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.


Orel said...

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.

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.