” for these reasons? Certainly not.

The answer to the question as to whether an organization is a “cult” necessarily requires a careful and thorough examination of the doctrines espoused by that organisation first and foremost. A question should then be asked in the following terms: “Will I be ‘saved’ if I live my life in accordance with the doctrines of the organisation?” If the answer to that question is “Yes”, the organisation is part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and cannot be a “cult”.'


I replied to Anonymous. Indeed, I agree with him/her that is by faith in Christ that we are saved. ONLY by the blood of Jesus. It is by His blood, that I can be alive and live. You have to very careful in your statement. If you are saying that if we are 'saved' by living according to the doctrines of that particular organisation,then you must explain what it means. Do you mean to have faith in Jesus Christ, or do you meant that we must do the works of that particular organisation before we can be saved? If it is the former, I am relieved. If it is the latter, then I have to demur as this would mean works-righteousness.

As for the questions what constitutes as a cult, I agree with you that we must not be careful in determining what is a cult. The Mormons claim they believe in Christ, and they claim that they are followers of Jesus Christ, that by following their "doctrines", you can be saved. Yet they are a cult. Why? Because they have denied some of the most essential doctrines of the Christian faith. I suggest CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) and Apologetics Index as a starting point to explore the issues of cults. I am not saying that Hope is a cult. All I am saying is that I have found certain practices and teachings in Hope to be unsound and not in accordance to Scripture.

Watcher said...

To Orel,

You mentioned that:

"On the touchy issue of male and female relationships, we would do well to remember that Hope is not the only Christian organisation that has principles and standards in place in regards to this issue. A simple example should suffice – in Youth with a Mission (YWAM); aspiring couples are required to be accountable in regards to their relationship to their leaders on the base. Such accountability to leadership is required before the relationship commences. I selected YWAM as the example as it is a generous and selfless organisation which still has its original founder in leadership nearly 50 years later."

Ex-member and my postings on the BGR system are NOT about whether there should be a system or not. Of course, we need a system or structure to help the church to function. What we are discussing is whether those structures or system are sound or not. You used YWAM's example of accountability and say that Hope is not the only organisation that have systems in place. We are not against accountability. My concern, is rather the NATURE of such accountability. Are the systems of accountability really based on Scriptural prinicples or are they extra-biblical measures put in place even though Scripture is silent about it? Of course, I am not saying that the system of accountability in my current church is absolutely correct. If something that we do is not found in Scripture (whereby the bible is silent about it), then we must make sure that whatever system that is put in place does not infringe upon our consicence (only Scripture can bind our conscience) and that the system does not violate any prinicple found in Scripture. I have nothing against YWAM. However, if a church I attend (or christian organisation) I attend does many good things but ulimately have wrong teachings and faulty doctrines as their foundation, then I will not endorse the church or that christian organisation.

I hope my comments have been helpful.

Regards,
Watcher.

Watcher said...

To Huios,

Indeed, I agree with you that our main intention is to give constructive views. My comments have focused on the NATURE of the old BGR structure, which had been too controlloing and stifling, and that it needs change, which is what you pointed as well.

Regards,
Watcher

John said...

Hi Orel,

I have made numerous posts and chats under the name of anonymous or John. Yes, what you say is very true. We must all make sure that we are not putting the blame on an individual or playing politics here. Nor must we say that Hope is a cult.

However, having said that, I believe that the reason for this blog is more of informing people in Hope and ex-Hope what is going on as the information is not coming from Hope or HIM itself.

Also this blog is now serving as a place where people can discuss issues and practises in Hope which are incorrect. Why they are incorrect has already been documented on this blog and I will not go into it again.

The other reason flowing from the last one is that, hopefully, and I say with much hope that the leaders of Hope and HIM will read this blog, maybe even discuss with the bloggers here and perhaps even change some of these wrong practices. Perhaps this is all futile but I believe that we have to try.

Most of us here have been in Hope for many years. We considered it a great movement when it first started. I myself have been instrumental in helping it start. We have put in a lot into this movement and it means a lot to us. Having seen it deteriorate over the years is not a good sight especially this great 4-way split with no resolution with the original founder Dr. Kriengsak. Kriengsak himself once told us that he would rather have God take him than be deceived by the power that comes with running a movement of a lot of people.

We have been much saddened by the things that have happened even though most of us are no longer in the movement. True this will attract some people who have been hurt deeply and they express inappropriate remarks but this will happen. However, I believe it is important that this blog is here to continue to bring up the issues until the leaders take notice as we do not wish HIM to go down the same path as Hope did.

Also, in no way has any of the main bloggers said that Hope is a cult. You are absolutely correct in saying that Hope is not a cult as it's major doctrines are sound. However, we do say that a lot of it's practises are cultish as it borders on control and manipulation which is one of the definitions of a cult. The main culprit is its shepherding system which tends to control the sheep. Again, there has been much discussion on this blog so I will not go into detail.

Having cultish practises does not mean that it is a cult. But the leaders also need to recognise these issues and change it before it gets worse. All we are doing is highlighting the problems and hopefully someone will see it.

That is all we are trying to do. I would also invite you to give your comments if you disagree with us on any issue eg. the shepherding system.

John

Watcher said...

Hi all,

I believe it is the hope of the bloggers that the leaders of HIM would notice some of the discussions here that have taken place, and perhaps lead to a more thorough examination of the foundation of Hope. Even if this blog and the discussions here becomes futile, in the sense that leaders and members in HIM completely ignores the discussions taking place here, at least this blog can still serve the purpose of letting ppl be more aware of some unsound doctrines and faulty practices that takes place not only in Hope movement butin other similar movements as well. I've been through the system and I do not wish others to experience what I've experinced.

The reason why my comments and some other bloggers comments are long with details is to make sure we do not engage in false accustations. Many of us have been so insulated in Hope and isolated from the world outside of Hope that we think what we've learnt from Hope first hand has to be the best. There are no other viable alternative. All our practices have to be biblical, right? Then we proceed to use Scripture to back up what we claim (sometimes this turns out to be proof-texting from Scripture without proper exegesis about the verses in its proper context). But when some other mature Christians from other churches give alternative viewpoints and they too also back it up with Scripture, how then do we determine whose interpretation of Scripture is accurate? Are ppl in Hope able to respond to these alternative interpretations in healthy reasoning and discussion?
Of course, I do not wish such discussions to lead to divisions or factionalism. Rather I hope it can help us understand each other better.

Regards,
Watcher

Orel said...

Hello everyone,

Wow! What a large number of posts!

Anon is correct – I agree we are “saved ONLY by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.” Likewise Watcher is also correct to point out that salvation by the precious blood of Jesus Christ is “the true doctrine of the Christian church” and put my earlier post into its proper context. To avoid further confusion I will state unequivocally that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.

It would be nice to respond further to Anon’s post however there seems to be more than one person posting under the name of “anonymous” so it is confusing.

By way of further clarification Watcher, my post wasn’t referring to attacks on DJ for which he cannot retaliate. What I was referring to is my understanding that Hope in days gone by (and for legitimate reasons I should add) would invariably consider it best not to respond (or retaliate) to posts in a public forum in the hope that the “bad spirited chat” would be starved of fuel and die naturally. So what would HIM in the present do? I can’t say for sure but Ps Simon has been known to “surprise” on the upside and demonstrate a willingness to consider practical out of the box alternatives.

John, may I commend you on a well written and balanced post which states your objectives clearly. Objectives that are honourable. If I am interpreting your post correctly, I think you stated that this blog may attract those who have been hurt deeply and who may express inappropriate remarks. I shouldn’t presume to judge the wounded since it is well known that those who have been hurt are more likely to hurt others. The negative experiences described and the pain revealed as a consequence must be validated. Better still those who are hurting need a warm hug of acceptance!

While not wanting to trivialise raw wounds I would appeal for the use of less emotive language (if possible). Also, we need to remember that not all the Hope churches implemented shepherding practices and gender relationship principles to the same degree. Some of the examples described in other posts are undoubtedly of concern and I may comment on that elsewhere if time permits. That said I don’t think the extreme examples extended to all the churches. I belonged to 2 Hope churches. The first church was probably “laid back” as far as shepherding was concerned and I saw some great shepherd and sheep relationships flourishing. The second church had a more structured shepherding system but the styles and application in practice would vary – there were some strict shepherds and some more relational and informal shepherds.

Some may find the notion of a “laid back”, “relational” or “informal” shepherd alien but it is true – I still remember their names and faces.

Take care.

Watcher said...

Hi Orel,

I appreciate your concerns and response to our comments. Thanks also for clarification of the points you've made. Indeed we should not be adding fuel to "bad spirited chat". On the whole, even though there has been occasions of heated discussions, I sense that the majority of those who post their comments are trying to steer away from "bad spirited chat". I personally do not want to engage in quarrels or unnecessary divisions for the sake of divisions. We share so that we can be more aware of issues at hand, and in an objective manner as best as we can. As for the point about using less emotive language, I support your point as we seriously need to put our views across without having to be so emotive, as sometimes strong emotions could cloud sound judgement and reasoning. Having said that, I would still encourage the sharing of views openly, objectively and using less emotive language. There are times when we have to be sensitive to other peoples feelings. However, for me personally, if there is a need to, I would still put my point across even if it might differ from other peeople's point of view. Of course, I heop to do it as respectfully as possible.

I also agree with you that there are variations in the teaching and practices across Hope churches. No one church is exactly alike. This assessment is very true. However, having said that, I still have my fundamental disagreements with the teachings of the "shepherding system".

Hope my comments helps.

Regards,
Watcher.

Watcher said...

Hi Orel,

I apologise for my rather initial polemical response which was rather reactive and "aggressive" to your comments about the need to be aware of over-criticism, to show careful consideration of what a cult is, and the reality of structures in various organisation on issues such as BGR. For those who know me personally, they would know that in times of defending the doctrines and orthodoxy of he Christian faith, I can get very over-zealous. My brothers and sistershave on various occasions told me to cool down. I hope to control my tone better in the future.

I was very polemical because I was rather concerned about some of your comments. However, you have clarified those issues, such as the point about salvation by faith in Christ alone. I believe you hold strongly to this truth and I have no qualms about that. As for the need for "bad spirited chats" to die down and that Hope in days gone by would prefer not to respond of retalitate, I sort of understand the concerns. One negative consequence is that it will lead to further explosions of quarrels and divisions. The best way to talk about such issues is face to face talk. As to what Pastor Simon Eng would do, I do not know. But I believe he will act in the best interest for the church and do what is in accordance to God's will.

About the shepherding system, I have stated elsewhere about my views about this issue. I am not against having human mentors to guide us. In fact, I myself have benefitted much from the guidance of spiritual mentors. However, it is the nature of it that I am concerned about. Some of the extreme examples I have heard from other Hope churches, these I personally have not heard of before. One very good example is about switching churches. I am now in a non-Hope church and some of my brothers and sisters know about it. They still regard me as brother in Christ and I have not heard statements like "If you leave Hope, you will loose the blessing of God",etc. Of course this is not to trivialise the hurts those ppl have faced. I believe those extreme examples, most if not all, could be real-life examples that we cannot deny.

Finally, though there exist "bad spirited chat", there will also be "good spirited chat". Even if those "bad spirited chats" are gone, we have to remember that if some of those comments are true (even though shared in a not so good spirit), then it would be wise to consider their validity and seek to learn.

Cheers,
Watcher.

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