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.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I experienced all these things over many years and verify these to be accurate.

My additional comment.. In general, extremes usually lead to trouble. In this case, extreme work / administration. It is also bad to have no work / no administration... The exact opposite. Be careful not to fall into this either.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the pastor from Singapore move to America. Also noticed Singpore is now part of "Hope of Nations" or HoN. What is that? Is that separate from HIM?

Is there a website for Hope of Nations or HIM?

Confused ????

Josephine said...

Dear Anonymous, there is a web site for HIM ie Hope International Ministries which is at
Shalom and blessings to all. Jesus is GOOD all the time and He is Lord. I pray He will lead u out of this mess. It is a good thing that Dr Kriengsak and Pastor PN have been exposed for God sees what have been done in secret. I respect them for what they have done for God and pray that they will get back on track but ultimately they are just human. Dont put anyone on a pedestal. I myself have moved on and my focus is on Jesus alone. He is all that matters.

ex-member said...

Dear Josephine,

Glad that you have left Hope and are clear on your focus.

But just want to clarify if you feel/think that discussing this matter or mess here doesn't mean we have not moved on or not focused on Jesus.

I think the discussions here have been constructive and helpful to learn lessons in building stronger lives and churches for the next lap.

For those who might appear to have moved on but are in fact sweeping matters or the mess under the carpet, need to be cautious for a backlash. Truth prevails.

Even as I have moved from Hope, I am unlearning, relearning some of the theologies that I have been taught in Hope that are not rooted in balanced or sound doctrine or proposition.

I encourage you have a check as well on your doctrines just as how Paul does so in the epistles to Timothy even if you are in another church. Cos they might stun your growth.

Hence, this blog with its discussions also serves that purpose- to address some of those unhealthy practises or mindset that we might carry to other churches.


J said...

ex-member, well said! Totally agree with you!

Watcher said...

Hi all,

I fully agree with ex-member's observations. I believe many of us in Hope, including myself, have been raised up to consider discussion on doctrines and teachings to merely mean raising those questions we might have and then adhere to what we were taught, to the extent that we were not taught how to discern. This is a problem that plagues not just Hope, but the majority of evangelical churches in the modern. In fact, Christian thinkers, such J P Moreland, commented that never have we seen in the history of the christian such an anti-intellectual mentality in christian churches that rejects the importance of theological grounding. I am sure there will be christians who would say to me,"Christianity is not about the mind, it is the heart." But the Scriptures testify that we should love God with all our hearts, minds,soul and strength, In fact, in the Hebrew text, 'heart' encompasses the seat of the intellect, emotions, and so on.We thus need to have the balance of both heart and mind. And of course, I am not putting down those who are not intellects. When I say "Anti-intellectualism", it is to mean the rejection of the importance of the mind in our Christian faith. All christians should use their intellect in a God-honouring manner.


Watcher said...

Hi all,

As for ex-member's comments on re-learning theologies and the teachings, I am facing the same issues as you, ex-member. In Hope, we had the 24 hours CAPI system to teach basic teachings to new converts within 24 hours. It is hoped that such teachings would clear the doubts of the new converts. And then, slowly, through life experiences,through the teachings of the follow-uppers,shepherd, CLs,ULs,SDLs, and the Pastors, we progress bit by bit. This is commendable. but having said that, Christian life is not as programmatic and smooth sailing as many christians want it to be.For instance, we expect the 24 hours system to clear the doubts of the faith. The follow-upper would try to clear the doubts and questions of the new converts.It is expected that the new convert learns and have his doubts cleared. Of course, I am not arguing for the new convert to just aim for knowledge, for Christianity is not a knowledge-only faith.But from my experience, and what I read about the faith of great Christian theologians, leaders and pastors throughout the centuries, their understanding of certain essential christian truths came through years of learning and changing of mindsets through the shaping and renewing of their mind through the Scriptures. Notice that in Hope, we aim for speed of learning and understanding, so that the believer can move on to serious discipleship and engage in many activities to support church plant and evangelism. In Hope, there is this fixed program of growth and progress that if followed closely, things, believers are expected to grow and progress in their christian at a expected rate. I know this when I've seen follow-up charts with concentric circles determining the expected growth of belivers. It is as if there is a scientific and precise formula we can follow to ensure a predictable rate of growth for the believers and the church. Some of these are laudable goals but they speak of heavy activism at the expense of giving time for believers to be nurtured, and that it is an artificial way of forcing the Spirit of God to follow man-made programs and procedures rather than relying on God's own timing and His will. Everyone is unique and there is no one-size fit-all model for to develop the unqiueness of each christian.These issues have been discussed widely in this Your Verdict Blog, so I do not have to repeat them again. In fact, a Pentecostal preacher and missonary Rick Nanez commented that nowadays many christians just absorb what we learn, but we were never taught to think critically and discern truth from falsehood.

In fact, I asked my ex-shepherd (who has also left Hope) why he taught me some teachings which he himself do not believe now. It was over an issue about the assurance of salvation. He replied that he just willingly obeyed what was taught to him since it came from the top (his shepherd and leaders). Indeed, many of us, including myself at times assume that whatever that is taught from the authorities (leaders and shepherds) would be automatically correct. Their teachings have to be biblically supported in order to have legitimacy. There are some Christian truths that would require time to understand and there are some christian teachings which would leave behind questions that are best to be left unanswered. There are times when are there are teachings which are best to be obeyed with trust in God even though we may not understand those issues. There are times when we better examine carefully our theology to ensure we know what we believe and why we believe it.


Josephine said...

Dear Ex Member,

When I mentioned that I have moved on, that was just a statement concerning my own spiritual state. It has no bearing whatsoever to my assessment of this blog nor my opinion of u guys who are in or are trying to get out of this mess.

Fyi I think that this blog is excellent, a testament to what technology can do even in a church crisis. The old thinking would be that this matter should be hush hush ... As an illustration, it took me just 3 days to understand in depth what had happened just by going through this blog. I heard of the split from an ex member who heard it from A HOPE member, but was none the wiser until I found this blog.

I think that discussing this matter or mess here can be really constructive as well as it is very transparent cos everything is recorded, any misunderstanding of any communication can also be cleared up straightaway in real time. Isnt it fantastic that any interested party anywhere in the world can have access!

It's fantastic cos each one can learn and unlearn from each other. It took me years and much pain to learn and unlearn on my own but this blog will sure speed up the process for those involved.

We all have the Holy Spirit, we all can discern, so my hats off to you guys for writing in this blog. Wish there was such a blog during my time.

Cheers to you too.

ex-member to Josephine said...

Hi sis,

Thanks for clarifying.


Watcher said...

Hi all,

I appreciate Josephine's sharing. About the point on the use of technology, such as the blog, to discuss issues, there are precedents in the past. Martin Luther penned his 95 thesis, and through the print, his thesis spread around Europe, causing much uproar and stir. Luther had wanted to discuss the issues that plagued the church, such as the unbiblical practice of selling indulgences and the various wrong doctrines in the church. He was looking for reform of the church. His 95 thesis was spread across Europe by the power of the print. Sometimes, we really need open discussions to sort out the various issues, such as on doctrines and practices, yet doing so with sensitivity. For obvious reasons, this blog is an outlet for really opening our hearts in discussion in the right spirit, when 'organisational redtape' and 'political correctness' hinders us from making honest and constructive statements. In the past, ppl would have told me to be silent and say to me, "why don't you speak to your leaders in private?" Usually, it is to ensure that we follow what the leaders have to say in response to our queries, regardless of whether our queries are justified or not. Simply put, conformity and submissiveness to the 'official organisational stand' and image of the organisation is of utmost importance. Of course, I must qualify my statement. I do not mean we do not consult our leaders or mentors. I also do not mean exposing everything to tear people down. What I am suggesting, which many ppl in this blog have also suggested, is that we desire an outlet to make constructive comments about issues, and not to engage in argumentum ad hominem attacks on peoples character in a mean way. There are certain issues which are best kept behind the scenes and resolve in a biblical manner. In the current church I am attending, when I was there in the beginning, some brothers told me about some 'stumbling' stories that happened. They were honest and accurate about some of the unfortuante incidents, yet they were careful not to spew out too many things which could prove too sensitive. Of course, the boundary of what to say and what not to say requires wisdom. Some ppl have questioned Eagle Eye by saying that he is not acting like a child of God with the postings in this blog. Some ppl have questioned some of the regular bloggers in this blog why they bother to care about Hope church even though they have left Hope already. Some have alleged that the bloggers are 'judging'. In spite of these ad hominem (guilt by association or attacking a person's character rather than the issue at hand) arguments, Eagle Eye, ex-member and various oher bloggers have responded in dignified and respectful manner.

Hopefully, we can learn from one another through such sharing.