Hiding the C3 Asheville scandal by replacing its oversight?


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To gain the background of the C3 Asheville scandal, please read these articles:

C3 Asheville Scandal – C3 Pastor Facing Prison (Part 1)
C3 Asheville Scandal – C3 Pastor “Pleads Guilty In Bank Fraud Case” (Part 2)
C3 Asheville Scandal – Sweetmans Do Nothing Against Fraudulent C3 Pastor? (Part 3)

C3 Asheville Scandal – Four “People… Have Pleaded Guilty” Including “[C3] Minister… Nicholas Dimitris” (Part 4)
C3 Asheville Scandal – C3 ‘Pastor’ Nick Dimitris: The Liar (Part 5)
C3 Asheville Scandal – Massive Financial Judgment Against C3 Asheville Pastor Nick Dimitris (Part 6)
C3 Asheville Scandal – While Dean’s Playing Slick, Nick’s In The Knick (Part 7)
C3 Asheville Scandal – The Wolf & The Ostrich (Part 8)

It appears Phil Pringle and C3 has once again proven that they can sweep any scandal under the ever-expanding C3 rug.

Jurgen Matthesius put the following up on his Instagram account,

@philpringle & @chrisapringle honoring@deansweetman & @jillsweetman for 15 years of amazing leadership! #c3americas2014

Source: Jurgmeister, Instagram, http://instagram.com/p/sLuOOjCZcY/, Accessed 02/09/2014.


‘C3 Church Hub’ also commented on this event,

| LEGACY | Tonight we honoured @deansweetman &@jillsweetman for 14 years as the Americas Overseers for C3. We are excited to have @lornetebbutt &@kellytebbutt as the overseers for Canada and@jurgmeister & @leannematthesius as the overseers for USA. The future is bright in the Americas! #2020vision #c3churchhub #c3vegas2014

Source: c3churchhub, Instagram, http://instagram.com/p/sLz6fIq56z/, Accessed 02/09/2014.


If you click on the above screengrabs, you can see photos of the farewell/’passing on the baton’ ceremony.


The C3 ‘leadership’ facade revealed on Instagram demonstrates just how questionable the C3 ‘evangelical industrial complex’ is. Did Dean Sweetman plant churches? Yes. But did Dean Sweetman lead C3 through “15 years of amazing leadership”?

The Sweetmans have 5 churches currently in -
Milton (North Atlanta)
Siverlake (LA)
North Hollywood (LA)
Grayson (Atlanta)
But at least 11 of Dean Sweetman’s C3 church plants or “grafts” that we know of, have failed, leaving a trail of hurt and broken people in their wake, including several divorced and bankrupt pastors. These broken people were members of C3 churches in Vegas, Walton County, Flowery Branch and Asheville.

In spite of the Sweetman’s obvious bad oversight, Jurgen Matthesius honours them for “15 years of amazing leadership”.

We should ask, does this give us insight to Jurgen Matthesius’ leadership integrity for the future?


Jurgen Matthesius, pastor of C3 Church San Diego is the new C3 Church Americas Overseer. And quite frankly, this is the worst thing Phil Pringle could have done.

Is he even qualified to have oversight of a large numbers of churches that fall under the C3 Americas banner? The answer is a resounding ‘no’!

For a review of Jurgen Matthesius’ preaching, listen to this critique by Chris Rosebrough from Fighting for the Faith:

Fractured Bible Stories

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

• Fractured Bible Stories with Robert Hotchkin, Jurgen Matthesius and David Crank
• Sermon Review: Pursuing Your Weird by Brian Manley at Narrate Church
Email your questions or comments to: talkback@fightingforthefaith.com

Source: Chris Rosebrough, Fractured Bible Stories, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2014/08/fractured-bible-stories.html, Published 28/08/2014. (Accessed 05/09/2014.)


And now onto Phil Pringle.

Rather than help restore the sheep ruined by C3 Pastor, and now convicted felon, Nick Dimitris, did Phil Pringle deliberately turn a blind eye and change the C3 Church Americas Overseer to deal with the problem? Is he hoping this action may solve the issue at C3 Asheville (now called Asheville United)?

This move actually makes us wonder just how much involvement Phil Pringle had in assisting Dean Sweetman with his handling of the C3 Asheville scandal. Did he, like Pontius Pilate, wash his hands of the matter, and let Dean take full responsibility?

Can we assume he knew full well of the C3 Asheville scandal? Otherwise why did he get involved with the ceremonial transfer of the C3 oversight? And why was Dean Sweetman’s response to the C3 Asheville scandal, so similar to Phil Pringle’s ongoing responses to the CHC/Kong Hee scandal Phil Pringle is associated with (as CHC advisory pastor)? If our assessment is right – then, like Dean Sweetman, Phil Pringle is just as responsible for not dealing with the criminal behaviour of C3 pastor Nick Dimitris much sooner.

Was Dean just imitating the methods and behaviour of his spiritual mentor, Phil Pringle?

But here’s the irony. While it appears that Phil Pringle is trying to distance the C3 movement from the C3 Asheville scandal, he is still more than happy to work with and be endorsed by his own mentor, good friend and convicted felon, David Yonggi Cho.

“Dr Phil Pringle is an honoured member of The Board of Directors for ‘Church Growth International’, and I have had the pleasure of knowing his great faith and trust in the Lord as he and his lovely wife are moving onward and upward with The Lord Jesus Christ” Dr Yonggi Cho, Chairman ‘Church Growth International’

Source: David Yonggi Cho, Phil Pringle, My C3 Church, http://www2.myc3church.net/phil-pringle, (Accessed 06/09/2014.)


Well done, Phil Pringle and Dean Sweetman! Only great prophets and overseers like you can absolve all responsibility and issues at C3 Asheville (and CHC) but foster a culture of unquestionable loyalty to questionable men.

Don’t get angry at us…


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Christian Post published this rather clever but unusual piece,

I am an Angry Pastor (A Statement of Purpose)

I am an angry pastor.
I am not angry with my congregation.
I am not angry at the world.
I am angry with my fellow pastors.
I’m also a little angry with myself.

Let me explain. For the last few years I have watched pastors that I love and respect, go off the rails on the proverbial “crazy train.” I have watched with horror (a horror, I know, that many have shared), as John Piper not only embraced Rick Warren, but also joined him as a ministry partner. I have seen James MacDonald embrace a Christ denying, non-Trinitarian, pagan ‘prosperity preacher,’ as a “brother in Christ.” I cried a bit, over the horrors that were revealed in the Sovereign Grace Ministries scandal.

I have watched, wringing my hands, often making excuses, and looking the other way because I just did not want to believe what I was seeing. I did not want to believe that these men, solid gospel-believing, Christ affirming men, the men whose lives I have modeled my own ministry after in some respect, could fall so hard, so fast, and so completely. I didn’t want to see what was right in front of me, because I love these men (even though I have never even met most of them), and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Well, I was wrong. Deadly wrong…in fact, I believe that I, and the pastors and elders like myself (which are the vast majority) who have given these men a pass are neglecting a very important part of our duty; confrontation.

Let me give a recent example.

I have marveled at the antics of Mark Driscoll (over at +The Resurgence )for some time. Now, I am no big fan of +Mark Driscoll , I need to say outright. Yet I have followed his career to some extent. A few years back, I cheered when he publicly repented of his vulgarity from the pulpit, and his association with the Emergent church movement, and vowed to move in a new direction. It was wonderful to see someone publicly acknowledge their wrongdoing, and I was quick to welcome him to the fold with proverbial “open arms.” No, I didn’t send him a greeting card, or get together with him for brunch…my attitude toward him just changed. I no longer viewed him as a dangerous heretic. When Christian friends asked, “What about this Mark Driscoll guy?” my response changed from a look of horror (combined with the sign of the cross and a liberal flinging of holy water in their direction), to “Meh. He’s alright.”

Which was a huge mistake. Driscoll is a bigger danger now, than he ever was before (Driscoll has taken a temporary leave of absence, but I do not believe it will last long). Let me ask you, dear reader, when is a wolf the most dangerous to the sheep? When he is standing outside the sheepfold growling? Or when he is inside, standing in the midst of the sheep? I have been complicit in allowing Mark Driscoll access to the very sheep that I have been charged by God with protecting. I have opened the door, and welcomed him in…

Dereliction of duty. That is the charge I am leveling against myself, and fellow elders & pastors.
One of our primary duties as pastors is to protect the sheep. Defend them against heretics; protect them against those who would lead them astray. Peter tells us this:

1 Peter 5:1-2 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.

Because we have forsaken our duty as pastors, there have arisen a huge number of “discernment ministries,” aimed at calling these people to account. These “ministries” have been highly criticized by pastors, attacked from all sides, belittled, and mocked. Some of them are overzealous, crazy even, and they are rightly called out for their behavior. Many others, though, are simply trying to fill the void created by the pulpit’s silence, calling out false teachers who need to be called out! These are courageous sheep, which jump in front of the flock to defend it from the snarling wolf, while the under-shepherd who is charged with the flock’s protection sits idly by (NOT the Chief Shepherd! He is never idle). They are doing, pastors and elders, what we should be doing. Protecting the sheep.

Think of the Janet Mefferd Show / Mark Driscoll debacle that occurred recently, when Mefferd confronted Driscoll about his blatant (yes, it was blatant and intentional…let’s be honest. Pages of plagiarized material do not “accidentally” end up in your book) plagiarism. She was attacked, seemingly, by everyone for daring to confront this man. Now, I have said publicly that I thought she could have done what she did better. This is undoubtedly true. Nevertheless, I am glad that she did it.

Now, I am not trying to get into a discussion of those events here. I simply wish to say this; Mefferd should never have had to do what she did. That radio interview never should have happened. Because Driscoll should never have attained the position that he has. His book should never have been published by +Tyndale House Publishers . He never should have gained that kind of prominence. There have been countless elders and pastors, complicit in his misconduct, who allowed it to get to that point. Driscoll should have been stopped long before this…

Listen, let me close by stating this as clearly as I can. I know many pastors who get angry at the discernment folks. But it has finally dawned on me, that this is nuts. A pastor getting angry at the discernment bloggers is insane. Does the welfare recipient get mad at the working people who pay their bills? Should the fireman who sits quietly in his truck, watching as the building burns, get mad at a passing civilian for saving the children who are screaming for help inside?

Pastor, elder, friend, how are you going to get mad at someone who is doing your job for you, because you refuse to do it?

Not me. Not anymore. I will keep my anger directed where it belongs.
At myself, and my fellow pastors.

Source: By Damon Rambo, I am an Angry Pastor (A Statement of Purpose), Christian Post, http://blogs.christianpost.com/the-angry-pastor-blog/i-am-an-angry-pastor-a-statement-of-purpose-23220/, 10/10/14 at 12:44 AM. (Accessed 12/10/2014.)

Casting a vision or commandeering control?

What if I told you “vision-casting” is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth?

From Stand Up For The Truth,


What is vision casting? Where does it come from? And is vision casting biblical? There is a way that is biblical, as our guest explains. And unfortunately, there is a broad way that a growing number of church leaders cast vision that is nowhere to be found in Scripture – but is often used to control and manipulate. Today we’re going to explore those methods with our guest.

” But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,  by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” (1 Timothy 4:1.2 NASB)

Mike Ratliff: Apostasy seems to come in waves at times. We watch or listen to a Bible teacher or Christian leader for a time and develop a respect for them because they ‘seem’ to be so solid doctrinally and have a love for the lost and for the preaching of the Gospel. Then out of the blue we hear a term such as ‘Missional’ or how they are positive that God has given them a new vision for our church or their ministry and they then proceed to go into the process of ‘Vision Casting.’

Are these things biblical?

Chris Rosebrough is the host of the daily radio program, Fighting For The Faith, heard around the world on Pirate Christian Radio, a broadcast group he founded to help Christians discern God’s Word by taking a look at what people say and teach in the name of Jesus and holding it up to the light of Scripture.

Today’s Episode:

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 52:27 — 21.0MB)

How do we hear God today?…through His Word.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV)

The “vision” for God’s people is to hear the Word and do it…not the fevered imagination of an ego bound leader who would be the untouchable potentate of their church kingdom

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:16 ESV)



Resources to help biblically analyse the C3 Church movement.

Jesus says,

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:24-28

Jesus was speaking to his twelve disciples and sent them “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v6). As Christians, we are disciples, students, of Jesus. We have been handed down through history the teachings of Christ and his Apostles.

These false teachers cause division among Christians. They come with a different gospel, offering a different Jesus. We see men like Phil Pringle spreading his brand of ‘churchianity’ across the globe, seeming ‘religious’ yet in reality creating a great famine of the Word in churches that have been absorbed or birthed by the C3 movement. Churches that are no longer an ark of safety for the true believers.

We need to heed the warnings of cult expert, Walter Martin.

“Let’s get the record straight [...] the cults declared war on the church. We didn’t declare war on them. We are supposed to respond to that. But that’s not what you are getting.

Instead you’re getting, “Shhhh! Don’t say that! That’s not loving!” Well by that standard neither was Jesus. Because when he met the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes and the Herodians, He barbecued them. [...] Christ dealt with it. Paul dealt with it. Uh, we’re not dealing with them. We don’t want to face them.


The people who are telling us not to defend Christianity are the people incapable of doing it. And the danger- the danger is, not only are they incapable of doing it but they hinder those that are capable. They stand in the way of the defense of the gospel.” - Walter Martin, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), 1985.

Now it’s the “people who are telling us not to defend Christianity” who are the ones on the attack. For instance, have you been accused of being a Pharisee when you questioned the teachings or practices of C3 church?

Todd Wilken writes,

“Playing the Pharisee Card”

pcardI have been called a Pharisee more times than I can remember. It goes with the territory. I host a conservative Christian radio talk show. I publicly defend the teachings and practices of the historic Church. I also publicly point out false teaching and practices in the Church today. For these reasons alone, some believe that I deserve to be called a Pharisee.

But I’m not alone. Today, the label “Pharisee” is applied to many Christians just like me—perhaps you’re one of them. We are Christians who cherish God’s Word, the Church’s historic Creeds, confessions and practices. …

When we see the Church abandoning these things to follow the latest fads and entertainments, we lament. When we see the Gospel itself being left behind in the Church’s rush to mimic popular culture, we are grieved. And when we question the Church’s infatuation with the spirit of the age, we are labeled Pharisees.

The “race card” is a political term of art made famour during the 1988 presidential race between George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. In today’s presidential politics, we also have the “gender card.” The Race and Gender Cards aren’t designed to rise the legitimate issues surrounding race or gender. Instead, both the Race and Gender Cards are political tactics that exploit racial and gender divisions among voters, and appeal to the worst racial and gender sterotypes. In American politics, the Race and Gender Cards are played to discredit someone by implying that he is racist or sexist.

Just as politicians and pundits play the Race Card or the Gender Card, many in the Church are playing the “Pharisee Card.”

Just like the Race or Gender Cards, the Pharisee Card is not designed to raise a legitimate issue of doctrine or practice. Rather, the Pharisee Card is used to discredit someone by implying that he is narrow, rigid, and unloving—a Pharisee. Most often these days, the Pharisee Card is played to portray a fellow Christian as a “doctrinal purist,” resistant to change, and therefore, unconcerned for the lost.

The Pharisee Card is a powerful weapon. Most of its punch comes from the fact that, during His earthly ministry, Jesus did often condemn the Pharisees. The Pharisee Card is intended to be tantamount to the condemnation of Jesus Himself.

Why did Jesus so often condemn the Pharisees? Was it because (as those who play the Pharisee Card assume) the Pharisees were ultra-conservative doctrinal purists, with no love for the lost? No.

Were the Pharisees Concerned with Doctrinal Purity?

The Pharisee Card is played against Christians who are concerned with doctrinal purity. When used this way, the Pharisee Card is intended to discredit the doctrinal purist and silence any further questions about false teaching. It works beautifully. Those dealing the Pharisee Card know that many Christians would rather suffer silently under false teaching than speak up and risk being labeled a Pharisee.

The only problem is, Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for being doctrinal purists. He faulted them for being false teachers who abandoned the truth of God’s Word in favor of the erroneous word of man (Matthew 16:11–12; 15:1–9; Mark 7:6–13).

Jesus called Christians who demanded doctrinal purity “disciples,” not “Pharisees.” “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32) In fact, Christians who demand doctrinal purity are really following the example of Jesus, of Paul and the other Apostles (Matthew 7:15; see also Matthew 24:10–11; Mark 9:42; 2 Corinthians 15:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Timothy 4:16; 6:3–4; Titus 1:7–9; 2:1, 7–8; 1 John 4:1; 2 Peter 3:17).

Were the Pharisees Resistant to Change?

The Pharisee Card is also played in order to discredit Christians who refuse to abandon the historic practices of the Church in favor of the latest innovations. This too works beautifully. Those dealing the Pharisee card know that, to avoid being labeled a Pharisee, many Christians will tolerate an endless succession of fads in worship, music, and ministry. But Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for resisting change. On the contrary, He faulted them for introducing their own innovations and methods in the place of God’s Word.

Dealers of the Pharisee Card will cite Luke 5:36–39 in favor of their own innovations:

And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

Was Jesus calling for wholesale change, or warning against it? The new patch ruins the garment. The new wine bursts the wineskins. The context of the parable is a discussion of fasting. Rather than advocating the abandonment of this ancient practice, Jesus instead taught that ancient practices must now be understood and practiced in light of Him and His redemptive work.

Jesus didn’t condemn the Pharisees for retaining ancient paractices, or for resisting change; rather, Jesus concluded the parable by saying, “And no one, after drinking old wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

Were the Pharisees Unconcerned for the Lost?

Christians who demand doctrinal purity and resist compromising change are often accused of being Pharisees with no love for the lost. This is probably the most common use of the Pharisee card today. Those who like to play the Pharisee Card know that Christians will put up with almost anything in the name of missions and evangelism, in order to avoid being called Pharisees.

But Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for being unconcerned for the lost. On the contrary, He said:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)

Jesus had no problem with the missionary zeal of the Pharisees—they were zealous enough; Jesus had a problem with the Pharisees’ soul-damning message. Paul was of the same opinion:

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:2–3)

And Paul spoke from experience. As a former Pharisee, his missionary zeal took him far and wide as a persecutor of the first Christians (Acts 9:1–2; Philippians 3:6).

The Pharisees’ error was not a lack of missionary zeal; it was that their false teaching (however zealously preached) damned rather than saved.

Moreover, contrary to everything the Pharisee Card is meant to imply, just because someone is concerned for doctrinal purity and resistant to theological innovation does not mean that he is unconcerned for the lost. On the contrary, departure from the pure Word, in doctrine and practice, does not help, but hinders the preaching of the Gospel, therefore impeding the mission of the Church. False teaching does not save sinners. Purity in doctrine and practice makes the preaching of the Gospel possible. Purity in doctrine and practice makes the preaching of the Gospel imperative.

The irony is that those most often called Pharisees in the Church today are those most concerned about the lost, andtherefore preaching the pure Gospel to them.

The power of the Pharisee Card is based on the mistaken idea that those unwilling to compromise in doctrine and practice are the modern-day counterparts of the ancient Pharisees. This idea has no basis in fact.

Why Did Jesus Really Condemn the Pharisees?

So if Jesus never condemned the Pharisees for bring ultra-conservative doctrinal purists with no love for the lost, whydid He condemn them?

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their apostasy. The Pharisees had abandoned the Old Testament faith and therefore they rejected Jesus Himself (Matthew 8:11–12; 21:42–46; 22:41–46; Luke 7:29–30; 13:28–30; John 5:39, 43–47; Acts 4:10–12; Romans 9:1—11:36; 1 Peter 2:7–8).

The Pharisees taught that salvation was the result of God’s mercy plus man’s obedience. They reduced the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to a system of do’s and don’t’s. In this sense, the Pharisees were the inventors of what we call today “rules for living,” and the first preachers of “how-to” sermons.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for softening the demands of the Law. Because they taught that human works contributed to salvation, the Pharisees had to make the Law more “user-friendly.” The Pharisees diluted the Law’s requirement of perfect obedience with manageable human rules that could be kept (Matthew 5:17–48).

A compromised Law meant a compromised Gospel. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they abandoned God’s Word for the word of man. In this sense, the Pharisees were really the Liberals of their day.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self-righteousness. This hypocrisy and self-righteousness was most often the subject of Jesus’ condemnations. But it was merely a symptom of the Pharisees’ false faith in their own obedience:

He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9–14)

The Pharisees trusted their own obedience and moral progress. In this sense, the Pharisees were the original proponents of the victorious life.

Jesus condemnation of the Pharisees had nothing to do with doctrinal purity, resistance to change, or lack of missionary zeal. It had everything to do with the false hope of human obedience.

The Real Pharisees?

Who are the real Pharisees today? You are. I am. You, me, and every sinner—but not in the way that the players of the Pharisee Card say we are.

All of us are more willing to trust our own obedience than trust the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ. All of us soften the Law’s perfect demands so that we can say we’ve kept them. All of us are therefore inclined to hypocrisy and self-righteousness. All of us are natural-born Pharisees.

Now, if someone wants to call me a Pharisee for that reason, I will gladly and repentantly be called a Pharisee.

But I will not be called a Pharisee for loving and defending pure doctrine. I will not be called a Pharisee for resisting the ill-conceived innovation and compromising change in the Church. I will not be called a Pharisee for demanding that the Gospel we preach to the lost be pure.

Some say that the pure Gospel is an impossible dream. I disagree. I hear it preached every week—more often than not by those Christians who are wrongly labeled Pharisees.

Those who play the Pharisee Card hope to dismiss Christians like you and me as ultra-conservative doctrinal purists with no love for the lost. But like a fifth Ace up the sleeve, the Pharisee Card is a cheat. Those who play it ignore the real errors of the real Pharisees. They wrongly apply the name to those who stand in the way of false teaching, compromising change and a watered-down Gospel. In the end, the Pharisee Card amounts to nothing more than name-calling. And, like the Race or Gender Cards are in politics, in the Church, the Pharisee Card is always the sign of a losing hand.

Source: Todd Wilken, Sample Article: “Playing the Pharisee Card”, Issues Etc., http://issuesetc.org/2009/03/07/playing-the-pharisee-card/, 

C3: they really do know how to separate you from your money….

Phil Pringle Dave Martin Joel OsteenSome C3 supporters have criticized us for saying that C3 leadership pressures their congregations into giving their finances. We would like to see what these same C3 supporters think about this article.

A few years ago, Pringle had Dr Martin teach at a C3 Global Partners breakfast on how church leaders can “encourage” their members to give. (It’s safe to say Phil Pringle has been using fleecing strategies like this for a long time.)

This same friend of Phil Pringle, Dr. Dave Martin, also sits on the advisory board of Joel Osteen’s Champions Network.

This article is from Shannon O’Dell from Breaking all the Rurals:

Tips to a Better Sunday Offering

Dr. Dave Martin, at our C3 Global Partners breakfast, imparted wisdom into me today about an issue many churches miss…THE OFFERING. Why do we skip one of the most blessed moment in worship? Here is the wisdom he imparted to me:

#1 Don’t back off the offering.
Make it a celebration, because givers love to give.

#2 Make sure your music matches your giving moment.
Don’t play the song “He’s Coming Soon” during the offering, because the large donor might say, “If Jesus is coming soon I will just hang on to this and give it to Him directly.”

#3 Givers don’t Kick…Kickers don’t give.
Realize that not everyone will get it, but most will, especially the seeking and unchurched. People will always complain about money and the church. Don’t let that stop you from obeying God.

#4 Tithing opens the window of blessing, and an Offering determines how much comes out of the window.
Tithing is the basic bare minimum and a sacrificial offering is when the overflow pours out.

#5 Change your offering envelopes monthly.
If they look at the same thing week after week it may become insignificant.

#6 Hand the envelopes out, don’t place them in the back of the seats.
Take the time to offer them the opportunity to offer to God.

#7 Share testimony and life change before passing the plate.
Let your church see your vision in action.

#8 Take up two offerings.
Take up the tithe weekly and an offering or “special” offering monthly.

Just some thoughts that might just revolutionize your churches giving.

Source: By Shannon O’Dell, Tips to a Better Sunday Offering, Breaking all the Rurals, http://www.breakingalltherurals.com/2011/tips-to-a-better-sunday-offering, Published 02/16/2011. (Accessed 18/09/2014.)

It took a snake to convince Kong to try to buy “oil”…

City News reports,

City Harvest Trial: The Mad Rush For “Palm Oil”

The testimony of finance manager Sharon Tan this afternoon revealed new insight into the reason—and urgency—for the creation of the Advance Rental License Agreement (ARLA), which the prosecution has labeled “sham.”

On the other hand, the church had previously considered 20 properties, all of which were unsuitable. Finding a new venue—and fast—was thus of paramount importance to the church leadership at that point in time.The period was May 2009. Time was running out for City Harvest Church to find a new worship location. On one hand, its lease at Singapore Expo was coming to an end but the church leadership was undecided about renewing the lease because “at the back of the board’s mind, there will also be a date whereby … the church need to vacate from Expo,” the court heard from finance manager Sharon Tan this afternoon.

Tan herself was not a decision-maker with regards to the church’s financial transactions, yet her testimony this afternoon revealed new insight into the circumstances leading to the creation of the ARLA between CHC and Xtron.

The prosecution believes that the ARLA was “sham,” and that Tan was among the accused who falsified CHC’s accounts to create a “false” appearance that the church had recouped its money from the Xtron bonds, by setting off the Xtron bonds against $21.5m advance rental under the ARLA.

Under questioning by her lawyer, senior counsel Kannan Ramesh, the court heard from Tan that the church had ramped up efforts to acquire shares in “Palm Oil”—a code name for a particular piece of property—from late 2008.

The court then heard that two unsuccessful bids were made to acquire shares in “Palm Oil” between May and June 2009. On Jul 18, 2009, a board meeting was convened. While “Palm Oil” was still on the table, alternative properties and land sites were vigorously explored and discussed by the board members as back-up. Among these were the former Capitol Building and the Sports Hub.

“No time to lose,” Kong Hee had told the board members. With the Expo lease coming to an end, Kong reminded them of the need for a building site to be secured within the following three weeks.

But with Xtron fronting the church’s property search as the court had previously heard, how was Xtron going to pay for the acquisition of the new property, which would undoubtedly involve hundreds of millions of dollars? Kannan asked his client.

Tan answered that the funding would have to come from the church, in the form of advance rental—a plan that CHC board members had previously approved of.

The court next saw evidence in the form of a hand-drawn flowchart allegedly presented by investment manager Chew Eng Han to the board at that Jul 18 meeting. Tan, who was responsible for taking the meeting minutes, explained that the primary objective of Chew’s proposal as shown in the flowchart was for CHC to redeem both the Xtron and Firna bonds, in order to “not jeopardise our building project,” explained Tan. Chew had been the main man tasked for the project.

Earlier this morning, the court had heard evidence that the church’s audit engagement partner at the time, Sim Guan Seng, had been uncomfortable with the church’s bond investments. Sim had told several of the accused parties to look into the relationships between CHC and Xtron because the two companies were “obviously related.”

For that reason, he wanted the church to get rid of the bonds, failing which, CHC would have to disclose its relationship with Xtron in the next financial year, testified Tan. However, the urgent need to to find a commercial property meant that Xtron had to maintain its secular identity. Disclosure of its relationship with the church was thus not an option, and so the bonds needed to be redeemed and taken off CHC’s books.

Guiding the court through the details of the flowchart, Tan explained that the church would make an upfront payment to Xtron through a 15-year advanced rental of $65m (under an agreement later formalized as the ARLA). Part of this lump sum would be used to set off the Xtron bonds, by then worth $21m under the amended bond agreement.

Another sum would be used to pay for shares in “Palm Oil,” and the rest to kickstart a chain of transactions to effect the Firna bond redemption.

This plan to use the advance rental to redeem the bonds had also been previously approved by CHC’s board, the court heard. The redemption of the bonds was effectively a reclassification of debt owed to the church—from bond investments to prepayment. As such, even though no cash was exchanged, Xtron was still liable to pay what it owed to CHC.

“What was so great about Palm Oil?” asked Kannan.

Tan explained, “Your Honour, Palm Oil is Suntec, and it’s situated in the city of Singapore, and … the board has seen that with the infrastructure of the whole place, it will definitely serve the members well.”

Subsequent email documents then showed Serina Wee highlighting the need to run through the redemption plan with Sim, the church’s audit engagement partner.

Court resumes at 9:30am tomorrow.

Source: The City News Team, City Harvest Trial: The Mad Rush For “Palm Oil”, City News, http://www.citynews.sg/2014/09/city-harvest-trial-the-mad-rush-for-palm-oil/, Published/Updated 16/09/2014 at 10:44 pm. (Accessed 18/09/2014.)

To understand how serious this court information is, you need to read our articles here (take note of Phil Pringle’s prophecy in 1995):

Kong Hee To Phil Pringle: “You created this mess! You’ve Got To Come And Help Us Fix It”

What Did Kong Hope To Achieve By Misleading CHC To Think They Would Own A Stadium?

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest…” (Part 2)


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Ps Kong Hee and Ps Phil Pringle


 “… nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” - Jesus, Luke 8:17

The context of the above scripture has Jesus explaining how we should listen. What I have been seeing at C3 church is a lack of the leaders hearing the words of Jesus and instead hide things in secret so they do not get caught. After reading various articles on this site, researching C3 church further on the web and attending C3 Conferences, I feel compelled to share some thoughts and information with you in this article. As a Christian attending a C3 church over some year, I believe what I have seen and heard in C3 needs to be examined further. After reading this article you will see why.


Before reading any further, please read my first article here:

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest…” (Part 1)

The above heading is slightly altered from Tom Adam’s website that tackled the scandal his family was involved in at C3 Balmain. He has updated the information on his website. This section of his website should get everyone’s attention (emphasis mine):

The Mystery of the Disappearing Cash

When I had left C3 Church Balmain/C3 Church Rozelle, I was so disbelieving that the senior pastor Ward Lucas’s ‘love’ for us could have resulted in such an outcome that I kept asking questions about finances.  I only wanted to know what had happened to the large sums of money given into their control by my wife and I and others, just to make sure our expulsion hadn’t been some kind of grotesque cover-up.  At first I was met with fob offs, then silence.  So I went as far as to start court proceedings, thinking perhaps they were just being difficult because they could and they ‘loved’ us so.  They’d thrown me out for ‘pretending’ that they were not accountable, surely they’d have no problem providing proper financial accounts to me then?  On the contrary, they went on to prove during a four year court process that as well as making sure they’ve set themselves up to avoid any legal obligation to provide financial information to church goers, they’re also prepared to spend signficant time and money in litigation to avoid it.  They did all this with the energetic assistance of Mr Paul Macken Solicitor, of C3 Church Oxford Falls.

The actual reasons for this painful display only became clear at the death, after years of ducking and weaving.  C3 Church Balmain/C3 Church Rozelle had taken $20K I had given them specifically to be used for a building fund, that came from my late father’s estate, and tipped it into something else.  At one point according to my forensic accountant, the money seemed to spend some quality time in an C3 Church bank account called ‘pastoral account’, that was apparently used for pastor Lucas’s expenses.  This was written up by the church accountant as a mistake.  And although I clearly recall specifically telling pastor Lucas what the money was to be used for, he signed an affidavit sworn on the bible saying I did not give the money to be used for a building fund, I was making that up.  Odd, because when C3 Church Balmain/C3 Church Rozelle got the money they wrote on the cheque the words ‘building fund’, and put it into an account where it remained for years labelled ‘building fund’.  According to pastor Lucas, notwithstanding the church’s own records, the truth was that I had given it to them to use for a later fund that did not come into existence until years later, one that was used for things that included buying chairs, musical equipment, paying insurance and accountants fees.

But then, at the door of the court, after the years of ducking and weaving, faced with a judge who might actually consider things like the church’s own records, C3 Church Balmain/C3 Church Rozelle decided they didn’t want to roll the dice on that yarn, and paid all the money back to me.  Which reveals the truth of the matter more succintly than anything I can say.  So test the claims.  Jesus is not reported of speaking of an unforgivable sin of asking about money, questioning or disagreeing with religious leaders.  Instead, he blasted religious leaders who neglected justice and mercy and threw those making money out of the temple.  And then those same religious leaders killed him for it.

Senior pastor Ward Lucas worked diligently to remove my family and I in 2008, well aware of the issues with the cash that we had started asking about.  His assistant pastor Anthony Grant, who also often claimed to ‘love’ us, helped put it into effect.  The ‘love’ proclaimed by them so often before we asked about their use of other people’s money had become something else entirely.  I’ve had more genuine enemies, who at least didn’t pretend for years to ‘love’ me.  The C3 Church Oxford Falls overseers, Steve Janes and Mark Kelsey, who knew all about the circumstances backed pastor Lucas to the hilt.  They didn’t even speak to us before reportedly judging us to be liars based only on the say so of pastor Lucas, and recommending our forced removal.

No one protected us, or our kids.  So why would they protect you?

Source: Tom Adam, Important Information about C3 Church Balmain/C3 Church Rozelle, http://www.christianchurchbalmain.info/. (Accessed 02/09/2014.)

As Tom Adam explained on his website, it appears C3 settled with him on the Supreme court steps early this year. Being a solicitor with a strong family history of members involved in Law, he was a very brave person to threaten them and win.

Obviously, Phil Pringle didn’t want the scandal to be  made public. I believe very few people at C3 overseas and in Australia know anything about what happened to Tom Adams and other church members at C3 Balmain.


For more information on the C3 Balmain scandal, click on the link below and go right to the bottom of the page and click on the subpages to follow on.

C3 Church Balmain/C3 Church Rozelle Review Page

Below is a blog stating that the Attorney General’s Department was also involved in the Supreme Court action against C3 Balmain. It discloses some details on the structure of the C3 Church which their Lawyers uncovered. It appears the person who wrote on this blog as “Dave” is Dave Adams, Tom Adam’s Brother. I understand he and other family members were expelled from C3 Balmain. Here are the comments I thought were worth reporting from David Adams:

Hi, Specks,
What you say is right on the money.

Seven members of my family were expelled by force from C3 Balmain after asking to see properly kept accounts of the church’s Rise and Buile fund to which they had given more than $100,000.

The story is told on this web site:

It’s worth a look.

The church leaders are now in the Australian Supreme Court defending themselves against among others our Attorney General’s Department.

The money has vanished.

C3 Church Balmain is set up so that there is no independent oversight whatever of the use of funds donated to it.

What strikes me is that these guys convince you to give money to them by telling you if you give to God, you’ll prosper.

They are the ones who gain out of that arrangement.

The lawyers in my family’s case have found everywhere in the C3 movement dodgy private companies; dodgy incorporated associations; and church’s with massive assets that are not actually owned by the church community, but effectively by five or ten people–the Pringles of the world.

Keep protesting is all I can say!

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%E2%80%98vision-builders%E2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%E2%80%98rise-build%E2%80%99/, September 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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G’day Specks.

The fault doesn’t lie in any particular company (as in say such and such company is alleged to be skimming money).

The problem lies in this (this is what has got the Attorney General interested).
If you’re a not-for-profit you’re supposed to be set up so that you have enough formal members to have an independent majority ensuring that you don’t misuse funds, and that you are looking after those regularly involved in your organisation.
C3 churches appear to set themselves up so that the legal entity behind them has a handful of members. In which case there is no independent majority overseeing the finances and protection of ordinary attendees as required under the Charitable Fundraising Act.

The short version!

At this stage white Horse hasn’t been mentioned, although I’ve read about it.
God speed one and all!

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13214, September 5, 2010 at 11:33 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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What this means of course is that unless you are a formal member of the association/company that is your C3 church’s legal entity, you in fact have no legal rights as an attendee of the church.

In addition it means that all the assets that look as though they’re owned by your church community (buildings/fittings/land) are effectively owned, not by the church community, but by the five or six formal members of the legal entity.
It also means that the handful of members of the legal entity have iron control of finances. If the majority of them gain financially from the spending of the church’s money (ie because they are employees of the legal entity as well as controlling it), then…?

Be it said significant breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act make you liable to a jail sentence.


Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13215, September 5, 2010 at 11:47 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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Cheers, all.

Re C3 Balmain–naturally I can’t go in to any detail that involves the court business.

What I’ve done on my site, and my brother has done on his, has been to confine ourselves to irrefutable facts.

The explicit information contained on those is supported by copious documentation.

That stuff I can chat about.

With respect to Kelsey’s involvement, no-one knows at all what it was. Lucas and Grant apparently said one thing at the time; but as my brother’s site indicates Kelsey, via his lawyer, is so vehement in denying any involvement the literal meaning of his denials seems to be that he has nothing to do at all with C3 Church Balmain, and that he isn’t even a leader in the C3 Church movement.

None of us can make head or tail of that!
Here is my brother’s take on things re Kelsey.


He is the senior lawyer involved in the case against the leaders of C3 Balmain.

Peace be with all!

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13223, September 6, 2010 at 9:34 am. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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Hi, all,

Thank you for your kind thoughts. There is so much here, I can’t reply in detail to it; but I appreciate your remarks. I will try in later posts to come back to anything you’ve written, if it seems good to.

In the light of the posts that have followed mine I thought it most important to clarify my own position about a few things.

I co-led an independent church for ten years. I founded a not-for-profit organisation working with victims of domestic violence. I wrote its constitution so that it complied with our laws. So I know from that point of view what our laws require both in founding and administering this kind of group.

The following is ultimately my reason for writing my own web site, and for being on this page. As it happens, this is what Tom and I both really care about.
The failure to provide explicit constitutional protection to attendees of C3 churches is a profound evil. It is a massive scandal in waiting. Why deny them these rights?

These are rights that are supposed, under Australian law, to be extended by every social organisation formed here to every person who can fairly be said to belong to that organisation.

If you do not comply exactly with the relevant government department’s instructions in setting up a not-for-profit organisation, and if you do not comply exactly with its rules thereafter, you break the law. And you break it over and over in the ordinary running of your organisation.

As well, even if you do not allow church attendees to become members of your church’s legal entity, you are required to extend the basic principles of your association’s constitution to every person who comes under your care. If you do not—you break the law.

Serious breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act make you liable to a lengthy prison sentence.

No rigorous scrutiny is presently carried out by the NSW Government, to check whether not-for-profits in practice set themselves up in compliance with instructions. Nor are the financial documents submitted to government departments by not-for-profits here rigorously scrutinised.

The idea that a not-for-profit is probably on the up and up because it is allowed to come into existence, and because it later submits the requisite financial documents to the relevant government department without trouble arising, is false.

This lack of scrutiny is in part where the problem lies.

It is the way C3 Balmain is set up that has led to a situation in which the only way Tom can learn where his inheritance from Grandad went is to through a Supreme Court decision. If the church were set up properly, there would be properly kept accounts. If there were no accounts there would be a procedure for handling the matter internally, that would involve trouble for anyone failing in their accounting measures. Tom wouldn’t be blamed for asking, and insisting; those who would not answer would have to face the music. There would be music to face. Should the internal procedures in place fail the minister for Liquor, Gaming and Racing could intervene.

Without these things…it’s as you see. Lucas and Grant face five years of nerve-racking court proceedings, with who knows what for them at the end.
With respect to the way not-for-profits are supposed to be set up and run, don’t ask your pastor, and don’t accept my views either. I suggest you call the relevant government department, and get the bundle of information that is given out to those who wish to start such an organisation. Then read it.
Or search the web. Here is a good place to begin.


It is plainly taken for granted by this document that not-for-profit organisations (a) will allow all people working in them to possess full membership of the organisation; (b) will have a properly written and binding constitution that applies to all these members; and (c) will be governed by a board voted into office by a body of members that extends to all workers in the charity.

It is also plainly the case that the rules applying to members of the organisation will automatically apply to anyone whatsoever who works in the charity.
It is plainly not expected that your not-for-profit with fifty people active in its running will have five legally recognised members.
It is plainly not expected that employees of the charity will be paying themselves from donations because they form the majority of the organisation’s membership.
It is plainly not expected that members of a not-for-profit which is set up bodgily are within their rights to apply the constitution only to themselves, and not to everyone else working in some capacity in it.
The whole purpose you’re allowed to form a legal entity of the kind talked about here is that you are thereby going to be able to give legal protections and standards of behaviour to all persons involved in your charitable work.
This document is obviously not written so that a religiously minded person who is a good salesmen can create an authoritarian system of religious government in a church, and thereby come into joint possession of large assets with five friends (or worse family members)—much of it bought by other workers in the charity.
C3 Balmain is definitely not set up in compliance with the expectations of the document in question. And how far in the C3 movement does the same thing run?
Eventually the Tax Commissioner and the Minister for Liquor, Gaming and Racing will work out what is going on, and then….

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13264, September 7, 2010 at 6:32 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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The burning questions are, do C3 churches as a matter of fact set themselves up with dummy constitutions to please the Department of Gaming and Racing, etc? (ie Constitutions whose content bears no resemblance to the church’s actual workings?) And do they then systematically operate in a manner that, if it had been revealed to the authorities from the beginning, would have meant that they would have never been allowed to exist in the first place?

If the answers to these questions is yes, then the C3 movement in NSW is apparently guilty of a widespread and deliberate fraud.

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13339, September 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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G’day, Teddy…just had a spare moment.

The money was donated to the Rise and Build Fund of C3 Balmain.

Lucas and Grant can’t or won’t produce a properly kept accounting of the use to which the money was put.

(As soon as they did, the court case as things stand would be at an end.)
So we have no idea where it has ended up. Apparently, it might take a forensic accountant to discover its whereabouts (ie whose account it is in, what is was spent on, whatever)–and even then there is uncertainty whether such a person would find it.

We have never heard that Grandad’s money might have gone to Oxford Falls. If that really is where it has gone, what motive could Lucas and Grant have for not saying straight out where is was? Most confusing….

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13341, September 9, 2010 at 1:51 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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Hi, all,

I’m enjoying following the conversation. Tom is, too, and I’m sure he’s finding the aspects relating to his stuff encouraging.

RP, thanks for your kind thoughts.

Teddy, this is my church background (thanks for asking)–Dad was a Prezzy minister; Mum was a missionary. I went to the Prezzies till my mid-twenties; then I went to a cell church for ten years. Then a C3 Balmain/other churches mix for eighteen months. Then the Anglicans for a few years; but its youth work collapsed (I have young kids). At present we go the the local Baptist Church, which has an excellent youth program.

With respect to C3 Balmain, (I noticed some confusion about this, so it’s good to clear it up), I went there occasionally over about 6 years, and fairly regularly for a while. However, I was never convinced, so I moved on. I wasn’t going there when Tom etc were thrown out.

The help I’m giving Tom, apart from fraternal support, is much more to do with my particular experiences and training than with my intimate knowledge of the church’s workings. (Apart from the things I’ve already mentioned, I worked as a social worker for a number of years. Another one of my areas of expertise both in and out of my current studies is the language-use of criminal tyrants–ie domestic violence perps, religious leaders in breach of the principle of natural justice etc..

If you’re good at that kind of thing, you can spot a criminal tyrant five or ten minutes after they start talking–and of course very quickly from their written work also.)

That being said, Tom was extremely wise in his dealings with Lucas and Grant. About a year before he was chuckled out, he noticed problems with the legal set up of the church.

He pointed them out to Lucas and Grant, thinking these problems had arisen by mistake.

He was not encouraged by their response. So from that time on he had (if memory is correct) one private conversation with Lucas about anything significant. And there were two witnesses present at that conversation.
Otherwise he conducted all meaningful communications with Lucas and his superiors in writing. In other words, there is a permanent record of basically all his actual behaviour in his treatment of Lucas over a long period–a period which began before he and Lucas were in dispute.

I’ve read all the documents available–apart from the most damning one with respect to Lucas’s own personal integrity, which Tom has never shown me, although I know its contents.

The speculations about Tom’s behaviour towards Lucas are understandable–but the worst he can possibly be accused of doing is writing him a moderately ill-mannered letter. And really, the tone of his communications is pretty good.
In my view, his greatest fault in Lucas and Grant’s eyes was that he kept quizzing them about whatever legal problems he perceived. Not long before he was thrown out, he pointed out to them that lawyers have to reveal legal problems, or they face being disbarred (of course what else could he do?) In my opinion this was as much of a problem as the issue of Grandad’s money. To me, it was that which broke the camel’s back–Lucas and Grant had a lawyer with a conscience in their midst, and a set up whose legality was…highly dubious.

Peace be on the heads of all!

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13354, September 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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Once again, I’ve enjoyed reading people’s remarks.

Re the exemption of religious organisations.

This is my view (and Tom’s).

(1) The Charitable Fundraising Act is a codification of already existing laws that apply to all groups existing for charitable purposes. It adds no new laws; it codifies what is already there. Its substance applies to all groups of this kind, regardless of the exemption.

(2) According to the Hansard documents, the exemption was only given to religious organisations because those with a good reputation–ie the mainstream churches–already complied fully in their running to these laws…so for instance the laws were already accommodated by the churches’ constitutions, and these churches were properly complying with their constitutions.

(3) The Charitable Fundraising Act empowers the minister to remove this exemption from any religious group deemed to be failing in its keeping of the laws codified by the Act. That is to say, despite the exemption it is expected that religious groups will nonetheless do what the Act says–seeing that if they don’t their conduct will be policed via the removal of the exemption in their case, and the application of the details of the Act to their actions.

(4) The upshot? The exemption doesn’t mean religious groups are exempt from the law–it is on the contrary a nod to the integrity of the mainstream churches, who don’t need the code provided by the Act because they were already complying with its substance, still do that and presumably always will.

The crucial point here is not exactly which act, and which minister, and so on, though.

The crucial point is, do C3 Church’s set themselves up in contradiction of NSW law by adopting a democratic etc constitution according to its requirements, with every intention thereafter of ramming in practice an authoritarian system of government down the throat of those laws?

It doesn’t really matter how many Acts of Parliament don’t apply to the C3 church. Ultimately the illegality of their behaviour (should it be illegal) will not be affected.

The question, ‘Which sentence of which Act?’ is not really relevant–other than in settling on the precise sentences, clauses etc of NSW law that may have been broken.

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13381, September 10, 2010 at 9:45 am. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

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On the question of the rights and wrongs of dealing with certain problems outside the church.

I agree with all of you who think that if it’s very serious, you give the church an opportunity to deal with it inside the church. If the church won’t deal with it, then you deal with it in the other places available.
And with many serious problems, you are required by law to report them; and lawyers face being disbarred if they do not report them.

In this situation, it is our opinion that we have no choice but to pursue the course we are following.
It’s worth pondering the fact that at any time C3 could solve the part of the dispute involving Grandad’s money, merely by showing (as is required by charitable laws) a properly kept accounting of the money’s use.
That C3 hasn’t implies, as far as I’m concerned, that the movement is quite happy to ride out financial scandals.

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13420, September 11, 2010 at 7:29 am. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Again, BB, throught the centre of the target.

TVD is the worst advocate for Lucas and Grant and the C3 movement imaginable.

In the short time I’ve been here he has (a) made up NSW law; (b) advocated a dictatorial system of church government that is contrary to charitable laws in NSW, and utterly contrary to the servant model exemplified and commanded by Christ; (c) shown by constant misunderstandings that he can’t read plain English, which means he is not qualified to fulfil one of a pastor’s duties, that being to teach the meaning of the Bible; (d) imputed acts of defamation to Tom and I, which is itself an act of defamation, seeing that he can’t possible prove it; (e)written that he thinks his obligation to uphold fundamental laws applying to him is a ‘vibe’ that he can ignore; shown no meaningful concern for any unjust treatment Tom etc might have received; and so on and so on.

This guy is living proof that our concerns are legitimate.
I’ve been thinking of taking snapshots of his comments, they’re so damaging.
He has basically admitted in writing on this blog that our take on C3 church is spot on.

His utterly dismissive attitude to our charitable law is in my view utterly gross.
The only reason I engage with any of his questions is because the more rope he has, the more enthusiastically he throws himself into the noose!
Does the C3 church know they have this loose cannon blasting wildly in every direction here?

Source: David, C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/c3-%e2%80%98vision-builders%e2%80%99-pamphlet-for-%e2%80%98rise-build%e2%80%99/#comment-13421, September 11, 2010 at 7:48 am. (Accessed 20/06/2014.)


Kong Hee copies Phil Pringle

We have all seen the corruption, deceit and cover-ups within governments, business corporations and religious institutions reported globally daily in the media. Unfortunately many people have experienced it personally. Usually over time the truth always comes to light in some way.

What I have generally noted over many years is that corruption, fraud, deceit and injustice seems to occur when transparency and governance are deficient within the institutions conducting such unacceptable behaviour.

As disclosed above, what has come to light in relation to C3’s treatment of Tom Adams, his family and other C3 Balmain members, was C3’s attempt to hide the scandal from its members and the general public.

The issues that CHC are facing has some similar issues Pringle is facing (which Tom and Dave exposed). This would possibly explain why C3 settled outside of court to hide this fact. It’s even more revealing C3 has “everywhere in the C3 movement dodgy private companies; dodgy incorporated associations; and church’s with massive assets that are not actually owned by the church community”.

This shows that C3 is totally deficient in transparency, governance, and accountability. Is it just a coincidence that it also seems to be the same situation in the other C3 / Phil Pringle associate institutions like Kong Hee’s CHC in Singapore and Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea?
You decide.
These issues are what needs to be disclosed, investigated and vigorously discussed in depth. This is to inform others of the deceit and corruption that is  going on within these churches out of sight from most honest church members.

How the C3 Church Movement came to be…


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We’ve talked about Paul Collins in the past being the essential player in starting Phil Pringle’s ministry.

The History of Phil Pringle & The C3 Movement

So who is Paul Collins? What impact did he leave on God’s church?

Mark Hutchinson offers his insights into the life of this intriguing individual.

Collins, Paul (1936- )

Collins, Paul Herbert (born  8 Nov 1936, Christchurch, New Zealand -), and Alexandra ‘Bunty’.

Pentecostal evangelists, missionaries, church planter, and teachers/ publishers.

The son of a prominent Christchurch businessman, Collins grew up in a Methodist home in which his mother (‘a beautiful, gentle lady’) was a keen church-goer, but his father was for some time fairly nominal.  Paul’s early goal was to play rugby for New Zealand, and indeed rose to the level of playing first grade for the Canterbury Crusaders with many who went on to play for the All Blacks. As a young man, he was involved in the family company (Collins’ Quick Lunch Parlours), and left school at St Andrew’s College to become an apprentice pastry cook.  The suggestion at the time was that he and his father go into catering for weddings, but the sale of the business and his own re-direction towards interior design in a department store saw him move to design education at Canterbury University.  The disturbing factor was his conversion in the Methodist church.

Alan Collins heard preaching in the park in Christchurch, and was dramatically converted into the Salvation Army during a ‘very deep visitation’ in that movement in the early 1930s.  Though facing persecution in his own ‘very godless family’, he would preach on street corners in his uniform, and went on to train in the Salvation Army College. Just before World War II, he left the Salvation Army (as Paul remembers from feelings of inadequacy in the roles he played) and joined the YMCA.  Through WWII he was a YMCA officer, preaching to troops in the Middle East and providing chaplaincy services. Returning to Christchurch after the war, he became President of the YMCA. In terms of churchgoing, they joined a Methodist church in which the revival tradition of Wesley still had significant echoes, and so it was there in 1949 that the 13 year old Paul confessed personal faith in Christ.

Drafted into the army at the age of 19, Paul began to meet people of faith and his faith ‘really came alive in a new kind of way.’  This gave him a passion to see non-churchgoers become involved in the church, and perhaps his father’s YMCA connections saw him begin to reach out to youth. Resigning his bible class leadership, in 1956 he convinced his local church that there was a need for a youth club. He opened the club in a church hall, and used his rugby connections to develop a sense of camaraderie and outreach.  (This latter also showed his lifelong entrepreneurial flair – he raised the money for club uniforms by buying tickets to the Springboks test in Christchurch and selling them back at a higher price).  The club ran gymnastics, formed a library, and he played jazz and Peter Marshall records to them. It was at a camp for the club – organised with the help of his father and his brother Terry – that he had his first opportunity to preach.  Ivor Powell, the Welsh evangelist, had just been through town, and the small group of young men that Paul took to hear him had accepted Christ as Saviour. (Powell’s tours of South Africa and Australasia c. 1949 produced a great crop of converts, and energised the church)  Paul went up on a water tower sought God for a message to preach, and came down with a message on the talents. Despite his own personal doubts about the quality, numbers of young people were profoundly moved. In chat sessions that ran all night, one by one, 114 young people confessed faith in Christ.  This, and his father’s conversion experience in Salvation Army revival, left him with a de facto theory about God’s action as happening through sovereign visitation rather than through personal talent. This sovereignty would be what he relied on for eventual justification of his determination to set his own path – his father was preaching that Sunday at Bryndwr Methodist chapel, and had many of the young people who were converted give their testimonies. The fruit of the much criticised youth club was sufficient to silence its critics.

This experience produced a personal crisis – Paul had to choose between his career (design), his sport (rugby) and his calling. He had begun as assistant window dresser, rising to running whole household displays (‘a whole household for £911’) It was there amidst his work at McKenzie and Willis (founded in 1906 but then operating out of the old Queen’s Theatre site at 120 Hereford Street) that he heard God prompt him to enter ministry full time. After discussion with Merv Betts and his father, in 1957 he decided to train at the YMCA College in Sydney just as the family’s Methodist experience was being augmented by visits to Sydenham AOG.  (Later, as we shall see, this connection with Sydenham AOG and the ministry of Dennis Barton would become important for the larger charismatic movement in Australasia.)  A brief visit there before leaving impressed him deeply – walking into the meeting, he saw David Bridges (later principal of Commonwealth Bible College, Sydney) playing in the spirit on the piano as the congregation raised their hands and worshipped God. He remembers thinking to himself ‘I’m sure it must have been like this for Israel’. Having come from an old school family not given to showing affection, this integration of emotional as well as intellectual and professional life was refreshing.

Paul trained in Sydney and helped in lay ministry in the Homebush Methodist church 1957-8. He studied under people such as Alan Loy and Doug Sharp, and returned briefly for his twenty first birthday late in the first year. His brother Terry had continued connection with Sydenham AOG and Percy Gosling’s small Miracle Revival Fellowship, and had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. The comparison with his own experience in a school dominated by liberal theology could not have been more marked. Going to a prophetic ministry at an independent house meeting, Paul and Des Short received prayer, resulting in a prophecy that while Des would be a prophet to his own nation, Paul would go to many nations. Short’s ministry would indeed be located largely at Faith Bible College, outside Tauranga (founded 1969), but this was the first inkling Paul had of his future direction. Shortly after this he was baptised in the Holy Spirit. The experience saw him rise up against the liberal teaching in his College, leading to a marked confrontation. More positively, Paul and fellow YMCA student Margaret Piper were invited to cooperate with the fledgling Australian television industry, which had a statutory requirement to allow 1% of air time for religious programming. Harry Howlett (the original ‘Dave’ from “Dad and Dave’, and a writer/producer on such programs as The Air Adventures of Biggles (2GB and 2CH 1949-1954); Bottle Castle (2CH, 1951); and Coffee Time (AWA) etc) produced a live program modelled on an American original, called ‘Youth Wants to Know’, on which two young men and two young women responded to phone inquiries.  It was here that Paul met a young Baptist girl by the name of Alexandra (or ‘Bunty’ to her friends) who was connected to the WEC missionary agency. ‘She gave all of her money to missions’, Paul remembers.

After graduation, he returned to New Zealand in late 1958 and took over the North Shore YMCA in Auckland.  Despite, or perhaps because, of his opposition to secular practices entering the organisation, the youth work of the YMCA grew rapidly.  The organisational and management level of his work, however, irked – he desired to be free to do ministry. He prayed for an evangelical to replace him, after which he and his brother Terry went off to Tauranga to study at Rob Wheeler’s 3 month bible college.  It was an experience which taught them faithfulness through adversity, and which also introduced them not only to Wheeler’s revivalist ministry but also the ministry of A. S. Worley, whose dynamic campaigns through Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand were to do much to spread the emphases of E. W. Kenyon and others in the word-faith movement.  Wheeler had been influenced by Ray Jackson and the Latter Rain/ Bethel Temple traditions, with their emphases on restorationism, perfectionism, and the laying on of hands, while Worley (who had been invited by Len Jones to replace a cancelled Tommy Hicks campaign) was a living link to the Healing Revival in the USA which was dominated by William Marion Branham and Oral Roberts.

Worley’s campaign in the Centennial Hall in Timaru had remarkable results, requiring a part time lecturer at Tauranga (Ron Coady) and the now 21-year old Paul to travel to Timaru to assist in the campaigns. Under Worley, they both learned to pray in faith for miracles and to see the miraculous as a path towards conversion. ‘I observed how he ministered, and he would pray for people “In the name of Jesus, be healed!” So, I get up there and I minister – there is a big crowd, and I minister and they come forward. I prayed for people “In the name of Jesus, be healed!” – and they were! So that launched me.’ Collins and Coady began touring the South Island with remarkable results, and despite the fact that Coady was his senior, he gave Paul equal profile in the campaigns.  Though not without press and other opposition, full page advertisements, direct invitations, circulation of Coady’s Revival News magazine, and remarkable miracles (‘in those days, nine out of ten people were getting healed’) fuelled significant outreach throughout New Zealand: Waimate (over 80 people converted), Invercargill (200 people converted), Gore (600 converted out of a population of 5000) etc.  Not only was Paul discovering himself  (he actually opened the Gore campaign by himself, to be joined several days later by Coady) but at the height of the campaigns, he put faith to the test and wrote to Bunty, proposing marriage with the words ‘I know what the will of the Lord is, it is time you found out too.’  After a nervous three week wait, he finally heard back – ‘Yes.’  While they were waiting for Bunty to come to New Zealand, Paul connected her to a close friend of Peter Morrow’s, the part-aboriginal prophetess, Evie Nicholson, who lived in Surry Hills. After several visits, Evie prayed for the young Baptist woman, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul prepared to leave New Zealand, heading home to Christchurch to combine family affairs with mission preparation and a number of revival meetings.  These latter, held in Riccarton Town Hall,  resulted in some 60 decisions and healings which (such as that experienced by Kindah Greening’s deliverance from tuberculosis) launched people into ministry.  The group of about 250 who gathered from this experience was taken over by Paul’s brother, Terry, as a weekly meeting to which a variety of ministries (such as Rob Wheeler) were invited.  As many of these people were still linked to denominational churches (Anne Morrow, for instance, who was then a member of the Baptist church who played piano for Paul’s Riccartson campaign) they deliberately tried to avoid founding a new church. It was difficult to maintain the momentum, however, and Terry left to pioneer in Dunedin while Peter Morrow took over in Christchurch, holding meetings at the YMCA before moving along to the Horticultural Hall and then later the New Life Centre.  The growth of a new denomination out of this, and its later reorganisation under Max Palmer was to leave the Collins’ out in the cold, an event which only reinforced Paul’s early restorationist suspicion of organisation and ecclesial control.

Paul and Bunty were married in Sydney in 1961, living on Balmoral beach with Alexandra’s parents. Ever the activist, Paul began small meetings through his Methodist connections, but though the meetings were good, they ‘had a growing feeling about Asia’.  Bunty’s long existing missionary call and Paul’s pioneering spirit prompted them to pray about going overseas, perhaps to somewhere others did not want to go.  They started to prepare, and then suddenly a rush of information seemed to point them towards Thailand. Delegation and meetings in preparation drew them into 1962, a time punctuated by the birth of their first child, David, on 16 April, 10 weeks before they were due to leave on P&O’s Arcadia passenger liner for Hong Kong.  (The largest passenger liner east of Suez at the time, the Arcadia docked in Sydney on 4 July carrying among others Spike Milligan and his wife. In February the next year, on the way back to England, it developed engine trouble at Mumbai in India. The ship remained a popular cruise ship until the late 1970s. In 1979 she was sold as scrap.)  It was a great adventure, while the poverty and need of Asia cried out in Manila, Hong Kong and Bangkok in such a way that they would never truly be able to detach themselves from Asia again. Meeting Paul Kauffman (1920-1997) and a number of other missionaries on the way also laid the ground for work beyond Thailand. (Kauffman, a Canadian, began the ministry in Hong Kong in 1966 – by his death it had grown to cover 20 countries and over 30 offices).

Typical of the anti-organisational bent of the early latter rain movement, the Collins’ left with no organisational or denominational backing – as Ron Coady reported, they were leaving with ‘no organisational support but God.’  He appealed for people to remember them ‘in a practical way’ as well. (At first Paul’s father handled any support that came their way, though in time their support was organised through Coady’s ‘Faith Enterprises’, based in Nelson). In addition to monetary support,  however, they arrived in Bangkok on a Swedish tramp steamer without visas, and bearing three different passports (Paul – NZ, Bunty – British, David – Australian).  They moved in next door to some Canadian Assemblies of God missionaries, but found themselves locked out of the normal missionary networks because of denominational rivalries and an anti-latter rain reflex among North American classical Pentecostals.  Finally, they found friends among the Finnish Free Mission, who connected Paul to a translator (Brother Zombart, later Thailand director for Asian Outreach) who became a life long friend.

Wanting to avoid competition and to prove God, Paul told his Finnish associates that he want to ‘go where no-one has gone’. Through Len Jones Paul had been greatly influenced by T L Osborn’s films, considering him then ‘the best evangelist in the world’. His first ideas about Thai mission were thus influenced by Osborn, taking form as a tent crusade. Eight hundred people turned up on the first night, and Paul began to preach in his usual latter rain fashion. He was quite disconcerted to find the audience break out laughing – the loud to and fro of the translation looked, to these rural people, as if a fight had broken out between the speaker and the translator. It was his first lesson in cultural sensitivity – he had to learn to bring the gospel in more potent ways to a nation so vast (in comparison to New Zealand) that all their preaching would not enable them to reach the whole nation. He determined on developing a literature ministry fitted to the circumstances and sent back a dramatic appeal to New Zealand:

s.o.s. • • • s.o.s.

From Thailand

The following communique has just been received from Paul and Bunty Collins in Thailand—

“We are challenged by the fact . . .Literature gets results like nothing else can. It is only the mass media like literature that can make it possible to reach these people.

Thirty million people here are racing to a lost eternity!”

“Can You Help?” – “Could You Raise £1000 for literature? “

We could reach 500,000 people with the Gospel.

Men and Women of New Zealand. Will YOU help us to raise this necessary finance to stop the onrush of Atheistic Communism in Thailand and turn these masses to CHRIST?

Send in your Gift to-day, to—



and mark it “FOR THAILAND”. (Revival News, August 1963, p. 7)

Within 5 weeks, Coady had the money collected, handing the cheque to Paul’s father as a special service. Paul and Bunty wrote back about the book bicycles, wind up gospel recordings, and newspaper distribution that they had commenced:

“Out in the villages of Chiengmai Province one of our workers distributes full time, village by village, house by house.

“In Bangkok, Tak and other places the Word is going forth and hundreds of replies are coming in. Now with this wonderful gift the response will be thousands.

“We now have the money for literature.  Plans are under way. The team is ready to advance for the Lord.”  (Revival News, December 1963, p.3)

The result was an ever expanding use of literature and new media (such as radio) to present Christ to Thai culture:  the production of four colour, full plate inserts in a national news paper, for instance, a nationally-distributed bible correspondence course (with Paul Kauffman), early radio programs etc.  In twenty major crusades, 246,000 people responded, including 98 Buddhist priests.  Gatherings of ministers, numbering in the hundreds, resulted in the period 1966-1969, often addressed by Restoration ministries invited from the USA.  It was during a visit by David Schock to New Zealand, for instance, that the funding was found to put out the largest single literature distribution ever attempted in Thailand (600,000 booklets aimed at Children’s Day in cooperation with Child Evangelism Fellowship). It was a lesson in flexibility – ‘We thought the Lord would move [through tent evangelism] and instead He moved this way.’  It was out of this follow-up that they helped commence New Life Centre Bangkok, the name later used by Peter Morrow for his church in Christchurch, Graham Truscott for his church in India, and by extension to the ‘indigenous’ latter rain church movement across New Zealand.

The maturing of the New Life fellowship in New Zealand was not all good news for the Collins family – the movement was maturing, spending more of its resources on building, and now, of course, there were many more missionaries to be supported. ‘We were having problems getting resources’. The plan emerged in Paul’s mind to found a missionary church, and prayer, family and natural inclination led them back to Sydney.  Paul got into contact with Ray Jackson’s brother, Dale, who was running a group in the southern side of the city.  To create space, they agreed to work mainly in the northern part of the city (a decision which, despite the lack of Pentecostal churches on the north side, was not welcomed by the key Foursquare (Banton) and AOG (Duncan) pastors in the city. This was to change markedly later through their mutual involvement in the charismatic movement).

While they had been in Thailand, the interest in things of the Holy Spirit had increased markedly in Sydney.  At St Andrew’s Cathedral, Jim Glennon’s Healing ministry had brought together the healing streams native to Anglican spirituality.  In the Methodist church, interest in and sense of institutional crisis had opened the church up to Camps Farthest Out and global prayer ministries.  In the Catholic Church, the Notre Dame revival had spread to Australia through the work of Alex Reichel, and there were a growing number of non-denominational charismatic prayer meetings and Christian intentional communities spreading through the city. Sydney Anglicanism’s long fascination with missions had a subdued spiritual stream (particularly as represented by Stafford Young and the South Seas Evangelical Mission) which began to emerge as Young funded visiting ministries into the diocese (Derek Prince, Michael Harper, Ralph Mahoney, David DuPlessis and Judson Cornwall). This gave energy to young, vibrant charismatics with money in their pockets, many of whom became involved in the meaning structures provided by short term missions agencies such as YWAM.  A growing dis-ease with institutional ecumenism, and the need to reach out into society in the sort of new and more powerful ways demonstrated by David Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge in the USA, motivated people to search for more. Some on the north side of Sydney had been praying for a fellowship within reach – some, as an addition to their normal churchgoing, others because their charismatic expression had made them unwelcome in their original churches.

It was into this new mix that Paul and Bunty again brought restorationist Holy Spirit emphases along with a new missions-inspired flexibility and the inspiring music of New Zealand’s latter rain worship tradition.  It was a powerful and heady mix, which exploded in their Sunday afternoon services held first (to the concern of some) in the Masonic hall in Turramurra.  Paul invited an old acquaintance (called, ironically, Sr Wonders) he knew could ‘play in the spirit’: on the first occasion ‘We worshipped for two hours – I didn’t preach.’  The next Sunday there were 40 people, and the same thing happened. They were clearly tapping into a well of suppressed spirituality.  Finally, Paul managed to get things in hand, but the same spirit – whereby control was loosely held and ‘body ministry’ and worship were encouraged – remained the stock in trade of the church.  Several moves were needed to cater for the growth – St Ives, Pymble,  finally brought them to St Leonards, where they hired a commercial building and set about establishing the ‘Christian Faith Centre’ (CFC) as a Church around a core of some 500 people.  It was far and away the largest Pentecostal church in Sydney.  While the history of the church will be dealt with elsewhere it is useful to suggest here that the outward focus of the church was undermined by three things, all of which were tensions in the emerging movement.

The first was its missions focus: as Paul himself noted, this was to be a missionary church, in part a solution to the continuing problem of lack of resources and organisational support which was chronic in the early charismatic movement. On the one hand, the church was remarkably successful in its short life in fulfilling its missionary mandate. At its peak, the church supported 35 full time people in the field, in one year adding to this 75 one-off missions were supported. People such as Michael Baré and David Young went off on multiple short and longer term missions, planting churches in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.  Many of these went on to be core members of larger charismatic independent ministries and churches – such as Derek Prince Ministries, the Christian City Churches, Frontier Missions, Servants of Asia’s Poor, WEF, and the like. While it released incredible energy, however, the church did not really solve the mission support issue – many of their missions were undersupported, their missionaries under-trained, and many felt as if, having been sent, they were underprepared for life when they came back.  It is possible, however, to see this as part of the significant larger latter rain movement into Asia, which later emerged in such significant movements as the Hope of Bangkok.

The second element was the nature of ecclesial organisation. Collins had learned to be wary of ecclesial organisations and perhaps Faith Centre was another straw for that camel’s back. It was not agreed at the beginning that the Centre should have been a church, and in the end when the Collins’ moved on it was in part because of the position of Ralph Mahoney and others that one could not run both a church and a ministry to the larger body of Christ. Internally, this lack of agreement also made the church highly susceptible to shifts in interpersonal agreement and skill sets.  Paul was the glue, Howard Carter was the great organiser, and the third leader John Ferguson was more pastoral in orientation.  Their spread of interests made the church unstable when Paul was absent, and Howard found the discipleship message (of Mumford, Baxter, Ortiz and others in the Fort Lauderdale school) an attractive theological legitimization of a highly centralized approach to church life. When discipleship teaching began to tear at the agreement in the church, Howard was prepared to take it over.  Lack of accountability also left some leaders open to moral failure and others open to personal manipulation. With Paul away in Hong Kong, many relationships soured: prayer counselling became a vehicle for criticism: ‘I’ll tell you what is wrong with you if you tell me what is wrong with me.’. ‘It was a cancerous job… and then they started to turn on us.’

The third element was free worship. While Faith Centre acted to import the latter rain worship style into Australia, such cultural elements were not unique. It was possible (indeed likely) that the musical culture would shift and so expressions of spiritual passion also shift. Again, the Centre was highly successful – Collins could see the influence of the church in the churches built in other states by Peter Vacca, Hal Oxley, and Trevor Chandler in Brisbane, among others. But the commitment to freedom meant that the church could not hold onto its advantage, and increasingly the spread of charismatic worship music (in particular through its commercialisation by the Garretts’ Scripture in Song) ate away at its uniqueness. The same could be said for the natural source of its growth, the charismatic movement – Temple Trust (Alan Langstaff) and Logos Foundation (Howard Carter) were better organised and more tightly focused than CFC, and though Collins never thought in terms of competition, it is clear that others progressively stole Faith Centre’s thunder as the 1970s progressed.  In particular, they became the major routes for international visiting ministries, the life blood of the conference movement. CFC’s double life as an international ministry centre and a local church in the long run was doomed to fail.

Such divisions in the light of a significant building challenge created incredible tensions. When Paul returned from Hong Kong, David Jackson and Roger Waters faced him and said that ‘it is either you or me’. Collins walked away – the building trust collapsed, and while the church staggered on under Jackson and Carter as a cell-group movement, the days of Faith Centre were numbered.  The Collins’ returned to their beloved Asia – after a year spent among Asian students attached to Peter Morrow’s church in Christchurch, they spent most of the next period in Hong Kong working with Paul Kauffman at Asian Outreach.  They were not finished with Sydney, however. Towards the end of 1978, they began preparations to return. Moving to Dee Why, the team they gathered prayed ‘8-12-8’ every day for 2 years in order to gain a break among the surf culture of the area.  By the end of 1979, they had built the church to around 50 people. In the interim, a young couple they had known from the Sydenham AOG in Christchurch, Phil and Chris Pringle, had had a vision for Sydney, and had begun work in Roseville.  Again, Asia called – Loren Cunningham, whom they had met in the USA and knew well through their Faith Centre connections to YWAM, approached them and asked them to consider undertaking a more apostolic ministry with the YWAM ship ministry, Anastasis.  While preparing to go, they were also approached by Paul Kauffman for help in Hong Kong.  Personal loyalties spoke loudest – the Collins’ invited the Pringles to take over their ‘Christian Ministry Centre’ in Dee Why, and left for Hong Kong.  Shortly thereafter it was renamed Christian Centre, Northside, and then to Christian City Church.  Another seed had been planted, only to be watered and taken on by someone else – CCC would grow into one of the more significant global charismatic movements, with (by 2003) some 4000 people worshipping in the Oxford Falls complex alone.  ‘Phil took me out to lunch one day and said “You know, your trouble [Paul] is that you always give away the initiative.” And that is true.’

Hong Kong was a profound experience for the Collins’. Again, they had a seeding ministry – working with Jackie Pullinger, printing bible studies in Romans for mailing to 10,000 separate pastors and leaders every week, creating Project 21 for the Philippines- in an effort to energize and equip the Christian leadership of Asia.  It was with gratitude that they heard years later from an Indonesian pastor that ‘these studies have done more for the Indonesian church than anything else that has ever been done.’  They were not as young as they had been, however, and so had to find a place for themselves which was sustainable and from which the younger generation of leaders did not see them as a threat. ‘Like Faith Centre, though it appeared to be a disaster, everywhere we go people come up to us and say “There have never been meetings like that.”’

In 1993, they returned to Australia, leaving one son married and working still in Asia, and another working with them in bible college resources.  With the emergence of the internet, they moved increasingly towards online bible college work.  In a sense, the world had finally caught up with them – providing a means which matched their restless global vision.  While they could not find a church form which fitted their particular gifts (one church, in Darwin, did not take off, while another, in Newcastle, by the name of the Fountaingate Trust, was eventually folded in order to allow them to continue their global focus) the internet allowed them to form communities not linked to the churches which they had influenced, but which had by-passed or forgotten them.  Four months of reflection in Hong Kong left them convinced that – for all the revival, evangelism, and church growth of the last 30 years – the church in the 1990s was in a worse state than it had been in 1965.  Collins summed up the conundrums of the church in the three tests of Zadok the Priest. Zadok had  to choose between Saul and David (tradition vs the anointing); then he had to choose between personality and principles (over Absalom); finally he had to choose between apparent results and the word of the King (Adonijah vs David’s will to have Solomon anointed.)  The Church, Collins felt, had failed on all three counts. His comfort lay in a theory of history which made sense of his restorationism – what he took to be God’s program in Hebrews 6: 1-3.  Martin Luther had seen the restoration of repentance and justification through faith; water baptism had been restored by the Baptists; Pentecostalism restored the Baptism in the Spirit (in 1906); and through the laying on of hands, the Latter Rain movement from 1948 had restored the release of understanding of ministry in the body of Christ – five fold ministry. That, he thought on interview in 2003, left repentance and deep cleansing, and after which eternal judgement would come upon the church.

History is not always kind to founders. Collins repeatedly began things and then moved on.  Successors inevitably write their history from their own perspective, and the temptation is strong to associate impermanence with insignificance or even failure.  There is little reference to Collins in most accounts of the charismatic movement except in passing. (The filtering out process can be seen in Restoremagazine, for instance, which Howard Carter took over after Paul and Bunty’s departure for Christchurch in 1976. After their departure they are never mentioned again despite the fact that they had bought the magazine with them from Christchurch and had edited it for many years. There is also little reference to him in the published records of either New Life Centre Christchurch or Christian City Church)   This is inevitable in a movement with a strong emphasis on ‘Now’ which has become well located in institutions.  It is clear, when one takes the larger view and follows the intellectual history of the charismatic movement, however, that Paul and Bunty Collins have led remarkably influential lives. Not only did they start numerous institutions which went on to have widespread impact, but their media and literature campaigns, their ability to bring into one focus the many streams which were impinging on the charismatic movement of the 1960s and 1970s, their ecumenical heart and ability to be on the right spot at the right time meant that they were often thought leaders even among people who did not know they were being led. It is perhaps best to categorize them in the term used by leadership analysts, as ‘indirect leaders.’

There is no leader in history who is perfect. Collins had flair, passion and a driving personality – but with his strong ideas and the authority of maturity, he could be threatening to second generation leaders without even understanding why.  He certainly could not easily play second fiddle, as David Jackson found when Paul turned down his offer of returning to Faith Centre as an elder. With a powerful restorationist experience in his early background, he was better fitted to be a starter than a builder: he was not ruthless enough to develop the single vision required by organization builders, a tendency to refer always to the heart rather than the head, to the spiritual rather than to the organisational principle.  In management terms, he was to be an interpreter of the times, but not a ‘clock builder’.  These were emphases reinforced by his early understanding that a move of God had to be a sovereign move, rather than worked up by men; by his restorationist anti-organisationalism.  Nor did he early gain the wisdom which marked his later work – that one could do anything, but one could not have or do everything. Focus and coherency were not his strong points, at least in terms of institution building. Moreover, as they aged Paul became an isolated first generation survivor as the early, less structured start up ministries collapsed or were swallowed by institutions. Nevertheless, their own ministry remained steadfast, their approach to spreading the gospel they loved flexible, inventive, and still of some influence in a world where they were competing for public attention much more intensely than had been the case in the 1960s.  Any final assessment must include them as significant contributors to one of the most profound global transformations in human history.

Mark Hutchinson


Baré, M, Interview with Mark Hutchinson,  Dec 2002, Pentecostal Heritage Centre Sound Archives, SCC.
Bell, Noel, Interview with Mark Hutchinson,  2 Feb 2004, Pentecostal Heritage Centre Sound Archives, SCC.
Burgess, S and McGee, Gary B., (eds), New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.
Collins, P., Interview with Mark Hutchinson,  14 Feb 2003, Pentecostal Heritage Centre Sound Archives, SCC.
Harrell, David, All Things are Possible, Indiana University Press, 1979
Knowles, Brett, The History of a New Zealand Pentecostal Movement: The New Life Churches of New Zealand from 1946 to 1979 (Studies in Religion and Society, Vol 45), Edwin Mellen Press, 2000.
Restore Magazine, 1973-6.
Revival News, 1962-1965
Vision Magazine, 1972-1978

Source: By Mark Hutchinson, Collins, Paul (1936- ), Webjournals, http://webjournals.ac.edu.au/journals/ADPCM/a-to-d/collins-paul-1936-/. (Accessed 28/08/2014.)

An Insightful Analysis To The CHC System (Part 6)


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Kong Hee says about CHC, Phil Pringle and the C3 Church Movement,

“You can’t talk about City Harvest Church without talking about C3. Or Christian City Church. You know Pastor Phil has been there for me; praying with me; encouraging me; discipling me; telling me how to do the work of the ministry; taught me how to collect an offering; how to give an altar call; how to build a church; build a team. So Pastor Phil, from the depth of my heart, for Sun and myself, we wouldn’t be where we are today without you and Pastor Chris. Let’s give Pastor Phil and Pastor Chris a big clap.” – Kong Hee, Kong Hee, Session 8: (00:24), Presence Conference 2010.

The above quote is something to think about while reading the below article. Before reading this sixth article, make sure you have read his earlier articles:

An Insightful Analysis To The CHC System (Part 1)
An Insightful Analysis To The CHC System (Part 2)
An Insightful Analysis To The CHC System (Part 3)
An Inisghtful Analysis To The CHC System (Part 4)
An Insightful Analysis To The CHC System (Part 5)

Marc Ronez is back! Here is Ronez’s sixth article analysing the CHC situation:

City Harvest Case part 6: The Smog of the Crossover Financing

The revelations about the large sums of money (tens of millions of dollars) used liberally to finance Sun Ho’s failed attempt to breakthrough on the U.S. music scene and about her carefree, luxury lifestyle, have shocked many City Harvest Church members, the christians community at large and even the wider public. Reading through online forums, it is clear that many people felt that the amounts spent were extravagant and questioned what this “U.S. pop star adventure” had really got to do with the Christian evangelisation project it proclaimed to be.

The important questions we should ask and aim to answer here are:

- Who actually paid for the Crossover Project?

- How was the financing practically arranged? 

- Why was it done this way?

The financing of the Crossover project is one of the most important issues we have to examine in my series of posts about the CHC case because this is where we can possibly confirm or disprove most clearly the deception and fraudulent intent of the CHC leaders being prosecuted. This issue of financing is at the center of the prosecution case in the ongoing trial as without it, there would be no case to be answered. So let’s now explore the key issues in detail.

1 – WHO paid for the Crossover Project?

From the COC Report, the CAD investigations, the trial proceedings and even by the own admissions of the defendants including Pastor Kong Hee himself, it has been confirmed very CLEARLY that Sun Ho music career and U.S. Crossover had essentially been financed by CHC church funds.

This is now a fact recognised by everybody. However according to the prosecution, this very fact had, for many years, been kept under cover by the CHC leadership and actually the prosecuted CHC leaders are today “in the dock” precisely because they have “deliberately schemed to conceal the movement and use of church funds [for the crossover] from church members”.

Indeed from the facts and testimonies brought to light during the court proceeding and cross examinations, it has been revealed that the general body of the Church members were actually led to believe that Sun Ho’s crossover was NOT financed by the church. As Chew Eng Han (CHC former investment manager) pointed out during his cross-examination of Pastor Kong Hee a few days ago, the Senior Pastor of CHC apparently preferred to keep the Crossover funding “indirect and discreet“. For many years, Pastor Kong Hee never publicly mentioned anything about any kind of Church Financing for Sun Ho’s U.S. Crossover. Quite on the contrary in fact, as with much fanfare, he had claimed in 2005 in front of the church congregation that Sun Ho had been “invited” to the United States by a major music record company who offered her a US 5 million dollar contract. On hearing the news, the church members cheered with the comforting belief  that this was miracle from God who was opening doors for Sun Ho and a clear proof that God was supporting her Crossover to the secular music world. Everybody listening also naturally assumed that this contract would finance her salary and the production of her future U.S. singles and albums. Over the years, Pastor Kong Hee repeatedly claimed that his wife was a pop star, that she was very successful in her music career collecting many accolades and awards in the process. He even joked on occasions that she was making a lot more more money than him. He had also stressed that while Sun Ho was “shining for Christ” in the music world, she had officially been released from ministry, and hence her music career was her own business completely independent from the Church. Theofficial story CHC members were fed with was that she had largely financed her music career and  U.S. breakthrough attempt with what she was earning from her recording contract and royalties from her previous albums and singles. While in the church, some members knew that the church was providing some form of support to Sun Ho’s crossover and sometimes were even involved in it, very few were really aware of the full extent of this support  and most members did not bother to ask any questions for the reasons explained in my previous posts  “City Harvest Case Part 2 – If there is a Fraud what would be the Motives?”  and  “City Harvest Case Part 3 – The Opportunity Makes The Thief“, relating to PRESSURES and OPPORTUNITIES factors in unethical decision-making.

Unfortunately the reality was very different from what was then the “official” CHC storyline. Sun Ho’s business activities were not doing so well, her royalties from previous albums and singles were drying up and in fact, her earlier musical successes had been grossly exaggerated according to Chew Eng Han who pointed out and provided documentary evidences to prove that “all the while Church money was spent to boost Sun Ho’s CD sales and her position on the music charts“, furthermore CHC members were encouraged to buy her albums and even to buy more than one copy, in fact as many copies as possible. They were told by their cell group leaders that they could give the additional CDs to bless their families and friends. It was also revealed during cross-examination of former CHC board member John Lam that CHC had spent about half a million dollars buying at least 32,000 copies of Sun Ho’s unsold CDs supposedly to bless other congregations around Asia with Sun Ho’s music. Did these congregations really asked for her music? Finally the famous US 5 million dollar recording contract offer mentioned above actually never materialised simply because it never existed in the first place except in the fertile imagination of Pastor Kong Hee as explained in my previous post “City Harvest Case part 5: CHC’s Crossover or Sun Ho’s Crossover“. Hence with not enough money of her own to finance her American music adventure, it must have been quite clear from the beginning for the CHC leadership that for Sun Ho’s crossover to materialise, it had to be financed by the church. That meant with the money received from its faithful members.

 2 – HOW was the Crossover financing arranged?

From the COC Report, the CAD investigations and the trial proceedings, it has been further revealed that the financing of the Crossover was arranged using a variety of indirect and often rather complicated schemes. I would list the key ones as follows:

1. The Xtron Productions & Firna SGD 24 million Bonds,
2. The SGD 3.6 million Multi-Purpose Account (“MPA”),
3. The CHCKL (CHC Kuala Lumpur)  SGD 2.1 million “Love gift”.

Let’s examine now the various financing channels more closely in order to answer the HOW question:

CHANNEL 1The Xtron Productions & Firna Bonds

Instead of trying to get a strong mandate from Church members in order to be able to invest directly Church funds into the Crossover project, the prosecuted CHC leaders decided that CHC would do it indirectly by investing in Bonds issued by Xtron productions and Firna using the monies from the building fund. Like for any Bond mechanism, an interest and a maturity date for the principal repayment was agreed between the parties involved. Then from 2007 to 2009 S$ 13 million and S$ 11 million (a total of S$ 24 million) were transferred from the church building fund  in several tranches as part of the bonds purchase agreement with those 2 companies. But those were not ordinary bonds. The catch was that Xtron had been set up primarily to organise the financing of and manage Sun Ho’s music career. And Firna belongs to Indonesian businessman and long-time CHC member, Wahju Hanafi, who had agreed to support the crossover project. So in order to raise the necessary funds, Xtron and Firna had issued a series of bonds that were then bought by CHC, meaning that effectively Xtron & Firna took loans from CHC. The proceeds of the bonds was then used to finance the various expenses related to the crossover project and Sun Ho’s music actitivities.

The problem is that the COC and prosecution consider that the SGD 24 millions were ILLEGALLY diverted from the church building fund.  According to COC and prosecution, the deception comes from the fact that the transactions were presented as regular bond investments and that apart from the persons incriminated, the other board members, the executive members and the ordinary members were not told of the actual purpose of the bonds which was to fund Sun Ho attempt to breakthrough on the U.S. music scene. Furthermore the prosecution and trial proceedings have also highlighted the complete lack of independence of Xtron from CHC and the multiple problematic conflict of interests in the management of Xtron.

The COC and prosecution also claimed that when the external auditor started to raise difficult questions about the above mentioned Xtron & Firna bonds, the prosecuted leaders rushed to arrange another transfer of about SGD 26 million to make it look like the bond had been properly redeemed, hence the so-called “round-tripping”.

The prosecuted CHC leaders and  City Harvest Church have disputed the allegations that the church was cheated of any money, claiming that the Board of CHC had the full authority to decide how to best invest the available church funds (including the monies of the building funds) and that all decisions were made following proper procedures further claiming that eventually all the sums invested had been repaid in full to the church with the agreed interest.

So did anything wrong happen? Was it illegal? Well considering that there is a trial going on precisely looking at the legality of those transactions, the judge will obviously have the final say about what is legal and what is not. However based on the information available, I would like to make a few observations:

- Bonds are just financial instruments. They are like any tools. You can put them to a good or a bad use. So we should not blame the tools, it is the users who are responsible. The purpose of a bond is to allow organisations who need funds to be able to borrow them from the organisations who have excess cash and wish to invest that cash to get a return. While usually considered safer than investing in shares because of the fixed interest rate and the commitnent to return the capital in full after a fixed term, bonds are not without risks. There is always the possibility that the company issuing the bond could go bankrupt and hence being unable to repay the principal leaving the investors without recourse “naked in the cold”.

- Firna & Xtron bonds should have been categorised as high risk (i.e. junk) bonds. First as exposed during trial proceedings Firna was having cash flow issues & Xtron seems to have been a financially weak and troubled organisation. Second the proceeds of the bonds were to be used for an extremely high risk project, i.e. launching the career of a modestly successful Asian pop artist in the U.S.

- Furthermore, it was mentioned during the trial proceedings that the “interest rate that Firna was paying to CHC was lower than what the company would have been able to get from banks“. So here we find out that not only CHC was investing in “Junk bonds” but the church did not even get the high interests than usually compensate for the high risk taken. In fact, it appears that CHC was shortchanged with a lower than market interest rate.

- Another “twist” in the CHC case, is that there was a complete confusion of roles between the borrower Xtron and the lender CHC. The trial proceedings and cross-examinations have highlighted the near complete lack of independence of Xtron from CHC: First the directors of Xtron were handpicked by Pastor Tan Ye Peng and Pastor Kong Hee and were insiders and loyal followers of the CHC Senior Pastor. Second Serina Wee, former CHC finance Manager, appears to have had “her hands” in the accounts of all 3 organisations CHC, Firna and Xtron and was reporting directly to Pastor Tan and Pastor Kong Hee. Finally most of, if not all, the important decisions about the Crossover were made directly by Pastor Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho and were then rubber stamped by CHC and Xtron quite LITERALLY as it has been revealed during cross examination that actual rubber stamps of key signatories were created and used.

- Chew Eng Han, in his role of CHC investment manager, came up with and arranged the bonds scheme as a solution to the desire of Pastor Kong Hee  (Senior Pastor of CHC) to keep the funding of the Crossover “indirect and discreet”. Hence the issue was not about raising money for the Crossover, rather it was about transferring it quietly from the  building fund. Based on the above mentioned considerations, we can conclude that the way the bonds were arranged  constitutes clearly a perveteduse of the bond mechanism.

There are at least 2 other financing channels that while not part of the current prosecution case are worth mentioning as they may also shed some light on the intend of the parties involved.

CHANNEL 2The Multi-Purpose Account (“MPA”)

The existence of the MPA, a private fund that was set up and was used to pay for Sun Ho and Kong Hee private expenditures between 2006 and 2010, was first exposed to light by the COC report in 2010.  More recently under Cross-examination by Chew Eng Han, Pastor Kong Hee was given an opportunity to explain himself about it and he declared: “The MPA was set up by some of Xtron donors in 2006 to support Sun and my livelihood in the mission field because at the end of 2005 both of us went off church payroll.” He also added that ” secondarily it was set up for us to use it for Crossover-related expenses…” Initially 28 couples and a few individuals were approached and enlisted as MPA donors.

First, we may wonder what were really Pastor Kong Hee expenses in the mission field?  This a fair question as it has been revealed during the trial proceedings that his business class flight expenses were mostly paid by the church, his luxury hotel accommodation expenses were either paid by CHC or by the church inviting him, his large support staff and equipment were provided by CHC and finally, quite a number of mission trips consisted of   lucrative paid preaching engagements in other mega churches. Sun Ho on her side, was paid by Xtron for “her efforts” for the Crossover. So did they really need more money?

Second, according to the COC report, a total of S$3.6 millions were collected through the MPA fund over a three and half years period. This translates to about S$1 million per year to share between Sun Ho and Kong Hee. A more than substantial “compensation” for “going off the church payroll”. The actual use of the funds while supposedly dedicated to the crossover project and other mission trips was in practice completely non-transparent and left to the entire discretion of Pastor Kong Hee and his wife.  In essence they did whatever they wanted with the money and did not have to be accountable to anybody.

From testimonies received from various MPA donors, it appears that Pastor Kong Hee did not just wait for donors to give, he proactively approached them to “encourage” them to give more. In his cross examination of Pastor Kong Hee, Chew Eng Han highlighted an incident that in his opinion, demonstrates both Pastor Kong Hee eagerness to collect always more money as well as his willingness to use deceptive meansto do so.

Chew Eng Han mentioned a meeting that was held with the MPA donors in 2010 where Pastor Kong Hee showed them a spreadsheet aimed to demonstrate that the givings received from the donors were not enough to cover his and Sun’s expenses. The spreadsheet showed a deficit of about half a million dollars for 2009. The donors were then given a pledge form and strongly encouraged to give more.

The problem, according to Chew Eng Han, is that the total amount of donations collected of S$512,000 that was mentioned in the spreadsheet for 2009 was minus of royalties and salaries paid to Sun. Hence the true amount collected was in fact S$952,000. Hence CEH claimed that Pastor Kong Hee misled the MPA donors to think that the collections amount was much lower than what it was. This misrepresentation is indeed very troubling and we can speculate that they were possibly 2 reasons to explain it. Pastor Kong Hee may have wanted:

1. to make the MPA donors feel bad about the “low” collection amount and the deficit and compel them to give more

2. to hide the extravagant salary and royalties (S$ 400,000) given to Sun Ho that he was apparently was finding hard to justify

Another issue highlighted in the COC report is the claim that the donors enlisted in the MPA were told that they could “transfer their contributions originally meant for the Church’s building fund to the MPA and hence they ceased or reduced their regular tithes to the church after they contributed funds to the MPA”. This claim was confirmed by direct testimonies of MPA donors. COC report further claims that apart from the small group of donors, the existence of the MPA was concealed to the rest of the Church’s members and great care put in keeping it this way.

This is a highly problematic point here as this would mean that the creation of the MPA directly and negatively impacted the level of contributions of the MPA donors to the tithes and to the building fund. In other words, form a practical perspective, Pastor Kong Hee and Sun Ho did not really go off church payroll as without the MPA, the funds they received would have gone to the church. So in essence, the funds they got from the MPA for their living expenses, i.e. “salaries”  were indirectly taken from the church. But this time without in forms of control or scrutiny on the amount and use they could make of it. A much “better deal” for Pastor Kong Hee and Sun Ho. Definitely NOT a good one for the church.

To conclude, while some CHC members and the wider public may be shocked by this MPA account (and the large sums involved), we should stress that from a legal point of view, people can donate their money to whoever they wish to, be the tithes, the building fund or the MPA or anything else and they do not need to publicize what is essentially a private transaction. While the attempt of the CHC leaders to hide the MPA from the rest of the CHC members shows their embarrassment and clearly raise some serious ethical questions. Based on the information currently available, it is hard to find a really solid legal ground for the prosecution to charge the CHC leaders based on the MPA transactions. We need to keep in mind that something unethical may not necessarily be illegal. The MPA donors themselves would have a better case and could try to sue Pastor Kong Hee and Sun Ho if they have given or increase their donations due the misreprsentation of facts mentioned in this section.

Finally CHANNEL 3: The CHCKL ‘Love Gift’ or ‘Transfer’

Another way the CHC leadership used to finance the crossover project was to encourage financial support, i.e. “love gifts” from other churches with whom CHC has established friendly relationships, partnerships and even affiliations. Over the years, many churches have contributed financially to CHC projects including the crossover project. Similarly CHC has contributed financially to many other churches’ important projects such as building funds and so on.

The first issue here is again related to the fact that the use of the funds provided by the “love gifts” has been completely non-transparent and left to the entire discretion of Pastor Kong Hee and Sun Ho. While supposedly dedicated to the crossover project, there was in practice no ways for the donors to check how the money was used and no accountability whatsoever.

The second issue is that while these “give and receive” contributions between churches are a natural part of relationship and partnership building efforts, there is always a risk of abuse when  they become formalised, transactional and conditional, i.e. “I give you this ONLY if you give me that..”

According to the COC report, some of the prosecuted CHC leaders have crossed the red line when between December 2007 and May 2010, some S$2.1 millions from CHC were channeled to the U.S. crossover project via an affiliated church in Malaysia (City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur, CHCKL). In the CHC accounts, the funds transferred are recorded as a donation to the building fund of CHCKL. However the COC report claims that the same funds were actually then transmitted by CHCKL to support the Crossover Project in the United States under the guise of a love gift. The COC investigations apparently revealed that clear instructions were given via email by some of the accused CHC Leaders in Singapore to CHCKL to transfer the so-called “donations” to the Crossover in the U.S. disguised as “love gifts” and hence exposing the true purpose of the original “donations”.

If there is clear written evidences that support the claims of the COC report, this would be a very serious accusation as it would give another clear evidence of deception and wrongdoing from the persons involved in the transactions. But without such evidences, it would difficult to prove anything as these reciprocal “give and take” transactions are actually quite common place between.  While we may speculate about the intentions of the parties involved when we can observe those “give and take transactions”, it is hard to prove the fraudulent intent without clear and documented instructions that reveal that actual intent.

3 – WHY was the Crossover Financing arranged in the indirect, complicated and non-transparentmanner described in the previous section?

It is worth to note that the key issue under scrutiny at the CHC trial, i.e. the financing of the Crossover, has been carefully eluded by CHC leaders in their public statements. The fact that investigations and then the court case were underway has repeatedly been used as an excuse to diffuse requests for more information and more disclosure on the Crossover financing. When the public and church members asked questions about the financing, the standard CHC leadership’s response has been to say, “Please understand that we cannot disclose more about issues that are under scrutiny in this trial. Do not make pre-judgment. Let our case be heard in court at the right place and time.

So well now finally, it is the time and actually the last opportunity for Pastor Kong Hee and the other prosecuted CHC leaders to tell their version of the truth before court judgment is passed and I would like to ask them a few simple questions:

- Why use various and often complicated schemes to arrange the financing for the Crossover project?
– Why not do it directly and transparently?
– Why keep church members in the dark and even misleading them for many years about the financing of the Crossover project?

As already mentioned, Pastor Kong Hee admitted during cross examination that he preferred to keep the funding “indirect and discreet” despite Chew Eng Han’s and fellow CHC board member John Lam’s suggestion for a direct and open funding for the crossover project.

When asked during cross examination what were the reasons behind his resistance to open and direct funding of the Crossover project and his preference for indirect and discreet financing arrangements, Pastor Kong Hee,  provided over time essentially 3 lines of reasoning to justify his choices:

Objective 1: Protect the church financial position

As technically the church did not directly finance Sun Ho’s Crossover, as the funds were invested into Corporate Bonds that were supposed to be repaid in full at a certain date with interest. Hence they can claim that no actual money was spent on the Crossover project from the Church, that there was only profits to be earned from the interests received. The Board could rationalize that they were prudent with this approach avoiding the Church to be exposed to the possible losses resulting from Sun Ho’s albums failure to generate sales. In such a case, the losses would have to be covered by Xtron and Firna.

Critical view: The problem is that protection can be an illusion if the risk of borrowers going bankrupt is high and hence are unable to repay the principal, the church would loose all the money invested. On the other hand, despite taking most of the financial risks, with a bond mechanism, CHC would only have received the unrest income and would not have benefited from the upside in case Sun Ho’s album had been successful. In other words, profits were to be privatised for Sun Ho’s benefits, while losses would have ultimately to be covered by the church and its members.

Objective 2: Protect the Crossover Project

Pastor Kong Hee said he felt the Crossover project would fail if Sun Ho was seen as being openly backed by a church. He was concerned that she could be categorised as a Gospel Singer or that exposing too openly her christian evangelization agenda would generate tremendous opposition in the non-christian world. Particularly in countries like China, a Christian label would have been a non-starter. And even in the U.S., there are quite a lot of negative views about religions.  Hence Sun Ho had to go “undercover” and while she was indirectly financed by the church, she had to keep quiet about it. She was supposed to be a secular singer, singing secular songs, on secular labels. Furthermore people could have the “misconception” that “Sun’s popularity was not real”, and that the “church was using its funds to promote one of its members’ career”, he said.

Critical view: The issue was not about pasting a Christian label on Sun Ho’s forehead , advertising on it.  But ensure a proper and strong mandate from the people who provided the financing, at the very least, theentire board and the Executive member should have been approached to approve the financing of the project and the ordinary members should have been informed.

Objective 3: Protect the church members’ peace of mind

The Roland Poon affair in 2003 with the allegations that CHC was using its funds to promote the senior pastor’s wife music career subjected the church to massive amount of criticisms and attacks from the media and the general public. While Roland Poon retracted his accusations and apologised,  the whole event created a lot of disstressing turmoils and confusions in the church. As Pastor Kong Hee shared in court, “the reality of life is such that you cannot manage and control what’s happening in the public domain. So it was more a wake-up call for us, that we’ve got to be very careful what we share.”  Pastor Kong Hee felt it was important to protect church members from such negative environment in the future. Hence moving forward, the board members decided that the church should not directly financially support the Crossover project and should be more careful about what information can be shared publicly with the church members about the crossover project. Therefore revealing  publicly that Sun Ho’s crossover would now be funded indirectly after having just made representations that “no church funds had been used to support Sun Ho’s career” would invite another round of unwanted scrutiny and negative reactions.

Critical view: This line of reasoning is hard to understand as precisely after the Roland Poon affair, CHC should have wanted to build and get a very strong mandate from its members for the Crossover project. And if they could not get the mandate they should not have done it. It is very demeaning Pastor Kong Hee to assume that the church members are so weak that they will break and run away under the weight of external criticisms aboutCHC leadership’s actions if those criticisms are not justified. And it is wrong to deceive church members about the actual use of the money the Church has received from them for a specific purpose i.e. acquiring a new church building. There is not peace of mind in deception.

An Hidden Agenda?

As a risk management and governance practitioner, I have investigated a wide range of fraud cases over the years, and based on my experience,  when I observe the diversity and complexity of some of the schemes used to finance the Crossover project, this is a “Red flag” and a source of concern for me. Let me explain why in simple terms. When you need or want to finance something and you have the choice between 2 approaches to do it:

1. a more simple and transparent financing solution such as openly and directly raising or at least allocating funds for the crossover project with all the relevant stakeholder’s kept in the loop and,

2. a complicated and indirect way such as investing in multiple bonds with specially created and controlled or friendly partners’ companies, creating special private accounts to receive funds from various parties , and so on while excluding many important stakeholders from the loop.

And you choose the complicated and indirect way, it usually means that you have an hidden agenda. There is something you want to be able to do away from prying eyes. This is what appear to have happened in the CHC case, as what the CHC leaders have done is to practically create an organisational BLACK BOX.  As the name indicate, the purpose of a “black box” is to prevent any form of unwanted scrutiny by allowing the people inside it to conceal their activities from external parties. The practical key objectives are to ensure:

1. Lack of Control: Prevent important stakeholders from being able to CONTROL what is happening in the black box as formal decisions authority has been delegated to the people in charge of the black box.

2. Lack of Transparency: Prevent important stakeholders from being able to KNOW what is happening inside the black box as information is intentionally not shared or misleading, or the situation is too complicated to have the full picture of what is going on. For example, Sun Ho apparently received large amounts of money for her living expenses from at least three different  sources: Xtron, the MPA and the CHCKL gift. People aware of one source may not have been kept in the loop about the other sources.

Within the black box, Pastor Kong Hee, Sun Ho and other CHC leaders could use the money received at their entire discretion with little control and no accountability to anyone. The danger is that without scrutiny and accountability, the people inside the black box will be tempted to take advantage of the situation for their own benefits as I will explain in the next section.

Using CHC to create a Private Cash Distributor

The COC report, the CAD investigations, the court proceedings and in particular the cross examinations have shed some very unsavory light on a range of practices and a system that we could characterise as a form of “Cash Distributor system”for the benefits of a few private parties.  I will illustrate it focussing on the case of Pastor Kong Hee because while many others were involved, he is the leader of the Church and hence holds ultimate responsibility for the system that was put in place.

When Pastor Kong Hee decided to go off Church payroll in 2005, declaring that he would by faith rely on his private business activities which included royalties from his book writing, CDs, revenues from his retailing business and so on, church members applauded with respectful deference as they interpreted his decision of working for the body of Christ without salary as an act self-sacrifice, a selfless commitment to God’s kingdom. In fact, many members were worried for him and wondering how he was going to be able to pay for his living expenses. They should not have worried at all… As the COC report, CAD investigations and the trial proceedings have exposed a web of practices that Pastor Kong Hee engaged into that more than compensated for his “loss” of a fixed salary and shed a very different light on what may have been his true motivations for going off the church payroll.  While Pastor Kong Hee was not anymore drawing a salary from the church, he was in total control both spiritual and managerial of the church he had founded. He was to use this situation to his advantage and with a little bit of creativity, vast amount of money was soon going to start to flow to him from multiple directions. Let me just describe some of the schemes that have been exposed during by the COC reports and  during the trial proceedings:

1 – You need to sell more books, CDs, DVDs?

First get your church to buy your books, CDs, DVDs and so on to distribute them as teaching materials for your members and to bless other churches. Second, strongly encourage your  church members to buy your books, CDs, DVDs and so on for their own edification. Make sure you get hefty royalties above market rate through the use of controlled distribution channels such as the Church affiliated bookstore (Example: Pastors Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng Literature at Attributes & then Ink Room)

2 – You need money for your living expenses?

Encourage and collect “Love gifts” from some of your faithful members who would feel honored to support the honorary pastor or any other pastors in the church. Focus on the richest and most loyal members. (example: the MPA account)

3 – You have a personal self-serving dream?

Package your personal self-centered dream as a people focused evangelisation project and get the financial support from your own church and from other friendly churches from around the world  (example: The Crossover project). Make sure you share some of the benefits with your supporters, so that you can ensure their long-term loyalty. Also help your partners’ churches too with your church’s money for their own projects as reciprocity is key to long-term success.

4- You want more money for whatever reasons such as buying luxury condos?

Develop trusted relationships with other mega churches leaders and arrange reciprocal invitations that involve highly compensated (Love gifts again) speaking and preaching gigs (example: some of Kong Hee’s and other top church Leaders’ speaking and preaching engagements around the world)

5 – You want to be a guaranteed successful Entrepreneur?

Start a a private commercial company in an area of interest for your church. You can try many different activities: start a book store, a coffee place, a production company, a design company, a catering company, a cleaning company, an event management company, an investment company, an accounting company and so on so that you can multiply to potential sources of income. You do not need to worry about any competition as you will become a privileged service provider for your growing and very rich church despite charging sometimes higher than market fees. Then make sure you give some of these companies  to your supporters so that you can ensure their long-term loyalty (example: Attributes, Advante, AMAC and so on).

6- You want to save cost in your private business?

When you start your private commercial company or business, give it a Christian Twist so that you make into a church ministry work and minimise your running cost by using church staff and church members volunteers at minimal or even no cost to operate your own private business (for example Pastor Kong Hee’s speaking gigs around Asia, Attributes, Xtron and Skin Couture shops and so on).

The above list shows that the problematic practices in CHC go way beyond isolated incidents and are in fact part of an institutionalised system to turn CHC into a cash distributor for the private benefit of the few parties who controlled the system. To conclude, through this series on the CHC case, I have highlighted first in my post “City Harvest Case Part 2 – If there is a Fraud what would be the Motives?” the personal factors, that could have “motivated” the prosecuted leaders to engage into committing the unethical or even fraudulent acts they are accused of. Then in my post  “City Harvest Case Part 3 – The Opportunity Makes The Thief“, the spotlight was put on how through carefully oriented teaching, one-way communication, selective information disclosure, strong peer pressures and church leaders’ close supervision of church cell groups, Pastor Kong Hee and other CHC leaders worked hard and effectively to create a culture of OBEDIENCE and CONFORMITY in City Harvest church. This coupled with intently weakly designed corporate governance rules and a poor oversight control structure, led CHC to become an environment very VULNERABLE and in fact FAVOURABLE for possible unethical or even fraudulent activities by providing multiple OPPORTUNITIES to “break the rules” and the ability to CONCEAL their activities. In this post, we have demonstrated that the prosecuted CHC leaders have taken advantage of the opportunities created by the CHC system for their own self-interested benefits.

In my Last post “City Harvest Case part 7: The Fruits of the Crossover Tree“, I will conclude the series by examining the impact of the Crossover project on the Church, its members, the Christian community and the wider public to find out whether the Crossover project yielded positive results that might have made it worth it in the end. And we will critically analyse whether “the end justify the means” or not. So keep on the look out for my final post on the CHC case.

Source: Marc Ronez, City Harvest Case part 6: The Smog of the Crossover Financing, The Risk Management Paradox, , 25/08/2014. (Accessed 28/08/2014.)


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