BRW Article – Rich Pentecostals!

Well if you havn’t seen the latest BRW magazine front cover and feature article – you should.
I was at Lakes CLC last week and it was being past around, so I did myself a favour and bought a copy today.
“God’s Millionairs – The rise of pentecostal churches and the entrepreneurs behind them”
A disturbing and penetrating look into the finances of Hillsong, Paradise, Riverview, Christian City Church and Christian Life Centre.
[these Senior Pastors] have hijaked the godly movement (says one Christian critic, and former general-secretary of AOG), which was simply a fellowship of churches. They have turned it into a hierarchical denomonation for selfish purposes and ends. It has become a fellowship of ministers, not churches,” he says.
Many of the pastors have become millionaires on the talk circuit and from the sale of books and DVD’s. The article states.

Mostly it’s stuff we all know in church circles. The figures are all there, a few more details about all Brians houses, stats about the income and asset bases of some of the churches etc.

Some good points about retention rates complete the article –
Much has been made about the rise in numbers of people attending the pentecostal churches, but less is known of the high drop off rate. According to the NCLS, 28% of pentecostal members arrive, disaffected from other churches. But 15% also switch out, returning to former allegiances or choosing new ones. And 17% drift out of the church altogether after their pentecostal experiences. So althought there has been undoubtable growth in the pentecostal church, it is not as great as many claim, and many are lost to Christianity altogether.

I remember attending one of the massive rallys at a Hillsong conference, maybe 20 000 people in attendance. Brian Huston came on stage under the lights and the gliding boom camera swinging across front of stage, Brians image projected across the big screens. All of a sudden a loud voice from right up the top in the back sceamed out, “What about the poor, what are you doing about the poor”
Brian, as smooth as silk, with a he voice as rough as 80 grit sand paper responded with a brilliant answer about just how many churches were being enouraged to return into their communities and make a difference, he turned the question masterfully to the 20 000 people and asked them – “Do you think the poor will be affected as a result of your ministry now that you’ve attended Hillsong Conference?” Obviously the crowd went wild with thunderous agreement with “Pastor Brian.”

You know what? Brian was right. And he still is. And I for one happen to think Hillsong Church, Oxford Falls, Riverview and so on do an amazing job at what they do. True, wow!

I have no doubt that there will be some poor people better off as a result of inspired and encouraged ministers and lay people who attend Hillsong conference.

I just wonder, how much more could be done if all the money spent on, in and at Hillsong Conferences each year (just the conferences, mens, womens, July etc, I’m not talking about weekly running of the church) was redirected into issues of poverty and justice.
In fact if the people who call themselves Christians in the USA just tithed their income there would be enough money to deal completely with the issue of poverty across the entire globe with 70 billion Dollars remaining to ‘build churches and save the lost’! Now there is a stat! (I will get the source if you want, maybe otherendup could tell us the source, it’s in the book you are reading)

Here’s a thought a friend had the other day –
That our ‘mega-style’ churches in the west ‘reverse’ their missions giving and general giving.
That the money normally spent at home on staffing, electricity and buildings, be spent directly on issues pertaining to mission away from anything that will directly benifit the home turf.
Now admittedly many churches have outreach budgets that fund highschool staff and local missions projects – beaut. But they are of particular self interest as these people hopefully end up in our churches.
But there’s a thought hey? And for some of these pastors in the article, maybe I will throw in a challenge that includes any personal revenue coming in from book sales, guest speaking etc. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not all anti taking money for preaching a sermon at some elses church, I do this! Just havin a think here, give me some slack!) Include that in general income and run everything off what is given away normally.
Some churches maybe happy to do so as they give so much more to missions than to run their own turf, others may struggle. – Have a think.

What is ‘missions’ anyway?
Maybe Luke 4 is missions? Good news for the poor, Sight for the Blind, Freedom, forgiving debt (year of the Lords favour/jubilee) etc?
Or maybe
Go into all the world and make disciples and teach them to obey me?
or ??
Serious what is our ‘mission’ and what do we do about it? I have been thinking a lot about what exactly is “The Gospel” and if you tell me it’s just about Jesus dieing and raising from the dead for our sins etc then how did Jesus preach this Good News of the Gospel prior to it all happening??

What a load of waffle tonight has been, thanks for putting up with my …stuff.


23 thoughts on “BRW Article – Rich Pentecostals!

  1. is that why youth vision internships are so small? To make sure we don’t get all rich and greedy? 😉

    Your right though, we need to be asking these questions. And it is very easy to descend into mega church bashing because of their apparent wealth, but we have no idea whats going on behind the scenes with each person…its the whole log v. speck thing in my case anyway….

  2. Vawz – source for that quote on tithing and the evangelical church in America comes from a book by Ronald J. Sider called “the Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience – why are christians living just like the rest of the world?”

    this following section is from Chapter 1 – “The Depth of the Scandal” under the sub-section heading of “Materialism and the Poor”…

    note: these stats are provided from over 30 years of constant research by John & Sylvia Ronsvalle, recognised as presenting the most accurate annual report (“the state of Christian Giving”) for learning how much Christians in the richest nation in human history actually give.

    “In 2002, barna discovered that only 6% of born-again adults tithed – 50% decline from 2000 when 12% did…

    “One can see a related problem in another area. Examine the public agenda of prominent evangelical political movments and coalitions. Virtually never does justice for the poor appear as an area of significant concern and effort…

    “American Christians live in the richest nation on earth and enjoy an average household income of $42,409. The World bank reports that 1.2 billion of the world’s poorest live on just one dollar a day. At least 1 billion people have never heard the Gospel. The Ronsvalles point out if American Christians just tithed, they would have another $143 billion available (over and above what they presently give – average of 4.27%) to empower the poor and spread the Gospel. Studies by the United Nations suggest that just an additional $70-80 billion a year would be enough to provide access to essential services like basic health care and education for all the poor of the earth. If they did no more than tithe, American Christians would have the private dollars to foot this entire bill and still have $60-70 billion more to do evangelism around the world…

    “As evangelicals we claim to embrace the Bible as our final authority. One of the most common themes in the Spriptures is that God and his faithful people have special concern for the poor. WHy this blatant contradiction between belief and faith?”

    i am currently awaiting the arrival of Sider’s latest revised edition of his book “Rich Christians in a Hungry World” 2005 revised. koorong has about 100 copies coming in around July. I’ve got one ear marked for me.

    some of the questions the above research leaves me pondering are these… “how many evangelical christians are not tithing because they see most of their money propping up a system that spends their money simply on more creature comforts – new carpet, comfier air-conditioning, more video projectors, nicer blinds etc etc?”

    i spoke to someone today that said they have had 5 different individual converstaions in the past couple of weeks with christians that are choosing to re-direct their tithing into aid agencies for this very reason.

    second question… “if we only get a small amount of tithe in from these committed congregants for the above proposed reason, would that be affected if our churches chose to re-direct these funds to addressing the global issues of poverty and need?”

    and that brings me back to the question Mr Vawser has asked us to ponder…

    “could or would (and if “no”, why not?) our larger churches choose to restrict their local running costs to the amount they pledge for missions, and inversley, choose to spend their regular local annual budget on the poor?”

    i wonder if this one will drum up the sort of response the posting on “conversations and friendships” did hey scotty?

  3. for anyone really thinking about this issue at the moment, i ask you to stop, just for a moment and use your imagination.

    firstly let your awareness move from yourself to your christian BROTHERS and SISTERS who are sharing this same small planet with us today.
    imagine their joys, their laughter, their sorrow. let your awareness go just for a moment to YOUR CHRISTIAN SISTER who is looking at her starving child wondering if he is going to make the night.

    just take a moment to let you humanity surface.

    think about explaining your decision to buy a new car, new building, whatever TO HER. She is a christian and she reads the same bible as us. She calls me her sister. She reads 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is…if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of god be in him?”
    She reads the words of christ himself (matt 6:19) “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” she reads deuteronomy 11:2 “he defends the fatherless and the widow, he loves the alien giving them food and clothing”

    i wonder if she would be confused at our choices in spending money? i wonder if she would think we were even christians at all?

    now let your imagination go again. think the of ‘the church’ as being the global church (god’s kingdom). imagine if all the christians shared their wealth equally. i’ll say that again…imagine if all christians actually shared their wealth equally…just imagine.

    imagine if the global church actually embraced the model of church found in acts. sounds like good news to me, sounds like the gospel.

  4. Why do churches have a missions department and a missions budget anyway? Shouldn’t it all be the same, adn some got to local mission (which could be paying for buildings etc if they want), and some for the rest of the world.
    Good post Vawz. It’s easy to look at others and think they should make a difference, when I need to make decisions.

  5. vawz – thanks for your encouragement the other night to not just silently read your posts but to make a comment…. so here are my brief thoughts! I love the points that have been raised by all and believe we must continue to wrestle seriously with these issues… maybe more from the perspective of what this all means for me and my family rather than the “senior pastors” and their families. What about the rich people and the poor widow at the temple treasury – Mark 12:41-44? I’m not sure what to do with Jesus’ comments here (she gave all she had to live on!!) but obviously his focus was more on the attitude and cost of giving rather than dollar amounts. I also liked Charlie’s reference to 1 John 3v17 – how do we respond to a question like this? I have material possessions and if I choose to open my eyes I see brothers and sisters in need everywhere. Do I have pity on them? Do I love in actions and in truth? No answers tonight…just more questions. Thanks for your posts and for the honesty that is expressed in the questions you are asking.

  6. Nothing stirs up the emotions as much as money…the ole’ ‘living in the world but not of the world’ cliche we Christians have to live by…Showing the Love of God by doing something the world values, like giving our money, is an effective way of demonstrating this, but I don’t think just giving money to the poor is the answer anyway…Case in point, just take a look at our ‘social security’ system…Why are they still poor?
    I just think throwing money to the poor is such a condescending thing to do…we have resources in God’s Kingdom that are way better than just money.
    Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give our money to the poor (give food especially to the sister who needs urgent food for her starving child…) but that is such a short term, band-aid type of response. We should be working at building structures and strategies so that the poor are effectively poor no longer, not have them waiting, arm outstreched for the next hand out…
    This requires equipping and training for both us and them and that is where I think the money could go, hence the building up of the local church by providing an environment for this process to happen. But in all this there needs to be balance. We need to be accountable with our money, like paying bills and buying food for our family…but there is a surplus that is in the ‘grey area’, and that is why we are here discussing this topic in the first place…
    For people like myself who live in the margins, no surplus to worry about where the money should go, I wish I could help in anyway I can(I have a compassion child and tithe what I get, and have enough to pay for my holiday down south, but I’m still considered ‘rich’ by world standards) But for most of us, like those whose ingoing is way more than their necessary outgoings…listening to what God wants to do with the surplus is the best thing we could possibly do…if we all had the same attitude to giving, and then worked at effective strategies to help the poor not be poor any longer, the world would be a much better place. Oh well, there’s my two dollars on the issue…good post Vawz!

  7. interesting thought Craggles – if people get welfare in our fine country, why are they still poor? it might have something to do with the things like…

    a couple with 4 kids on welfare, receive less than the recognised poverty line in Oz. interestingly, the only time your welfare payments are not below the poverty line is when you are a single parent with kids and only then are you about $25pw above it.

    but you are right, poor in our society, in context of global standards is not “poor” – but they are “the least of our society”.

    Churches would do well, to take the challenge that Vawz has posted and encourage their congregations to funnel their tithes into making a difference in the lives of the least of our world, whether as you suggest – by training, equipping or simply giving them what they need.

    then maybe with the “surplus”, we can build and maintain our temples. although i’m not sure how many pastors want to worship in tin sheds?

    PS there is always the refugee (people who have arrived in our nation who are truly poor in every sense of the word) issue, where our government illegally locks up innocent people and restricts them from accessing the basic level of welfare in our country by taking YEARS to process them. don’t even get me started on the millions of dollars they are spending on our new “processing facilities”, they are building on Christmas Island.

  8. I was going to read the artical but then I got challenged. It’s actually the devel’s responsibility to “accuse the breathren” not mine so I thought I’d give it a miss. The last thing I want to do is dupe into helping him fulfil his job description.

    It is funny how we can be blinded by big buildings and the fact that some of these people are wealthy and totally miss the thousands of people who make decisions for Christ every year, the $300,000 offering taken up on one sunday morning to go to the Tsunami victims, the thousands of families who are looked after in Uganda, let alone their local efforts to reach people in their “Jerusalem”

    It seems that while some of us go on and on about how the money should be spent, Hillsong have just got on with doing what they feel called to do and do more then most of us could ever imagine. Here is a quote from Paul O’Rourke, CEO OF COMPASSION AUSTRALIA

    “By focusing on a specific region of a specific country, Hillsong is maximising its impact in changing lives which changes communities and ultimately nations. Hillsong is the single biggest church contributor to Compassion’s 500,000 sponsors. As usual, Hillsong is also breaking new ground, both in the number of children sponsored, but also in the depth of its commitment to a specific country. The partnership is being used as a model worldwide to show how Compassion can link western and field churches, to the benefit of both. I know that Hillsong pastors who went to Uganda experienced the blessing of the poor as they spent time with these precious Ugandans and witnessed their peace and joy that belies their physical circumstances.”

    As usual our influence on the matter is only as good as the reality of what is lived in our lives rather then the words we put on a page.

    I do have to agree with craggles in regards to the poor in Australia vs. the rest of the world. If we really believe in helping “the least of these” then we can’t put it in the convienance of “our” society. Since Adam our dominion and influence was the earth, not just the boundries of our fine country. A family in Perth can still go to a number of places and get a free feed, including my house.

    Ironically, lunch break is over…

  9. bergs, if BRW did an article on pentecostalism and how brilliant it was, don’t you think we would be waiving the article in the air from the pulpit on a sunday, “thanking God for his blessing and favour in the world”? we know we would, because we’ve all done it and seen others do it oo.

    why then would we only use the positive comments to highlight? is there no merit in criticism? especially when the people writing and reading BRW are many of the people our churches target as future pew warmers?

  10. If it was a balanced article then it might be worth a read but I got a pretty good summary from people and personally felt not to read it because the only people that should read it for critiscm sake is the people it directly talks about, rather I think people (mostly christians) will use it as ammunition to attack/accuse/etc people I love and want to protect. There’s enough accusation out there from people like this journo who had no intention to search the whole truth but rather build an intriguing and controversial artical. There is a lot of people who are very angry/scared of the strong relationship that is building between government and church but that is another topic for perhaps another time.

    Like a person who fasts as a sign of support for those who go hungry each night, I choose not to read this article as a sign of support for my brethren.

    I’m not anti people reading the article.I’m anti me reading it. Go ahead and read, but… make sure it isn’t fueling some personal hurt or ill feeling that lowers the love and respect you have for your brothers as I fear it does for some. I still hold to my previous post.

    If Brian wants to get up on Sunday and address the artical then that’s for him to decide but for me, I’ll give it a miss.

  11. The question I was asking as I read your post you ended up asking Scott; what is the gospel?

    This got me thinking…
    “I just wonder, how much more could be done if all the money spent on, in and at Hillsong Conferences each year (just the conferences, mens, womens, July etc, I’m not talking about weekly running of the church) was redirected into issues of poverty and justice.”

    Why would you want to spend the whole amount on justice and poverty? I’m not trying to be smart, just prompting the devil’s advocate question.

    Reason being is that I don’t think conference vs social action are mutually exclusive. Bergs 1st post points that out. I think that different churches are called to different emphases of their faith as an outworking of the gospel.

    I think the core of the gospel is ultimately Jesus Christ, His substitionary work, His Grace and His kingdom. What we as individuals or as bodies emphasise out of that is going to be different, because we’re called to different things to reach different people in different places.

    It’s easy to put an arbitrary value on things and say x is more important than y therefore you should do y. But that to be honest is a preety black and white answer to the massive and complex issues our world faces. Particularly when the answer is the gospel and that gospel may be worked out as x or y or z or all 3..

    I’ll shut up now.. 😉

  12. Interesting bruce, how we look at different churches having different calls to emphasise differnt things.

    if God’s coming kingdom is the good news ie, the gospel – where all of creation can engage with a loving God through his Son – and that coming kingdom is pretty clearly described as one where peace and justice and “enough for all” are the markers of such a kingdom coming “on earth as it is in heaven”, then….

    why is there such a gap between that kingdom and what we see in the church & world today. wouldn’t the church universally, be called to the same thing? regardless of what we like doing, shouldn’t the basic needs of the planet and it’s inhabitants be up there on the priority list for every church congregation? maybe some of our brothers and sisters in the third world might have a different view o our different callings? i’m not sure?

  13. I refer to Berg’s first post…
    Some brilliant points and I happen to find them very convincing and agreeable, I too have great friends in Hillsong Church leadership, I love em! I have defended the work og Hillsong to many.

    I guess one of my core issues is a kind of ‘what if’. I know ‘what ifs’ are kind of dreamy and idealistic but, ‘what if in the year 313 AD the Emperor Constantine never made Christianity the ‘chosen’ faith of the empire, what if persecution never was reversed from persecuting Christians to Christians persecuting non-christians for not converting. What if the Government of that time never did begin the practice of errecting massive buildings in the centre of towns dedicated to the glory of God for the now ‘free’ church to meet in instead of being spread out all over the place in homes. What if Christians never started paying for full time leaders to ‘govern’ them and ‘organise’ them. What if, like before 313AD, Christian resources were all directed into…well anything other than buildings and salarys, what would we do with all this ‘left over’ money? – What if?’ In the case of Hillsongs new building, which, hear me in this, suits their purposes and style of meeting and I have sat in it and enjoyed the worship and teaching of Brian, but based on my ‘dreamy, crazy idealistic, lofty thought’ it would plug 25 Million dollars into…something else?? The $100 Mil that comes into the offereing plate at CCC p/a globally is big buisiness. Using Brians breakup of where his money goes $60 mill already goes directly towards ‘helping people’ (not sure what that means, running Church on Sunday may be considered ‘helping people’). But $30 million goes toward ‘running expenses and buildings’. The other $10 million seemed to get lost in their maths somehow? The percentages only added up to 90% on my calculator? But based on my ‘crazy dream’ I’d love to see the $40 p/a (plus one off building pledges of $25 million which I am guessing are not in these stats) go somewhere else. Maybe more compassion kids? (What amazing stats and comments Bergs made in that post! There is no doubt, they do do some powerful work!)
    *note – I am aware I have mixed some percentages from Hillsong with $ values from CCC, just 100 was easier to work with!!

  14. “What if” the time we spent writting into blogs was redirected into prayer or increasing our wealth so we could do something more then type? xox

  15. found this on Richard Rohr’s daily reflections (he is a fransiscan monk operating out of New Mexico). adds a nice balance to all that has been said so far. hope you enjoy…

    “If the gospel has taken on a kind of enigmatic quality in some places or cases, I think part of the problem is that we’ve tried to live the gospel alone. The gospel was meant to be lived by the Church, by people of God, where there is a support system that says you can ask new questions. I think of the people in the New Jerusalem Community and at the Center in New Mexico who have, at great risks to themselves and their families, given up jobs building military hardware. They would never have been able to do it if there weren’t a support system saying, That’s an appropriate gospel question, and we support the risks you take in asking that question. I don’t think we can carry the cross alone. I’m not going to get to real questions of solidarity with the poor unless I know I’m not just standing out there naked and alone. I’m not just one silly, stupid person; there is a whole faith vision calling me to do it. That is the meaning of the Body of Christ and should be the meaning of the parish. Our parishes have become so large and so anonymous, and we’ve been allowed to attend them instead of participate in them. Today people don’t drop out of Church as much as drop in- occasionally! My hope is that little faith-sharing groups will continue to emerge, connected to parishes. The “base community” and the institutional parish need one another. The parish needs the small fervent group to keep it honest, to allow and encourage those who want to ask the deeper questions, those who want to go further, those who want to learn to pray, to minister, to study, advocate and lay down their lives for the poor. And the small group needs the parish to avoid becoming sectarian, narrow, or lost in personality and trendiness. They must regulate, balance and challenge one another.”

  16. Interesting discussion. I like money, and wish i had some more, and i reckon i’d probably give some more away and enjoy some more myself. I just wonder if my own habits now (without more) are what they should be. Perhaps paying the rent is wrong and i should be sponsoring more kids…

  17. matt, it’s funny how we see things differently, isn’t it? If our assumption and starting points are different we run along different tracks and can’t work out why we don’t ‘get’ each other..

    “if God’s coming kingdom is the good news ie, the gospel..”

    I guess i would differ from you here. I think that’s part of the gospel, or probably more correctly one definite perspective of it. The gospel is the good news of the kingdom, yes, but it is also the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation from death as well. I’m not trying to play on semantics, but I think it is important to flesh out the whole picture of the gospel (there are plenty of verse for all these views btw).

    Having said that I think going on the evidence of bergs post, Hillsong (in this example) are accomplishing/ fulfiling that aspect of the gospel of the kingdom – peace, justice etc. I think that is clear. And they are seemingly doing it without limiting other activities. In this way (and vice versa) I also think there is a place to emphasis the other aspects of the gospel – namely the emphasis on Jesus life, death, resurrection and the salvation that comes through him.

    I think it is the combination of these things which makes up what the gospel is that every church is called to universally.

    Some will be called to emphasize the WHO (jesus), some the What (salvation) and others the How (the kingdom). That’s just the nature of the body; we’re imperfect, with flaws, but we are also called and mandated by God. I think this specific mandating – God’s call for each church can be seen in Romans 15:18-21

    “why is there such a gap between that kingdom and what we see in the church & world today.”

    But in terms of the kingdom there is also the aspect of the Kingdom being “now but not yet”. Which is why we are asked to pray to God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven; it is “not yet”. I don’t think this is necessarily and entirely because people have got it wrong, I think it is probably moreso that we, God people, in all our different incarnations and forms and emphases, just have a lot still to do. I don’t think any of us would disagree about the fact the world needs the gospel!

    (ps – great post by the way Scott, got everyone talking )

  18. Broady here – struggling to register as a blogger, but anyway… Bruce I was interested in your commments, particularly about what our focus area as disciples of Jesus should/might be? I was reminded of comments Indian Bible teacher CB Samuel made at a conference over east a few years ago when the topic of just what our focus should be in terms of social/biblical justice and “evangelism” was being discussed. At the end of the conference he was asked to pray and he said something like this…I have heard some interesting and compelling arguments on both sides, but I’m left with this feeling, the only reason you can have this argument is because you don’t actually love the people you are talking about enough. I live in India and I have two children. It goes without saying I want them to grow up and know the saving love of Jesus, but it also goes without saying that I want them to have enough of the basics of life to literally “grow up.”
    (This is me musing again) but I think he is spot on – the poverty and hunger of others can so easily be pushed aside as secondary for me, because it isn’t an issue (literary), but I tell you what, if it’s my boys who are in danger of not seeing their second or third birthday, then it’s a no-brainer I want them to have food. There is enough in this world to mean that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, but the reality is that for those of us who are part of the 20% of the world’s population who consume 85% of its resources (that’s us in Australia) we will HAVE to make an adjustment to our lifestyle, regardless of whether or not we are followers of Jesus – infact I suspect we should be leading the charge.

  19. guilty as charged Broady – talking about priorities and living out priorities can be two separate things.

    my prayer is that my love would increase to the point of compulsion – being unable to resist the urge to act.

    i need to see these downtrodden brothers and sisters as my family, and importantly – that i have been given the responsibility by God to make a difference in their lives.

    I believe, without this action, my said “faith” becomes invalid.

  20. found this at a great site…

    “Those who are suffering, are our brothers and our sisters…unlike us, they do not have the luxury of dreaming and planning for their children’s futures; no, they are uncertain whether or not they or their children will live to see another day. They need our voices raised on their behalf, our sacrificial labor in many forms, and our fervent prayers.

    The hardest part of writing this post, is the knowledge of my complicity in remaining blind to the problems, or being too caught up in the next thing, or problem at hand, even if it is an important issue…i am profoundly aware that to remain silent, uneducated and/or inactive about the atrocities in Africa and other parts of the world is to be part of the system that allows them to continue.

    I look back on Nazi Germany and the murder of millions of Jews and remember that during the year, I learned that terrible story of history, I wondered, how did ‘they’ let that happen? until one day i realized that I was part of the ‘they…’ and that now I am part of the ‘we,’ who are allowing the same thing to happen in the world today.”

  21. I have no interest in casting judgements on the churches and people mentioned in the BRW story. After all, I have been blessed at various times by the ministries mentioned!!

    For me, THIS ARTICLE IS A COMMENTARY ON US, the attenders (consumers), who have subtly viewed church as God’s Department Store. I am challenged to not point the finger at anyone except myself! I need to take responsibility for my delusion in viewing church as God’s Shop where I “buy all the merchandise” that will make me a successful, happier person.

    Lord, bless ME. Lord, make ME prosperous. Lord, heal ME. Lord, make ME successful. Hmmm….

    For me, I want to return to the purity and simplicity of the gospel as summed up in the following verses:

    Matthew 22:36-39
    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Matthew 25:35-36
    “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. “

    A story to end on … we (with many other Christians) have been helping a number of Africans who have recently arrived in Perth. My wife asked one mother of five children if there was anything that she needed. The humble lady said that her children were getting cold at night because they only had one blanket for each family member. So together with a friend we bought some new blankets. It gives me goose bumps when I consider how we can show the love of Jesus in such a simple way. Just imagine how our city would be transformed if Christians were catapulted from the pews, onto their knees and then into the neighbourhoods. That’s the kind of church that I would like to read about in the BRW Magazine!

    My prayer is that Perth will be transformed as the church becomes known for its unity across all denominations and its love which is practically demonstrated in our communities, including indigenous and ethnic groups. Amen!

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