Friday, March 14, 2014

They Rise Fast; They Fall Fast Too

There have been a spate of bad news for megachurches. The largest Church in the world, Yoido Gospel Assembly had their founder and senior pastor convicted due to a financial scandal involving his own son. In Singapore, a number of prominent Church pastors from the highly visible City Harvest Church are embroiled in a tough legal battle regarding criminal breach of trust. The Financial Times reported on the case with a cheeky title: "Fraud trial puts Singapore megachurch in unholy spotlight." In Sweden, influential megachurch pastor, Ulf Ekman on his own website declared recently that he had converted to Roman Catholicism. Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas is also in the spotlight for having $600,000 stolen from their church premises. The bigger the Church, the closer the scrutiny.

David Yong-Gi Cho is leader of a Church numbering more than a million members. Kong Hee's City Harvest Church has a regular attendance of nearly 20 thousand people. Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church numbers over 43000 attendees each week while Ulf Ekman's Word of Life Church has about 3300 members.

All of them know each other. All of them are charismatics. All of them are leaders of huge congregations. Most of the setbacks are traced to financial matters. These developments troubled me. Not only are they becoming stumbling blocks to their own people, they are being placed under world attention, with the news media constantly ready to pounce on every little juicy detail of any form of scandals, personal failures, or financial irregularities.

It is no use to try to blame them or to fire away our dislike of megachurches or big buildings. We need to pray. We need to care. We need to be humble enough to remember that if we are in their shoes, we may not have fared any better.


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