JOSEPH PRINCE THE RICH PASTOR: MUCH TALKING ABOUT NOTHING?

Joseph Prince founder of non-profit JP ministries
Joseph Prince founder of non-profit JP ministries

This may be hard for people to receive.

Why can’t a pastor earn millions of dollars?

If a Christian layperson is allowed to earn millions of dollars, why can’t his pastor? Is there one standard for Christians and another for pastors? Don’t we all follow the same Lord? We haven’t even got rid of the clergy-laity divide, and the sacred-secular divide shows itself.

Anyway the online articles have not furnished evidence that he really earned $500,000 annually and has net worth of $5 million. In fact the article was not backed by adequate or updated data. Quoting an online post that is sensational and is trying to get more hits, is not a good way to look for facts but this is what today’s online journalism gives us.

In fact the New Creation Church leadership council has reiterated what most Singaporean Christians already know. Joseph Prince has stopped receiving a salary from the church since 2009.

What is to stop a rich attendee from donating $100,000 dollars to Joseph Prince on any given day?

Why can’t Prince benefit from the royalties of his preaching and writing?

Who is to say he has not generously and secretly been giving large sums of money to the poor?

There are pastors who are bi-vocational and very rich.

There are pastors who inherited vast sums.

Or pastors whose wives bring home the millions?

What if a pastor bought a few Apple stocks decades ago and is now a very rich man?

Why do these pastors seem more acceptable than the pastor who earned them by preaching or writing?

By the way, Billy Graham is not a pastor. And neither is Benny Hinn. They are evangelists.

Maybe now more parents will encourage their children to be a megachurch pastor – adding this profession to the list of common ones.

What is your opinion?

Good news for thousands at New Creation Church(NCC)

Whenever I have no idea of what is good to eat at any hawker center, I follow the Singaporean rule of thumb: look for the queues. Where there is a queue, the food is probably good. It has to be good if people are willing to wait patiently for it. Though it is possible the cook is slow or the system of delivery is bad, the likelihood is that the food is tasty.

So when New Creation Church became the only church where you had to queue to get a seat, the surmise is that the “food” is good. Of course we can be skeptical or cynical and say: its bad organizing or its a image projection or whatever. However, at the crux of it, you’ll have to admit: the queuing thing which went on for close to a decade without waning says something. The “food” has lots of satisfied customers. People, including pastors, may say otherwise. However the thousands of satisfied customers rub their stomachs and say, Jia pa pa (Eat full full).

(image from Stanley Facebook)

Now it seems the thousands of New Creation attenders have good news: they don’t have to queue anymore. They can book their seats online using their ez-link card number. Now this is a wonderful creative solution, one that meets a real need (even though people are actually willing to queue and wait). The pic above is what a booking slip looks like. So this is the true gospel for NCC members: no more queuing. I am happy for them. However if they are late, their passes will expire and the empty seats will be released for others and this is fair and encourages punctuality and responsibility. Technology and moving to the new facility at Star Vista has made this possible. Their first service will be on the 23rd of December 2012.

Instead of queuing just click.

Form and function in education and worship

NTU new buildingWhen form fits function

Last week Channel News Asia reported a bold architectural design for its new Learning Hub. It made me think about form and function in education and worship. The design had tutorial rooms that looked circular and were stacked up into towers. The design was stunning and eye-catching. More importantly it’s form was aligned to its function beautifully. “The seven-storey learning hub will house 55 new-generation classrooms of the future, designed to support new pedagogies by promoting more interactive small group teaching and active learning,” is how Professor Kam explained the design. The building suited the pedagogies that maximized learning. I liked it immediately. It was Winston Churchill who said, ‘We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” These NTU buildings will create a sense of community, like a family or clan gathered around a fire or a meal inside a circular shaped African hut or Mongolian yurt. The context of informality, collaboration and interaction will create a productive learning HDB church buildingenvironment.

When form and function diverge

The church building too should be an apt expression of its theology, worship, community and context. We have all kinds of church buildings in Singapore. The early church buildings in Singapore were forms imported from the west that gave token consideration to the Singaporean context, mainly its weather. Case in point is the oldest church building in Singapore: the Armenian Church consecrated in 1836. Most of the buildings in the 70s onward were pragmatic, space-maximizing utilitarian buildings built in the suburbs or in the HDB sites in the new housing estates. As land is scarce and expensive, maximizing usable space for various activities took priority over aesthetics. However I must say that the Catholics have done more justice in terms of constructing church buildings that aptly express their ideas of theology, worship, community and context much more than the Protestant churches. An example of this is St Mary of the Angels at Bukit Batok East, so beautiful it even won an architectural award.

starvista1The mega-churches impact form and function

The church scene today resembles the income gap we see in most developing countries. With the rise of the mega-churches like City Harvest Church and New Creation Church we are seeing astronomical amounts being spent on facilities of spectacular scale and impact and mixed usage. This is partly due to the limits placed on the size of buildings that can be constructed on the HDB sites made available for bidding. They would be grossly inadequate for their regular meeting attendances of over 20,000.
When God’s people realize they are God’s real building

On the other, hand there are hundreds of churches, gatherings of God’s faithful in sizes of 50 to 300 members who meet in purchased or rented premises in unglamorous industrial buildings, commercial buildings, private schools, houses, cinemas, hotels and other such buildings. These are churches who have a sharper realization that the church is not a beautiful or spacious or practical building that houses God’s people, but a gathered people and community that houses God. They know they themselves are the dwelling place of God. It is in living out this revelation that we see form and function finally in embrace in the living entity called church.