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We value our readers contribution to the C3 Church Watch. Recently we had a student pass on their C3 College materials to us.

They said,

“I had to take a leadership course (much to my annoyance). PDF documents were given to us on a CD. These documents were our subject readings to help us with ministry and our assessments. Unfortunately, the students alongside me  in these classes were studying for a bachelor of theology.”

Do you think these resources meet the requirements for students studying at bachelor level? Are the methods taught morally sound?

You The Leader p292-353

You the Leader p263 – 291

Winning p25 – 35 Jack Welch

Understanding Influence p 42 – 66

The Empowered Church Chapter 4

The Empowered Church Chapter 3

The Empowered Church Chapter 1

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader p111 – 119

Spiritual Leadership Chapter 4 p27-33

New Leaders p327 – 332

Leadership Excellence p203 – 226

Leaders on Leadership p123 – 148

Identifying & Developing p9 – 14

Growing Leaders Chapter 3 p41-56

Developing the Leaders Around You p 61 – 82

Developing the Leader Within You pp161_178

‘Winning’ is a book written by Jack Welch of General Electrics (GE). Welch had manage to earn the company massive revenue. When Welch retired in 2001, GE’s revenue had grown from $26.8 billion to more than $410 billion by 2004. Because of the success and growing revenue that was caused by Welch, do you think the C3 Colleges want to create ministers for themselves with the same drive for success?

John Maxwell has been rightly critiqued on the web for his misuse of scripture. For example, Biblical Discernment says:

“Major concerns about Maxwell’s material, broadly speaking, are: First, the manner in which Maxwell handles the Scriptures to “teach” his principles is sometimes egregiously mistaken, i.e., the Bible is not teaching the principles that Maxwell contends it is. His handling of the Scripture indicates Maxwell does not know (or at least is not utilizing) the proper methods of Biblical interpretation. Second, Maxwell either implicitly or explicitly endorses some New Age teachers and doctrines. Third, Maxwell employs questionable theological doctrines—such as a mistaken notion of the miraculous, a conspicuous absence of the cross, and various psychological doctrines, including self-esteem psychology and temperaments psychology.” – John Beardsley, http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/maxwell/general.htm, November 2003.

Dr. Richard G. Howe has a B.A. in Bible from Mississippi College, an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Mississippi, a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Arkansas. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics and Director of the Ph.D. program at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He is also a contributing writer for the Christian Research Journal and has contributed to several apologetics books.1 Read his article on John Maxwell in the pdf below (emphasis mine):

Some Concerns about John C. Maxwell2

You will also observe that degree students were given extracts from Phil Pringle’s (head of the C3 Church Movement) books. These are some quotes from the above PDF ‘You The Leader’ by Phil Pringle that students had to read3:

“If we cannot serve a person who we can see, how can we serve a God whom we cannot see? Some just have to have their own thing and be the “boss”. I grieve for these people who have become the King of their own tiny mound, when they could have been a Prince in a major organization.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 293-4.

“The people we choose are to “fight for us.” The people we choose must have the ability to fight and win. They have proven themselves in spiritual battles and triumphed. They are overcomers. They display consistently positive attitudes. These people do not just attend, support or watch, but they fight. For us! They do not just fight for their own victories. They fight for the church. They defend the Pastor when he’s criticized. They fight for the church’s reputation, health and her finances. They are genuine soldiers for God.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 317.

“We have a program in our church called “Harvest Now.” Within this program are eight initiatives that are designed to reach the unchurched for Christ. One of those initiatives is contacting people who were previously members of our church and have slipped away. I so admire the people involved in this because they hear all the worst criticisms about the Pastor, about the church and about what we do, yet they keep reaching out to these people and eventually win them back to the Lord. These people have to be soldiers. They can’t be involved in the conversation, listening to all the disaffections of these people, (which often sound very plausible), and get swung over to the negative. There is a war with perceptions that are deposited in these people’s minds by the devil. Those involved in dismantling them must be tough enough to “fight for us”…

When we’re in the trenches being fired at, I don’t want soldiers at my side wondering why their leader is being fired upon. People like this can eventually turn their guns on their leader. They imagine the enemy must have good reason for shooting at him and so begin firing at him also… I want to know my guys will be loyal to me when the attacks are unjustified, and when they are justified.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 317-318.

“I don’t expect to live my life without making a few mistakes. I want them to help me get through whatever the mistake is, so we can get to the end of this calling together. The church for too long has shot its wounded. We’ve got to heal fallen soldiers. Hopefully I have learned that if I give mercy, my people will return it when I need it. I’ve seen pastors who are hard and merciless on their people. When they make mistakes (which everyone does), mercy simply isn’t there. It has never been modeled. It’s not a part of their culture.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 318.

“All the ministries in our churches, from Youth Leaders through to Music Directors and Associate Pastors are best “home-grown”. Abraham trained those who were born “in his own house,” to be an extremely effective band of soldiers (Gen 14:14)… Those people God gives us are rarely trained when they come. This is so that we can place our particular anointing and culture into their lives. They come unready, so that we can go to work at making them ready.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 319.

“People can become anything under the right conditions.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 319.

“Peter Wagner notes that men who have not had formal training but have been developed in “apprenticeship” situations lead all the fastest growing and largest churches of South America. They have been in harness with another man of God; doing the business, not just learning about it.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 320.

“Abraham’s method is far preferable to getting someone from elsewhere. If people do come from outside, give them time to be “baptised” into the church, so they “own” the vision like everybody else. To become true sons and daughters of the church they need to drink the milk (accept the teaching), imbibe the spirit (accept the attitude of the church), and accept the name (be proud of belonging to your congregation).” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 320.

Another PDF Reader is taken from a book called ‘Understanding Influence for Leaders at all Levels’. Look at the contents of the book4:

  • Preface
  • 1. Power and influence
    Nick Forster
  • 2. Persuasion and influence
    Caroline Hatcher
  • 3. Charisma and influence
    Des Guilfoyle
  • 4. The power of positive spin
    Tom Murrell
  • 5. The power of networking
    Robyn Henderson
  • 6. The power of knowledge
    Alastair Rylatt
  • 7. Influencing behaviour in organisations
    Liza Spence and John Eales
  • 8. Influencing fundamental change
    Dr Phil Harker

One has to ask the following questions. Who in the Bible Colleges read this book and included it as a core reading for the students ‘Leadership Course’? Secondly, have they any discernment on what influence these teachings may have on Christian ministers who leave C3’s Bible College? The chapter given to students to read was Persuasion and influence by Caroline Hatcher. Some sub-chapters are ‘What Is Persuasion’, ‘Persuasion and Soft Control’, ‘The Power of Identification’, ‘Audience, Audience, Audience’ and ‘Winning Words’.

This pdf resource is teaching Christian students how to pdf persuasive and manipulative. Here are some excerpts (emphasis mine):

“… managers can increase their persuasive impact if their staff experience a heightened engagement within the interaction.” (pg. 44)

“The concept of rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, is based on the notion that language can act as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation because people, by their nature, respond to symbols.” (pg. 44)

A rather significant quote in this PDF is this one:

“An important part of persuasion occurs when managers and employees ‘imagine’ or envision together.” (pg. 44)

I would like to suggest that this pdf is actually a photocopy of the actual book that can actually be found in the C3 Library. I say this because in browsing C3’s libraries in the past, the books Pringle references in his own books can be found there. Consider this above statement in relation to what he said in his pdf ‘You The Leader’:

“Abraham’s method is far preferable to getting someone from elsewhere. If people do come from outside, give them time to be “baptised” into the church, so they “own” the vision like everybody else. To become true sons and daughters of the church they need to drink the milk (accept the teaching), imbibe the spirit (accept the attitude of the church), and accept the name (be proud of belonging to your congregation).” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, pg 320.

It almost seems plausible that Phil Pringle has learnt the manipulative teachings of persuasion, put it into practice and justified this deceptive tactic by mangling scriptures to suit his purposes. Even if this speculation is wrong, the tactics taught are practically identical, one just disguised more with Christian jargon.

Caroline Hatcher continues:

“… we can also be persuaded more indirectly, when meaning is channeled through heuristic cues. These heuristic cues are the rules that guide how we make sense of the world. All of us carry rules around in our heads that we have learned from childhood and that we develop through our experience…  In other words, although the specifics of the message are important, many of the meta-messages-the messages about how to understand a message-are critical also and are part of the persuasive process. (pg. 44-45)

It is highly concerning that Phil Pringle and the C3 Colleges think it is ethical to train upcoming ministers to use such manipulative tactics within the church environment. This goes directly against scripture and the Spirit of God (emphasis mine):

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.” – Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:17

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” – Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 2:1-4

For some say, “His [Paul’s] letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 10:10

I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:6

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” – Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:1

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” – Apostle Paul, 1 Philipians 3:17

Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” – Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:16-20

The PDF later says (emphasis mine):

“You will need to consider whether your audience will oppose or agree with your ideas. You also need to consider their values and attitudes. The recent movie What women want with Mel Gibson explored just this idea. Gibson played a male chauvinist advertising agency star. He developed the ability to read women’s minds following an accident.  This new-found talent allowed Gibson to come up with advertisements that women loved. Why? He started with what women wanted rather than starting from his own perspective.

This facility of reaching into the mind of your audience might not be so simple outside life in the movies, but it does demonstrate that the real test of an effective message is not what the originator of the idea holds dear. Rather, understanding how the audience is thinking about an issue is critical, and respecting their perspective on things that will affect them will pay dividends.” (pg. 51)

However, it should be the desire and goal for upcoming Christians ministers to be persuasive only through the faithful preaching of God’s Word and in Godly conduct:

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.”  – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:12

The C3 College student ended their conversation with us with this:

“If any is curious what I did for my assessment with the above PDF’s, I treated the essay as a spoof. I wrote it like a parody and received a good mark. The lecturer even inquired if I had taken my concept from another persons work and didn’t acknowledge them.

Please feel free to pass this article on to others if they are considering studying at a C3 Bible/Leadership or Creative Arts College. Please make comments quoting the readings in case they point out some major concerns with C3’s educational values.”

In closing, we would like to challenge anyone reading this article to consider why C3’s Colleges gave this type of material to their B.A. students.5

Don’t you think C3 has a lot to gain if they developed students who were fed this type of material?


1. Information on Dr Howe can be found here: http://www.richardghowe.com/. (Accessed 05/01/2011)
2. In case the article is taken down, read the pdf here: Some Concerns about John C. Maxwell.
3. The quotes from the students readings came from an earlier edition of Phil Pringle’s book ‘You The Leader’.
4. Link: http://www.8mmedia.com/Influence%20page.htm (Accessed 05/01/2012)
5. C3 Colleges no longer have the B.A of Theology courses due to Sydney College of Divinity investigating issues within their B.A. program.