Planetshakers Insider

Musings on Life, the Christian Journey and being a part of Planetshakers City Church

Posts Tagged ‘church leadership

Open Letter to ACC National Executive

with 28 comments

An articulate letter was forwarded to me today via email (planetshakersinsider [at] gmail dot com)

It was described as an open letter to the ACC National Executive [AOG Australia’s top leadership], and was attributed to young pentecostal worship leader Ben Manusama (of Manifest Youth) – If someone can find the original source, I’d appreciate it – I couldn’t find it myself.

It clearly articulates some key points that have also been raised about Planetshakers leadership on this blog, as well as the wider pentecostal leadership in Australia and worldwide elsewhere in the light of Mike Guglielmucci’s fall, as well as the fall of Todd Bentley.

To the members of the National Executive,

I’m writing to you in response to the events of the last week regarding the confession of Mike Guglielmucci. I write as a young person directly impacted by his actions and wish to present for discussion a number of issues it has raised within the community of young people in the ACC.

To begin with, my church was quite removed from Mike’s ministry – I had only met him for the first time when he spoke at our youth meeting a few weeks ago. I say this with the hope that you can see the objectivity of my observations as I had no emotional attachment to the man or his ministry.

As I’m sure you’re aware, everyone’s talking, everyone’s speculating, everyone’s processing and trying to come to terms with what has happened and what the consequences are.

I don’t presume to speak on behalf of anyone other than myself but after posting a respectful blog containing some of my initial observations, I’ve had quite an overwhelming response of people who have read it. Some enthusiastically agreeing, some confused, some still undecided. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you there are many profoundly affected young people and they’re not all directly connected to him or his ministry (as you might assume).

I have grown up in the Pentecostal movement with parents whose itinerant ministry saw me and my family visiting churches all over the nation. I’ve been able to observe the changes of culture within our own movement and our observations have always been grounded in our family’s core values and passion for the Body of Christ.

This now is my assessment of these recent events.

What Mike has done is catastrophic not only in the geographical reach of the scandal but also because it has struck at the foundation of much of the methodology of our movement.

The questions being asked are not only about how a man ‘falls from grace’ but people are asking what this says about ministry, the Holy Spirit, human character and the capacity for a regenerated man to commit such wickedness.

The actions and official statements made thus far by the ACC and the Guglielmucci family seem to be dealing with some of these issues although that will need to be an ongoing process (certainly in a church-by-church fashion).

My concern is that the conversation will only go so far – that the issues surrounding ‘the man’ (which must certainly be addressed) will be resolved but that there will be no engagement with the broader problem.

Is it too simplistic to view this as just another case of a man ‘falling from grace’? I think to leave it at that is not only simplistic but negligent.

A person like Mike Guglielmucci is not born but created.

I say this not to negate Mike’s responsibility or guilt for his actions but to draw our attention to how the culture of the contemporary Pentecostal church has allowed and accommodated for somebody like Mike to thrive.

WHAT IS THIS CULTURE?

One of the strengths of Pentecostalism has always been its ability to become culturally relevant to all peoples – and particularly young people. This is seen in our ever evolving forms of communication, media, music and the content and delivery of our message. These things are important when they are the natural side effect of being creative human beings in a changing world, however when they become the mechanism by which we build the church there are dangerous consequences.

What began as a move to bring the church out of the dark ages and into the realm of popular culture has had devastating side effects: Praise and worship has become a music industry (complete with it’s very own rock stars), preaching has become motivational speaking (with little expectation to know or engage with the text) and ministry has become a desirable and lucrative career choice.

Against this background, the value system of church seems to have changed.

I came across an article by an American minister named Dutch Sheets. I am unfamiliar with his ministry but his response to the events surrounding Todd Bentley seem all too appropriate to our situation.

The following is a quote from him:

“We, the leaders of the charismatic church, have built on hype, sensation, innovation, programs, personality and charisma. This has produced: shallowness; false movements; novice leaders— gifted but immature and untested; a deficient understanding of God’s word; the building of man-centered rather than kingdom- centered churches and ministries; competition rather than cooperation; humanistic, self-centered Christians who don’t understand sacrifice and commitment; Christians without discernment; superstar leaders; a perverted and powerless gospel; prayerless and anemic Christians; a replacement of the fear of the Lord with the fear of man; and a young generation that is cynical of it all.”

As a young person in our movement I honestly believe that this almost summarizes the state of our predicament.

I look around and see so many insecure church leaders who are too eager to jump on trends and exploit new talent and ideas as a way to keep up with the Joneses/Houstons.

It is within this environment that a talented, charismatic, gifted, articulate, charming, yet-untested, son of a well respected preacher managed to not only slip through the process of accountability but then exploited the system to get to the top.

Our movement that seems to have become so obsessed with a man’s talent, gifting and ability to draw a crowd was the perfect environment for such a man to exploit. No matter what Mike’s motivations, regardless of the driving force behind his actions (whether he was psychologically sound or not), he has demonstrated that there is a ladder to be climbed and it can be done apparently with no help from the Holy Spirit.

Worse still, not only did he make a complete mockery of Pentecostal rhetoric but he was ultimately endorsed by the leaders of our denomination – which is you guys.

Even at the end there were churches (including my own) who were unsure about his ministry but finally accepted based on the endorsement from the national executive.

QUESTIONS.

In closing there are some burning questions and challenges I would like to put forward.

1) For a denomination that is supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit instantly one asks where was the discernment of our leaders? Is it too much to expect that our spiritual fathers and shepherds will be led by the Spirit to protect their flock? Granted everyone’s saying that he hid this from his own wife and family but surely God would try to forewarn and thus prevent such a catastrophic deception that has ruined so many lives.

2) What system of accountability allows such a man to get so far? Amidst the excitement over his ministry and his ability to draw a crowd – was there anybody in his life to challenge his behaviour? And if so, if someone actually knew even in part about his struggles, why were measures not taken to limit his reach of influence until those struggles were resolved? Surely some of the reports coming out about his methods as youth pastor at Planetshakers City Church should have raised a red flag. Was everyone too quick to celebrate his role in growing the church, and too hesitant to question or check a rising star?

3) Who takes responsibility? In the official statements released so far – no one has taken ownership. Words like ‘illness’ and ‘professional help’ deflect attention from the real underlying cultural problems and the role played by leadership in allowing this to happen. What’s to prevent another Mike Guglielmucci from happening?
It just seems like it would be too easy for somebody else to come through and exploit it all over again.

I don’t think it’s enough for our leaders to say they don’t condone what has been done – this whilst separating themselves from ‘the man’ does not acknowledge their role in the greater problem. Nor is it enough for them to say they had no idea what was going on – that they didn’t know. It was your job to know (surely even just on a practical level regardless of your theology).

Just as a father is responsible for what happens to his kids, aren’t you in some way responsible for what happens to our generation?

The statement from Dutch Sheets in regard to the Lakeland scandal is, I feel, an inspiring example of leadership being transparent and taking responsibility (www.dutchsheets.org).

My concern is that the next few weeks will be about damage control and no discussion or admission of the greater underlying issues.

We don’t expect for you guys to be perfect but we expect honesty and openness. Perhaps if our leaders were willing to be transparent about their weaknesses, we would be less inclined to hide ours.

4) What are you going to do to change it?

__________
There’s a multitude of young people looking to you now. We’re hurt, confused, bleeding and angry.

You’ve spoken to us at meetings, conferences, youth alive retreats and through DVDs. Speak now.

You’re always so quick to let us know you’re leading us.

So lead.

I agree wholeheartedly with Ben Manusama’s sentiments.

While I’ve said previously that I believe Manifest had their heart in the right place, I would encourage Ben Manusama and others at Manifest to also reflect on their actions placing Mike Guglielmucci on stage when they did. Perhaps they were complicit of some of the same failings?

However, I also believe that the questions Ben Manusama asks are apt, and deserve to be answered – by the AOG National Executive, Planetshakers, Hillsong and even Manifest:

1) What happened to the discernment of leaders?
2) How did the lie slip through any accountability, and get so far?
3) Who will stand up and take responsibility?
4) What will happen to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

All reasonable and fair-minded questions.

Characteristics of Leaders: Do Planetshakers Leaders Shape Up?

with 19 comments

“The Doctor” posts on the characteristics of a good Church leader…

In terms of character requirements, I want to post some key commnents from the objective source of truth – God’s Word rather than subjective opinion. Let’s consider what is stated in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 …..

Elders are to be
– blameless (they have to have a good reputation within and without the church – impeachable, above reproach)
– the husband of one wife (exhibits demonstrable faithfulness in all aspects of his life)
– temperate, self-controlled (not given to excessive behaviour, fits of rage or moodiness but moderate in life)
– sober-minded (treats his responsibility to God and men seriously – not flipant)
– just (they live right)
– holy (pure in their life before God and man – careful of what they watch and read)
– demonstrate good behavior not unruly
– hospitable (share what they have, not clicky but welcoming to all especially those in God’s house)
– able to teach (given to the study and understanding of the Word of God)
– knowing and adhering to sound doctrine (disciplined to understand the teachings of the church)
– an exhorter and encourager
– not given to wine (not excessive in their lifestyle)
– not violent or quick tempered (not a wife beater or an unruly member)
– not greedy for money, and not covetous (content with few possessions)
– not self-willed (puts the kingdom of God first, teachable not a know it all)
– a lover of what is good
– gentle, not quarrelsome (able to instruct others lovingly, not a dictator – flow or go!)
– rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (someone with a track record of keeping a disciplined house – not this does not imply severe or austere)
– have a good testimony of those outside the church (not just shining before those who can promote buit consistent in their life and lifestyle).

As you can see these characteristics are a challenge to most who profess to know Christ. We should not appoint just to fill positions because they are vacant or because of a need – it needs to be Gods appointment that will be evident to those who know the individual.

Many evangelical churches will go through the above characteristics with an individual before they appoint. They also ask the congregation to put forward objections if they are concerned about inconsistencies in a candidates behaviour. God gives gifts to the church – but elders are to be scritinised before appointment and for consistency after appointment.

Remember that the Apostle Paul commened the Bereans because they searched the scripture to make sure what he taught them was true. Paul delighted in this type of behaviour. It is frightening to think that we could have modern church leaders who encourage a swallow and follow unity amonst the church – this sort of behaviour has no basis in scripture.

What are your thoughts?

Written by Planetshakers Insider

September 15, 2008 at 8:04 pm

18,000 Flock to Planetshakers Insider in 4 Days

with 2 comments

What an incredible 4 days!

It seems like your frank and open comments here have struck a chord with people worldwide.

Since creating this blog, 18,000 people have visited – around 6,000 more people than you would find at a single Planetshakers’ conference, and I would suspect more people than have visited Planetshakers City Church this year.

That’s over 4,500 visitors per day!

I’ve also been contacted by many people in the past 24 hours – from a Planetshakers team member (we’ll see what comes of this) and a major radio station who wanted to interview me to provide an alternative and balanced insight regarding the Mike Guglielmucci scandal (I suggested they contact the Planetshakers Media Officer first).

And several blogs and web-sites have linked to the articles published on this site.

It’s even more important now that the information here continues to be balanced, fair and discussive – rather than dropping to a level where it may become negative, gossip-filled or derogatory.

Hopefully we can make some positive change, and turn an already great church – Planetshakers City Church – into an incredible church.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 27, 2008 at 12:03 am

Is it Kowtowing? Is it Submitting to Authority? Is it Necessary? Is it Good?

with 3 comments

“Amanda” has responded to JC with a very interesting comment that I thought warranted a closer look:

From JC:

“If any of you really cares deeply for the church and not just opinion givers, serve the church and if God promotes you to the leadership team because you cares so much for the church then your opinion will be heard more effectively. because now youve earned your right to speak into the life of the church(not that regular members doesnt have the right, but a person involved in ministry will have more of an impact because your concern for the church is proven in your service for church)”

I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone who hasn’t kowtowed to leadership who has been promoted to the team (or who would necessarily want to).

I know of a Church where the pastor says he doesn’t take too seriously criticism from most of the members, but he has a board of elders to whom he’s accountable- he takes their criticism very seriously.

What do you all think of that model?

What DO you think of that model?

Is it kowtowing? Is it submitting to authority?

Do you have to be a “Yes” man in order to move into a position of leadership in the church?

Is the best way to influence the church to influence the board?

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 26, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Is Planetshakers Leadership Responsible for Mike Guglielmucci?

with 20 comments

I read a fantastic comment that I wanted to share with you…

No “What if”……. Mike was certainly not untouchable…. As the Shakers and the Hills have run a mile from this boy! All have claimed that he left their congregation “ages” ago. It really is quite sad. No guilt by “dis-association” is there? See…. the loyalty is there ONLY when it suits. I thank God there are churches that rebuild those in the “u2″ church that do fall. How else is restoration put into place?

Not by severing the relationship! Yes… stand him down…. take away his platform… maybe for life…. but don’t stone him to death. I say again…. these leaders raised him up…. so where is there accountability in this? Where was all this all knowing insight?

The most wonderful thing….. his Dad is standing by his side and holding him accountable. And isn’t that what our Heavenly Father does for all of us?

If I ever saw a real world example of this, it has been on the weekend. I applaud his fathers courage and integrity. Sadly… any one can be duped by sin. Isn’t Satan referred to as the great deceiver? And his family are only human.

Again…. pray for Mike. I believe that he is broken before God and wants repentance and not from being caught out by others. You are right… there is no difference in struggles between all of us.

Sadly… the difference always is …..in regards to leaders … is the height of the fall…..

The most obvious part of Planetshakers’ service on Sunday was Planetshakers City Church’s Senior Pastor, Russell Evans, struggling to work out how to respond amongst his own feelings of hurt and disappointment.

The second most obvious part was Pastor Russell Evans repeating multiple times:

“None of us knew about this”

Planetshakers raised Mike Guglielmucci up.

Through his music alongside the Planetshakers Band, and through his ministry at Planetshakers and Planetshakers Conferences, Mike Guglielmucci achieved his status.

Mike Guglielmucci was under Planetshakers’ covering throughout most of his “miraculous” (now questionable or false) healings, and in the beginning months of his fraud.

So does Planetshakers bare any responsibility for his actions?

Is Planetshakers accountable for the actions of the leaders they raise up?

I thought Planetshakers responded reasonably well on Sunday – but I disappointed about what seemed like an “It’s not my fault”, “I didn’t know”, “He left here long ago” attitude.

No Russell – you DIDN’T know. And you DIDN’T perpetrate the lie… I don’t think anyone accuses you of this…

But you SHOULD have known.

He was accountable to you. You raised him up as a leader. You held him up as a mighty man of God. And his cancer deception started in YOUR CHURCH.

Surely Planetshakers needs to take some responsibility instead of dodging blame, and hiding Mike Guglielmucci’s association with the church.

This is a time when we need brave and strong leaders.

It’s not good enough to forgive, heal and move forward. We need to equip ourselves so this doesn’t happen again.