Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The current Hope

Here is a reply to a comment posted regarding our Hope movement.

I have been observing for awhile now to see any big changes happening in the Hope Movement after the split, I must say we are still getting there.

The Hope Movement have split now for slightly over a year. In Hope Bangkok, there have been big changes happening everyday. Daily you will hear people moving and new churches starting up.

Foundation have split into many smaller churches and are now around 200-300 people. Ps Nimit started a new church as I reported earlier.

Ps PN too have their own issue and split, though its slightly more minor then Foundation. Most split churches have used New Church names to disassociate from Hope Brand name and have either become independent or joined the HIM banner.

Ps PN have been able to go on preaching because no one stood up to make a stand, to inform the Christian circle of his misdeed. In other part of Christiandom, pastor who committed adultery will be asked to step down, but not so for Ps PN.

It does feel every top leader missed the point, PN should never be allowed to take the pulpit without first stepping and proving his integrity and morality. Neither HIM nor Pastors in Thailand have said anything publicly except Ps PK from Hope London, and for that i admire his righteousness, some pastor felt it was too strong, but not me, I call a spade a spade.

Hope's greatest failing is that it always chooses the diplomatic route, instead of standing for what is right. When members sin, we are always quick to pinpoint members sin, but when a leader sin, we are always told to be understanding and be "nice".

In the international scene, under HIM 2 churches have decided to go independent as mentioned in previous article.

Have HIM change ? I think its trying. I see leaders trying to make a difference. We held conference called rediscovering our core. We try to put things right, but as is with big organization everything takes time. Some people have chose to leave Hope instead of waiting, some like me are still waiting to see.

Issues in Hope

Money - Yes money have been a sticking point in Hope, from its inception. We used to have the HGI tithes of 20%, which I have tried asking but no one could account for the money in there. Hope in general have been quite lax in this area i must admit. There is no clear policy or guideline about the use of money in terms of salary package, what is reimbursable cost, etc. Some region do have a guideline on pay package but from my knowledge its up to own church to decide and very region specific - which is all i can say. Some churches are better at handling money and some not so. Hope Singapore would be financially the most stable church. I know this area is a very sticky area and HIM may not want to touch this aspect as of now. I think if i am not wrong, they are trying to set-up a general policy for all HIM churches but its still in the early stage

Shepherding - I don't think anything will change in this area. BGR policy and how we function in the system will always be very subjective. The idea of shepherding is a good one, but the quality and type of advice and shepherding will always be dependent on the shepherd you get. Not all shepherd are the same, because the truth is some do become shepherd too fast and may not have enough experience or understanding to handle sheep. I have always believe, the title of shepherd must be first earned with your life and example.

Transparency and obedience - Transparency is something HIM is trying hard to build. Its still not easy. There is over 20 plus years of Hope Ideology which i must admit are not all good. The problem we have is applying principle into practical everyday living, which is totally impossible. We build rules and regulation we apply across the board, not factoring other circumstances. In principle, we teach people to love and serve God, which is right. But in Hope's understanding serving means - use your time to meet, follow-up, shepherding, leadership training, run care group, church plant, anything else is not important. The truth is God created us all different, with different gifting, different way of life and interest, we love God by putting God central of what we do. We can serve God too by studying doing well at school and be a testimony, we can play music, open business and support the church by other means. Rigidity had always been our problem. We must start to learn from other churches around the world too. Whatever we will be able to break the mold will largely depend on the leaders leading HIM. I suppose this will be awhile before we see any major shift in paradigm

Conclusion

Because Hope HIM is very much still a very "young" organization, which has just gone through a huge split and shaking. I don't foresee significant change that soon. I think we must all understand, if the top leaders hit the wrong note too soon, who knows more churches will decide to come out and become independent. Its really a catch 22 situation . So all i can say is pray and keep faith.

Set a dateline for yourself, if you still don't see the change you desire or course you can go to other church where you can serve better. Don't stay bitter, just become better.

Amen

46 comments:

Guo Xiong said...

Hi all,

It has been many months since I last posted. I have withheld from writing on this blog for a long time, for I believe that face to face communication, frank and honest discussion with the relevant ppl will always be the best way to solve things. Blogging, while having it is an avenue with some usefulness to post information, is sometimes not the best way to solve issues or talk about sensitive issues. When we are not careful and thoughtful, what we write could ultimately be false, faulty or filled with errors. But if what we know is correct and true, I urge everyone to write responsibly, not to slander or put ppl down in an unloving way. If something has gone wrong in a congregation such as a leader committing grievous sin, I suggest we follow the biblical model of first approaching that leader personally in private, then if he refuses to listen, then find two or more witnesses to again speak to him, and if he refuse, then we bring it up to the church. Any issues which you feel that should be brought up and discussed, I urge speaking to the leaders. After I left Hope, I managed to find time to speak to my last known shepherd, and we come to an understanding as to why I chose to find another congregation. Today, we are still friends and there is not enmity between him and myself, and with most of my brothers and sisters in Hope. In fact, some of them are glad that I have found a suitable congregation and they hope I can benefit from it.

As for the points shared by Eagle Eye, I fully agree with many of the issues he brought up. But there is one issue, which I feel is perhaps the crux of it all: Legalism vs the gospel of God's grace. Every church, be it Hope or other congregations, must be careful never to fall into the trappings of legalism. By God's grace, we are saved by faith through Christ alone. Then by God's grace, not depending on our own human merits or efforts but relying on the Holy Spirit, we should grow in to be more Christ-like. Once we fall into legalism, we warp the gospel. What we may think of as zeal, on fire for God, serve in many areas, may just spring out of a heart that feels insecure, that thinks that God will accept him or her only by her good performance. I hope that the grace of God unto us be the main motivation why we serve Him out of gratitude and love.

That is all. Have a blessed week. Today, let us go back to the Scriptures and be faithful with Scripture, praying that God would speak to us in the Scriptures through the illumination by the Spirit. May His Word transform us, and may we find rest in Christ alone.

Regards,
Guo Xiong.

MB said...

Guo Xiong,

After reading your post, I apprecaite your thought. I do agree wtih you that we all could do better while commenting in this blog. Some of us may allowed ill feeling from the previous bad experience take control while puting down our thought in writing. Rather than offering constructive criticism, it sometimes became finger pointing.

Also need your elightenment to tell us more when you brought up the issue of legalism here? In Christian theology, it means emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit (see wiki).
If you are implying Eagle eye or some others bloggers being legalistic, please tell me more...

Guo Xiong. said...

Hi MB,

As I am busy these days, I shall only comment briefly. When I brought up the issue of legalism, I was not referring to Eagle Eye or the bloggers being legalistic. I was saying that all churches, whether you are from Hope or other churches, have to be careful of legalism.

While wiki defines legalism as emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit, this is true but is till incomplete and does not really capture the essence of legalism very well. For that definition is based on a verse from 2 Cor but its context is not about legalism per se.

Based on a definition by a Reformed theologian Smaller, he defines legalism (i shall quote two o the features he pointed out regarding):

Ø Legalism is the assumption we may obtain righteousness by following rules.

Ø Legalism afflicts all Christian movements to some degree.

The verse "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Gal. 3:30) warns us of legalism.

I raised the issue of legalism in response to the comments by Eagle Eye, is so that I may bring to attention some of the underlying reasons for some of the unfortunate happenings that ultimately led to the split in Hope, and the departure of many brothers and sisters from Hope. As such, I affirm and concur with the constructive observations of Eagle Eye. However, I am not supportive of using the blog to vent our ill feelings or engage in gossip. In this, I am in full agreement with you, MB.

Hope my point clarifies.

Regards,
Guo Xiong.

MB said...

Guo Xiong,

Thank you very much for your clarification. Now I understand where you came from. Not that I'm bias towards the owner of this blog, but I tried to provide a neutral observation. Eagle Eye mentioned clearly the reason of this blog in the post dated 7 Dec 2009, Hope Bangkok Church the reason for the blog.

Perhaps, in some of the comments posted by others, it gives others the impression that this blog became the site for those who wish to vent their bitter experience and ill feeling with the movement, or a particular person/group in the movement.

If we remain rational and reflect further, we might want to ask ourself why there are so much frustations, concerns and grievances on particular subject or area. Is ther anything that we can improve? By disallowing/sensoring sensitive comments(which Eagle eye may choose to do), this site is deemed as being selective hearing. People may choose to vent their illfeeling elseway. Problems still there and not solved.

At least over here, I can see various aspect of the issues, the scale of the problems and gather infomation quickly. It is a great infomation repository of what went wrong in the past. It's easy to receive praises, but it requires great skill to graciously receive criticism. The more successfull we are, the more criticism we will receive. Like it or not, it's always there, but what to do with it, this one we can decide.

Of course, people shall be responsible with what they say, and what they write. We shouldn't penalize Eage Eye because he/she provided a open forum for discussion.

Guo Xiong, please don't get me wrong. My aim is not attacking on what you said. But I see great value of the existance of this site and want to encourage Eagle Eye to persevere on..

Love in Christ
MB

UL said...

Hay guys, i'm not interested to any "cosmetic change" in the church. I'm more interested on whether the church has discovered something fundamental that needed to be changed.

You can change the way of running things. That's fine. Praise GOD for the change. But my question is that what drive the change? You can quote many scriptures to ask people to submit to leaders. You can use other scripture to "ask" people to do some other stuff. This has been happening for many years.

My question is that ... Can I question whether the pastor is qualified to be pastor? Do you believe by only divine appointment to appoint a pastor? Did Paul teach Timothy by divine appointment to appoint his elder without look into the other criteria? Then why some other churches (in other movement) will always look for a pastor who hold a theology degree?

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Anonymous said...

Just came across this quote - “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make
them think.”
Socrates, Greek Philosopher. Maybe discipleship in Hope should have more of this aspects?

Anonymous said...

"Why is it that we do not like to listen, or want to listen, or know how to listen? I think the answer is simple: we fear hearing something we don't want to hear, something that might compel us to reflect on ourselves and, in consequence, change our hearts and minds and behaviors. If we can keep talking, not listening, we can define our own reality and will not have to deal with the complexities and ambiguities that lie beyond our simplistic definitions. Listening too carefully might
end up confusing us, and we would rather live with clear falsehoods than with complex and challenging truths." - Parker Palmer

Anonymous said...

“The kind of institution we now need in our society has been called a 'learning organization.'
This is an organization that is designed to grow from experience, to adjust quickly to rapid change, and to involve all its stakeholders in the process…

But in every realm, people who are trying to
create this new organizational form have discovered that at bottom, a learning organization must be a LISTENING ORGANIZATION. If it were not, it would not be able to learn anything."
Parker Palmer

MB said...

Forgive my ignorance as I do not know Parker Palmer. But from the quote, he seems to me a wise man:)

Thanks for sharing!

MB

TRUTH459 said...

2Corinthians 10:3-to-6...! Thanks,

UL said...

Guys, does Simon accountable to anyone? Is there any accountability structure in place? What's the latest news about that?

I've realized that most of the church movements will have some sort of structure in place to make sure always someone can feedback to the ps. That's where I'm coming from.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Simon is accountable to anyone, but it's like Stephen Pitavnik from Hope Perth, is supposed to be accountable to Wilson. He does a pretty good job on the surface, but in actual fact he is quite far from being truthfully accountable.

Anonymous said...

hi all,

Accountability has certainly been an issue in Hope Movement in the past. It is the way we function as a movement to never question the leaders, this was always heavily emphased in the Hope teaching regarding obedience and submission.

If you don't understand the leader's decision, its because they always know better.

Accountability is a nice word to use when dealing with younger members. As for leaders, they should account upwards.

Regarding the top leaders, well according to the principle set by Hope. The top leadership should be equal in level and are accountable to one another Which is how the bible teach.

Peter was the lead apostle but was still subjected to correction. Eg. Paul corrected peter on a number of occasions. Unfortunately its men who twist the bible to suit their preference

This is how we ought to function, but whatever we do it will be somtehing entirely up to the leaders.

I do believe after the Hope Bangkok incident they will realise that its impt to abide by blibical principle.

If you stray then you bear the consequence.

Eagle Eyes

Anonymous said...

"If you stray then you bear the consequence."

The truth is if you stray, other people also will bear the consequence, whether they like it or not.

UL said...

I have spoken to some bible scholar. In his opinion, he believes all the accountability should be within the LOCAL church. I believe what his saying. How would Wilson be able to effectively know EVERYTHING in and out in the church if he is not even within the local church?

Usually, in many churches, a senior pastor will need to accountable to a board of elders. I think this is seriously missing in the church.

See?! If you know study church history, isn't it HOPE is going back to 2nd century model?

Anonymous said...

The church I go to has a board of elders of which a majority is not part of the full time staff but people nominated by the members (according to qualifications given in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1) and then voted in by the members. This seems to follow the model in Acts 6 given by the apostles to select "deacons".

The senior pastor is then accountable to the eldership of which he/she is also a member of. The elders serve for about 2-3 years and then they have to be renominated or someone else nominated as per the process above.

This is a very transparent and accountable way of doing things.

Anonymous said...

For a movement like Hope, I think we have seen the danger of having 4 people in charge (DJ, PN, Somthop and Simon Eng). DJ was like the lead apostle but because he was so much in command, none of the others could go against him so he had his way all the time. This model is therefore very dangerous and prone to problems if the lead apostle is very domineering and respected (I mean DJ lead PN and Somthop to Christ). That's why Hope is in the mess it's in now because DJ controlled everything. If he kept faithfully to Scripture, then it would be ok and they can get things done quickly but when he went astray, he took the whole movement with it until someone brave and strong enough like Rubina blew the whistle. I believe a movement is not based on 1 man. God used the man to set up the movement but it is God's movement ultimately and things have to be done God's way.

Therefore another model is probably required, perhaps like the one used by the Presbyterian church or the one from an Acts 6 model where the one in charge of the movement is responsible and accountable to an international eldership board comprised of respected and qualified people from various Hope churches throughout the world and this board should have at least 6-8 people and 80% of them cannot work fulltime for the movement.

UL said...

GOOD points. What we are talking sounds very reasonable! However, this is not Hope practice. Can someone feedback to HIM?

MB said...

From Hope Singapore website, it seems that the church leadership is accountable to the Church board. The pastor sit in the board as ordinary member.

What is your view on this?

Anonymous said...

The reason why Hope Singapore now has a church board is due to the change in Singapore legislation for non-profit which states that all registered charities (which Hope Singapore is registered as an organisation in Singapore) need to have a board.

The change is driven very much by legal requirement, rather than by recent happenings in the Hope leadership. I believe that if it is not for the requirement, Hope Singapore will still remain the same

Anonymous said...

I think also that it is important to find out the reporting and decision making structure in Hope Singapore between the board and the pastors and what sort of powers that the board has.

I know that all other Hope churches would not have the Hope Singapore structure.

Also at the very top of HIM is where our concern is that it will not be a repeat of the old Hope under DJ.

Eagle eye said...

I think HIM will have people reading the blog and comments posted. So we would not need to report.

Its true, administratively the reporting structure especially in terms of money and accountability is not fully reported or widely available, even until today

The original Hope movement method of finance structure and reporting was one of the cause for the split.

Sinful man placed with absolutely control over how money is to be spent without accountability is a recipe for disaster, regardless of the title.

Hopes biggest failure is preaching the fallacy that the higher you are in leadership the more impervious you are to sin.

The problem is sinful desire do not differentiate. Just because you are a leader and an ambassador for Christ does not give you
"spiritual immunity"

That is where our problem lie, the opposite should not be more true. The higher you go, the more the devil will try to take you down. Thus, more checks should be in place to ensure proper accountability.

I hope one day HIM will finally release a finance standard for all Hope Churches.I know they are doing something about it.

UL said...

Very good. Eagle eye! HIM should norminate you in the change committee to push forward the change.

Regarding the church structure, Hope Melb have the similar structure as Hope Singapore. They norminate chair person and vice chair person in the AGM. However, as a member of the church / elder of the church, we didn't get permission to have any say.

In fact, they always miss-quote the scripture by saying DO NOT TOUCH THE LORD ANOINTED ONE. I have checked with some scripture scholar, they said that the context of the text has nothing to do with submission and obey your leader. Think about this ... how do you understand if we are ALL God's anointed one?

I would suggest to all the pastors to at least get some understanding on how to interpret the scripture before preaching in public - to have sound and biblical preaching.

Please don't get me wrong that I'm not saying my scripture interpretation is better than any Hope/HIM pastor. NO WAY! I'm just saying if someone on the role, he/she should have some extend of understanding of the scripture.

Anonymous said...

Eagle Eye, this is exactly what I meant in my post on the Hope Singapore board. Does the board/elders or whatever you call them have any spiritual authority or are they there just to fill in a legal requirement and an administrative role? If that is the case as we now see from this Hope Melbourne comment, then this is not accountability or transparency. In other churches, the pastor is actually accountable to the board or eldership. If the pastor is not accountable and they are just "puppets", then the pastor can still do whatever he/she wants to do and the same goes for the top of HIM leadership ie. Simon Eng, Wilson, etc.

Anonymous said...

"DO NOT TOUCH THE LORD'S ANNOINTED ONE" is ALWAYS being said in Hope Perth by Pastor Stephen. Makes me feel like only he is annointed because he is the pastor.

Anonymous said...

Guys, take a look at this

http://www.rbc.org.nz/library/anointed.htm

Don't Touch the Lord's Anointed!

By Chris Good

UL said...

Is HOPE/HIM still teaching biblical teaching?

How do they build "Strong" and "Biblical" church and people?

How do they make sure everything are biblical? I have NO problem if they all make mistakes (as we are all sinners). But how do they appoint a pastor without some basic understand of scripture?

MB said...

I just read through the Don't Touch the Lord's Anointed article. Good stuff!

One of the practical suggestion that I can offer to church leadership is to review the Vision & Philosophy teaching material and confirm it is consistent with the emphasis of accountability by HIM.

I sincerely believe that teaching that suggest "Leaders are anointed by God not by man" and hence "Touch Not The Lord's Anointed" should be discontinued.

Anonymous said...

It is a very good article indeed. Someone should show this to Pastor Stephen. I agree that he always says that leaders are appointed by God & not man, therefore we should submit to leaders. I always thought it didn't sound very correct.

Anonymous said...

Don't touch the annointed...

Yes I hear that too. True statement, but many so called leaders are not leaders at all and certainly not annointed. Still no spiritual accountibility. Still no financial accountibility. Much is the same which I see continues lead to more of the same corruption.

For my case, my Hope church turned into a cult (don't ask which one). No doubt about it. They now stray away from the bible and seek experiences and manifestations. Only when you leave do you start to see what is going on. Now they try to manipulate my family and friends, trying to suck them back in.

UL7

Anonymous said...

Don't touch the annointed...

Yes I hear that too. True statement, but many so called leaders are not leaders at all and certainly not annointed. Still no spiritual accountibility. Still no financial accountibility. Much is the same which I see continues lead to more of the same corruption.

For my case, my Hope church turned into a cult (don't ask which one). No doubt about it. They now stray away from the bible and seek experiences and manifestations. Only when you leave do you start to see what is going on. Now they try to manipulate my family and friends, trying to suck them back in.

UL7

Anonymous said...

Guys, perhaps I should take a lead and submit this website to the cult -expert. Let them to judge if HIM should be listed there.

Anonymous said...

Hay, let's take a vote! Should we submit HIM in the cult list?!

Why YES / Why NO?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the church as a whole is cultish. I think only certain individuals are. Whether it's Hope Bangkok or Hope Perth or Hope whatever, most of the members there are just brainwashed. It's the individual pastors that have a problem.

Could it be because those pastors are from Thailand? (I think the pastor from Hope Perth is as well right?) And Thailand is not exactly a very rich country, so when you get so much power & money, you get affected by it more?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just in their culture? Maybe they think that they are above the law?

So people like them are probably not cults, but just greedy? Greedy for money/women/power?

I don't really blame them though, coming from such a poor environment.

Anonymous said...

Seems like people are still feeling strongly about Hope Perth

Anonymous said...

I wonder why? Maybe there is an element of truth in it as well?

I wonder why people are ok when Hope Bangkok is being spoken about, but it gets sensitive when it's about Hope Perth?

Anonymous said...

Because the truth hasn't been revealed to public about Hope Perth yet.

Anonymous said...

Even now, still very cultish in my church. After breaking away, there are a handful of leaders that have strong Hope mentality of "our way is the best way" and all others are OK but inferior. Everything is still closed and isolated (they don't like any mainstream church things). All it takes is just one person in leadership to think like this to affect everybody else.

My leader now refers to himself as the "annointed" or "man of God". This is bad news for me. He also started to "annoint" others... others who have no skill otherthan following the orders of the "annointed one".

I'm glad I stumbled on your blog. It make me realise I'm in the wrong place and I'm not the only one experiencing these things.

UL said...

Haaaaa .... Yes. Guys, we all need to learn how to read the Bible properly!

It's sad that I only learn that in Bible school but not Hope. Hope never ever teach people how to read the bible properly. Instead, it claims that they are building biblical people and plant biblical churches. Anyway, i will let THE JUDGE to judge.

Reading scripture without the context is very danger. People can twist the meaning of the Word as they like and forget about what is God intention for the text. I think as the time like this, we all need to grow strong in the Word. It's our responsibility!

Let's use this time to grow stronger AMEN

Anonymous said...

AMEN~

PW83 said...

Was just wondering what people thought of Peter Truong and his E-Club ministry?

For those who have undertaken his "Everyday Evangelism" training, it is mainly built around Campus Crusades 4 Spiritual Laws, best known for the "God has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life" tag (which has long been debunked (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=947592375714276500#)

In the evangelistic/healing meetings he has conducted, very rarely does he speak of sin (in specifics), repentance, hell or the cost of being a believer. If anything, his preaching leans heavily towards what Prosperity/Word of Faith preachers are known to teach.

On one occasion where he was kind enough to give me a ride home after church, I asked him how he, as an evangelist, defines Justification i.e., how is man made right with God? He was simply unable to answer as he essentially stumbled over attempting to explain grace vs works. I honestly found this quite disturbing not just for the sake of his position as evangelist, but for the sake of the validity of his own testimony.

Anonymous said...

They are all weird.
All from Hope church all weird.
Weird concept, weird mind thinking, weird behavour, weird.

Guo Xiong said...

Hi all,

I read PW83 comments with interests. I also brought up the issue of legalism vs grace in my earlier comments. Although I am not very familiar with Peter Truong's ministry, I am not surprised by PW83's observations. And I hope that PW83's statements are true, so that whatever we comment on would not be deemed as false accusation.

I do believe that Peter Truong is a sincere Christian. I briefly looked at his website and have personally witnessed his ministry when he came to minister in Hope Singapore a few years ago. He seems well-versed in the bible and actively encourages prayer and healing. Having said that, however, if PW83's remarks about Peter Truong's understanding of justification is accurate, then I must say Peter Truong's ministry is simply founded on sinking sand and not on solid Rock. For justification by faith is the cardinal doctrine upon which the church stands or falls. A church may have the best ministries, best musical bands, best discipleship programme, etc. But if it falls in its understanding of justification by faith, then that church is preaching a false gospel.

Regards,
Guo Xiong

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