Planetshakers Insider

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

Posts Tagged ‘planetshakers city church

Planetshakers’ Beautiful Woman Woman?

with 60 comments

I don’t know what more to say about this…

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.

Planetshakers Beautiful Woman Video Removed

with 19 comments

After it was embedded in a recent post here, Planetshakers has disabled embedding for the Planetshakers Beautiful Woman 2009 trailer video.

This means I can no longer show this video on my blog – and ONLY this video is disabled (no other Planetshakers videos were disabled) – and it was ONLY after the video was shown here.

An alternative link to the video can be found here.

Planetshakers Beautiful Woman 2009 Conference

with 32 comments

I’m still struggling to find my thoughts on this Planetshakers ad for the 2009 Beautiful Woman conference at Planetshakers City Church.

Initially, I found it bizarre and somewhat shocking… And now I’m just asking questions 😉

Where are the non-slim, non-blonde, non-white, “Beautiful Women”?

What is the message of the Planetshakers 2009 Beautiful Woman conference?

Is this worshipful to God, idolatry to [wo]man, or is there a message I’m missing?

Is it promoting the inward beauty that Matthew 5:5 talks about (the first line of the advert)? Or is it promoting outward beauty?

I’m told a prominent Planetshakers Pastor responded by saying “It was just marketing – [prominent women’s brand] do it – why shouldn’t the church?”

Should the church set itself apart from the world in marketing? Or does it need to market better in order to save souls?

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.”

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.

Enough is Enough

leave a comment »

I read on Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch blog recently:

Now is not the time to be soft on one another. It certainly is not the time to be soft on ourselves. The heavenly Father chastens those whom he loves (Hebrews 12:1-13). And we are called to encourage each other, warn each other, challenge each other, and seek the best for each other.

It reminded me about the spirit of gentleness that God rebukes us with – with one hand rebuking us, but the other comforting us.

And it also reminded me how we, as Christians, should be treating each other.

There has been a lot of negativity (read: abusiveness) in comments recently – comments that don’t contribute any valuable insights, but exist to belittle other people.

This blog isn’t a place for people to vent anger and hatred to one-another.

It’s a place for people to discuss issues of culture that affect our church in a thoughtful and reflective manner.

Previously, I’ve let all comments pass (assuming they weren’t spam), choosing not to censor any comment – I believed that everyone has something valuable to offer.

But now, I’m going to be ruthless in deleting comments that are just plain abusive.

If you don’t have anything valuable to contribute, if you want to call other commenters names, or if you just want to be abusive – this isn’t the place for you.

To the 90% of people who contribute their valuable information, discussion, debate and insights to this blog – keep up the great work.

I don’t agree with you all the time, but your thoughtful comments are more than welcome here 🙂

Written by Planetshakers Insider

September 9, 2008 at 5:02 am

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

Have You Seen This Man: Russell Evans, Planetshakers Senior Pastor

with 18 comments

Russell Evans, Senior Pastor, Planetshakers City Church, Melbourne The title of this post is tongue-in-cheek, but the question remains… Have you met Pastor Russell Evans?

I was asked today (via email) whether I had met Russell before.

It was a relatively pointed question – the person asked whether he was out amongst his flock, as a shepherd should be – whether he was serving his church.

It made me realize…

No, I hadn’t..

Neither have any of my friends at Planetshakers.

In fact, the only people who I’d met who have met Pastor Russell Evans are in senior leadership positions throughout the church.

I’ve never seen him in the foyer after sermons either… He just, sort-of… disappears…

I realize he’s wanting to build his church through “disciples”, just as Jesus did, but even Jesus walked among his flock.

Is my experience uncommon? Have you met Pastor Russell Evans?

I would be happy if I heard otherwise from hundreds of other Planetshakers members – but it was only that someone brought it up that I came to think how odd it was.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 28, 2008 at 1:44 pm

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

with 2 comments

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.

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.

Contact Planetshakers Insider

with one comment

Just a quick post.

I’m having trouble keeping up with all of the intelligent and well-thought out responses people are leaving on this blog.

Kudos to you all!

Well done for taking the high ground too. We haven’t had any troubles with malicious comments. Everyone has thought before posting, and there are practically zero derogatary remarks and unhelpful comments.

I have bad news though.

Unfortunately, the volume of comments means I can no longer reply to everyone individually.

Reaching Me Privately

I had some people comment that they would like to get in touch with me privately. If you would like to do this, you can email me at: planetshakersinsider [at] gmail.com

I can’t guarantee I will be able to reply to you personally, but I will make an effort wherever possible.

Contributing posts

I would also welcome you to use this email if you had a post that you wanted to contribute to this blog.

Obviously, you will need to be a “Planetshakers Insider” yourself (someone who attends or recently attended Planetshakers), or have something insightful and on-topic to say.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 25, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Planetshakers and Mike Guglielmucci – What Happens to the Music Now?

with 55 comments

Ethical question for you…

What would you do if you were Planetshakers?

What happens to the Planetshakers music that Mike Guglielmucci wrote, performed and produced?

Some of these are by-far my favorite Planetshakers were written by Mike Guglielmucci – “Healer”, “Pick it Up” and “Majesty” as well as other popular songs like “Evermore” – powerful songs with biblical messages.

  • Do you keep selling these CD’s and DVD’s, or do you take them off the shelves?
  • Do you offer refunds to people who purchased these albums for Guglielmucci’s song “Healer”?
  • Do you continue to credit Michael Guglielmucci for his pivotal role in writing, performing and producing much of the music? Or do you remove references to Michael Guglielmucci to disassociate from him?

I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers here.

However, I thought the response by Planetshakers has been interesting…

“Savior of the World”, the 2007 recording of Planetshakers conference (on DVD and CD) that includes Mike Guglielmucci’s now infamous performance of “Healer” as well as several other songs written by Michael Guglielmucci has been removed from sale from the Planetshakers store.

All other albums where Michael Guglielmucci contributed his songwriting talent (“Never Stop”, “Pick it Up”, “Arise”, and “Always and Forever” to name a few) are still on sale.

But here’s the interesting bit…

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”.

It makes me think…

  • Should Mike Guglielmucci lose the credit for his hard work?
  • Should ANY of Planetshakers’ stars be getting individual credit for their work?
  • Should Planetshakers learn to focus all credit on Jesus rather than individuals? – particularly given the flawed nature of humans, which has never been more evident at Planetshakers than in the Michael Guglielmucci cancer fraud
  • Should “Always and Forever” be removed from sale, as it was?
  • And, given that Michael Guglielmucci wrote the MOST of Planetshakers music over the past few years, should all albums that feature his songs be removed from sale?

Obviously this final point would significantly impact the church…

In a 2006, Melbourne newspaper The Age interviewed Planetshakers Senior Pastor, Russell Evans, for an article titled “The Idol Edge”. The article revealed:

“Russell Evans says 70,000 Planetshakers albums are sold in Australia each year, with 12 albums released so far.”

Although the albums Mike Guglielmucci was involved with are 2 years old or older (meaning they’re “matured” in their product life-cycle), surely taking these albums off shelves would damage the revenue Planetshakers gains from album sales.

But does keeping them on sale damage Planetshakers’ credibility?

And is Planetshakers right to try and avoid negative publicity, by attempting to hide credit for Michael Guglielmucci’s work on Planetshakers’ albums?

I’m not sure what, ethically, is the best outcome; however the current outcome seems a bit luke-warm… To keep selling most albums featuring Mike Guglielmucci’s work, but hide the fact that he worked on them. To me this seems like a “middle of the road” compromise on a touchy ethical subject.

What are your thoughts? – What was the right outcome?

Planetshakers Difficult Choice: How To Respond on Sunday?

with 18 comments

This Sunday will be a big day at Planetshakers City Church, which is meeting at Melbourne Town Hall.

Guest speaker, Ps Glen Berteau, has been invited to speak at Planetshakers City Church. So Planetshakers will need to be sensitive about giving their invited guest a chance to speak.

But this is poor timing for Planetshakers.

At a time when they need to deal with the fall-out caused by Michael Guglielmucci’s fraudulent cancer claims, effort, time and care needs to put into dealing with the anger, resentment, disappointment that has been caused by the revelation of Michael Guglielmucci’s lie.

Particularly as most Planetshakers members will have had a close emotional experience with Michael – through his music, through his influence as Youth Pastor, through his altar calls where many young Planetshakers made their first decisions for Christ, and through prayer for Michael Guglielmucci’s healing.

So how much time will Planetshakers leadership dedicate to pastorally caring for their flock in the wake of Mike Guglielmucci’s lie, and how much of the stage will go to a man who by most accounts is an outsider to the church’s daily activities, Glen Berteau, as a result of their commitment to their guest remains to be seen.

Surely any sermon on healing should come from Planetshakers leadership itself, rather than a man who, while being involved with the church, is not within Planetshakers leadership.

I read in the news:

“…A statement about the preacher, who is the son of the founder of the Edge Church at Reynella in Adelaide, will be read at churches on Sunday.”

This would be an appropriate response to churches that had known of Mike…

…but for his home church, this would be a disappointing and underwhelming response if Planetshakers ignored people’s hurt and coldly kept to a prepared written statement.

With team of three pastoral carers, serving a church that boasts membership in the mid single digit thousands, and small groups run by leaders whose core skills and training are not around pastoral care, pastoral care at the best of times is not Planetshakers strong suit.

Given current difficulties, it will be interesting to see how the shepherds tend to a flock of disappointed, angry and philosophical people who are all searching for answers in a time of difficult faith.

I’m sure they’ll do more than simply reading a statement; but will they choose to ask their guest to step down so that they can more personally and effectively deal with the hurt and anguish their flock is facing themselves?

Written by Planetshakers Insider

August 23, 2008 at 9:15 am