Monday, March 30, 2009

Proposed Resolutions To Reinstate Dr Lum

Last week, the group of concerned members, better known as the TTG group, submitted two proposed resolutions to the Secretary of the BOD, to be included in the agenda for the coming EGM on this Saturday, 4th April at 2pm.

Both resolutions pertain to the recent arbitrary termination of Dr Lum’s church membership and sought to seek the approval of the members to declare his termination by the BOD as NULL and VOID and to allow Dr Lum to attend the EGM.

The resolutions also seek the approval of members to have the Church Constitution amended to include detailed provisions on disciplinary committee, functions and procedures to deal with such matters.

These resolutions are very crucial and the full support of ALL members are of utmost importance. Failure to have Dr Lum’s termination rescinded will set a precedent for our SP and the BOD to wield their powers to arbitrarily terminate ANY member for the slightest misdemeanour.

In conjunction with this Saturday’s EGM, CT is calling for 3-day prayer and fast beginning Wednesday through Friday. Please pray along with us for :

1. God’s presence this Saturday to bless the meeting, pray that the leadership will allow the resolutions to be tabled.

2. A good turnout of members and that they will be bold to stand up for truth, good governance, righteousness and fairness.

3. God’s Restoration of truth, transparency and good Godly governance in the Church so that He may use Calvary Church as the true fountain head church for His glory.

(Click on document to enlarge. To return click BACK at top left corner)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Letter to the FGTF by HM

CT received this letter that Bro Hong Meng wrote to the FGTF, contents of which he shared at the FGTF Workshop held on 14 March 2009. Many of us who were at the meeting heard him share his views which gave us a better understanding on the issues addressed by the FGTF that afternoon. We thank Bro Hong Meng for taking the time to put in writing what he said at the FGTF Workshop. For the benefit of those who were not present at the Workshop, we publish his letter for your reading, with his permission.


To: The Financial Governance Task Force (FGTF)
From: Wong Hong Meng
Date: 27 March 2009

Thank you for the briefing session on Saturday 14 March 2009. I can safely say that all of us who attended the briefing appreciated the time and effort sacrificed by each of the task force members. Thank you also for uploading the powerpoint presentation.

I am writing to expand and clarify the comments and suggestions I made at the briefing. My input is on the macro issues. I shall leave the detail work in your capable hands.


I present below a summary of my comments and suggestions for the Committee’s consideration.

1. AOG does not have a mandated model of church governance. So there is no constraint on the FGTF to design an organizational structure and governance processes that best meet our needs.

2. The FGTF should consider following Hillsong’s example. Calvary Church should be in compliance to the principles and best practices as set out in the Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance.

3. In looking at our governance processes the FGTF should also be guided by the Singapore Code of Corporate Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character and the ECFA guidelines.

4. The FGTF should give substance to the fact that Calvary Church is a congregational church. Our constitution, organizational structure and governance processes must truly reflect a congregational form of church government.

5. The organizational chart must be redrawn to reflect the provisions of the Constitution and that of a congregational church. The chart must be logical and consistent with organizational principles.

6. Good church governance would require that the involvement of the Senior Pastor in the financial management of the Church be restricted.

7. The Missions Department and the Extended Ministries must be included in the church constitution. It must be clearly and irrevocably acknowledged that the Missions Department and the Extended Ministries are part and parcel of Calvary Church. They are not independent of the Church. To be complete, the accounts of Calvary Church must be inclusive of all the three main components viz., the church, the Missions Department and the Extended Ministries.

8. An Internal Audit function to be set up in Calvary Church as a management tool.

9. There should be a Reserve List for all decisions and actions that are reserved to be done by the members at general meeting which cannot be delegated to the Board of Deacons or taken away by the Board of Deacons. There should also be a similar list for the Board of Deacons which cannot be delegated to any board committee, or any person or persons in the church. These lists must be approved by the members at general meeting.

I shall now expand on and support each of my suggestions.

AOG-USA Position Papers

The FGTF appears to be guided only by two AOG-USA position papers; “Qualifications and Responsibilities of Deacons and Trustees” and “Theology of Ministry” to come to the following conclusion:

“Most if not all Assemblies of God organizational structure are similar. The structures are in line with the positions taken by the General Council of the Assemblies of God.”

Firstly, I am of the opinion that your conclusion is not well supported by the two articles and that the FGTF read into them more than what was there. Secondly I believe a third paper, “The Discipleship and Submission Movement”, would be helpful in understanding AOG’s view on the relationship between the pastor and the congregation.

Quoting the first AOG position paper, “Qualifications and Responsibilities of Deacons and Trustees”, the FGTF seems to imply that a pastor-dominant structure, or in colloquial terms “ketuanan senior pastor”, is the AOG position. We may be conditioned to think that it is so, but I found no support for that assertion in the official AOG pronouncements. The three quotes used were:

“God’s method by which the church of Jesus Christ has moved forward down through the centuries is that God selected a person to be the leader (the pastor) and then gave the leader others (deacons) to serve as support to the leader and as fellow servants to the congregation.”

“The pastor and deacons shall be the official board of the local church.”

“The pastor is the chairperson and voting member of the church boards.”

None of the above three statements is in dispute. That the church is to be led by a pastor assisted by the deacons is completely acceptable and indeed desirable. However, this must not detract us from the need for good and proper church governance. Moreover, the fundamental principles of a congregational church must not be compromised. It is the congregation that would decide on all important issues. These three quotes cannot be used to justify giving the pastor and/or the deacons unfettered power over the congregation. That would be unreasonable extrapolation.

The FGTF quoted from the second AOG position paper, “Theology of Ministry”,

“…in making an application of biblical leadership roles to the modern era, we conclude that pastors carry out the functions of elders and overseers in the local congregations.”

This probably was intended to justify the absence of elders although provided for in our constitution. However, it would serve the FGTF well to compare the role of elders as envisaged in this position paper and that in our constitution. There is still a need for elders to fulfil the role as spelt out in our constitution.

A balanced reading of this paper would also surface the following statements which seem contrary to the dominance of the pastor in the church as assumed by the FGTF:

“An examination of the concept of ministry and spiritual gifts makes it abundantly clear that ministry is the work of the entire body of Christ, not just of a special priestly or clerical caste.”

“A part of the ministry of the church is given to every single member of the body of Christ. All are called in some way to be ministers. To be baptised into Christ is to be baptised into the ministry of His church. No group of leaders alone can embody the full spectrum of spiritual gifts and provide all the wisdom and energy required to do the work of the church. Therefore, the ministry of the laity is integral to the accomplishment of the mission of the church.”

However there is a third position paper, “The Discipleship and Submission Movement”, which I believe is very relevant to our discussion. This paper spoke out against the Discipleship and Submission Movement but at the same time it gives a clear understanding of the AOG position with regards to the role of the congregation in relation to the pastor. I apologise for the lengthy quotes but they are needed to give a full flavour of the discussion.

“Paul recognized that the elders (pastors) of the congregations in Ephesus had a responsibility to feed the flock, the church (local assembly) of God. He warned that wolves would enter among them, not sparing the flock. But he also warned that from among these elders or undershepherds themselves, men would arise and twist the Scripture to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:28–30). That is, they will seem to be good teachers but will twist the truth at some points in order to build a following for themselves. Thus believers need more than a human shepherd to protect them. They need to develop their own ability to search and understand the Scriptures under the guidance of the Spirit, who alone can lead into all truth (John 16:13).”

“Along with this there is a current tendency to downgrade democracy in the church in favor of submission to authority. It is supposed that apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church exercised authority over the church in Jerusalem and other churches as well. A closer examination of the Scripture shows that when the seven were chosen to administer aid to the widows, the apostles merely stated the qualifications and asked the people to choose or elect seven men (Acts 6:3, 5). In Acts 14:23 where Paul and Barnabas “ordained” (KJV) elders in every church, the Greek word for ordain means to choose or elect by the raising of hands. Though it is correctly translated “chosen” in 2 Corinthians 8:19, some say it cannot mean elect in Acts 14:23 because the apostles are the subject. There is no reason, however, why the verb may not indicate that Paul and Barnabas laid down the qualifications for elders (as in1 Timothy 3:1–7) and then conducted an election. We see variety in the New Testament rather than one rigid type of organization. The purpose of organization was always to meet the need and accomplish the task, never just to organize for organization’s sake.”

“With regard to the position of the believer, the tendency of this shepherding movement seems to be to over allegorize the Scripture, pressing its analogies too far. The believer is said to be a ‘dumb’ sheep.”

“The context shows that all are to come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. None are to be as children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. All are to speak the truth in love so they may grow up into Him in all things. Unlike the human body, when every part of the body of Christ is in its proper place, every part receives from Christ directly, so that the Body increases and edifies itself in love.”

“God has set pastor-teachers in the Church (Ephesians 4:11) as a part of the variety of ministry to the whole Body. To reject these ministries is to deliberately reject the wise provision of the Head of the Church who is the giver of these gifts. On the other hand, however, to suggest that a Christian does not have access to God or guidance from Him apart from a human shepherd is going to the opposite extreme and denies what the Bible teaches about the believer’s direct access to God (Hebrews 4:14–16).”

An open minded reading of these three AOG-USA position papers would not support a pastor-dominant church structure. On the contrary the role of the ordinary member in the congregation is emphasized. That appears to be the AOG position.

AOG-USA position papers are not very helpful in providing guidance on church governance. Of the 26 position papers put out by the AOG-USA none deal with church organization structure or church management. It would appear that the AOG-USA General Council intentionally shy away from taking positions on these very important issues. There is no evidence of an AOG mandated church organizational structure and no mandated guidelines on the constitution for an AOG church. AOG-USA did, in response to an increasing demand from churches, produce a sample constitution in the form of “Recommended Bylaws for Local Assemblies”. However it must be noted that there are no restrictions on the local congregation amending the constitution as deemed necessary. There are no mandatory provisions except for the Tenets of Faith.

Why did the AOG not issue position papers on the very important issues of church organizational structure and church government? I believe it is because AOG does not consider itself a denomination but just a cooperative or a fellowship of independent sovereign churches. Church organizational structure and governance are left to be determined by the congregation of each church.

As such the FGTF should not rely only on the AOG-USA position papers in its deliberation. A more useful source of guidance would be the 2003 Fall and 2004 Winter issues of the AOG Enrichment Journal (“EJ”). This official AOG journal is written essentially by AOG pastors for the benefit of AOG pastors. It is not intended for the AOG congregation. These two issues of the journal were dedicated to the topic of managing the local church and the articles do provide useful guidance on the subject. However, it must also be noted that these are journal articles and not AOG position papers. As I commented earlier the AOG does not seem to take positions on church organizational structure or church governance.

Although AOG-Malaysia is an independent fraternity and is not under AOG-USA, nonetheless the thinking, culture and practices of our American brethren would generally guide the AOG churches in Malaysia. To limit our discourse and recognising that Calvary is an AOG church, I will refer only to AOG sources to support my comments and suggestions to the FGTF. I will take the views expressed in the Enrichment Journal as being representative of AOG leadership. I have added the bold typeface to some words in the quotes for emphasis.

1. AOG on Church Governance

From the above, it would appear that Calvary Church is not restricted by any AOG guidelines or limitations on the way it is to be governed and managed. We can design the most suitable organization structure to meet our needs. We are free to have the best governance processes and practices and perhaps be an example to other AOG churches.

In the interview with Enrichment Journal, Thomas Trask, the then General Superintendant of AOG-USA responded as follows.
“There are several church-governance models used today. What governance model is most effective for churches?
Trask: A governance model should not put all authority in leadership. None of the biblical models do that. A governance model that gives the pastor the flexibility he needs, but also has accountability built within that model, is critical. If this is not done, the church may end up with a dictatorship where the authority is invested in one person who has no accountability. In the Word of God we see that with leadership comes accountability. (Trask, EJ2003 Fall)

Another AOG-USA leader, T.R. Rachels, Superintendant of Southern California District Council, has this to say:
“The single most effective strategy for building public confidence in organizational church life is accountability. Without openness and transparency that provides disclosure of decisions and actions, a pastoral leader invites suspicion and mistrust. One of the important ways to build trust is to have good church governance.”

“The foundation of accountability is a uniform governance standard to which everyone must conform.” (Rachels, EJ 2003 Fall)

It would appear that both these international AOG leaders do not subscribe to a pastor-dominant church structure or culture. Indeed, they are advocating for transparency and accountability.

2. Hillsong Church Australia

Hillsong Church, the largest AOG church in Australia, has made this public statement on its corporate governance.
“Hillsong Church’s governance policies are based on the Australian Stock Exchange Principles of Good Corporate Governance and Best Practice Recommendations, together with adherence to foundational Biblical values. Hillsong Church has opted to make the disclosures in this statement in the interests of good governance and in recognition of its financial and social responsibilities, even though it is not required by law to comply with the ASX principles.”

Hillsong has decided that it will comply with governance principles and best practices required of public listed companies in Australia. Similarly Calvary Church can choose to comply with the governance principles and best practices as enunciated by the Securities Commission of Malaysia for Malaysian public listed companies. To do so would only bring us up to the standards of the world. The Church should have higher standards.

3. Singapore Code of Governance

Across the causeway, our neighbour Singapore has also pronounced a Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPC). Churches are IPCs and Singapore churches are now required to comply with this code. The FGTF may wish to be guided by the Singapore Code.

Some AOG-USA churches and organizations are members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The FGTF may find the “ECFA Standards and Best Practices for Churches” a useful resource.

4. Calvary a Congregational Church

George Wood who is now the AOG-USA General Superintendent, writing on the “Biblical forms of church governance” said:
“The Assemblies of God has always believed and practiced that congregational government is both a preferred biblical and practical model. There is plenty of Scripture to warrant this view. The Jerusalem church elected the replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15–23) and selected deacons (Acts 6:1–7). Not only is there a New Testament basis for congregational government, we have also experienced these benefits: (1) it has permitted a sense of ownership by the local church, thereby promoting a greater measure of personal responsibility for the well-being of the body; (2) leadership must be in touch with the membership to sustain election—their authority derives not from the appointment of a bishop (superintendent) but from the people’s earned respect; and (3) persons with strong leadership gifts flourish in a congregational atmosphere where there is not the fettering of an overreaching hierarchical church denominational bureaucracy.”

“Clearly, there are problems in any form of local church government if leadership is unwise or self-seeking, or if the local church itself has a history of unwholesome spiritual pathology.”

“At the start of this new century, we would do well to realize that governance for local churches requires some flexibility, that one style does not necessarily fit all. The dangers lying on the opposite sides of the continuum are twofold: (1) an authoritarian, dictatorial, and ego-centered control (always masked behind a guise of "spiritually strong leadership"), and (2) an entrenched voting bloc within a sick church that votes out any pastor under whom the church begins to grow.” (Wood, EJ 2003 Fall)

R.L. Dresselhaus writing in the Enrichment Journal of 2003 Fall said:
“Finally, governmental structures vary greatly from church to church…The typical Assemblies of God church follows a congregational form of church government—the pastor and board are elected by the full membership of the church. There are, however, modifications to this model that sometimes include a board of elders, either appointed or recognized, to serve alongside the elected deacon board. …Great care must be taken that the leadership structure of the church is representative of the people and separated from all forms of autocratic and dictatorial rule.” (Dresselhaus, EJ2003 Fall)

In Wikipedia, “Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.”

In the preface to the sample church constitution it is stated:

“It would be well to impress upon the members of the church board at the time of their election that they have been chosen by the assembly to serve, rather than to rule. While they are entrusted with the responsibility of handling the routine business of the church, all major matters affecting the church should be passed on to the congregation as recommendations, permitting the assembly to make its own decisions. This rule is vital for the peace and harmony of the assembly life.”

“The church board is chosen to assist the pastor. The final decision for all major action rests with the congregation in accordance with the provisions of the bylaws.”

Calvary is a congregational church. The FGTF must ensure that the spirit and substance of the above statements are made real and actualized in our constitution and the governance processes. More importantly it must not only be in words but also in deeds; in our practices and behaviour as a church. Members must participate actively and meaningfully in church governance. They must be allowed to decide freely without manipulation, coercion or spiritual domination.

5. Calvary Church Organization Structure

The AOG position paper, “Qualifications and Responsibilities of Deacons and Trustees” cannot be used to support the organization chart as presented at the briefing. The chart is illogical and not reflective even of the existing provisions in our constitution. The FGTF may seek the advice of organizational experts and ask them how they would depict the chart according to our constitution.

We are a congregational church. There is nothing wrong with putting the “Members at General Meeting” at the top of the chart. They elect the senior pastor and the deacons. Together, the pastor and the deacons form the Board which is a separate entity. This entity is responsible for the senior pastor. In turn the senior pastor is accountable to the Board. This would not in anyway lessen the role and authority of the senior pastor or the deacons. It would not reduce the respect we have for them as church leaders. This is how the constitution intended it to be. And there is nothing in the AOG position papers to dictate against such a structure.

Therefore, I request that the FGTF redraw the organization chart as it should be drawn.

6. AOG on Financial Management

In the 2004 Winter Enrichment Journal, Thomas Trask was interviewed and he said:
“Who should determine how the finances of the church are disbursed?
Trask: "First, the pastor needs to know how money is being spent, but he should not be handling the finances. A church needs to require two signatures on each check. If the pastor is one of the designated people to sign the check, then he needs to have somebody else—the treasurer or another board member—signing as well.
There must be an accounting for the church’s finances at the monthly board meeting. There also needs to be an annual audit so the people know that the money they gave was handled properly and that there is financial accountability. This honors the congregation. It isn’t our money; it’s their money. It isn’t our church; it’s their church. When everything is done above board, there are no secrets. Openness in handling finances is healthy for a congregation.”

J.P. Joseph writing in the 2004 Winter issue of the Enrichment Journal said:
“If there has ever been a time for pastors to have their churches’ finances in order, it is today. Whether warranted or not, the media is searching for CEO mismanagement. Newspapers swirl with stories of mismanagement from Enron to WorldCom. Some of this searching is justified, but there is a deeper message: Corporate leaders in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations are being scrutinized for leadership and fiduciary responsibilities. They are being held accountable by their shareholders, and in the case of religious organizations, their members.
How is your church managing its money? Is everything in order? Is the senior pastor unjustly benefiting? What would happen if someone inspected under a microscope what your church is doing?
In 1 Corinthians 14:40, Paul wrote, "Let all things be done decently and in order.’

“When handling money, always consider protective measures or what is commonly called internal controls. These barriers prevent theft and any accusations concerning mismanagement of funds. Generally, pastors need to avoid handling money, and employees or volunteers assigned to this task should do so in the presence of others.” (Joseph, EJ2004 Winter)

It would appear that the FGTF is still retaining the role of the senior pastor in the financial management of the Calvary Church. The above statements from AOG leaders would advise against it.

7. The Missions Department and the Extended Ministries

Presently the existence of the Missions Department and the Extended Ministries are not covered by the Church Constitution. It is imperative that the Constitution be amended to rectify this very serious shortcoming. The FGTF may recall that at the last AGM Bro Lee Tuck Heng conveyed to the members the opinion of his Technical Partner that all the various components of the Church must be included in the accounts to be presented to the members. The accounts of the Missions Department were already presented. The members voted for the accounts of the Extended Ministries to be annexed to the main church accounts. To ensure that there is a clear understanding that the “Church” includes all its components this must be spelt out clearly in the constitution.

8. Internal Audit Function

As the biggest AOG church in Malaysia with multi-million Ringgit cashflow through multi sources and locations, I believe it would serve us well to establish an internal audit function as a management tool. I am sure the FGTF is familiar with the role and usefulness of such a function. If coordinated properly it could well reduce the audit fees we have to pay to the external auditors. The internal audit function should report directly to the Audit Committee of the Board. I believe the FGTF is thinking of such a committee.

9. Reserve Lists

From experience I have found that a quick way to improve governance is to establish clearly defined reserve lists for decisions and actions including financial ones. The FGTF may wish to define a list of decisions and actions that can only be done by the members at general meeting. These decisions and actions cannot be delegated to the Board of Deacons or any other person or persons in the church.

A similar reserve list should also be established for the Board of Deacons. Again these decisions and actions are reserved for the Board sitting as the Board. They cannot be delegated to any deacon or any board committee or any person in the church.

The same process can then be done for board committees and individual deacon or employee of the church. There will be a logical flow of authority downward and a flow of accountability upwards. Through this process we would be able to develop a chart of authority limits. I am sure most of you would have worked with such authority limits.

I thank you once again for all your hard work. I trust my comments and suggestions would be considered useful by your committee. My comments and suggestions are supported only by the resources available on the AOG-USA website; essentially the position papers and the Enrichment Journal. If the FGTF has other AOG authorities on the subject please let me know.

I request that this memo be posted on your webpage in its entirety to progress the discussion further. I will also be sharing this memo with some of the concerned members of the Church.

Thanking you.

Yours in Christ,

Signed: Wong Hong Meng


Saturday, March 21, 2009


Kangaroo Court finds him guilty!

As expected, Calvary Church’s first Kangaroo Court, has found Dr Lum guilty of unscriptural conduct and our BOD has promptly issued him a Letter of Termination of membership on 20 March 2009. A copy of the letter is published below.

The trumped-up charge of unscriptural conduct against Dr Lum resulted from his recent exposure of the improper use of church funds and the unscriptural conduct of the Senior Pastor (SP) and his deacons.

The Panel of Inquiry which conducted the proceedings in the absence of Dr Lum on 28 February 2009 consisted of Dato Nelson as the Chairman, Bro Puan Chen Keck and Sis Peggy Low. Dato Nelson is a good buddy of SP and was the one who spoke up strongly in support of SP at the last EGM. He was also instrumental in helping SP receive his Datukship title and he is well-known among many members as an avid 3D/4D lottery punter. His independence and impartiality is highy questionable. Little is known about the other two panel members.