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...


Watcher said...

Hi Eagle Eye,

I agree with you on the first two proposals you've suggested for change.

About focusing on our strengths, I could not help but be reminded of the situation in the the Corinthian Church as described in the Scriptures. Sure enough, God blessed the Corinthian Church richly, such as in the outpouring of spiritual gifts. However, that church got into unhealthy comparison which resulted in the exaltation of certain gifts over other gifts in the church. A carnal mentality of "Rank and status" based on your spiritual gifitings permeated the church. With this carnal mentality, factions and divisions based on personalities were rampant. In short, there was Hero Worhsip. Various sins such as sexual immorality and infighting between brothers in external courts plagued the corithian church as well. In short, what we have witnessed so far in Hope has already happened and documented in the Scriptures. To those who wants the whole matter in Hope to be kept under wraps for the sake of protecting the image of Hope, I suggest that they look at the blunt honesty and openess in which the books of 1st and 2nd Corinthians mentioned about the actual situation in the corinthian church. The apostle Paul never minced his words. In chapter 12 and 13 of 1st Corinthians, Paul clearly described that all giftings are sovereignly disributed through the Spirit to the body of Christ according to the will of God. No one should look down on any person who do have certain gifts. Instead those body parts that may seem to be unglamorous are instead to be honoured. It also cannot be said that just because we are not a hand, we are not part of the body. What would happen if the whole body was a hand? Where would be the heart, nose, etc? Simply put, Paul was against the idea of comparison. Every part is important and equal to one another. We must be contented with whatever gifts God has blessed us with and not covet or be envious about other peoples gifts. And when the gifts are meant to edify the church, i.e. to serve in love the brothers and sisters who are in, as shown in 1st Corinthian 13. It is NEVER to show we are "best in this or best in that". THis is clearly self-exaltation and self-promotion, which I believe led to certain factions in Hope to claim that they are better than Hillsong in terms of Praise and Worship. Another thing I noticed in Hope is that it is desired for every member to be a pastoral leader (by which I mean CL, UL, etc), that it is the most important goal of a christian in Hope is to be a pastoral leader, and that to be considered as serving effectively in church you must be a pastoral leader. But then, this thinking has led some ppl, as I have heard before in several cases, to conclude that if they are not pastoral leaders, they are inferior and only second class christians. To demonstrate what I mean, I witnessed a combined caregroup in Hope in which one brother testified how God worked in his life and later on became a CL. The whole crowd cheered and wowed. But in another sermon, the pastor talked about the sacrifice of a particular brother who served wholeheartedly as a deacon and leader in ushering (if i recall correctly). No one cheered and wowed. It took the pastor to move the crowd to clap and acknowledge the contributions of the deacon (both crowds in both cases were made up of the same people). Leadership is important and we must develop leaders, but if we exalt one gifting over another, we would be no different from the corithian church. As one brother has wisely told me, the bible did not say a christian must aim to becomne a leader. You can be an usher, or other serve in other areas, etc. If Hope's strength is in pioneering churches, focus on this strength, as Eagle eye pointed out. Though we can improve in praise and worship, we must never think compare and compete, as if trying to outdo one another.

Watcher said...

Hi Eagle Eye,

Regarding the point on cutting down on so many committments, the book of Galatians is a good book to guide us away from wrongheaded committments. As I have described in my previous blogs, the church in galatia was infiltrated by certain Judaizers, men who came from James, to spy on the freedom that the galatian church experienced. THese Judaizers attempted to lure the church to observe the law of Moses and adhere to festivities (i.e. observing dates, ceremonies, etc) with some success. Paul rebuked the brethren in galatia, reminding them that they are justified by the grace of God through faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law, for the works of the law can never justify them. Paul bluntly reminded the galatian church that those false brothers were trying to get them to be zealous in the wrong things. Paul admonished that it is good to be zealous but the basis of that zeal must be right. Since Christ has set us free from the yoke of slavery, we should let ourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. Such freedom should not be used for the sinful nature, but to serve one another in love. Again, similar to 1st corinthian 13, love is the essence and motivation for our service to another in the church. Sadly, in Hope, we've come up with so many activities and meetings (much like a business corporation), that the underlying motivation of such zeal in most ppl in Hope attending these activities and meeting seem to be about proving one's loyalty and effectiveness in Hope. Isn't this performance-based mentality? Are we trying to justify ourselves by our performance and loyalty to Hope? It is not just ULs who would suffer and have no time for his family. Other members would also be burnt out as well. We must realise we are already justified through faith in Christ, by the grace of God. We need to serve our brothers and sisters out of love for them in the liberty Christ has set us free. We should serve not due to pressures of performance or loyalty. We serve because God has redeemed us, we are free from the slavery of sin, and out of this gratefulness we can rely on God's strength to share this wonderful love in service not only to ppl within the church, but outside the church as well. Amazing grace, not legalism, must triumph in the church.

Lastly, about accountability, let it not be forgotten that King David had his Abigail to stop him from conducting a massacre, that the prophet Nathan rebuked David when David sinned in his affair with Bathsheba, that Paul rebuked Peter to correct him when Peter's withdrawal from having meals with Gentiles threatened to play into the hands of the Judaizers, we need to have someone to watch over us and remind us of the truth. whenever we turn away from the truth and start sinning. Inviting other non-board members (external agencies) is a feasible suggestion. Important thing is that such checks-and-balances should eminate from men and women of God who are godly in their lives. In fact, I know in a particular country in which a certain church was teaching the health and wealth gospel. That country has an association consisting of various churches from different denominations working together to advance the goal of the kingdom of God. In fact, the pastor of that certain church was queried about the health and wealth gospel by the top leadership in that association of churches. Thus, I am also suggesting that Hope churches be involved in some of credible and blbie-centered christian organisation (it could be some evangelical fellowship, or Council of Churches), in which some of checks and balances is available.

We certainly like to hear more suggestions from eagle eye and other ppl who are concerned as well.


Anonymous said...

Some more input into the future of the Church-

Same Experience said...

I completely and wholeheartedly agree! This has to be one of the best posts I've read so far.

I used to be so uncomfortable when my pastor would say things like, 'Hope Bangkok has the best worship team, we are better than Hillsongs! We want to write our own songs because we don't want to pay copyright to other churches like Hillsongs. It is wrong to charge people for using songs.'

Can I just say that I think it is a dumb statement to say. For one, I like music, I play the guitar, drums, keyboard & I sing as well. I have my own recording studio too & have recorded a few personal albums. The first time I heard the Hope Bangkok CD, & they wanted to sell it internationally, I almost fainted. There is no way, NO WAY, that they would be able to sell an album for more than $5. And to say that they don't want to charge other churches for copyright, is an even dumber statement. But might have a certain amount of truth in it, because no one would want to use the songs anyway. And they used to condemn Hillsongs for charging copyright, but at least Hillsongs are financially accountable. Look at the mess that Hope is in now.

In the past when I used to tell my leaders I wanted to go for the Hillsong Conferences, they would look at me with a very weird look. And they would even say, 'Why go to Hillsong? Might as well go for our own conventions, much better.'
It was revolting just listening to things like that. I just think only proud people with no humility can say something like that.

When I used to tell them that I wasn't interested in 'climbing' all the way to be a top leader, they would always think there is something wrong with me, & try to 'correct' me & tell me things like, 'it is an honour to be a leader', 'we should strive to be a CL, then UL, then one day everntually pastor a church!' As much as I try to tell them that it is not my calling to be a pastor, but to go into the area of music, they sent the pastor to come and 'COUNSEL' me! Ridiculous isn't it?

Orel said...

It is important that a church is aware of the primary annointing it has received from the Lord.

For example, the name "Hillsong" makes it clear that Hillsong church is aware and is proclaiming that its primary annointing lies in music ministry. The good fruit associated with its music ministry confirms this.

Hope on the other hand is not (and never has been) primarily a music ministry church. Its primary annointing lies elsewhere - dare I say it, with an apostolic anointing.

Hillsong has touched many hearts through its music and sold many albums. Hope has planted many churches in many geographical locations. Both are contributing significantly to the Lord's Kingdom in the way He intended and provide practical illustrations on how powerful it is to walk in His annointing.

Let's give thanks that the Lord allows His Kingdom to expand through diverse annointings, ministries and practical applications of His truth.