Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hillsong... Church or Cult

I have been aware of the increasing press relating to the Hillsong Church and it’s associates namely the Mercy Ministries and would you believe Gloria Jeans Coffee Shops!

(link, link, link)

Seems to me that the Hillsong Church is attracting a lot of press these days and its interesting to see that these stories were about long ago back in 2005.

So what is the Hillsong Church? Look, I am not religious but I respect that if people want to follow religion well good luck to them. What worries me though about Hillsong is that they demand so much money from its members, set up / fund businesses to front for them (i.e. Gloria Jeans) and have such way out views as described in the Mercy Ministries stories in the press.

Is it Australia’s version of Scientology? Scientology, whilst classed as a religion is actually a cult founded by L Ron Hubbard as a tax dodge in the 50’s / 60’s. Is Brian Houston and co doing the exact same and just something tugs at my conscious that all is not what it seems….

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have to be careful with your analysis of the church. A lot of 'facts' are actually conjecture and loose hypothesizing by the media:

1. If you talk to any member of congregation (not just the handful of ex-members who have left) you'll find that most people will tell you that they don't feel pressured to give 10%. It's recommended, certainly encouraged, but they have no way of knowing who is and who isn't, hence there is no way to exert direct pressure!

2. Gloria Jeans is not a Hillsong-sponsored business. One of its execs attends the church and is an elder there. So you certainly can't argue that Hillsong is extracting $ from members to fund Gloria Jeans.

3. Mercy Ministries is one of several ministries to which Hillsong gives money. While there are relationships between people in Mercy's team and Hillsong, these are personal relationships, and there are no org-level integration between the two.

4. I don't think you can compare Scientology to Hillsong, but it's certainly a good question to ask. My answer would be no.

5. Brian Houston makes most of his money from being paid for speaking engagements (at other churches) + sale of his books, CDs. His salary is definitely nothing compared to those sales. In general staff at Hillsong church aren't very well paid. Their annual report is avaiable so you can see how their funds are distributed.

Clay said...

Anon,

Many thanks for your comment. Happy to take structured comments such as yours on board...

1. However, why do people who leave the congregation speak out so forcefully? Once away from the sway of the preaching that they would receive at least every Sunday, they become aware that there is something more sinister than a bit of weekend fellowship between people of similar views.

I don't understand how requesting 10% of your income when combined with holding a large spiritual sway over people is not "pressure". It is pressure... its a technique known as peer pressure and is common in the school yard and is a big part of Scientology. I agree that there is no accountable audit of the money received, but there is that pressure.

2. Gloria Jeans? The exec you mention is the CEO and he has just resigned due to his "conflict of interest". You can find a percentage of people in every company would be church goers and in fact many a CEO of top corporates are actively religious. Why then does a CEO need to resign if there is not some sort of financial impropriety?

3. Mercy Ministries is new to me and is being pursued in the press... I am not sure what started it, but the stories tend to link them directly to the Hillsong Church. Again, this is presented as a financial support not as a personal relationship.

4. Scientology? I dont attend Hillsong or Scientology services so who am I to judge, but the Scientologists have a specific agenda that they use their funding for - namely recruitment. Hillsong is probably a lesser problem than the Exclusive Bretheran (which I have blogged about in the past) who have actually had specific clauses for them put into John Howards AWA / Industrial Relations laws... (which were scrapped yesterday! yay!)

5. Brian Houston is making personal wealth on the back of other peoples combination of gullibility and faith. You cannot say that it is not driven by his personal desire for wealth. Otherwise he'd pour all of his proceeds back into the church save for a reasonable stipend. Instead, he lives the good life which a traditional Priest or Minister would not be allowed to do. Australia's version of the Jim & Tammy-Faye Bakker who have since been proved to be far less than christian?

Anonymous said...

Most ppl's big problem with scientology as opposed to other religions is that the Church of Scientology do not tell ppl what they are getting into before they start. Most critics point out that they really have little choice tho, as who would believe that we are decended from a race of aliens who were placed in a Hawaiin volcano......

From what i have seen this is not the case with most Christian groups, no matter how "extreme" they may be.

For more info on Scientology i suggest checking out this excellent site: http://www.xenutv.com/

the videos there are excellent. You can watch what actually happens and make up your own mind......

danielcollins

Anonymous said...

I think my doughter is apart of this clut .The cult is chursten city church .Now crossrhythm church .This church has taken her away frome me. frome the time she was marred the pastor told me she was not my child anymore .his name is mike berry of chirchen city church/crossrhythm church of annapolis md us help me

Anonymous said...

is not the paster to rejoin familey Mike Berry . has not reployed to my requist to reunite my familey . he has only my things worse betwen me and my first born doughter .he has changed the bible to sued him . Mike berry of annapolis is a very bad man . and should not be called a mn of god .please help me put a end to his reage thank you an the name of god

Anonymous said...

This person who wrote about her daughter being in a cult with Mike Berry is an addict who does not want to address her sinful lifestyle choice. I know first hand because I am her son in law and have witnessed the addiction first hand. My pastor and friend Mike berry is a world reknown minister and is uncompromising in his understanding and delivery of the word of God. The relationship between my wife and her mother os solely due to addiction and abuse. We together have tried to reconcile with her but it has become futile. It is all in Gods hands right now and all we can do is pray. I take offense to anyone who thinks they have a right to publicly blast someone over a blog sight just to try to ruin that person's reputation. Scripture says to mark those who sow division and discord. It is a sad case of addiction here and nothing more.

bren said...

bah bah sheep of crossrhythm church no wonder they only want the unchurch

Anonymous said...

bah bah sheep no wonder crossrhythm wants the unchurch

Anonymous said...

I can not stand a mom's boy who lies at the drop of that hat to make himself look good . Who demans things from his wife that he would naver do him self.bah bah sheep

fool said...

Looks like we have a few folks here who haven't been taking their meds...

Settle down Beavis!

Anonymous said...

Mike Berry is currently completing his doctorate at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon under a program by Dr. Leonard Sweet. Mike is a graduate of Wesley Theology Seminary, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Wilmington University and Valley Forge Christian College. He has traveled extensively in 22 nations and 166 cities preaching and teaching in major denominational circles. He is an Ordained Baptist Minister - so what cult is he a part of? Maybe his audience and prayer with Pope John Paul II in1988 in the Vatican in Rome makes him a cult leader... in an addicts mind.

Anonymous said...

This church in Annapolis 'crc' Is a last day church ,at its best! Matthew 15;5 But you say, Whoever 'shall say to his father or mother, Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God," He is not to honor his father or his mother. And thus you INVALIDATED the WORD OF GOD for the sake of your tradition. YOU Hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, THIS PEOPLE (CRC) HONORS ME WITH THRIR LIPS BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME (HERE IS THE REAL KICKER) TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN. iT IS REALLY A NO BRAINER

Anonymous said...

This church in Annapolis Md should be investigated . the leader of the church Mike Berry has a messiah complex. Who does he answer too ?. He is out of control!!!!! I know He would say God .and That lives a lot of room for him To control All the week minded sheep in his small flock. especially when he adds to the word and also takes away from the holy word of God!!!! No really He should be investigated

Anonymous said...

Mike Berry is not the leader of CRC. The church actually is guided by an group of Elders of which the plaintiff in this blog is mother-in-law to. She is a drunk and has alienated her own children - by threatening them to turn her grandchildren against their parents. She could reconcile very easily if she would ask them to forgive her for what she has threaten to do to them as a family which is not a church matter nor is Pastor Berry involved with at all - contrary to Brenda's claims.

Anonymous said...

Well well some people just live in the past . what about the time you Kieth Mostros brought a bag of pot to my house and we smoke it out of you fathers favorite pipe . Ho yeah that was a long time ago . Yes there was a time that I would drink more then I should have . But that too was a long time ago .God removes sin from my life . You should ask him to do it for you You are such a liar!!!!! I never said That I would turn my Grandchildren against their parents . What I did say in response to your hateful threat "that I just might not see them "is that your children will hate you for keeping their grandmother away from them . and they probably will ! I will know them and they will know and love me some day all in Gods time. What you did to my words is just what Mike does to Gods word ,change them to what ever you want From what I understand people are leaving CRC left and right. God will not put up with this bull forever peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

church Charismatic Spiritual Abuse Is alive and well Unless you a complete moron, or worse, a brainwashed zealot of Christian City Church,CRC If you have visted you've probably entertained the idea that all does not seem kosher with these Charismatic Churches. Let me tell you your not alone. There is no denying that these Charismatic Evangelists operate their churches more like big business than a spiritual haven for the lost, the fallen or the disadvantagedhCharismatic Peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

Star Trek Just think about it for a moment. Christian City Church Annapolis CRC (I'd assume other CCC Churches do the same) run a lot of courses. EG - Connection Groups, Bible study Groups, Prayer Groups, Stepping Forward Groups discipleship, the list goes on. Could these Christian City Church groups be interpreted as a form of brain washing I think so I saw the change in my daughter and it was not a good or Godly change She would not talk about what she was learning , she shunned life long friends and family If your not apart of the click or cult then your just not in her life How much control should a church have over someones life ????

Anonymous said...

abundance of their money but also their time. Most people never see through the smoke and mirrors for years, by this time they've given thousands of dollars in tithe, have worked untold hours for the church and at most times done this at their own expense. When in reality they the committed charismatic follower are merely being conned their own life is being sucked dry by an unscrupulous church pastor who only has the belief in their own self indulgence. God won"t put up with this forever . Crc is a last day church Matt.15:5

Anonymous said...

Hillsong Church, Christian City Church, Crossrhythm Church, Shirelive, Wave Church, Newport Church, and all of its leaders are awesome guys. People come and go in all these churches - just like they do from mainline denominations. Jesus was asked by his cousin John the Baptist "are you the one or should we seek another?" Jesus replied the bind see, the cripples are healed and the dead raised. Fruitfulness is the evidence of good ministries and each one of these churches are great churches. If people leave that demonstrates that they are not cults. Cults are something that you can't get out of. Jehovah witnesses, mormons, unification church, bahai are cults... try leaving one of these groups!

Anonymous said...

Contrary to Brenda's claim -CrossRhythm Church is packed out every Sunday and is growing by leaps and bounds. People are recieving Jesus, being Baptised in water and the Holy Spirit, and broken lives restored. Brenda you might want to find an AA group, a celebrate recovery program or an intake program for adults like Walter Hoving Home in New York. Deflection is an obvious way to ignore your drinking problems. Everyone else is at fault except you. Maybe you should find another blog to vent - and leave these churches alone. may I suggest http://www.aaonline.net if you can't make it to a regular meeting.

Anonymous said...

. You can see that no one gives there name here because ,once again it is all smoke and mirrors. If you did not understand from my per post . God has delivered me from having too much to drink. If you are truthful you all have had some bad days in your life If you say no you are a liar .If you can not believe that people are delivered then you have no faith.You have not had child yet, that has gone astray It might have you knock back a feu yourself . If we were truly on the same side you would be praising god . for not allowing me to become an drunk. really you are showing your true face . peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

Oh yes and there was ugly emails when theses people left crc simply unheard of an a real church. peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

If Mike Berry is under the tutelage of Dr Leonard Sweet. CRC is in deep trouble. And is spreading heresy To hungry people. People should really research and question the things they are being taught

Anonymous said...

,Proof of Apostacy- Rick Warren & Leonard Sweet


:"Rick Warren, Leonard Sweet, and Sweet's "New Light" Leaders"

by Warren Smith
LTRP Note:

While some Christian leaders are issuing warnings about New Age figures such as Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and A Course in Miracles, this same new (age) spirituality (under a "Christian" disguise) is being promoted and embraced right in the Christian church by popular Christian teachers and authors.

"Rick Warren, Leonard Sweet, and Sweet's 'New Light' Leaders" (from A "Wonderful" Deception)

by Warren Smith

Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation. . . . But a spirituality that is not in some way entheistic (whether pan- or trans-), that does not extend to the spirit-matter of the cosmos, is not Christian.1--Leonard Sweet
Shortly after Deceived on Purpose was published, I came across a book titled Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Dialectic written by Rick Warren's "Evangelical" colleague Leonard Sweet. Also, around the same time, I was given a cassette tape set of a presentation Sweet had done with Warren in 1995. Their recorded discussion is titled The Tides of Change and was packaged as part of an ongoing series called "Choice Voices for Church Leadership." At the time this audio project took place, Sweet was a Christian author, Methodist minister, and the Dean of the Theological School at Drew University. According to information on the tape set, this presentation was about ministry on the emerging "new frontier."2

Challenging pastors to make changes in their ministry to meet the emerging postmodern culture and the changing times, Sweet and Rick Warren present themselves not only as pastors but also as modern-day change agents. In their conversation together, Sweet enthusiastically remarked to Warren: "I think this is part of this New Spirituality that we are seeing birthed around us."3

In listening to this cassette-tape series, I found it interesting that Leonard Sweet was talking about the birth of a "New Spirituality" with Rick Warren way back in 1995. Since 9/11, "New Spirituality" is the term that most New Age leaders are now using instead of "New Age Spirituality." By simply removing the word "Age" from "New Age Spirituality," the "New Age Spirituality" has suddenly become the "New Spirituality." Emerging church figures like Sweet, Brian McLaren, and others are also employing the term "New Spirituality." They use it to describe the "new" Christianity they are practicing as "New Christians" and "New Light leaders."4 What has become clear over the last decade is that the "New Spirituality"--with its bottom line belief that God is "in" everything--is, in reality, the foundational New Age "hub" for the coming New World Religion. This panentheistic New Age/New Spirituality teaching that God is "in" everything will be the "common ground" melting pot belief that the coming New World Religion will ultimately rest upon.

In The Tides of Change, it is clear that Rick Warren and Leonard Sweet are working toward a "New Reformation" of the church.5 But as I read Sweet's book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, I quickly discovered that Sweet's New Reformation is really just a New Age re-formation of biblical Christianity--a New Spirituality. And his New Age/New Spirituality take on things is just one more reason to be concerned about the further New Age implications that are already so present in Warren's Purpose Driven movement.
Sincerely,

Walter

Anonymous said...

It really brakes my heart to be able to line my children's church .up with 2 Timothy 3:1-15 .but it could be no clearer .several thing pop out .always learning and never able to come to truth, lovers of money, ARROGANT, boastful, revilers, DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS, UNGRATEFUL, UNHOLY ( HERE IS THE KICKER ) IRRECONCILABLE

Anonymous said...

I for got to say Peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

Amazing Brenda that you've remained sober since Easter. God certainly has made you alcohol and pot free - we'll see how you are in about 13 months. Always right never wrong for anything. Even you're own husband knows the truth and admits it to others.
But that's something you can't bring yourself too.
Deflection is the only thing you know... it's everybody else!

Anonymous said...

I think Hillsong is a great church. Pastor brian is very inspirational and a great leader that I have admired and followed for I've twenty years.

Anonymous said...

I see there are no comment's on Leonard Sweet . still stuck in the past.Still can't believe in deliverance. where is your faith . where is your prise for my God . You should be thanking him and lifting me up come on ! you are not being very Christ like .Are you??? Peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

www.leonardsweet.com ????

Anonymous said...

food for thought{:> Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh . For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obediecne of Christ . 2Corinthians 10:3-5 peace be on you Doula Bren

Anonymous said...

I want to bless my daughter's off spring with the ability to know the truth of God, through the holy Bible . blessed be my grand children peace be on you Doula Bren With in this blessing be Leah my daughter and her husband Keith

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Anonymous said...

I went to Hillsong International Leadership College and sure as hell, I felt pressured to give money! They ask you to fork out in every single meeting from college chapel, connect groups, youth services, church services, you name it!
In an average week as a college student I'd get asked to give money at least 10 times! No joke! That's from attending 4 chapel services a week on college days, attending a young adults service, serving in junior youth, attending a connect group, serving in two weekend services and and attending a weekend service. And trust me, there is a lot of peer pressure to give, I don't care what anybody says, because I've experienced it first hand.

Anonymous said...

i guess these cults attract the folks that are searching although christianity isnt a self improvement programme or really surpose to be an intellectual course is in fact the life of jesus christ remember religion mans search for god christianity gods search for man its really not surpose to be so confusing come as a child

Anonymous said...

Brian Houston,from Hillsong,said that his father, the founder,was the Greatest Evangelist ever.How could this be? For 30 years he was a Sex Offender of the worst kind !