The last four weeks have been very troubling to say the least. With the Arise story now fair and square ‘centre stage’ and coming right on the heels of all the challenges and friction surrounding C-19, you would have to say this is an unprecedented time in the history of the church in NZ.
Soon after David Farrier came out with his first blog on the 4th April about Arise Church a small number of Christian leaders felt it necessary to do as we so often do and called it another media beat up. One leader called it an attack from the devil. I’m sure others thought it.
That didn’t last long at all, thankfully.
As other media outlets picked up the story and there were further revelations, a strange silence set in.
Then 10 days ago I posted my ‘Open Letter to David Farrier’. What I found interesting was the number of people, some well-known leaders, grateful that I took a much more careful attitude toward the media.
It’s clear to me now that many agree that the media are simply doing their job. As one pastor said to me, “Crickey Alan, we have given them enough ammunition”. True! And please keep in mind if they tell a good story then suddenly the media are the ‘good guys’. Talk about an ambivalent relationship.
Last week I asked in this blog if you would like to write about 200 words as to what you think God may be saying to the Church in NZ at this moment. A number of you have (and it’s not too late to write in the next few days) and I will separately publish that paper next week. But here is what my friend David Collins (retired pastor) wrote yesterday.
“It’s been hard to get something the Psalmist said out of my head lately. From Psalm 25 about how integrity and uprightness will preserve us (v21). I then got thinking about something Jesus said about the ruler of this world coming but having no claim on him or "finding nothing" (John 14:30).
This, of course, is vital for every individual and organisation to know - but especially so for those who claim to represent Jesus Christ. Expect inspection (from whence it comes is irrelevant). Preservation doesn’t ultimately come from slick PR, nor any particular type of praying, it comes from our integrity [= anything I do and say lines up with everything I do and say … there is no rogue part of me … I’m “together”].
Therefore, systems and processes for personal and organisational self-inspection are essential … before any other examiner comes and we are left with long-term reputation damage. Many great brands and churches have not survived such scrutiny. It’s time for a “preservative” check!
Is this what God is saying? Of course it is, God has always been saying this”.
Before I go. A couple of other things to mention.
- On TV1 news last night the Minister of Workplace and Safety, Michael Woodhouse expressed concern about Arise (and other large evangelical churches) and said, “primary duty of care rests with those organisations themselves and of course Worksafe as the regulator will be keeping a close eye on that and taking action if that is justified”. I wonder if the time has come for more guidelines from Government if not legislation to ensure that churches are “communities of care and not exploitative corporations”.
- Also yesterday Charlotte Cummings from Pathfinding said in a video update that 190 people so far had interacted with the review to date. That is a lot of people.
- And now a tonic for your soul. Take a look at this 4.30min heart-warming video. A local Church at its best (and a mega-church at that), Saddleback Church celebrating 40 years of Baptisms. I just love it!
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.