Our response to the CHC case
The recent verdict of the City Harvest Church (CHC) court case has raised concerns among Christians, mainly because it has attracted comments and questions from non-Christians in school and at work.
As a church, we are sad that church leaders have been convicted of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. According to the news, the accused had deliberately but wrongfully re-directed monies in a building fund to finance the music career of the senior pastor’s wife, even though the music career was intended to be a creative vehicle for evangelism. A series of sham investments was then created to mask the unlawful use of the monies. These transactions involved some $50 million. It needs to be said that the court had found no evidence of wrongful gain.
We acknowledge that there was a lapse of corporate governance in the CHC case. This can happen and has happened in both for-profit and not for-profit organisations.
Perhaps the harder criticism to answer pertains to the prosperity gospel preaching at CHC and the lifestyle choices of some of its leaders. It may fairly be said that these points have drawn undue interest to the court case and created enemies of the envious and the skeptical who want to see their downfall and who also tar the rest of the churches and Christians with the same brush. On this matter, we should explain that every church, like every family, is unique in size and financial resources. We disagree with prosperity gospel preaching and the lifestyle choices of some Christians but as the CHC court case had nothing to do with these matters, so we should not allow our feelings about them to colour our judgment.
Unfortunately, as Christians, we will bear the burden of the fall-out of the CHC case. It is not entirely possible to distance ourselves from it because the world views Christians as one and the same, regardless of our church affiliation. We will face charges of hypocrisy, even scorn at our piety, but that is the price of discipleship.
In the end, while churches and Christians may fail God, God does not fail anyone. We may think that the CHC case has dented Christian witness but let us take heart that God, who is the master and Lord of the church, knows how to safeguard his own reputation and so let us not fret when we fail.
Ps Shin Hoe