Planetshakers Insider

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

Posts Tagged ‘hillsong

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.

Mike Guglielmucci Questions Answered

with 12 comments

“Moses” posted some questions about Mike Guglielmucci – some had been answered previously…

According to MikeG confession, he has been addicted to porn since the age of 12. How did he get access to it? Who introduced MikeG to it? Family members? School friends? Church Friends?

School friends – at their houses, after school apparently – according to Danny Guglielmucci (Mike’s father)

AOG prides itself being an Apostolic and Prophetic fellowship, How did MikeG’s Father Danny, Russell Evans, Brian Houston and AOG State and National Executive miss this? Are they really being led by the Spirit? God will not hide anything from His servants the prophets.

I have the same question…

Alun Davies (head of AOG in Australia) said to the media:

“We don’t know why or how this could happen… we are victims like anyone else”

Russell Evans said repeatedly:

“None of us knew – not even his [wife/family]” and distanced Ps Mike’s actions from Planetshakers, saying that he left Planetshakers 18 months ago (still, the cancer lie began 22 months ago… hrmm).

Where’s the accountability?

Usually these men move in prophetic utterance, What did go wrong?

What happened to the gift of discernment?

I don’t know – but I believe they need to be answerable/accountable to this too.

How come Amanda or Danny didn’t go with MikeG to the doctors with MikeG? If I was this sick my wife will not leave my side. Very strange relationship. May be to busy serving the people not God.

Apparently he was very private about his treatment.

One man who claimed to be the father of two men who were friends of Ps Mike Guglielmucci, and who had taken him to doctors, claimed that Ps Mike had gone into doctors surgeries, waited in the waiting room (with his friends outside) before coming back to the car.

According to Ps Danny Guglielmucci, nobody questioned Mike Guglielmucci’s diagnosis because he manifested physical symptoms.

Bible says Train up your child in the ways of the Lord, so that he or she will not depart from it when they are old. I personally believe somehow MikeG did not receive this training at home when he was young. His parents might have been too busy ministering to others not God and they fail to discern his problem.

Similarly, what happened in the 16 years after the porn addiction began?

Was there a pastoral care structure in place for Mike? Was he held accountable to a trusted mentor or elder? What accountability was he under as a leader? Did anybody ask him about his sins or addictions? How was he lifted up to leadership without this kind of accountability?

Understandably, there was so much shame around the pornography addiction that he felt he couldn’t confess – are we, as Christians, so caught up in how bad sexual sins are that we fail to provide people who suffer from these sins with a “safe place to run to”?

Surely the questions have to be asked: “Why wasn’t Mike Guglielmucci able to confess at any time during his 16 year addiction? Why was it easier for him to fake cancer and suffer alone than receive the support of others in the church? What should the church be doing differently / better to ensure that others don’t face similar problems in the future?”

When you minister to God not man God will reveal to His children any evil that is going to happen to them. Psalm 91. I am a Pastor I know what I am talking about.

We need to keep our house in order before we reach out other people.

Ministry is not empire building, it is kingdom (of God) building. It is ministry unto the Lord.

God Bless

To save you looking it up, Psalm 91 reads:

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Scutinize All Things; Hold Fast What Is Good

with 4 comments

Thought this post was interesting and insightful:

This is a bit of a sidebar but it feeds into some of the other comments.

We certainly need to minister the “grace and truth” of Christ to those who have fallen but it is also biblical and helpful to ask if there are things within the church culture that are contributing to the problems we are experiencing.

Part of the problem is the “marketing and packaging” – image first, celebrity status, lack of open inquiry, no accountiblity (other than their chosen circle of friends), leadership and teaching in some of these churches, which have substituted orginizational growth over Jesus’ command to make disciples..

I don’t know the specifics of this church or the situation but we had better take heed to the warning of Christ — “Let no man deceive you”. Deception is rampant in our culture and is strongly influincing much of the church.

In reading a recent newsletter from a well known and respected Pastor in Minnesota who was addressing “avoiding division” in the church I was alarmed to see his postion. He said we “absolutely cannot let the enemy” enter our thinking by causing us to question the credibility of the ministry (ministers) God has chosen to connect you with.

This is a real problem we face. It also violates the teaching of Scripture.

1 Thes 5:21, Test (scrutinize) all things; hold fast what is good.

Strong’s #1381 – Dokimazo: test, prove, approve, discern, examine.
1. to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals
2. to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

Scrutinize: To examine carefully for accuracy with the intent of verification, so that an informed decision can be made concerning the proper course of action.

This is not a suggestion, it is a command.

This same word is used in Rom 12:2, Phil 1:9-*10, 1 John 4:1.

“Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural” (or has a Christian label slapped on it).

“Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. ‘Try the spirits’ is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious (false) as by rejecting the genuine (truth). And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. And the more as we see the day approaching.” ( A.W. Tozer)

The enemies attack is two-fold: get you to believe a lie or reject the truth.

Make sure your church is “rightly dividing the Word of truth” and be alarmed if there is not an environment that welcomes and encourages open inquiry.

Peace!

Written by Planetshakers Insider

September 7, 2008 at 2:58 am

Mike Guglielmucci on Today Tonight

with 7 comments

I haven’t watched it yet myself, but found this YouTube video of Today Tonight’s interview with Mike Guglielmucci:

Edit – Fresh Links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SI7pIiMOL2w

http://hillsong.bigblog.com.au/video.do?type=detail&id=215532

Leave your thoughts below.

Edit: Just had a look at the video myself.

Having worked closely beside camera crews and media journalists before, I just wanted to comment on the way things are cut in the story – because there are some camera tricks used by Today Tonight in filming this one that skew the story slightly…

Obviously, the editing may have left “more to the story” – focussing only on the juicy bits… It’s just the nature of tabloid news media to do this.

But notice how they’ve framed the “big bad guy” nice and close to capture only his head, while zooming out for everyone else. The “close up” shot is a camera trick used to draw attention to emotions, or to make someone look more sinister.

Because the shot is taken from slightly below, Mike Guglielmucci looks bigger, more confronting and more sinister than the hairless Mike Guglielmucci that you see on the Planetshakers Conference clip that is shown.

Also, you’ll notice that there are 3 camera angles taken of the interview.

– The first is a shot of Michael Guglielmucci from the front (the close-up I mentioned before, where his head takes up the whole shot);
– The second is an extreme close-up side shot of Mike Guglielmucci talking (showing just his mouth);
– The third is a shot of the interviewer.

There were not three cameras – these would have all been taken with the one camera, at different times (which changes the story slightly).

They would have spoken to Mike Guglielmucci as they were setting up or packing up, and filmed the extreme close-up of his mouth from the side for the second shot.

They aimed the camera at him dead-on for the interview.

Then, at the end, turned the camera around and recorded the interviewer nodding (called “noddies” in the industry), and asking the questions back to Mike to make it look like the interviewer was actually there 😉

You’ll notice that there was one very pointed and very confronting question that was asked by the interviewer. This is why the tone of the question doesn’t seem to match Mike Guglielmucci’s response – this may not have been the actual question asked of Mike Guglielmucci, but it was likely not the tone that the Today Tonight interviewer asked the question in.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 27, 2008 at 2:25 am

Mike Guglielmucci’s Hillsong Performance of “Healer”

with 8 comments

I came across a video of Michael Guglielmucci’s performance of “Healer” at the Hillsong Conference, and wanted to share it with you.

It’s still a powerful song, and Mike’s still an incredible musician. I just wanted to share with you the music, and let you see it for yourself.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 27, 2008 at 12:49 am

Hillsong, Planetshakers; Running, Hiding from the Mike Guglielmucci Fallout?

with 18 comments

But it seems that Planetshakers isn’t the only church hiding from criticism in the wake of the Mike Guglielmucci scandal.

Hillsong and ACC (Assemblies of God in Australia) have been doing the same.

From my original post:

…Planetshakers has removed references to Michael Guglielmucci, crediting his role on these albums, from their web-site.

For example, the online blurb for Planetshakers 2004 album “Always and Forever” previously read:

Produced by lead songwriter Henry Seeley, with songwriting credits and lead vocals to Mike Guglielmucci and Sam Evans, Always and Forever is an album not to be missed.

Now, the blurb on the Planetshakers discography page reads:

Produced by lead songwriter Henry Seeley, with songwriting credits and lead vocals to Sam Evans, Always and Forever is an album not to be missed.

And the blurb for the 2007 album “Never Stop” previously read:

“Featuring Henry Seeley, Mike Guglielmucci and Sam Evans, this studio album is signature Planetshakers praise and worship for a new generation. Includes CD and bonus DVD of Planetshakers live worship and inspiring messages.”

Now:

“Featuring Henry Seeley and Sam Evans, this studio album is signature Planetshakers praise and worship for a new generation. Includes CD and bonus DVD of Planetshakers live worship and inspiring messages.”

(All references to Planetshakers live album “Savior of the World” have also been removed entirely from the Planetshakers Discography page.)

These are conspicuous absenses given Mike Guglielmucci wrote 11 out of 13 of the songs on “Never Stop”, and 7 out of the 10 songs on “Always and Forever”…

Hillsong’s response was to file copyright “take-down” claims on all YouTube videos that contained Mike Guglielmucci and his song “Healer” – I believe that the copyright on some of these videos were under Planetshakers’ (or at least Word Publishing’s) control.

Some of these videos had over 300,000 views.

Is copyright the issue? Is the means of removing these videos the same as the motive for removing them?

Apparently not – Hillsong United, Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong band all still have videos available on YouTube – videos which would obviously violate copyright if Hillsong was concerned about copyright itself.

And ACC?

Speaking to a webmaster of one prominent Christian web-site, I found ACC (Assemblies of God in Australia / Australian Christian Churches) responded by contacting web-sites that ranked prominently in Google for Michael Guglielmucci’s name and have them modify their web-sites to minimize negative publicity.

I wonder to myself… Is this just? Is this fair? Is this honourable?

Is it hiding from an issue, covering up, and “protecting the brand”?

Or is it something more honourable than it might seem on the surface?