Planetshakers Insider

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

Posts Tagged ‘michael guglielmucci

Planetshakers Blog Hiatus…

with 56 comments

Firstly, thank-you to Mice, Amanda, assembliesofwhat, Grace, theoriginalmattyc, Jason Van Haaster, Grant and all of the others (there are so many of you!) who had positive and thoughtful input on and off this blog.

Your comments were the reason I kept the blog running, and I eagerly looked forward to hearing what you had to say.

Obviously I haven’t been blogging much lately.

The bible talks about guarding your heart…

At my heart, I’m an optimist. I see the positive potential for change. But there were always a handful of bad apples in the bunch – at Planetshakers itself, and visiting this blog.

For these people, change is looked at with skepticism.

Their “Christian” beliefs are so shaky that questioning is met with an almost hostility – almost to a point where they would say “God made it this way, so shut up and deal with it or go find somewhere else.”

The negativity gets to me…

I put church aside for a while…

And I put this blog aside for a while.

I haven’t attended Planetshakers, or any church, in months. And to be honest, the last few months have been some of the best months of my life.

I haven’t worried – worried faith, God, heaven, hell, purpose, direction, sin, worship, life, whatever – I have more confidence – I have purpose – I’m more fulfilled – I’m more successful at work (even being sent overseas to a $8,200 conference) – I have a better relationship with my girlfriend, my immediate family – and so much more.

I’m far away from God – but never felt closer to his promises of peace, wisdom and purpose.

Christians often talk about “filling a hole with Jesus” – that the hole is Jesus-shaped. For me, it was like I was trying to cram Jesus in there.

After years of a desperate search, perhaps he doesn’t want to be found. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places. Nobody has been able to tell me yet. I think most haven’t found them, or have fooled themselves that they have him found when what they have found is something inside themselves.

I may continue to search for the true and real God again.

I may continue to blog again.

I don’t know.

But in the mean-time, I wish you peace, happiness, success and fulfilment – however it arrives.

~P.S.I.

Open Letter to ACC National Executive

with 29 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.”

Mike Guglielmucci in Psychiatric Hospital, Police “No Basis for Charges”, Secret Accounts Audited but Not Released

with 7 comments

I missed this article that was published 3 days ago…

For the sake of telling the whole story, here’s what’s been reported in The Adelaide Advertiser:

SOUTH Australian police are unlikely to lay criminal charges against “porn pastor” Michael Guglielmucci over the fake cancer donation controversy.

The police say while they have taken a “very proactive approach to it”, no one had made a formal complaint.

The Advertiser understands that Mr Guglielmucci is in hospital receiving psychiatric care after confessing to faking a battle with terminal cancer to hide his 16-year obsession with pornography.

But police say the former pentecostal preacher, who performed his hit song Healer with an oxygen tube in his nose, may not face further investigations. Detective Superintendent Jim Jeffery said police were finalising their investigations.

“Unless further information comes to light or people that may have been affected by Mr Guglielmucci action’s come forward, no further police investigations are likely,” he said.

At the centre of the inquiry was a website, established by a friend of Mr Guglielmucci, asking for donations to the Praying Together for Mike Guglielmucci cancer cause.

“We have tracked that but as far as monetary amounts are concerned, we can’t comment on that,” Det-Supt Jeffery said.

Despite two people complaining to The Advertiser about feeling duped after donating money to cause, police said the majority of people who gave money were interstate.

No one has yet made any formal complaint to police interstate.

Mr Guglielmucci’s father, Danny, the founder of Edge Church at Reynella, yesterday confirmed four people had received refunds after writing to a post office box the church established.

“They were small amounts,” a spokesman said yesterday.

The church has also assisted police with auditing the accounts of Michael Guglielmucci, but despite repeated requests The Advertiser has been unable to view records for those accounts.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

September 15, 2008 at 4:27 am

Planetshakers, and Why We Should Shake-Off Bad Beliefs

with 40 comments

I had someone who didn’t leave their name, but is apparently a Planetshakers member, ask a question recently:

…do you truly believe that this blog contributes any value to the church? If so how?

By asking questions; by being public and open; by engaging people, and getting people to think deeper; by questioning beliefs so that beliefs that are wrong or mistaken can be shed, and beliefs that are correct and stand up to questioning can be strengthened.

All protestant churches (non-Roman-Catholic churches – including Pentecostal churches like Planetshakers) came out of the Reformation – and began with Martin Luther.

The catalyst for the reformation was Martin Luther’s “Ninety-Five Theses” – which he nailed to the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Saxony (modern-day Germany).

These were 95 points for debate that criticized the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope.

The “Theses” included points criticizing practice of selling “indulgences” – the Roman Catholic Church at the time was making people PAY MONEY in order to be forgiven of their sins, and be sanctified in order to gain God’s favor and get into heaven.

You know it’s wrong, I know it’s wrong – but the average person at that time knew no better.

At the time, the Bible was written in Greek – (Martin Luther himself was responsible for the first translation into the “common man’s language”, which put the bible in everyone’s reach). So the church was able to get away with practically anything

Martin Luther, because he understood and was able to interpret the bible, and wasn’t willing to accept a bastardized version of God’s message – a version that benefited the Church financially, but was wrong biblically – so he spoke up.

His work began the reformation – and the reformation saw the Bible being translated into common languages worldwide (including the King James Version in England – which we still use today), it saw some of the greatest Christian philosophers in history (including Calvin and Luther himself), eventually led to most non-Roman-Catholic church movements (Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Revivalist, etc), and saw the church come much closer to the ideals described in the Bible.

This was one of the most influential turning points in world history, let alone Christendom.

And it came because someone spoke up when they saw something was wrong.

People accused Martin Luther of bringing about “disunity” and “dissent” – they made him an outlaw, banned his work, and called him a heretic – someone who was “of the devil”.

And in many ways he did create disunity and dissent – but he also spoke the truth.. And as a result, he did God’s work.

You see, God doesn’t call us to blind unity, for the sake of unity in the body of Christ.

Take Jesus’ example – when he came across the money-changers and herders in the temple, he angrily made a whip of cords, drove out the animals, violently turned over the tables strewing the money all over the ground…

“Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus acted when he saw wrong.

Martin Luther did the same.

I’m far from anything that Jesus is, and I’m no Martin Luther either – I’m just a human, and I sin as much as the next one.

But I see things that are wrong – and I speak out too.

Just like every Christian should.

Certainly I don’t act as violently as Jesus acted, and certainly not as loudly or as controversially as Martin Luther – but I speak out and act nonetheless.

Is it wrong that I should speak?

Just as one example – In the Bible, Paul writes (in 1 Cor. 14:27-28):

27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

So is it wrong if I were to question whether or not we are justified in God when Senior Pastor Sam Evans speaks in tongues at the end of worship at Planetshakers (with no interpretation), and encourages others to join in?

Is it wrong that I question Planetshakers for claiming they had nothing to do with Mike Guglielmucci for the past 18 months, and distancing themselves from him, when it was clear that his cancer lie started while he was at Planetshakers 22 months prior?

Is it wrong that I look around and see hurting people and people with weak faith, and question what pastoral care these people receive when their small-group leaders aren’t skilled enough to help, don’t recognize the problem, or are too busy to do anything?

Is it wrong to wonder why people cheer loudly when a preacher is “on a roll” in his sermon, or when a superstar preacher’s name is flashed on the giant screens – and wonder whether people’s focus is on Jesus or the Church? And similarly, wonder whether the church is focussed more on growth, or building deep relationships between churchgoers and Jesus?

Planetshakers is a good church – but Planetshakers is not the way, the truth and the life – Jesus is.

So when the church falls short (like we all do) – who questions?

Or are we so blindly following Planetshakers that we forget to follow Jesus?

The most frustrating part is how blindly people will follow – without questioning anything at all.

In fact, some people are willing to go to any extreme – just so long as you don’t disagree, have a different opinion, or question a belief.

  • I can live with people hating me;
  • I can live with people calling me every name they can think of (which is part of the reason why I’m now moderating slanderous posts so heavily);
  • I can live with people signing my email address up to spam email services (it’s started happening lately – I got the opt-in messages to prove it);
  • I can live with people trying to hack into my email account to stop this blog (it’s happened 8 times so far – I’ve got the password reset messages to prove it);
  • I can live with people trying to silence this blog by trying to gain access into the admin panel (it’s happened 5 times so far – again, got the password reset messages…);

But why would a Christian do any of this, instead of just speaking the truth?

I assume that these people are Christians if they are offended by what I might say – but whoever they are, why would they choose to act out of hatred or malice, and want to be slanderous and hurtful and attack me rather than simply disproving me – if I am so obviously wrong in what I might write.

But the surprising (and at times frustrating) part for me is how little some christians seem to want to do anything – just so long as they don’t have to think for themselves.

Even when something is so opposed, so contradictory to what is in the Bible – when the shepherd might be leading them astray – they seem to simply follow.

For unity, perhaps.

  • Perhaps I’m dealing with deep-ingrained and evil spiritual forces that are much greater than me and this blog.
  • Perhaps I’m just encountering Christian zealots who believe what I’m doing is wrong – but don’t have the biblical knowledge to potentially see where I might be right, or if I’m wrong to disprove me.
  • Perhaps they believe that if I’m wrong and evil, acting against me in any way is justified – even if the action they take might be sinful itself.
  • Perhaps their faith is weak, and rather than building their faith on the rock (Jesus) they have built it in Planetshakers – so anything that questions Planetshakers also questions (and shakes) their faith.
  • Perhaps I’m missing something.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what good this blog will do – but surely any sense of accountability, debate, and questioning beliefs in order to find the truth is a good thing, because it means we’re vigilant – and if we’re vigilant (as the Bible says) we avoid being led astray, and we avoid trouble from our enemies.

Surely our faith is strong enough for us to ask questions.

Surely our faith is strong enough that we’re willing to be vigilant, rather than blindly follow a church because… well, just because.

As I said at the start of this post…

Asking questions; being public and open; engaging people, getting people to think deeper; questioning beliefs so that beliefs that are wrong or mistaken can be shed, and beliefs that are correct and stand up to questioning can be strengthened – surely this is good, and not bad.

When is someone ready for leadership?

with 33 comments

“The Doctor” posts an interesting series of ponderings:

A few things I have been pondering on …

Firstly, 1 Timothy contains instruction that would encourage elders (pastors) to be appointed who are not young men – promote not a novice. From what I have read although Timothy is referred to as a yound man, he was probably in his late twenties or early thirties … How old was Michael when he was appointed and annointed for minsitry?
Whilst there may be a case for the appoinment of some young men such as Timothy the clear injunction for the church (and Senior Pastors who seem to have two votes on most eldership boards) is not to appoint too early, take time to observe character – not charisma! And of course the family name seems to open doors that are often closed to other “lesser lights”.

Secondly, it seems to me that bad teaching plays a part in leading to this type of behaviour. After all having to acknowledge sin as a habitual problem in your life is considered amongst those who have it “all together” as a sign of weakness. The magic formula works for us (your peers in ministry), it should work for you. If it doesn’t then the problem is yours – you are not doing it right, not trying hard enough, or let’s maximise the guilt and shame by saying, you just don’t have enough faith brother! After all what place does weakness have in this type modern derivative of Christianity influenced heavily with a KINGDOM NOW Theology. That is, ALL of heaven is mine to enjoy NOW, in this life, right NOW – healing NOW, sinless perfection NOW, financial prosperity NOW, success in all I do NOW.

Thirdly, we as Christians are called to forgive and distribute mercy as freely as we have received it. We are all sinners and can bring the name of Christ into disrepute through our actions. The tragedy in Michaels case is the tremendously damaging effects of such a public fall from grace – it magnifies the reproach to the name of Christ because of the media and internet.

In closing, this is a timely reminder of the days in which we live where in the last days men will fall away because of iniquity. Therefore we should exhort each other to live a life that honours Christ and His holy Name, rather than the modern approach which exalts charismatic men and makes idols of them. Rather than the greatest shall be your servant we now have the servant shall become your master.

Honour and Serve Your King, and keep your “lesser light” shining !!!!

The question “The Doctor” raises about the right age for ministry is interesting. There’s no shortage of young leaders within Planetshakers – Russell Evans, Mike Guglielmucci and many more Planetshakers began working in ministry at reletively young ages.

Yet again, read this post at face value.

I have more questions than answers.

It’s just a shame that the culture of Planetshakers discourages discussion of these sorts of questions…

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 29, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Planetshakers: Pastoral Care, The Power of Confession

with 7 comments

“Pillars are Just Crutches” is a former YWAM missionary, current Bible College student who (like many Christian Bloggers) has been watching the Michael Guglielmucci saga.

He blogs on The power of pornography and the power of confession:

There is nothing that will destroy a man more quietly than shame.

There is nothing that a man will avoid more than shame.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the source of Mike Guglielmucci’s fall. It’s an all too common threat, especially since the internet, that has deceived many young Christians. What is the deception? Just one look.

What young men and women don’t understand is that once is never enough, and the enemy of our souls knows and understands this. And in a Christian culture where there is a lot of shame attached to sexual sin, and especially pornography, that shame is more of a stumbling block to healing than the actual sin itself.

There is something particularly powerful that a lot of Christian do not do. Maybe because they think it’s Catholic, maybe because they think that it’s between them and God, maybe because they’re ashamed to do it so they use the other 2 excuses. Christians do not confess things to each other.

I’m not talking about confessing to anyone. It should be someone you completely trust and someone who is godly and mature. It may be a good friend or a pastor, or an elder in your church, ask someone. Nothing will kill shame faster like confessing it to a godly person, asking God for forgiveness and then praying together.

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:1)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)

Can we really blame Mike Guglielmucci for not confessing his addiction to pornography sooner?

Had he confessed – what would have happened to him?

I expect he would have had a lot of fear… That he would lose everything he’d worked so hard for – everything that God had entrusted to him – his own good reputation included.

After all, as Dutch Sheets referred to, in pentecostal churches, “looking on the inside” is rare – so what would have happened if Mike Guglielmucci had have showed his sin?

We, the leaders of the charismatic community, have operated in an extremely low level of discernment. Frankly, we often don’t even try to discern. We assume a person’s credibility based on gifts, charisma, the size of their ministry or church, whether they can prophesy or work a miracle, etc. (Miracles and signs are intended to validate God and His message, not the messenger; sometimes they validate the assignment of an individual, but never the person’s character, lifestyle or spiritual maturity.)

We know how ruthless and unforgiving Christians can be to one another…

But would it have mattered?

Would Mike Guglielmucci’s confession to a smaller sin, even in September 2006 (just prior to the cancer story/myth/deception, but still while he was under Planetshakers’ authority) – would this have ended it all before it got “out of hand”?

My point remains – Planetshakers needs true pastoring, where we might receive a soft shoulder, insightful word, caring teacher, probing question or a firm rebuke…

Delegating authority to one man (Urban Life Group Coordinator, Ben Fewster), who in turn delegates authority to dozens of small group leaders who aren’t trained or skilled in pastoral care – what hope is there for the broken, the misguided, the hurt or those lacking in faith.

Planetshakers – please shepherd your flock!

I’m going to finish on a comment from “Julia”:

It´s sad that Planetshakers reaction is: Mike didn’t work here anymore, we didn’t know about it, etc etc. In other words: “DON’T BLAME US”. It seems like that’s all they care about.

Mike was involved with them for a long time, during his addiction. In those 16 years of his addiction, he didn’t feel safe enough to find ONE person to tell the truth to.

In my opinion, everyone who was involved in Mike’s life, ESPECIALLY church leaders (but also his family & friends-but I’m sure they already do that), should examine right now if they contributed to an environment where Mike was put on a pedestal, where there was no accountability and where there was no safe place for him to admit his addiction.
Planetshakers was a big part of his life, and they shouldn’t be thinking about their reputation, they should very very seriously analyse if they worried enough about their pastoral care and how this could have happened.

That’s the saddest part for me, that he felt like he had to carry this burden alone for 16 years, that just speaks volumes to me.

Planetshakers, Mega-Churches: Small Problems Get Amplified into Big Ones?

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I received an interesting comment from someone named “Heimi” today. I don’t agree with everything that Heimi says, but I think Heimi raises some interesting points that deserve consideration:

Hi,

A ‘big thanks!’ for hosting this blog and giving a platform for Christians and non-Christians to critique the mega-church phenomenon called Planetshakers.

Doubtless some comments will fall into the ‘gossip’ and ‘criticizing’ form. The reality is gossip and criticism already exists whether we like it or not. And yes, perpetrated by Christians and Planetshaker members themselves. It happens when churches get too big and doesn’t have time to listen.

The point is it is not always gossip and criticism. In fact, the majority of genuine believers hold fast to the ideal of not gossiping and criticizing. Many (wrongly) stifle hurt and pain in order to keep this commandment. And consequently, this has led to a situation where we play dumb, stay mute, close a blind eye when we should have spoken out about things that are unacceptable, ungodly and plain old wrong but done in the name of Jesus. (see Todd Bentley fiasco)

With megachurches, there is the amplified dimension of human pride. The bigger we get, the more humble we should be. Theoretically. But in the last few years, we’re noticing this ‘anomaly’: certain celebrity pastors getting less and less humble and more and more off-base. The way they carry themselves, the way they live, their outlook on materialism, the way they handle disagreement and dissenting opinion, they way they promote leadership, they way they relate to the ordinary believer on a day to day basis – it doesn’t tally with the Bible.

Within the Pentecostal churches, it is not uncommon to hear tales of pastors saying ’sorry mate, you don’t like the way we do things here, go somewhere else…’ or ‘.. too bad.’ Tragically, such anecdotes aren’t coming from non-believers, the immature in the Lord, or troublemakers just out for a stir-up. They are coming from Christians who have served faithfully, with a proven record of keeping God’s commandments, and are part of a long-term commitment to the fellowship.

We all suspected in mega-churches it’d be more and more difficult for people to go to a senior pastor to talk things out. We just didn’t realize how bad it’d be.

This scenario is now common:

The Senior Pastor is too busy being top cat. His corporate duties, his evangelistic ministry to countries on the other side of the globe, his speaking engagements, his book signings, his concert tours, his obligations to secular politics.

He thinks he can solve the problem by appointing assistants and home group leaders. So he appoints dozens of them.

Problem solved? No way! What happens is in fact the man has now placed himself in a glass bubble. He is surrounded by a massive structure, echelon-upon-echelon of secondary leaders, associates and assistant pastors (quite often aggressive young bucks who mistake ‘aggressiveness’ for ‘passion’).

These secondary leaders, being human, are incapable and untrained to communicate accurately just exactly what a lamb is saying to its shepherd. It is the proverbial pass-the-message-down-the-chain-gang parlour game. Then some assistant leader will have his own agenda, or, out of good intentions, decides it’s better not to convey the message at all. Hence, we have censorship of communication.

A few years down the road, what is essentially a small problem becomes a ridiculously big one. People are hurt, people leave. Or some lamb self-implodes. And kills half a dozen sheep standing nearby. And the Senior Pastor sits in his little study and wonders why. All along, he’s thinking he’s doing a fantastic job: the sheep are well fed, feeding on the right grain, ready to reproduce healthy and robust kids in springtime. Can it be true, he thinks, is half the flock dying, some are being chased by wolves, some are eating grain but purging everything out because it doesn’t agree with their stomach, can it be?

Micheal Guglielmucci isn’t a phenomenon. He is indeed the making of a megachurch who isn’t listening as well as it should be.

I think blogs such as this one are crucial to keep megachurches listening to some frank talk because for a long time, there has been no other way.

This believer supports blogs!

Interesting food for thought.

Mike Guglielmucci – Hillsong’s Brian Houston Comments

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Amanda Guglielmucci’s Strength in Official Interview

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The Adelaide Advertiser today released an interview with Amanda Guglielmucci.

For the sake of completeness in this story, and because of the tens of thousands of people who are coming here to find out about this sad state of affairs, I’m posting it here.

Speaking exclusively to The Advertiser, Amanda Guglielmucci, 29, defended her husband, who faked a two-year battle with cancer.

She insisted he was a good man, trapped by lies which had spiralled out of control.

“I know he’s not an evil man, there’s not evil in his heart,” she said.

Mrs Guglielmucci, who is staying in their Sydney home while Michael is with his family in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, said she would try to salvage her marriage.

“I know that I love him, I know that much,” she said.

“We’re just not going to rush anything, we’re gonna walk through the process, however slowly it needs to happen, in order for the healing and restoration to be complete and then we’ll go from there.”

She has turned to a counsellor to help cope with her husband’s massive deception, which has shocked not only his family’s church, Edge Church International, but the world-wide Christian movement.

“I’m actually seeking professional counselling myself. I need to be able to unravel a lot of emotion that’s bombarding me at the moment, I owe it to myself to work through that properly, and to him,” she said.

“I had questions after the shock of it all, but my initial thoughts after hearing that were a sense of sorrow for the church and that a lot of people were going to be hurt because of it.”

Just 15 days ago, the world-renowned pastor and songwriter sat his wife of seven years down at their Sydney home and told her the awful truth.

“I was the first one he told, he confessed everything to me,” Mrs Guglielmucci said.

“He just went through it – where it had started, everything in his life as a young kid, the patterns. He was crying, sobbing actually, absolutely sobbing, he just said `I don’t have cancer’.

“He was terrified, I still remember the look on his face . . . it was a very hard moment for him, as it was for me hearing it.”

Despite his elaborate deception and his admission of an addiction to adult pornography, Mrs Guglielmucci said it was feelings of sympathy and shock rather than anger that overwhelmed her.

“I could just see a really broken, unwell man. At that point I found it really quite hard to get angry,” she said.

“Seeing your husband of seven years absolutely sobbing in front of you, risking everything coming forward and telling the truth – in that instance it was really hard to be angry or mad.”

Mrs Guglielmucci said she understood people struggled to believe she could not have known her husband was faking his illness. However, she maintained his real symptoms – vomiting, hair loss and apparent pain – never gave her reason to suspect otherwise.

“I never questioned it, when you love someone you trust them. I had no reason not to trust him,” she said.

“Perhaps I feel a little bit foolish in this, hindsight’s a fabulous thing . . . but I’m trying not to beat myself up.”

Mrs Guglielmucci even quit work to look after her ailing husband. “In the middle of the night he was in so much pain I would put towels in the microwave to try and give him some relief in his back,” she said.

However, she never attended doctors’ appointments with him, a move she now regrets.

“Before I stopped working to care for him, I was busy, he’d have doctor’s appointments when I couldn’t be there and he would say `it’s fine you don’t need to be there’,” she said.

“Or I would just drop him off at the hospital.”

While his initial confession to his wife did include his addiction to porn, Mrs Guglielmucci said she had not even begun to process that element of his deception.

“We’re only talking two weeks (since admitting his lies), there’s a lot of stuff to deal with,” she said.

“That sort of side of things hasn’t really hit me yet, there’s many levels and layers to everything. I can almost talk about it like I’m removed from it. That’s where the professional help will help me work through that – it hasn’t hit me yet.”

Mrs Guglielmucci said her faith in God had remained unmoved throughout the ordeal.

“At times like this, it’s just a stronger resolve,” she said.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – pray for them all – all of the Guglielmucci family. Hold them in your prayers.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm

30,000 UK Soul Survivors Sing Mike Guglielmucci Healer

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It seems that the shock and disappointment surrounding the news of Mike Guglielmucci’s announcement has stretched far beyond Planetshakers, far beyond Australia, and made it to the other side of the globe – to the UK where it hit the headlines, and 30,000 “Soul Survivor” conference attendees hard.

From Gush:

Hey guys.

Thought I’d drop by and give you an idea of how this is affecting things over in the UK. Unfortunately over the past month or So Mike’s story has really hit the headlines, primarily through the Soul Survivor youth event where over 30,000 young Christians have been praying for Mike’s healing from cancer, watching the videos of his recording, and singing the song “Healer”. I fear that there is going to be some really tough fall-out from this.

When we returned from Soul Survivor last week, we played Mike’s “Healer” story and video to our youth congregation in our church in the UK. Last Sunday, one of our young female worship leaders from our youth church sang “Healer” to our main congregation of around 500 and told them all about Mike’s battle with cancer. She’s an amazing young woman with great gifting and a profound heart for God, and it’s for her, and those like her that i fear.

I agree that everyone makes mistakes, and I agree that none are sinless, but with great power comes great responsibility, and leaders are called to increased purity, integrity and relationship with God. The biggest difference in this instance is that Mike’s deception was not only public, but was publicised! He was not living secret lies or even hiding his other life, but was publicly promoting his lies and making more and more material about his battle! Releasing statements and videos to spread the lies all over the world.

I am genuinely concerned for the man. And my heart weeps for those close to him who have been let down so badly. But I am so glad that this has ended now. The trouble is that many of us, even on the other side of the world, with no fanfare, public rallies or celebrity endorsement are going to be left picking up the pieces and mentoring so many young Christians who feel that the man they trusted and who had inspired them so much in their faith was essentially a fraud.

God forgive me if I judge too harshly, and heal the wounds of all concerned. Me included.

This was the heartbreaking bit for me:

The trouble is that many of us… are going to be left picking up the pieces and mentoring so many young Christians who feel that the man they trusted and who had inspired them so much in their faith was essentially a fraud.

Are you like me? Does your heart go out to all of those young people, and the pastors who will care for them?

Mike Guglielmucci on Today Tonight

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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”

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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

18,000 Flock to Planetshakers Insider in 4 Days

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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

Soundcheck on Mike Guglielmucci

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Joanne Brokaw from Gospel Soundcheck has recently written with thoughts that echo those here about Michael Guglielmucci:

… Michael Guglielmucci has said that the guilt and shame he suffered over his addiction manifested itself in physical symptoms. He has offered to return any monies that people have donated to him to cover his medical “treatments” and is currently receiving psychiatric care.

The question is: How on earth did people not know that the man wasn’t really sick? Didn’t someone go to the doctor’s with him once in a while? Take him a chemo treatment? Have to pay a doctor’s copay or refill a prescription?

And how can a man with a 16 year addiction to porn hide it for that long? Were there really no hints?

And the even bigger question: are we bowing at the altar of the megachurch, rather than the foot of the cross, because it’s “culturally relevant?”

I’m all for being culturally relevant and meeting people where they are, but I’m not really a fan of the church-as-commerical-empire movement. I think people end up worshipping the church instead of God.

Did Michael Guglielmucci get lost in the megachurch-worship band-rock star mentality?

Obviously, we need to pray for him as well as for his family.

And I’d love to know what you think!

Let me repeat one of the final comments, and leave it at that: Obviously, we need to pray for him as well as for his family.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 26, 2008 at 11:30 pm