Saturday, August 29, 2009

Essentials of Church - Part 3

After reading some of the comments from brothers and sisters, I agree that some things do need to change. Hope was definitely work based by nature, it comes as no surprise because we take our model and the church character from our Founder - Dr Kreingsak and Ps. Joseph Srithawang, who advocates a work based model of spirituality. In fact work ethics is very much the basis of promotion in Hope of God church in Bangkok. But as we all can see, in the end they themselves got burned out and fell from God. This is a clear proof that this style of church growth never works. Some of the comments posted in previous Articles were great comments and indeed one reason Kriengsak had to stepped down because he offended many christians by the things he said and did.

In fact if indeed our salvation rate is as high as we always claimed, then in theory our church would have grown leaps and bounds but after 20 + years... all our churchs previously HGI and Bangkok did not show much growth in fact our turnover rate is almost 80% or more. Many of our church struggle to hit 500 people and only Hope Singapore have broken the 1000 people barrier. When i looked at stats from other growing churches around the world many have very high retention rate, and after looking into their method I have come to one conclusion we are doing it all wrong.

We are just so conscious about numbers and like one reader pointed out so into appointing leaders we totally disregard if they are well-equipped. In fact, I have seen leaders went up to the stage to preach even though he was a pretty young christians and in fact after he preached some visiting christians even asked me if he knew what he was saying. I had to keep quiet, apparently the pastor's way of selecting leaders is as long as you obey and submit to him and listen to him, you will be gurranteed a top leadership role regardless of annointing. In fact, the group under him never grow and the pastor have to keep taking people from other group to prop up his group at the expense of the other leaders because he was the pastor's fav.

So even though he was a UL in numbers, the numbers were mainly transferred people who went to his group. So how is that called annointing ?? I have heard him preach a number of times sometimes i don't even know what he was saying. I really think people need to be better trained and equipped. Our Hope theory is always OJT, throw them onto the pulpit and learn as you go. Maybe that is why many times we struggle.

In the church movement run by PN and Dr Kriengsak, we pushed people to invite friends and follow-up, we have stats to make sure we do, we have unit that get people to go to do street evangelism, we create millions of events to do outreach in the hope of getting people to church, because its always been a numbers game in Hope. We have Best of the Best to highlight the importance of numbers

So what have i learned from other growing churches...

1. Make sunday service applicable

- We should start to make Sunday sermons more applicable. Expository teaching verse by verse is good, but i find it more for mature christian's who like to do some meaty teachings. Many times i find my non-christian friends or even some christian fall asleep during preaching session. Because many times the sermon is just not applicable. I empathize with the pastors because they have to follow the Hope Movement law in making sure the teaching is verse by verse and book by book. It is seriously very restrictive, I know because i have been there and done that. After you been in Hope long enough, its always the same principles - Be obedient, be humble, Be kind, Trust God,..... you get my drift.
- I do think to make church more relevant, make teachings that can be applied or teachings that build people up because there is a wider spectrum of people in church therefore it would be better, that we can preach from the lowest common denominator and do bible study when its a special church camp.

Some good preachers and their Style

1. Ps Wayne Coderio - I believe PS Jeff also like this preacher
2. Joel Osten from Lakewood
3. Ps Kong Hee from CHC
4. Brian Houston from Hillsongs
5. Joyce Meyers
6. TD Jakes
7. Ps Rick Warren
8. Ps Bill Hybel
9. Ps Ashely Evans

To name but a few

2. Meet people's needs and treat people like people

I think this is crucially what is missing in Hope, we get so revved up in trying to get people invovled in church, sometimes we just overlook people's issue and needs. How many times we see leaders assumption that when christians are not serving because they are not spiritual ? Yet we overlook some stuggles they may face, maybe they have family issues, problems at studies or relationship issues. Isn't church suppose to be helping people ? Sometimes i feel in Hope Movement, people are just treated as workers and employees, expandable and disposable.

I do not think this is what church is supposed to be. My pastor keep stressing about church planting even though our church was still small. What was the whole purpose, to tell the world we can have Church everywhere ? To win best of the best ? We just keep sending people out without regards if they are ready and if our church could cope.

Guess what, many who went became burnt out because our church have no support structure, no way to help them. Many came back disillusioned and burnt out. Yet when they came back broken, our church never learnt from their mistake but even increased the goal of church planting.

To me, Church planting is importnant, but not at the expense of people's life. Unless the church is ready and is equipped to provide support don't play with people's life. Because ultimately if you are the shepherd and kill your flock you will be help accountable by God.

So when i say meet people's need what do i propose

1. Have a good tuition service to help poorer students
2. Have a ministry to help new graduates find jobs or write resume
3. Have a good counselling service
4. Create good family atmosphere and children church

Create an avenue of help for all level of church - from students, to single adults, to family, to senior group.

I heard a saying from a pastor, If people's needs are met then the church needs will be met too. Because people can serve without any worries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Essential Church (Part 2)

Firstly i would like to thank the people for the comments. Yes I agree with some of the observations. It is true to say that in the previous Hope movement under PN and Dr. Kriengsak. There was only one role that is to become a church planter and go out to fulfill the 1 million churches by 2015 vision. When this whole thing blew up, i began to question the reasons for such a mind blowing goal whatever it was more for God or for PN and Dr.J's own personal ambition. But in my 17 years, i have seen enough friends leave Hope movement because they were burnt out or disappointed. The worst thing in the previous Hope movement, people stopped becoming friends but treat each other like colleagues. If you are serving in the team, then you get all the adoration and so-called friendships but if you are tired or down and out, you will be left at the side and suddenly you realise your so-called friends just have no time for you.

I must admit Hope have some good points, and the reason i stayed because I have never let its issues affect me. To highlight another essentials which i have always believed.

3. Allow your people to be who God wants them to be.

- I agree that PN and the previous seems only to believe that we should be Church planters and missionaries and be in the pastoral capacity. But the truth of the principle that applies in the church context should also apply on an individual basis.
- Meaning to say not everyone is a Pastor or called to be in the pastoral ministry. Some are called to the marketplace as a businessmen and entrpreneur, some are called to do social work, some find joy in spreading the gospel through music.
- We have the 5 fold ministry but if you notice, our church have never been able to raise up the 5-fold only mainly, teachers and pastors.

What i think we should keep

1. I believe shepherding system is a good system but maybe do with some modification
2. Teach the essentials - QT, Character change, Sharing the gospel.

But beyond that allow our people to explore their calling. never force people to do things. Keep Christian life simple. All God wants is to grow in him - spend time in QT, Share the Gospel and change our life and be a good testimony.

In my walk in Hope one of the worst thing i ever heard a non-christian say to me is that they did not want to become christian because they saw how we serve - they actually asked me when I become a christian does it mean i have to attend all this meetings and I do not want to become christian and be so busy and so tired like so and so...... actually in Hope many times we end being the Martha instead of Mary ... we work and work till the point we sometimes even miss God.

.... to be continued.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Essentials to church

After having read some comments for improvements in the future, I think it can all sum up in one word. Whatever we do, we must always remember human be it charismatic leaders to the humble followers are all imperfect creatures. Many times our intention starts out good but things gets distorted or changed along the way. Just like George Orwell's Animal farm, he poignantly portrayed the evil in power and the imperfection of any system and the need for accountability

I have yet to met a men that has not succumb to temptations given the right opportunity, moment and circumstances. Like all the pastors who fell because of adultery or succumb to the desire of wealth or who in a moment of weakness who not able to do the right thing. And it is because of frailty that we need a good counter check and balance, such that leaders cannot have absolute power, no leaders should be able to use only one portion of the bible to tell members to submit and obey regardless of their life.

My proposal ( Part 1 )

Stronger and more independent board

1. The Board of directors in the Church should always include at least 1 senior pastor not in the Local church. AOG churches often have a non-executive director to provide advise and counsel in regards to Financial and also act as a Pastor's spiritual mentor. It is ridiculous to say that Head pastor need no spiritual shepherd, because Men is sinful and we need good counsel regardless of status. That was Dr Kriengsak and PN's downfall they had no one they need to account to.

2. The board's role is mainly administrative, I believe that as long as the head pastor is not making decisions that is immoral nor againstg the bible, we should allow him or her to lead. BUT, subject to their life example - meaning if a pastor is found to commit adultery, or is unable to lead by example as a good husband he must dutifully step down. The key issue is about general moral codes - honesty, integrity, righteousness

3. The head pastor is the lead pastor but he is also accountable to all the other pastors, and have to make sure that this check and balance works

Build on our strength

I think the next thing we need to admit is that we can never be the best at every thing. In hope, i often encounter this elitist teaching that we are the best in everything in worship, in teaching, in structures. And we try to do everything. But after being in Hope for 17 years now, I have come to realise that this is impossible. There will never be a church that can do everything. The local church is like a part of the body of the universal church. Every church functions differently and the truth is most church takes after the giftings of the leaders.

I often hear previously that our Bangkok worship team is better then Hillsongs, but the truth is Praise and worship is never our strong suite. We cannot compare with Hillsongs because this what God gave them as a church. In turn, Hope was good at pioneering church and there are not many church in this world who can do what we do. Some church are good at social work and some good at outreaching in the marketplace. The point i am trying to make is that we need to find our strength and build on it. And those area we are weak, we can send people to learn from other churches. Eg. if Hillsongs are holding a Worship conference we can participate and learn instead of trying to redo the wheel

The reason we can never get a great worship team because our structure in Hope will never be able to accmodate a strong team why ? Well in a small to a medium hope church, we have meetings that are more than a 10,000 people church. A typical leader will in a week besides working 8-5. Will have

1. Shepherding with his/her sheep
2. Be shepherded
3. Have CG meeting
4. Depending on your level - Unit meeting, Sub-district, District meeting, SDMM, JDMM
5. WFL class on sunday
6. Prayer meeting
7. Outreach events
8. Weekly Care Group
9. Follow-up
10. Participation in special church level events
- Camp
- Church Anniversary
- Easter
- Christmas
11. Leader's retreat

Then besides all this regular meeting and training session we try to create ministry for people to be involve like worship ministry, admin, spirtual growth department, development ministry.
Well you get my drift, If you are a working adult how could you possibly fit all this events.
I have actually done a calender once.. and seriously once you reach UL level you basically will have no time for friends, family or anything not related to ministry.

So my proposal would be to focus on our strength, and the strength of the pastor leading the church. No 2 pastors are alike therefore we may come from the same factory but the type of products will be definitely be different.

I am happy to plant churches, but if a Pastor is gifted in music, he can use music to plant churches. The ending point is the same only the method is different. Cut out too many meetings and streamline events.

That is my first 2 proposal...

Improvements for HGI and HIM

Another comments for improvements....

Watcher said...

Hi Eagle Eye,

I also used to come from Hope Church. Now, like Orel and Anonymous, I am in another church. I am now in a presbyterian church. It is very different from Hope Church but it also have a good church vision and is biblicalas well.

Though as pointed out by Anonymous that you are not in the leadership of HIM, what you have done, such as posting this blog and paving the way for various opinions to be sounded, is a courageous thing to do; and most important of all, it challenges the notion which I believe is pervasive in the Hope Church I use to come from and possibly other Hope churches as well: Leaders knows best and members must consult their leaders such that whatever you say is in line with the "official stand" of the church. I am not against seeking counsel from Leaders, or that leaders are not to be trusted. We must trust leaders whom God has ordained to be our overseers. But when leaders sin and go against the Word of God in their lives and governorship, we who are members and other leaders alike must speak up the truth in love. In the Hope Church I used to come from, we usually understand "Better is open rebuke than hidden love" to mean that leaders must correct their sheeps when they stray. This notion is twisted to mean that in most conflicts, the sheeps are usually the immature ones and definitely in the wrong, and the leaders must correct them. But seldom, and I seriously mean seldom, have I heard that sheeps can also seek to speak the truth in love to their leaders when their leaders are in the wrong. Simply put, Eagle Eye, you have discarded the faulty notion of rank and status that I believe you have experienced in Hope, like I did in the past. That is why I believe you dared to speak up, because you know the truth and you want to speak the truth. I am encouraged by that. By your actions, you have refuted the false notion (which i encountered in my ex-Hope church) that only being leaders (which I specifically mean CLs, shepherds, UL, SDL, etc)can you make a difference as Christian and be most useful in the kingdom of God. You have effectively demonstrated that God can speak through any members, regardless of "rank and status", of the church. You have shown that we are all under equal footing in the church because of Christ. THere is no hierarchy, no greek nor jew, no slave nor free, nomale or female, but we are all baptised into one body by the Spirit. We are all sinners justified before God through Christ.


Watcher said...

Hi all,

Besides being encouraged by eagle_eye's initiative, I like to say that the various false notions I encountered in the Hope Church may not be true for all Hope Churches. But what i have stated as false notions bears similarities to what I have heard from other brothers as well. It is because of my doctrinal convictions (it was getting more Calvinistic and Reformed in theology), and what I have personally deem as doctrinally unsound teachings & practices in the Hope Church I came from, that finally compelled me to leave Hope for a more grounded church.

Some of these unsound teachings practices, I can only list them briefly in the following which I believe are fundamental issues that needs to be changed before reaal reform can happen in Hope churches:

1) The extremely tight shepherding system. This teaching, while having good intentions to guide believers in growth and fellowship, has actually place an additional human mediator between Christians and God when Christ is already the Mediator between christians and God. It is like the Roman Catholic system, in which you need a human priest to interced between the christians and God. THis system, including the shepherding system, seeks to destroy the sufficiency of Christ mediation and the Spirit's ability to guide believers. Yes, we need counsel from fellow believers, particularly mature ones, but it must not be to the extent that we cause believers to over-rely on man or treat our human shepherds as if they are the intercessors between us and God. In Hope, I always use to hear, "Have you sought your shepherd's or leaders advice?" I seldom hear,"Have you seek God about this matter? What does Scripture say about this issue.? I also seldom hear,"Have you asked other brothers and sisters about this issue?" Notice that by default, a system is created in which counsel through the officially assigned leaders and shepherds have trumped the supremacy of Scripture and wise counsel from other brothers and sisters. It is like the "Magisterium" of the catholic church, in which the church's interpretation and tradition is held to be more supreme that Scripture alone. To make my point clear, I once heard a leader teaching in a conference about the shepherding system, that if you do not feel forgiven because of sin, you may want to confess your sin to your shepherd to feel more forgiven. Yes, there is occasion to confess our sins to another, as stated in James 5. But the real life example I stated seem to suggest that human shepherds have power to forgive sins. Doesn't that deny the sufficiency of Christ sacrifice on the cross and also deny Christ's role as the only MEdiator between Christians and God? Yes, God ordains shepherds over us, and we must learn to obey and submit to them. We must have close fellowship, but artificially assiging human shepherds over christans (i.e. your own personal shepherd, follow-upper) that is not based on mutual trust, willingness and true friendship but compulsory enforcement due to church regulation, will most prob end up in disillusionment, hurt and damage. In fact, quite many christian leaders and evangelical scholars have spoken up against the unbiblical "shepherding system" (by which I mean a permanent artificially assigned human mentor to each christian as mediator between him and God. I do not mean the shepherding role of the elders and leaders in taking care of the flock). For a period of time this teaching flourished in Charismatic churches in the United States in the 1970s to 1980s known as the "Shepherding movement" but has died down since. The Reformers of the sixteenth century set Christians free from the unbiblical priest-as-mediators system. Let us not go back to that bondage again.

Watcher said...

Continued from earlier post:

2) The church should not be run like a corporation. The church is the body of Christ. But Hope was run like a corporation, in which Kriengsak acted like a CEO, albeit in a autocratic way. Members are told to put in maximum inputs for optimum outcomes, much like trying to gain profits. If you can't bring in the profits, you have to be left behind and possibly "sacked". Committment meant that you follow whole-heatedly the "company" line, and even if you are creative and speak the truth and do the truth in a right way, as long as it goes against the official "company" line, you have to be sidelined. From the what I experienced in Hope, your standing before God is based on how much work is done from you, how much you conform, basically how committed you are to "church ministry" Yes, we must be obedient to Christ and His Word and be zealous, but true committment should spring from a grateful heart in response to God's gracious work in justifying you in Christ for salvation. And this committment should be shown not only in church ministry, but also in our workplace, in our secular vocations, families,etc. Committment must not be done to make ourselves justified before God. That is why so many ppl in Hope got burned out: They are so burdened, thinking that God is only satisfied with us when we do the most work and be very committed in church. This mindset is no different from the infamous Judaizers who tried to hoodwink the galatian church to fulfill the Mosaic law to be justified before God. What's the end result? As pointed out by eagle eye, it is neglect in their jobs, family life, thinking that serving God means only church ministry. This mindset must be changed. As one brother wisely counselled to me, if I claim to want to serve God fully in Church ministry, yet neglect the care of my family (i.e. to serve them), I am a hypocrite.

3) Exclusivism. AS rightly pointed by eagle eye, we have witnessed the exclusive mindset that pervades hope churches. I have heard before in my ex-Hope Church that Hope teaches the whole bible while other churches teaches only parts of the truth. Sad to say, this is not true and it is such a prideful statement. It was the Reformers of the sixteenth century that declared that the WHOLE bible is the supreme authority in the church. Kriengsak might have been a towering intellect, a prolific writer and charismatic leader, but origen, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, were also towering intellects, prolific writers and charismatic leaders. The christian church did not start with Kriengsak, but was founded by Christ 2000 years ago and have lived on to this day. There have been many great movements in Church history, of which Hope is only one of them. Simply put, we must cast aside excluscivism and realise there is a rich diversity in the body of Christ. HIM can learn from and should interact with other churches. There are churches which have equally good vision, if not better vision than Hopes. If anyone from Hope says,"No. How could other Churchs have better vision or is better than Hope?" , this is precisely the exclusivism Hope must throw away.

Watcher said...

Continued from previous post:

4) Fight back the worship of personalities. In the Hope church I came from, many ppl have adored Kriengsak, PN, and human leaders in our church who have fantastic talents, charisma, high rank. We've often spoke about the miraclulous life of Kriengsak,the signs and wonders surrounding him and how it impacted the early growth of the church. We honoured Kreingsak and PN as if they were God. But yet we were blind to the numerous false practices which they incorporated. While in Hope, the Word of God has high authority, but Kriengsak's interpretation of the Word, his teachings, inclusive of teachings of our local church leaders was viewed as THE WORD OF GOD. Yes, we must listen to preachers, even though they may make mistakes in their interpretation, when they faithfully interpret Scripture. But when man's words is the supreme authority rather than Scriptur, disaster would follow. As I mentioned earlier, the Roman Catholic church "Magisterium" is one such example. Many ppl worshipped Kriengsak and PN. We adored our human leaders to the extent that we worshipped them as if they were Christ Himself. Our eyes were fixed on man, our leaders. Peter was wise when he prevented Cornelius from bowing to him, as they were both were humans. Paul and Barnabas protested when the greek crowds worshipped them as if they were greek gods. Only Christ deserve our worship!

The above are just my bried observation of what I experience in Hope and what i've heard from fellow brothers and sisters in Hope. hopefully, my comments could contribute in a small measure to future improvements in Hope.


Comments for improvement in HGI and HIM

I have added some comments which I will tag so that it can be found next time......

Thanks for posting your views (including the suggestions for improvement) Eagle_Eye.

Since leaving Hope I have attended 2 wonderful churches in other denominations. There is no other church movement however with a vision such as Hope's and which mobilises its membership as effectively as Hope does.

The vision given to DJ is a vision from heaven - a church of tens of thousands in Bangkok would not have existed otherwise. During my time with Hope we sincerely believed it is possible to change the world right side up. Good to see HIM holding on to the vision and doubtless they will seek to add to it with God's grace.

The movement is now an "older dog". While the "old tricks" from heaven should be retained and practised there will certainly be "new tricks" the Lord is looking to impart.

Exciting times lie ahead.

Anonymous said...

Very well said, Eagle_eye. The comparisons between HIM and HGI will inevitably come out as you post all these blogs and forums. They are coming out for a very good reason. People do see things that are wrong and want change. In the past, they could not speak out, now they can. People speak out because mostly, the movement is dear to them. As many have said, this movement was founded on very good principles and foundations. Even to those like myself who have left it, it is still very dear and I would love to see changes that would bring it much closer to what is right and biblical and not according to what man wants.

The forum where members can put in their opinions is a very good idea at this stage as the leaders may not be aware of all the wrong practices currently still in HIM. My experience with Hope in the past is that there are Hope churches in the international scene that are very close to Hope Bangkok practices and there are also those that are Hope but do not follow these practises, so the practise of ostracising people who leave Hope may only be carried out by a few Hope churches that are currently in HIM but it is still something that needs to be stamped out if HIM really wants to change from the past.

Another practise that I have seen time and time again is how pastors who step down and leave the movement are being treated. They step down mainly for 2 reasons - firstly, it is burn out. Secondly, they disagree with the Hope practises and want to start their own church.

In both cases, these pastors are ostracised. In the second case, they are worse than ostracised. I have seen a pastor who have left the movement to start another church being ex-communicated, false accusations being brought against that pastor and the deliberate attempt of trying to discredit his reputation. THAT IS MOST UNCHRISTIAN and double standard since on the other hand, Hope welcomes pastors together with their congregation who have left other denominations with open arms. The attempt seems to be to break that pastor so that he cannot carry on pastoring after he has left the movement. Hope will always replace that pastor anyway and restart that church.

For the pastors who leave because of burnout and cannot carry on pastoring anymore, I have seen them leaving with a lot of hurts and disillusionment, they have no job and income, they have no career left and they have families to feed, yet they are left alone with no help and care and no moral and spiritual support whatsoever. It is very sad and unchristian. Clearly, Hope has forgotten about the Good Samaritan parable.

Eagle_eye, I bring this up now because of this post hoping that something can be done in HIM in the future about all these things and I do believe that past wrongs need to be corrected. I know you are not in the HIM leadership but as you say, you may be able to speak with them and bring about change.

Thanks for reading this post.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Scars of the past - HIM and the old HGI under Ps PN

I do believe there is still some confusion back in Bangkok, where information have been slow in moving. As the old Hope Movement have been split into different groups, because PN still considers himself a HGI president, there is still some people who may be unsure about the international scene especially since people in thailand normally uses Thai language to communicate and many may not know english. I hope that I can put out a Thai version soon.

Anyway, I read with interest about comparison of HIM vs HGI churches. I do understand about the issus regarding ex-member leaving church under previous Hope Movement and have raised this issue about the double standard our church practice where when other church people join us, we are ok while those who leave hope are termed rebellious. Personally, I have always believed this practice to be unchristian like because there might be some reasons beyond personal issues and people should never be ostracised because of that. In fact, I keep in touch with a lot of people who have left hope, you could say we have a sort-of unofficial Hope Alumni club, but for most people i speak to they are doing well in other churches.

The top 3 reasons i know most people leave is BGR issues, burned out due to the heavy committment and unable to work with the leaders due to style difference. Under HGI with Dr Dan or PN, our style was more auotcratic and your "promotion" was more often based on 2 criteria - your total obedience to the leaders and willingness to commit your life to the church ministry, rather than your life walk with God. That is why many leaders burned out

I do believe though HIM will be different from HGI, as now we have our chance to forge our own identity. i do think many thing that Hope previously did was because of our founder, who have backslidden but was still running the Church like a CEO with PN as the face of Hope, and many of their decisions were based on secular principles but using Chrsitian analogy. Like when PN describe the breakaway as that of children deciding to split from their parents, this sounds good but in essence not scriptural because, God is suppose to be the head. Hope in itself is not the parents. Therefore Churches like HIM that split from PN is not splitting from a Parent and children relationship but probably that of siblings. Yes, we did come from the same Movement but when one part sins against God, then it would be wrong to condone such sin. Christ should always be the head, we follow Christ not PN.

I do believe also that HIM is trying to make an effort to review their policies, especially since previously every input owas from PN and Dr.Dan. I must admit in Thailand, Hope may be the preeminent church, maybe that is why it was always a "Them" vs "Us" mentality and that is why we keep telling our members we are the best and seldom if never invite international speakers. I know from Ps Simon blog that HIM intend to work more closely with ither churches and be involve in the Christian community.

But just like a cancer growth, I must say it would take some time to clean the cancer cells and wrong teachings that were past down from PN and Dr.Dan. Everything do take time, because 20yrs of scar and imprint cannot be erased overnight.

I do think we first need to tackle the crucial issue of finance, Church direction and settting our own identity. We will take what is good and throw away the bad. I am happy about the topic in the 1st Global conference called revisiting our values. I think now it is a good opportunity for members to help create our new identity. We all can play apart.

Maybe I will ask them to create a forum where members can put in their opinions. One good thing about Hope though, was that the principles and foundations created were really good and we should keep. The one big failure we have in Hope is putting the principles into practice and making it practical.

For example - we are always taught to love God. but in Hope we were never thought how, our assumption was that to show we love God we have to serve and be involved by attending all meetings and do follow-up and shepherding.

Another weakness to rectify is also learning to link all the other principles for example - like what the article mentioned previously. People always neglect their job and perform badly because they only care about church work, some i know even do their shepehrding or quarterly plan during work hours, even though we are suppose to be paid by the company.

Let's hope things will turn out better , scars and wounds takes time to heal, and I think for those in Hope, we need to put in our hands to reshape our future.

Monday, August 17, 2009

An article about Dr Kriengsak and hope

An article I found about Hope of God Church Bangkok. It was written be a person who was previously involved from the beginning with Hope Bangkok and a third party reflection. It really will answer alot of questions about Hope and the way they function.

This article gave me a great insight to the stories i previously heard 10 years ago about Kriengsak, about allegation of him, the reason for his excomminication of his seond hand man, strories that were only heard from Hope point of view. But never from a thrid party perspective.

This is an excellent article because it has all the bibliography and reference. I really hope we can all learn the lesson from this


The Hope of Bangkok is the fastest growing church in Thai Protestant church history, beginning in 1981 with 17 people, and has grown to an estimated 40,000 members today. Not only is the Hope of Bangkok itself growing, but many other churches have benefited from former Hope of Bangkok members transferring their membership to mainline churches in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand.

The Hope of Bangkok has also experienced conflict with other churches because of its
rapid growth and its policy of drawing members from other churches to join it. Its
membership in the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand was suspended in 1987 and
has not yet been reinstated.

The Hope of Bangkok is distinctive in that it began with a clear vision to plant to church in every Amphur district of Thailand. It expects a high level of commitment from its members who are expected to attend Sunday services, small group meetings, do follow up of new believers as well as show self discipline in memorizing Bible verses. A corporate structure is used to govern the church and the church services are a blend of Charismatic style worship mixed with expository sermons from the Bible. A clear system of follow up is used to contact people who attend services and meetings of the church.

The Hope of Bangkok Church has many lessons to teach the Thai church in general and its methods and policies need to be examined in the light of scripture to determine how the Christian church can improve its rate of growth and reach more Thai people for Christ.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents...........................................................................................................1
1 History....................................................................................................................3
1.1 Dr Kriengsak Charoenwongsak- Personal Background and Conversion ......3
1.2 The Birth of “The Hope of Bangkok Church”..............................................4
1.3 Expansion and Growth...................................................................................5
1.4 Problems ........................................................................................................8
2 A Personal Experience.........................................................................................11
3 Distinctives of the Hope of Bangkok...................................................................12
3.1 Clear Vision .................................................................................................12
3.2 Corporate Organisation................................................................................12
3.3 A Unique Way of Conducting Church Services ..........................................14
3.4 Follow up .....................................................................................................14
3.5 High level of commitment ...........................................................................15
4 Dr Kriengsak Today.............................................................................................16
5 Lessons for the Thai Church................................................................................17
5.1 Strong National leadership...........................................................................17
5.2 Accountability of church members..............................................................17
5.3 Commitment among the membership..........................................................18
5.4 Accountability of leadership........................................................................18
6 Conclusion ...........................................................................................................19
Bibliography ................................................................................................................20


The Hope of Bangkok is the fastest growing church in Thai Protestant church history, beginning in 1981 with 17 people, about half of them foreign missionaries. Today the church is estimated to number over 40,000 members and still seems to be growing at a rapid rate. Not only is the Hope of Bangkok itself growing, but many other churches have benefited from former Hope of Bangkok members transferring their membership to mainline churches in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. It cannot be denied that the Hope of Bangkok has had a tremendous impact on the Christian church in Thailand. This report seeks to explore some of the reasons for the rapid growth of the Hope of Bangkok Church, and the lessons that we can learn from both its rapid growth and some of the problems that it has experienced during its 23 year history.

1 History

1.1 Dr Kriengsak Charoenwongsak- Personal Background and Conversion

Dr Kriengsak was the eldest of five children in a Chinese family in Bangkok. He had a father who worked very hard to establish the family business and was seldom at home. Dr Kriengsak himself grew up with an attitude to doing everything well and working very hard. His early life was also characterised by loneliness because his parents had to work very hard and he was sometimes not able to relate well to his school friends. He went to a prestigious secondary school but instead of involving himself in sports and other leisure activities he went regularly to an orphanage to play with the children and also to help the inmates in a blind institution. He would also organise teams to go to remote rural areas in the summer vacations to build schools. At
age of 16 in 1972 he was offered a scholarship to study for a year in an American high
school in Wisconsin USA, and this was his first exposure to Western society. In November 1973, Kriengsak arrived in Melbourne, Australia and studied economics and political science at Monash University. During this time he developed a friendship with a Singaporean student who was a Christian. He was impressed with the intellect of his fellow student and through his witness eventually became a Christian. After his conversion he became very disciplined in Bible study, prayer life and witnessing to his friends. He became involved in a conservative evangelical
church and also in the Asian Fellowship on the campus. Sometime later he had an experience of being baptised by the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Dissatisfied with the conservative Church he began to attend the charismatic Waverley Christian Fellowship in Melbourne. In this church, as well as in the Asian Fellowship, Kriengsak quickly became a leader who demanded 100% commitment from his followers. People were expected to memorise 21 verses of scripture per week, doorto-door witnessing on Sundays between services, attend cell groups, and be involved in follow-up of new believers.

In 1976 Kriengsak received a vision to plant a church in every one of the 685 districts throughout Thailand. He also met his wife Rojana who came to share his vision for the Thai Church. Even on their honeymoon on Phillip Island in Australia they spend the days handing out tracks and witnessing to other holidaymakers and residents.

After he finished his university course with first-class honours he was then invited to study for his PhD in Australia for another three years, and during this time he was also able to complete studies in New Testament Greek while carrying out his other responsibilities in the church.

1.2 The Birth of “The Hope of Bangkok Church”

Kriengsak returned to Thailand in 1981 and took up a position lecturing in the Masters programme at Kasetsart University in northern Bangkok. He found himself disappointed with the teaching in the Thai Churches and within a few months began a new church service in the lecture room on the ninth floor of the Bangkok Christian hospital on Sunday, the sixth of September 1981, beginning with 17 people, many of whom were foreign missionaries with OMF international. Some of the OMF members who were present were Alex Smith, Henry Breidenthal, Alma Cunningham, Mary Cooke and Allanand MaeLyn Ellard1. By the end of the year there were 120 people attending the meeting. To begin with the music was very simple with only one guitarist leading the music and it gradually developed as more musicians became
available. In the beginning what really attracted people to come to join the meeting was Kriengsak's preaching and his vision for growing churches. He was a young man who was well educated, very intelligent, had integrity as well as great vision, was highly committed, worked very hard and had obvious leadership skills. There was great excitement in those early days as Kriengsak proved himself to be a capable leader full of integrity and passion to follow Christ. The missionaries working alongside him were also very impressed and excited at seeing a Thai Christian leader who was able to effectively grow a Thai Church. As well as being involved in the
numerous church activities and evangelism, these early members also read one book every week. Some Thai members showed their commitment even to the point of selling their house and moving into rented premises in order to meet some of the expenses of the church.

Kriengsak himself set an example of someone who was intensely committed to follow-up and discipline. He was able to lead one of his school friends from Assumption College to know Christ (a member of the family that runs the central department stores in Bangkok). Every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. he would travel from his home to meet in the missionary’s house to disciple this young man before they both went off to work2. Kriengsak was never late.

1.3 Expansion and Growth

In the second year of the church (1982) the growth in numbers slowed considerably and Kriengsak determined that this was due to a lack of unity in the leadership team and lack of commitment to the vision by some of the leaders. As a result, Kriengsak decided that he would only appoint leaders who had come up through the church and whom he had trained personally. After seven years of growth “the statistics would show that 93% of church members had been converted at Hope of Bangkok with the remaining 7% being transplants from other churches”3. During this time a cell group program was implemented in a big way, which consisted of a clear follow-up program for new converts. The cells were organised all around the greater Bangkok area and a pastor was appointed to each one of the districts to oversee the cell groups and to train the leaders of each one of the cell groups. A program of leadership training was implemented through these cells. Everyone was expected to be involved in follow-up of new believers including Kriengsak himself. There are many stories of his total commitment to doing the work of the church over and above his commitment to his family and other priorities. One of them is the fact that he did not attend the birth of his first son despite the fact that his wife was having difficulties during the pregnancy because on that night he was counselling a drug addict and leading him to Christ.

Another story is of Kriengsak making follow-up appointments at 5 a.m. in order to
have time for all of his other commitments at work and church. In 1983 a special evangelistic campaign was commenced with the aim of raising the membership to 200 by the end of the year. This target was met and raised the need for larger premises so in November 1983 the Hope of Bangkok church moved to the Sheraton hotel. When this began to be insufficient, the Hope of Bangkok church obtained the Oscar Theatre in Petchburi Road, and was able to commence a service there with about 400 people in November 1984. As the congregation grew the church was able to increase its range of activities and established interest groups in areas such as Bible study, playing a musical instrument, song leading, singing, typing, computer skills, and speaking English. New congregations were started as well as student cell groups on main university campuses.

In May 1985 the Hope of Bangkok church had about 700 members and was able to pay off the money that Kriengsak owed for his bond in studying overseas. As a result he was released for full-time ministry and established the Thailand Bible Seminary, which offered short-term courses as well as a four-year bachelor degree in theology and various Masters Degree programs for university graduates. In the same year the Hope of Phayao church was established, although not without difficulties. In the next few years other churches were established in Chiang Mai, Suratthani, and Nakhon Sri Thammarat.

During this time of growth in the 1980s the structure and organisation of the Hope of Bangkok became increasingly autocratic. Bangkok was divided into four districts, each directed by one of the four men who work closely with Dr Kriengsak. These four districts would compete on the basis of growth figures, and awards would be handed out each Sunday for the best cell church leader in the district over the last week. Visitors to the church would be given different coloured nametags according to their classification. Visitors from other churches would receive a yellow nametag. People who were not yet Christians would receive a green nametag. A member of the
church would have a red nametag. There would always be an altar call at the end of each service and there would be pressure on the non-Christian with a green nametag to go forward and make a commitment to Christ. With such coercive techniques many people who came for the first time never returned to the church

Figure 1- Growth of the Hope of Bangkok Church

In 1989, the present premises at Khlong Toey were obtained and by 1991 the Hope of Bangkok church was claiming around 6000 members. Marten Visser doing research on Thai churches estimates that today the Hope of Bangkok throughout Thailand has about 40,000 members.5 In 2003, their annual camp was held at Khon Kaen over two weeks with 15,000 people attending each week. The OMF short-term worker who attended the camp was given the impression that these people represented 75% of the total membership of the Hope of Bangkok Church. The Thailand Evangelisation Committee is currently trying to obtain accurate figures of the membership numbers, but these are very difficult to obtain.

1.4 Problems

The explosive growth combined with the aggressive techniques in follow-up and attracting new members to the church led to friction within the evangelical Fellowship of Thailand. These problems surfaced in many different ways. One was the extremely high level of commitment that was demanded of the Hope of Bangkok church. Members were expected to attend Sunday meetings for the whole day, cell church meetings throughout the week, follow-up of new believers and seekers as well as student meetings on campuses, interest groups and personal Bible study and scripture memory programs. This very high level of commitment to church activities caused friction with the other organisations and institutions that church members were involved with.

The most obvious of these was the immediate family of new church members who would become resentful of the amount of time that a new convert would spend in church activities. In October 2000 this led to some bad press in the Matichon newspaper because of a female university student who committed suicide by jumping out of a high story window. The allegation was that she had been involved in the Hope of Bangkok church and also Campus Crusaders for Christ which had contributed to her suicide. While this allegation was not substantiated it did lead to
further allegations in the media of the Hope of Bangkok church drawing young people away from their families.

One Thai student, who is presently the wife of a pastor of an ACT church in Bangkok attended the Hope of Bangkok student meetings at Kasertsart University in the early 1990s. She said that there were enormous expectations to attend meetings and to be involved in all the evangelistic activities of the student group. This made her feel increasingly uncomfortable and eventually she had to cut off communication with the group because of the aggressive approach that was used in bringing her to meetings.

Her observation was that there was a very high emphasis on attending meetings and being involved in Christian activities to the point that the emphasis on a personal relationship with God suffered. She received the impression that Hope of Bangkok members were so busy attending meetings and that doing activities that very little time was left for personal Bible reading and prayer

There were also some allegations of church members not being able to contribute in the workplace as a result of their high level of commitment to church activities. In 1983, Alan Bennett7 was the director of the Far Eastern Broadcasting Company, which employed members from the Hope of Bangkok Church. When he needed to address the problem of his staff falling asleep during the day while they should have been working, their response was that they needed to sleep because of the constant demand to attend cell group meetings and church activities until late in the evening. If they did not attend the meetings then they would be fined a sum of between 20 and 50 Baht. Mr Bennett contacted Dr Kriengsak to try to address the issue of high
expectations that were put on the Hope of Bangkok church members, but was met with the response that these people were doing the work of God and must attend all the church meetings. There was an apparent indifference to the obligations that church members had to their employers as well as to their church.

Over a period of time during the 1980s there were increasing complaints about the behaviour of Hope of Bangkok church members. Many of the complaints stemmed
rom a perception that Hope of Bangkok members were trying to coerce members from existing mainstream churches to join up with the Hope of Bangkok. These complaints came frequently and were not isolated. Due to the increasing number of complaints, the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand communicated to Dr Kriengsak a desire to talk about these issues. The behaviour of the Hope of Bangkok church members in attempting to recruit church members from other churches within the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand was outside of the policies and principles laid down by the Fellowship. A number of attempts were made to clear these matters up with the leadership of the Hope of Bangkok church. When Dr Kriengsak and other Hope of Bangkok church leaders refused to meet with the board of the evangelical Fellowship, the board eventually took the action of putting the Hope of Bangkok church under discipline. In January 1987, the Hope of Bangkok church was suspended from the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand.

The EFT laid down a number of conditions for reinstatement in order to make the Hope Churches work better with other church groups, such as the approval of the existing churches for new church plants in a town or city, and approval of change of membership from an existing church into the Hope of Bangkok.

In October 1990 there was a dispute in the leadership team of the Hope of Bangkok church. Dr Kriengsak had been travelling in the United States and on his return he expelled one of his senior leaders from the church. The reason for his expulsion was never quite clear except that the leaders who were expelled were accused of rebellion and trying to take over control of the church. As a result four people were excommunicated and at the end of the next week another four leaders were also put out of the church because they questioned the decision. Church members were forbidden to have contact with the leaders who were expelled from the church and the homes of these leaders were put under surveillance to make sure that everyone obeyed.

Over the next month there was a big emphasis on authority and obeying leaders, which became the main topic of sermons and seminars. It seems at this time that Dr Kriengsak had become untouchable and no one was able to call him to account. In December 1991, a delegation was sent from the Waverley Christian chapel in Melbourne to confront Dr Kriengsak on many of the unresolved issues that were affecting his reputation, including a charge of adultery. Dr Kriengsak was not open to being questioned and denied any wrongdoing.

In 2003 the evangelical Fellowship of Thailand reiterated its warning to all of its members not to have any formal relationship or engage in any programmed activities with any churches that had been suspended because of “disciplinary issues” which could only refer to the Hope of Bangkok Church.

2 A Personal Experience

I attended an 11.45am – 2.30pm service at the Hope Place in Khlong Toey. The
average age of about 25-30 years. It is the largest church meeting that I have attended during my 10 years in Thailand. A band led the worship from the front stage singing modern tunes, but also some older songs. The main pastor is Phitsanunart Sritawong who is married to Dr Kriengsak’s sister. Kriengkrai Suphiphatanamori preached the sermon in an expository style.

One Thai man about 40 years of age came and befriended me and introduced me to his friends. He has phoned me five times in three weeks inviting me to attend services and seminars at the church, even though he knows that I am a missionary with another organisation and that I have regular preaching appointments in other churches. He had obviously been trained to follow-up any show of interest among new people who turn up to church. There is quite a large bookshop selling a number of mainstream Christian titles from different distributors in both Thai and English. At the same time as the service was in progress, they were also a number of other different groups having meetings around the building and inside the building. There are also many other special events taking place through at the weekend on a regular basis such as:
Bible teaching seminars, special midweek praise service, anniversary of children's ministry, a seminar on how to pass the entrance exam, and the 23rd anniversary celebration of the founding of the church

I talked to one man about the difficulty of obtaining statistics about membership numbers and growth, to which he replied that the leaders probably did not want to give statistics in order that there would not be an emphasis on numbers of people, but rather on the quality of their growth. He also added, “Some people do not understand us and might use the statistics in the wrong way.”

3 Distinctives of the Hope of Bangkok

3.1 Clear Vision

The Hope of Bangkok began with a very clear vision of planting a church in every one of the 685 amphurs in Thailand by the year 2000. This was the vision that kept the growth going for the first few years as the church sought to plant new churches outside Bangkok, beginning in Phayao, then Chiang Mai and other major provincial towns around Thailand. Hope churches were also established in other countries such as Malaysia, Sydney, Seattle and Singapore and connected through an international network of relationships. The current vision of the Hope of Bangkok is to be “A Healthy Church” according to the church bulletin and the slogan on the walls of the worship meeting advertising an upcoming seminar.

3.2 Corporate Organisation

A high level of organisation is apparent within the structure of the Hope of Bangkok church. There is a strong emphasis on structure and system within the church. There is a clear method of evangelism, follow-up, establishing new believers in cell groups, training leaders, and lines of authority. Many Thai churches seem to be based around a family model that is often suitable to a small town context. The Hope of Bangkok seems to take a different approach by adopting a more corporate model where organisation and obedience to the appointed leadership is very important. As a result future direction of the whole church. This increases the efficiency of decision-making and the ability of the leaders to set the direction and the pace of change. Thai people are generally known to be quite passive towards leadership and so this model works
quite well in the Thai context. The organisational model is suitable for a big city context where a multitude of activities are offered for people to be involved in, multiple services on each Sunday, choice of various cell groups to attend in a certain area, but at the same time maintaining a clear focus on a common vision. On the other hand, this type of leadership structure has a possible weakness. While there is great accountability for members of the church to attend meetings and to be involved in church activities, there is little accountability by the leaders towards the
members they serve. It seems that the leaders demand obedience but that the same time this model lacks transparency of the leadership towards the membership in terms of financial accountability, personal lives of the leaders and involving the membership in major decisions that are made which affect the future direction of the church. Edwin Zhener refers to Dr Kriengsak’s style as the “functional equivalent of the traditional Chinese patriarch atop the family business” and compares the bureaucracy of the church to that of “a large-scale Chinese organisation where financial matters are handled through a staff function where the details can be kept privately among a few individuals”9

As a result it is difficult for members to express frustration and disappointment within the church structure and this seems to lead to a fairly high turnover of membership. It is relatively easy to find people in mainstream churches who have at one time or another been members of the Hope of Bangkok church, but have become frustrated by the high expectations, the coercive tactics used to make people perform, and the lack of power among common members to influence decisions.

Performance and activity take a high priority within the structure of the Hope of Bangkok church. This is highlighted by such practices as imposing a fine of small amounts of money on people for not attending meetings, or arriving late for meetings such as cell groups or Sunday services. It is not known whether this practice still continues or not. Each year there is also a highly professional award ceremony where awards are given to various pastors around the country for their performance in different areas. The award ceremony is titled “The Best of the Best”10.

This kind of practice would make most mainstream church members very uncomfortable but
seems to be normal accepted practice for the Hope of Bangkok Church where pastors are given a high profile and are judged on their results in terms of numerical growth.

3.3 A Unique Way of Conducting Church Services

The Pentecostal style of running a service is attractive to young people because it is lively and upbeat with big bands, expressive worship, and emotional sermons. The emphasis on miracles and healing is also a magnet for many people who are impressed by such an emphasis, and also for those who are looking to be healed of their physical illnesses. As the Hope of Bangkok church was being established in the early eighties this was a time when Pentecostal-style churches were growing all over the world. The Hope of Bangkok led the way in providing exciting worship in a
contemporary format and in adopting new songs from overseas as well as providing the church with new songs written by its own members.

As well as having contemporary worship, Dr Kriengsak was also able to feed his congregation through expository preaching, which is not typical of most charismatic churches. In this way
he was able to bring together the most appealing aspects of both charismatic style churches and the more conservative evangelical churches. He was able to disciple people not just by preaching the Bible, but also by enabling people to put into practice what they learn. Dr. Kriengsak knew very well that people learn best by putting into action the things that they hear, and he did this to an extent that many mainline churches would not consider.

Dr Kriengsak also suited the Pentecostal style of church in his leadership style where the pastor is normally given a lot of authority and scope for ministry. Being a man of the enormous capability and intellect he was able to command the respect of those who followed him. He was a very effective preacher and was able to move those who listened to him through his passion and his commitment. As a result the church became an expression of his personality and ministry where he became the key to making things work. Nobody within the congregation would think of refusing him anything that he asked for.

3.4 Follow up

Many churches lose people because they do not adequately follow-up those who attend services and express an interest in joining the church. By implementing an effective system for follow-up, Dr Kriengsak was able to address this major problem by expecting that a visitor to the church would receive a visit within 24 hours. All 15members were held accountable for the way that they follow up any prospective church members that they meet. In this way Dr Kriengsak was able to effectively involve the majority of the membership in ministry and to see the church grow quickly. Because there would be pressure placed on people to bring new members to the church, many Hope of Bangkok members would aggressively try to pursue those who were in their circles of friendship. By having a clear system and expectation of how to do follow-up, Thai church members were able to break out of their traditional shyness and embarrassment.

This system of implementing follow-up was a major cause of friction with other churches in the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand. Hope of Bangkok members would sometimes attend other mainstream churches with the goal of attracting these church members to attend the Hope of Bangkok meeting. Using this method was an effective way of attracting members who already had a Christian foundation and could provide some stability and possibly even become leaders within the Hope of Bangkok church. Often cell groups would be set up in the homes of Christians who belonged to other churches. As the cell group met in a home of a member who belonged to another church, they would gradually be drawn into the circle of the Hope of Bangkok. These kinds of methods led to an increasing number of protests from leaders of mainline churches

3.5 High level of commitment

Few Thai Christian leaders have the status, the charisma and the influence that Dr Kriengsak had over his followers. Since he himself was the man who led by example of total commitment to the work of the church over and above other priorities, he was able to demand no less from those who followed him. As the church continued to grow and the momentum built up, so did the expectations that Dr Kriengsak was able to put on those who followed him. This stands in stark contrast to the general demands of the Buddhist religion and the demands of most mainstream churches in Bangkok which makes most activities purely voluntary and with no great pressure applied to be involved. As a result Dr Kriengsak was able to break through the deadlock that most churches find in not being able to mobilise their members to a high level of commitment to church activities and outreach. By mobilising his church 16 members to be involved in work he was able to multiply the ministry and the effectiveness in reaching outsiders to come into the Hope of Bangkok church.

Although some people were turned off by the methods used, it has obviously brought results in terms of numerical growth and is continuing to do so. This demand for a high level of commitment also had a downside. In the case where a church member was not able to keep up the commitment to meetings and activities, the church member would feel forced to leave the church. Leaving would be viewed as a failure and when the member attended another church they might be viewed with suspicion because of their background11.

Dr Kriengsak Today

Dr Kriengsak has currently no known connection to the Hope of Bangkok church. At
present his current responsibilities are:
• “Member of the National Economic and Social Advisory Council
- Chairman of the Education, Religion, Arts and Culture Commission
- Vice Chairman of the Economic, Commerce and Industry Commission
• Research Professor, Regent University, Virginia, USA
• Executive Director, Institute of Future Studies for Development, Bangkok.
• Chairman, Success Group of Companies”12

A search for his name on the Internet showed more than 100 hits on various web pages referring to his speeches at seminars on economic growth and development. Any references that once existed linking his name with Christian activities and the Hope of Bangkok Church have been erased.13 He is also taking initiatives to promote understanding of the Buddhist religion and history by sponsoring a program to send Thai young people to Sri Lanka.14 There are also a references to a few comments he has made regarding the present Prime Minister of Thailand raising the question of whether he has political ambitions.

5 Lessons for the Thai Church

5.1 Strong National leadership

There is no doubt that the key to the initial and explosive growth of the Hope of Bangkok church was the result of Dr Kriengsak's leadership. He was a man who had had a powerful conversion experience and had the qualities necessary to become a powerful leader in the Christian church. People respected and listened to him and through his vision he was able to lead a large number of people in a common direction. He was very influential not only with Thai people but also with many foreigners who were impressed with his character and his leadership. Because of his charisma he was able to break through the complacency that many Thai Christians show towards their faith and lead them on the into a very high level of commitment and activity. He was an exceptional individual who displayed qualities that are very rare in the Thai Christian church. Although his strong leadership style caused friction and conflicts with other churches he was able to grow his church very quickly, knowing that his membership respected and supported his leadership, at least in the early years of his ministry.

5.2 Accountability of church members

Kriengsak recognised that Christians in general need to have a system of accountability and this was one of the first things that he instituted in the new Christians life. A new convert would receive immediate follow-up within 24 hours as a rule, and each member of the Hope of Bangkok church was expected to attend activities and to be involved in the vision of the church. As a result he was able to change the prominent culture of many churches in which all activities are purely voluntary and members are not expected to contribute very much to church activities.

In the Thai church in general, accountability of the believer’s spiritual growth through Bible reading and prayer, and being involved in evangelism or doing follow-up of new believers can be a weakness. Kriengsak was able to change these perceptions and mobilise people for Christian ministry. The most effective structure to do this in was to work through small groups where accountability and leadership training can take place and where new believers can also be given a sense of belonging to a smaller group. Instituting a system of fines for not attending meetings and by coercing 18 people to be involved in activities could be said to be going too far. There is a fine line between holding people accountable and coercing and manipulating people.

5.3 Commitment among the membership

Commitment to Christ means a radical change in a person's life. By expecting and
demanding a strong commitment to the church, Kriengsak was able to exercise a powerful influence over the lives of new converts. Many leaders who try to do this will simply cause their church members to turn away, but because Kriengsak had so many appealing qualities he was able to draw people into a strong sense of commitment. As a result the church was able to become united and work as a coherent and corporate body under him. Those who could not accept his strong style of leadership would simply move on to somewhere where they felt more comfortable. It would have been impossible for anyone to stay on and challenge his authority until serious questions regarding his reputation became apparent.

5.4 Accountability of leadership

It seemed that the Hope of Bangkok church lacked a procedure by which the top leaders could be held accountable when they overstepped their mark and began to manipulate its church members instead of serving them. As Dr Kriengsak grew in his influence he would not hold himself accountable to anybody including his former mentors from the Waverley Christian Fellowship. This shows the importance of church leaders to always hold themselves accountable to the people that they lead. Transparency and openness in decision making and also in lifestyle and spiritual walk is essential to maintain growth and morale in the church. It is also necessary in order to maintain a good reputation with those outside of the organisation.

6 Conclusion

The Hope of Bangkok Church has grown at a faster rate than any other church in Thailand and the growth has not slowed in spite of both internal and external conflicts. The methods and the structure of the Hope of Bangkok are worth considering by the mainline churches that want to see growth in both numbers and the quality of its membership. Church leaders may well want to consider the stronger corporate model of the Hope of Bangkok Church with clear lines of authority where cell group leaders and district leaders are given authority to lead and pastor the people under their care.

Young leaders with potential need to be encouraged and developed. To do this they need to be given responsibility with clear structures of accountability so that they do not become proud, or discouraged. A clear system of follow up is needed for first time visitors so that opportunities are not wasted because people who visit a church do not feel welcome and included. Church members need to be trained and given clear instructions and expectations about what their role and function is in the life of the church. The Hope of Bangkok Church illustrates that these structures and expectations can have a very strong influence on the growth of a church, and can liberate people for God’s service. If church members or leaders are motivated by fear of punishment or a desire for power, then it will ultimately have a negative influence on the church.

The Hope of Bangkok Church has shown a model for church growth and church planting which mainline churches would do well to study closely and learn from in the light of what God’s word teaches about their practices. The challenge is finding the delicate balance of living in the light ofGod’s grace where Christ’s love compels our members to be active in the church. Church leaders need to find a good balance so that God’s kingdom will be established in Thailand.


Boyd C. “The Apostle of Hope- The Dr Kriengsak Story” Richard Clay Ltd, Suffolk,
UK, 1991

Zhener E. “Church Growth and Culturally Appropriate Leadership: three examples
from the Thai church”, School of world mission, Cornell University, 1987

Mäkelä J. “Krischak Issara; The Independent Churches in Thailand. Their historical
background, Contexual Setting, and Theological Thinking.” Åbo Akademi University
Press, 2000

Hope of Bangkok Church Website Available, 2004

”The Best of the Best” VCD, Hope of Bangkok, 2003

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is true restoration

When a person sins against the Lord, it usually takes time for a person to be restored properly. Depending on the type of sin, there is different level of restoration. We often say in Hope a sin is a sin, there is no big sin and small sin. But in actually fact, i do think there is, because the sin we commit will determine the outcome of our lifes.

How do i know ? Well, if all sins are the same then the bible won't mention that there is one sin that God will never forgive - Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Abraham lied out of fear of being killed because of His wife yet God did nothing, but when people worship the idols and created the golden calf, God dealt with them, When david committed adultery and murder, the son born to David out of his sin was struck down by God, also God cursed David and said that what he did in secret, his son - absalom will do in broad daylight.

So depending on the degree of our sin, it also will determine the type of restoration. I have seen leader get angry and said things they should not have said, but this did not warrant them to step down. But in the case of adultery, or financial misappropriation or even lying - often times these sins warrant the leaders to step down from point of authority and be properly counselled and in Hope terminology - Shepherded. They have to prove that they are capable again to handle places of authority and work from ground up.

In Dr.Dan and Mr PN's view, PN only ask for forgiveness from Dr .Dan . But never never, straight to the congregation. He has never publicly apologise but swept the issue under the carpet. Apparently Dr Dan, forgive him and ask him to continue being the leader, in Dr Dan's view once a person repents there is no need to face the consequence. What can i say, they are from the same flock, even dr. Dan separated from his Wife... mind you... in the Apostle of Hope book, he personally mentioned that it was God himself that confirmed her as his wife.... mmmm..apparently this man is suppose to be Godly and is still running the Hope of God Bangkok church with Mr. PN.

The truth is with a sin of such magnitude, Dr Dan should never be the spiritual advisor of Hope and should be asked to step down unless he himself is willing to come under Godly authority. Secondly, Mr PN should step down from his role as a Church leader.

He should
No. 1 - Spend time with his wife. Build up his family and restore the love. Submit his life under Godly authority. Not Dr. Dan ... he does not qualify to be a Godly person.. its like a drug addict who wanting to quit drugs and be counselled by a drug dealer. It never works. Find someone Godly.

There is enough counselling books for adultery issues to have me devle into what he should do.

The bible has mentioned in 1 Peter - that unless a man can prove he can take care of his family and be a Godd husband. Then he disqualifies himself to be a leader in the house of God.

Anyway... we will reap what we sow. If that is the way a leader like him behaves, then the people under him will do that too. And the worst part, how can PN have the authority to tell someone and speak into their lifes.

Can u imagine when he teaches Family church or teaching about humilty or integrity. Personally I find it hard to stand in front of the pulpit day in and day out preaching on something that I cannot keep.

Its like the pot calling the kettle black.

Well, the key to successfully finishing this race is never be afraid to humble oneself even if it means having to step down, to help stablise your christian life. Because there is a time for everything under the sun, a time to laugh, a time to cry... ( Ecc ), remember it is not about trying to prove you are a good speaker or being in authority. Seriously God does not care if you are a pastor of 10000 or just one person. Because it is the heart God looks at...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Biblical Leadership Functions with Accountability

Biblical Leadership Functions with Accountability

This week, James Loke concludes on this subject as he elaborates on How Accountability Works.

Accountability is much related to openness and transparency.

Paul was voluntarily transparent in administering financial matters in 2 Corinthians 8:20-21. He wanted not only to be blameless but to be seen as blameless.

Accountability is not just dutiful reporting. It reinforces trust revives synergistic forces between a leader and his followers. Honest straightforward communication can powerfully bind team members together in the same direction and strengthen relations and trust as a leader leads the entire church to achieve what God has called the church to do.

Accountability does not mean explaining every measure implemented by the leader. In moments of crisis it is not expedient to hold meetings and explain everything. But the leader must be willing to give an account when called upon to do so at the appropriate time.

Being accountable also does not mean that a leader should sacrifice all privacy for himself and his family. The church should not make the same demands on their leaders as the public makes on movie stars or public figures. The constant nuisance by the paparazzi has not made movie stars more accountable in their behavior.

There has to be a balance and followers cannot expect or demand too much. They should be careful not to ask their leaders to account unnecessarily so that they can have freedom to lead without being bogged down by frivolous explaining.

Some other key attitudes that would help accountability in leadership are:


1 Peter 5 reminds us that a good leader sets inspiring examples instead of acting merely as a commander-in-chief. When leaders “walk the talk”, they will be inspirational.


Leaders will continually face temptation to think more highly or lowly of themselves than they are. We are all instructed by Paul to evaluate our lives with “sober judgment” in Romans 12:3. Leaders could be tempted to believe that they are above giving an account to anyone.


Accountability works best when leaders are honest. There is always the possibility that a leader will want to look good and provide justification for wrong decisions and misguided policies rather than honestly admit his fault and apologize for his mistake.

When Accountability Fails

Accountability starts to fail if a person sins, or has a besetting sin, which is not confessed and dealt with. This occurs because of the pride of the sinner who does not want his guilt exposed and because of his shame he is unwilling to honestly face his problem. As a result he has to hide his wrong behaviour. In this condition, the sinning leader finds it difficult to reveal the truth and it may take some time before it becomes apparent to those around that something is wrong. The sinning leader seems to have a compartment of his life that he is unwilling to reveal to others. If the sin continues it is likely that lies will be told to hide the truth.

Ultimately, it is very doubtful that a church should or can implement procedures or structures to enforce accountability. This is why it is very important that a leader walks in the light in fellowship with the Holy Spirit (1 John 1:5-9). The only way that these kinds of problems can be detected early is through the discernment of the Spirit. Leaders need to be empowered by the Spirit and walk close to God; only in this way can God begin to deal with sin in the camp.


Biblical leaders are required to give an account for their work and ministry. There is a 360° accountability to superiors, peers and followers although the aspects of accountability to each group are different. Leaders need to walk close to God to give a good account for their life and ministry.

We thank Ian Foley, Prakich Treetasayudh and Wilson Lim who provided valuable comments to an earlier draft of this article.

The reason for this blog on PN and Dr. Dan

I know many people who read this blog will have different opinions varying from the curious to the well lets just say politically correct christian. I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion. But as to why this blog exist is because this is the way I want to make sure things are no longer hidden.

This blog would not exist but for the fact that Mr PN and the Advisor " Dr J " has been profiteering in the name of God using Church money to do what they please, teaching idolatry and doing things which breaks the commandment of God. Many people gave our life to the Church some over 10 years like myself, and when previously i asked about how our Church money especially in HGI was used.

All i got was, it will be used to help pastor in their airfares and to organise the Pastor's Conference and to run the HGI office. Dont forget the amount was 20% of all International church collection. I dont suppose anyone would guess how much money would that amount to ? A simple calculation would undoubtedly tell you the money that was at their disposal. Can i ask those who are in Hope, if any of your pastor was helped by the funds that went to HGI ? Have anyone actually seen the audited accounts for the past 15-20 years of Hope existance ? Why do we just simply assume. Money when not accounted properly can corrupt, look at Judas.

I have been in Hope now close to 17 years and I have never personally seen a breakdown of how the money was spent. There is no audited figures. We are all just as responsible with God's money because if we are leaders in our local church yet we do not know ask the question, then are we being good steward ? It was money given to Hope Bangkok to help run the HGI office, but what did it run in the end ?? Dr Dan's so-called organisation.

We send workers out into the field to plant churches, yet we are not able to help them financially but ask them to send money back to HGI. I have done my share of pionnerring work and we all had to slogged working to raise fund for ourselves at the same time building the church, while PN and Dr. Dan used our money to build up their empire.

If this blog did not exist, future generations would be misled, this i can forsee, especially since they are still running part of the Hope Church. If PN and Dr. Dan, no longer is in control of the church and no longer hold any influence, this blog would no longer exist, this is my promise." I am angry because, i think sometimes in Hope we become so nice and politically correct that when Leaders sin, we close one eye and pretend that all is fine and dandy. We try to be holy and be a patient christian, while in the same time PN and Dr Dan, twist all the truth and tell people different things. I bet many people dont know how PN manage to split the church , you can say they much more scheming then I thought. Once the issue was out, PN and Dr. Dan was already devising ways to make sure they stay in power while at the same playing the repentant leader. So many people were deceived.

I can say, I guranntee many leaders and pastors feel that anger, but i know as a leader, many have to try and be nice and cannot come forth and be direct. While I on the other hand, prefer to call a spade, a spade.

Therefore, I will never allow such unspeakable acts by PN and Dr.Dan be consigned to the pages of Hope History. Lets not whitewash the past, are we going to be like the Japanese who changed their History books to wipe out the atrocities they committed during World War II to the point that their future generation do not even know what their forefathers did.

For those who feel that this blog should not exist the solution is very simple, if anyone can speak to the Hope Bangkok Church and get them to get Dr Dan and Mr PN to take responsibility over the issues pointed in the blog. Then I will not continue with the blog.

You know I dont like to be a NATO - "No action talk only" person. That is why i make sure this blog exist so whoever is approached by PN and Dr.Dan will know about their past...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hopf of God Bangkok Website showing Cindy Prophesy

I read with interest that PN would put Cindy's prophesy on the Church website. I don't know if PN actually listen to her whole prophesy or did he have selective hearing. I am sure if you scroll back to my blog on the video of Cindy's prophesy. Then you will hear the blessing AND ALSO the WARNINGS given by Cindy regarding to the prophesy.

Cindy actually gave 3 specific warning failing which this prophesy will not be fulfilled. If you are intesrested the video is on my previous post.

I wonder if the international Organisations know of this issue going on in Hope Church.... I wonder if Cindy Jacob knows... what is going on... oh.. well I am sure "they" will know soon enough.

I am pretty sure PN will have people reading this blog, so if you are from PN church, maybe he should account himself to the international Community and see what they think of his well, indiscretions, teachings on idolatory and also financial mismangement. Failing which I am sure the international church organisations which he is currently on will soon hear about what he is doing.

Please don't hide behind the curtain and face the people and answer our queries, but i know PN will not reply, we have tried but he prefer to ask people to just obey him as he is the DIVINE leader. So if you are from PN's church and reading this ask him not to hide and answer the charges.

I am sure PN will know this lone person here, will make sure that the any international christian organisation he joins will get a copy of the "video"- in english of course, so that maybe they can ask you to answer those charges instead of running away.

Blessings without Conditions ?

We consider it to be a great blessing and joy those , who serve God at a Global level, to give their love, acceptance and friendship to our Hope Church, especially to our Pastor and leaders. If we remember in 2006 when a world-wide known servant of God came to visit us; we held a special seminar in the Imperial Samrong. On that day Cindy Jacobs had an opportunity to share the Word of God and prophecy over many leaders, one thing Cindy said was that in Thailand there will be new banks established even though at that time the economy in Thailand had already began to fall, what is miraculous is that in that same year there was a new bank started in Thailand. What challenges our faith today is the prophecy saying that Hope Church will have its own bank, Hope Church will have its own television station (today we have Hope Channel). Pastor Joseph (PN) will write a book, ( Suggestion for a title - " I CAN DO ALL THINGS - A new look at Philippians Chap 3" and this book will be a blessing to the people of the world, and not just in Thailand. Or myself, Dr. Cindy prophesied that I would get into mass media, at that time I did not have any Knowledge or know-how, and looked as if I had no opportunity to get into any type of media work, and most importantly I did not even like to work in media. However at the present I have the opportunity to be responsible for the Media, communications of the Church, and co-hosted with Mr. Akekapong in the “living Styles” Program and the “Design News” program which is aired Sat. 10:00pm on the “National Channel” this is the leading and guidance of God. These things just confirm that God is the one who drives his church according to the prophecy.

Therefore, we are confident in the mercy of God towards us, and that is why we say without a doubt, that he will bring it to pass and bring us to success, because He who called us is faithful and He will finish His work.