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.
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.
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.
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.