First it was Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Community Church Yang Tuck Yoong who commented on the City Harvest Church trial.
And then it was a former CHC member’s viral blog post.
Now, things got even more awkward for City Harvest Church (CHC).
The Straits Times made a meal about the church’s “prosperity gospel” by creaming off a few blog posts and talking to three former church members.
What is “prosperity gospel”? ST described that this brand of teaching as “one would be rewarded materially and spiritually if they gave financially to God”.
On the other hand, Western free speech practitioners Huffington Post published a piece by an American pastor who described “prosperity gospel” as “sinister”.
ICYMI, here’s the gist of what Pastor Yang wrote on his church’s website Oct. 23.
He didn’t take heed to the proverb that says a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. It would be later that my grief extended to the many of the people who had left the faith, backslid, stumbled, or who had been so disillusioned by the whole fiasco.
And what former CHC member Geraldine Sim wrote on Oct. 22 on her blog.
“And the best part was that they even set a benchmark of how much they encouraged each church member to give. If I remember correctly, it was about $200 a month.
My mentor even sat down with me to plan out how I can somehow give $200 every month – on top of 10% tithing and very compulsory offering… to build the house of God.
Then I started to think, “Am I just here to give them free money; buying the illusion of a family that I crave for?”
On buying Sun Ho’s album
Pastors and cell group leaders kept on pushing and pressurising everyone to buy the albums. It got to a point whereby another cell group member actually sold his car in order to buy more albums.
Basically, ST rounded up more quotes to back up its whole “prosperity gospel” angle.
Pastor Aaron Ho from Saint Andrew’s Secondary School who wrote a lengthy piece on his blog on Oct. 28, was also quoted.
On prosperity theology
When prosperity theology takes root, at the risk of oversimplifying, what happens is people believe material success equates to spiritual success. Money then matters. Numbers then matters. Size then matters. Again, to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with money, numbers and size. But when that becomes the chief indicator of God’s favour and blessing, it seems to me that the danger is that spirituality becomes measured by the external rather than the internal. And Scripture has much to say about the heart.
On the Crossover Project
Putting motives aside, the main issue I think is important to note is this: even if the motive was to get the gospel out, the method and process was questionable at the very least. The principle is this – you cannot compromise the gospel in order to share the gospel.
Former CHC member Mr Khoo
In terms of value-adding to the story, The Straits Times did interview one Mr Khoo who said that his cell group leaders had questioned about his monthly allowance because they suspected he was “under-contributing” in his tithes and offerings.
He added that contributions were noted on envelopes and tracked by cell group leaders.
And there was another ex-CHC-goer, who went on record with his full name.
Former CHC member Samuel Wee
“It was an environment where financial contribution was constantly portrayed as a positive thing you do to be a good Christian, and for your own good, to enrich yourself spiritually and financially.”
CHC declined to comment for the story but the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) said many churches encourage regular giving, but “coercion is not helpful if it were true”.