Thursday, 5 July 2012

An analysis into the wealth of City Harvest Church : My response

This is my take on the post found on;
Thank you for writing such an amazing post on your take on the whole City Harvest Church saga. I respect your views but I would not take yours as a business case as its biased and you merely conveniently connecting the dots backwards.
So I would like to correct certain misconceptions and assumptions you made. I may not not address everything but I will try the best I can with what I what I know.
To begin let me first say that I am a member of City Harvest Church. If you feel I’m biased just take it as a view from the other side of the coin. As a believer my views will be based on my total reliance on my faith, hope you understand.
1. Clever packaging of Sunday services.
I totally agree with you! I love the CHC does it services. Being from a Christian family and coming from an Orthodox Church background I always felt Sunday services boring and unrelatable. Everyday weekend certain sounded like story telling than learning anything from it. When I first joined CHC I was shocked! I couldn’t believe that being a Christian was an in-thing and you could learn life lessons that could be applied in our daily lives! I was drawn by Pastor Kong’s sermon on being a problem solver and making an impact in this world.
As Christians you believe in a God who is omniscient, all knowing and all powerful, the church always encouraged the congregation to think and do big think as far as your imagination can take. This indeed will increase followers as no one has ever taught these things in a church before. This may increase retention but if it was just a fad how long can the church keep bluffing people with these? It has brought a positive impact in their lives hence they continue to join services and continue giving because to run a church with all the stuffs that you’ve mentioned is not free. People continued supporting it because they love it and want the church to continue.
You make it sound easy retaining and having a huge following but then why is there still only a few who can do this and why do many of them fail?
2. Extra revenue in the form of advertisements, sales of CDs
Church does maximize it revenue with advertising and selling related contents. If the church has a bookstore built with it definitely I would go and buy as I was to read more or wish to share it with family and friends. 
If Universal Studios has a souvenir shop after every ride, why can’t the church do the same? If the secular can do it why can’t religion?
3. Efficient collection of tithes
We do give our tithe out our free will, its not paying. No one is forced to pay. So since i said free will it is indeed a monthly giving that is given by each member of the church. It is given in cash and via electronic payment. Online payments encourage our overseas members to continue giving as they believe in our church and its activities. 
But…not GIRO! Church doesn’t have a GIRO system and I do not know where you get your facts from. Instead of watching services online you my wanna come down and see it yourself.
4. 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold returns on your church donations
Pastor indeed preaches on the 100-fold blessings. Its biblical and thats what church does, teach the Bible. Of course there are other churches who slam it as each and every church has it own focus. 
I have been with the church for over a number of years and I have seen the blessing and that’s why I continue to give. If the scripture did not hold any water and people didn’t feel any of this were true then shouldn’t the people already stop giving? I mean it common sense right? 
Like any religion “The 10 Laws Of The Harvest” promises each and every believer a blessing in return which is biblical. Isn’t every Christian promised heaven in his/her after life? Is that being greedy and self centered? 
5. Quality of customers
How many organizations claim because they were asked to give 10% of their earnings they had a huge membership?
If the church has attracted an ambitious bunch then why is there so much focus on fasting and prayer? I don’t see you even mention about that in here. Its convenient to take a slice of a weekend service out of context instead of seeing what were the focus of each and every week.
You won’t get 33,000 blind people to follow that unless these people had an encounter. Like any organization if the claim didn’t hold water would you continue giving? 
Yes CHC members are ambitious and always looking to be somebody in the marketplace. There is nothing wrong with that. 
6. Kill off competition
How would one know what is a good or a bad ground? Its in its fruits.
Similarly the sermon tells each and every believer that since you all have experienced the goodness of God in this church this is indeed the good ground to give. The church does give to the poor and needy around the world. It does practice what it preaches. You can check on CHC website to see the reports.
Is it killing off competition? I don’t know. If the church impresses a believer he/she will sure follow. It pure free will.
7. Providing a place where the rich can network
Church is indeed about fellowship and networking. But is every weekend about networking and name card exchanges? No.
I do have friends in the business and insurance. If i find my friend reliable with whatever they do, definitely I would recommend and use their services. 
As a member I am flattered when you say its a network of the rich and powerful. 
8. Preach what people like to hear.
Clearly Matthew 19:23-24 speaks of putting your money above God. We preach on that and that’s exactly the reason why we have no qualms over giving money to the church. As members its no big deal, we put God’s work above wealth.
But from your post you claim that we are blinded and brainwashed to give away money. 
You wrote;
In the video “Rich God? Poor God?”, the Pastor preaches that it is absolutely ok to be rich. Some prophets of God were very rich. (Abraham, David, Solomon)
There is nothing more musical to a money-minded person than to hear that God is on your side in your pursuit of money. The church-members who are more money-minded will love this and donate even more.
Pastor stated that the men of God were wealthy people and that is what the Bible says. He’s not making stuff up and as Christians we ought to be self sufficient and wealthy so that you can continue to give for good causes. Good causes according to the believers will. 
9. God pays for the returns, not the church.
Here we go again. Blabbering the same ol’ thing.
The church doesn’t owe anyone any money. If you want returns from the same organization you give money to, engage a broker.
Donations are all out of free will, simple as that. The principle applies to any charity, people work and donate, the charity takes and continues working. 
10. Social pressure to conform in church settings and ease of influence
Free wIll again, whether you are turned off by people or no people its up to you. We still receive donation via our online portal and those people are disconnected as they can be. But we still continue giving as we believe in what the church is doing. 
11. Tremendous future earning power
I was in debt when I first came to church but few years later I am now living a debt free life. The church actively teaches the congregation on “How to get out of debt”, “Building Financial Excellence” and so on. I was always blessed by that and applied Biblical Principles which you call “Prosperity Gospel” and it worked!
I love this!
In the Pastor’s words, “You may be poor today, but you will not be poor all your life”. 
I totally abide by what he says ‘coz its true! Poverty is a mindset if you can overcome this, you can overcome your debt.
12. Stable earnings in times of depression
Besides being a growth stock, CHC can also be viewed as a defensive and safe stock. People pray hardest when they fall in hard times. Strangely, some people have an urge to tithe when they are in financial troubles.
We should continue tithing no matter what financial condition you are in because the Bible says so. Its a curse to hold on it. I have personally held on to it to pay our my loans and it has never done any good. 
People who have tasted the blessings on giving will never go back again. May be you should give it shot! Give 10% of what you earn to any charity you like, I can guarantee you will feel the difference.
Psalms 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
13. Using Prosperity as a theme to appeal to customers
Here we go again! Prosperity gospel is only preached during offering. This year our theme is “Relationship and Discipleship” and last year our theme was “Love”. I don’t see you speak about those programs we did. All you claim you see is Money, Money and Money.
Money is integral for all charities. If you cant bring in the money, your work to spread the Gospel in an effective manner will stop. You cant help the poor and the needy. You cant bring in Guest Speakers, you cant run simulcast to people all over the world!
We don’t love money, we love God. Money is the enabler unless we are all living in Willy Wonka’s world. Reality is you still need to pay the bills.
14. Tax benefits as church is registered as a charity
Tax breaks helps uses that extra to do more. This is same for all charities, its not a CHC exception.
Pastor indeed is runs a business, you should may be consider investing since you already has confessed you love for his business acumen.
Here my challenge for you.
Join City Harvest Church for a year and in the end if it has not changed your life for the good. Please come back and write again.

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