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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: May 19, 2011 01:23AM

Quote
pentecostal

"I think this very much exposes the individualism that pervades society and the church in general today.”

perhaps you’d prefer a society that emphasises harmony and decries individualism... say- something like China, both the old or new flavours ? Or maybe something a little more...... buddhist ?


"People don't like being told what to do - period. You see it everywhere and it is a sad sight. “

Exactly. All those protesters in northern africa and Uganda take heed. Obey your leaders. Go back to your homes !. Stop complaining!.

"People should not compare Struthers against how cosy and accommodating their new church is”


To my recollection NONE of the posters here have stated that the reason they left SMC was because they wanted something more “cosy” or “accommodating”. Please don’t use the "straw man” fallacy when defending the SMC. I also sense a slight ad hominem at play here too.


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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: May 19, 2011 01:59AM

pentecostal,

I’d like to thank you for adding your thoughts here.

You makes some good points and we certainly do need to be balanced and not just “preach to the choir”.

"Them that sin, rebuke before all that others may also fear.”

This would be fine if the sin in question was one which was clearly observable by - preferably more than one witness, but when such rebuke is being carried out merely on the basis of an internal “feeling” or “discernment”, and where the accused vociferously rejects the allegation, I think a healthy amount of humility and restraint is required of the leader even an acknowledgment of error and a public apology if appropriate.

Maybe some of the good things you mention about the SMC - healings, deliverances, etc has led to a kind of of spiritual “hubris” among leaders, making them feel that they no longer have to question what their "inner voice” is telling them.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: May 20, 2011 12:54AM

Hi Pentecostal

Firstly thanks for sharing your views. Id like to pick up on a number of points. You say you want to give your opinion in the interests of fairness and balance. As you know this forum is open for ANYONE to comment. So far this is the 18th page of comments and apart from yourself there have only been 2 other contributors who are Pro Struthers so to speak. As my memory serves me each of these comments has been based around the concept that the people commenting here, simply dont want to serve God and want an 'cosy church' experience. That they left Struthers and are now airing their views in this forum, only goes to prove this further.

It would be nice for somebody from Struthers to acknowledge the pain and hurt caused to everyone who has commented on this forum and to the countless others. It is assumed that all those who left were embroilled in some deep seated sin but as Susan said this accusation was never based on fact but a 'spiritual hunch' of Struthers leaders

The question I have for you Pentecostal is this. Taking Struthers out of the equation for a moment. Imagine a minister of a church has 'discerned' that someone in their church is involved in a particular sin. They have not seen this person involved in this sin, neither has anyone else. No complaints have been made against this person. When this person is spoken to about the ministers 'discernment' they are able to look the minister in the eye and say. "You have this wrong pastor .. I assure you that I have never had anything to do with the kind of sin you speak about" My question is this. What should that Pastor then do? Should they take the person at their word or should they treat them as if they were guilty?

The Bible speaks many times about things being established by "the testimony of two or three witnesses" This is the way we are to deal with those caught in sin

1. They have to have actually commited the sin - not just something we suspect
2. We go to them in private - if they repent Praise God we have won them back to the Lord
3. If they refuse to repent we take 2 or 3 witnesses with us to speak to them. If they repent see above
4. If they still refuse to listen we take it to the church
5. If they still refuse to repent we treat them as 'spagans and tax collectors' (Matthew 18:15-17)

The Struthers way is this.

1. You get a hunch about someone so you go and confront them with no real evidence
2. They deny being invloved with the sin
3. Despite their denial you treat them as 'pagans and tax collectors'

There is the confrontation with scripture. I now live in hope that Struthers will change their ways and apologise to all those who have been hurt whilst they have acted unscriptually in this way. The onlu justification I can see for not doing this is if the stance is taken that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a Struthers leader to be wrong. In which case the person who is confronted is obviously lying about their involvement with the said sin. Is this the case in Struthers? If not, will they apologise to those whom have been deeply hurt?

I just want to make my position extremely clear on the other points you make. Firstly, yes I have see discipline taken in my church. A few years ago a man was constantly making passes at female members of the congregation. The pastor and eldership spoke to him about his behaviour, prayed with him, yet despite his repentance at that time he continued with his behaviour. With deep anguish the pastor finally had to ask him to leave the church. I also have an accountablility partner who I asked to correct me if she ever sees me getting things wrong. I welcome godly correction.

The main aim of confronting someone about sin is that they repent and are restored back to a right relationship with God. It should never be to humiliate, punish, ostracise or assert ones superiority as a Christian over another believer. Everything should be done with love and humility, knowing that we too are weak and falliable creatures. I honestly do not personally know of one minister of the gospel who would not confront sinful behaviour in the life of a member of their congregation and as painful as it may be at the time I have and will always be grateful for men and women of God who correct me when Im getting it wrong.However this is a million miles away from from the experience had by myself and many of the forum contributors, whilst at Struthers.

I thank you for having the courage of your convictions and speaking up for what you see as right. I now challenge you to do this - go back and read peoples experiences from a neutral standpoint. Then see if you can genuinely find justification for the way people have been treated. The people on this forum, as I see it, are not writing out of malice, bitterness or revenge. They have been deeply hurt and are simply trying to make some sense of it and to help others who are struggling. As I said earlier, the bible says that everything is to be establised on the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses. At a guess Id say there were 15 or more people here, who all testify to appaling treatment at the hands of Struthers leaders. Does this not establish biblically that there is a problem which needs to be addressed and its not just bitter people having a gripe cos they have nothing better to do? You decide



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2011 01:06AM by CovLass.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: pentecostal ()
Date: May 20, 2011 06:34AM

Clive,

I think you exaggerate to make your own point. We do not need to compare a church to China or any other dictatorship, people are free to leave a church if they wish - they won't be sent to the Gulag. In fact, people leaving churches is not a feature unique to Struthers, it happens everywhere due to personal or general grievances, real or imagined. People disagree ... they adapt or move on. I don't have to agree 100% with everything my church teaches or practises. I do not expect to find the perfect church this side of eternity. Weigh all things and if the church is on balance going in the right direction, stay and support them.

Sorry, but if someone goes to another church then it must ipso facto be more accommodating. Can you see someone going to a less accommodating church? Cosy? Would they go somewhere where there is more perceived pain?

seekingsusan,

I am not going to speak on individual cases, I do not have all the information from BOTH sides of any given "case history" to make a sensible judgement. Do leaders make mistakes? Yes. Paul rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy in handling the gentiles. That does not mean I am going to say specific cases were mistakes. Perhaps you are you referring to individuals being trained in the gift of discernment who may make the occassional misjudgement as they mature and progress?

Your references to internal feeling or discernment suggests to me that you do not believe these discernments were divinely given. Do you think that happened 100% of the time? Do you think they ever happened? If you accept there is anointing 98% of the time, why chuck it all out for 2% (I speak theoretically)?

Gfits can be misused, I Corinthians clearly shows that - nevertheless the gifts continued to be genuine but in earthen vessels and their continued use was encouraged. If I left a church every time I saw a misuse of a gift, I would be continually on the move!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: May 20, 2011 07:03AM

pentecostal:

Most Protestant churches have a democratically elected church government, which is elected by the general membership by secret ballot. Board members then serve fixed terms and regularly stand for reelection. The board manages the church finances, sets salaries, hires and fires. The board has the power to fire the pastor it deems such action necessary.

Did or does Struthers have such a democratically elected church government?

Most Protestant churches have meaningful financial transparency. That is, an annual budget is published, independently audited by an outside accounting firm and then distributed to all donors, which discloses in detail all expenses, salaries and compensation paid out from church funds.

Does Struthers publish such a detailed and independently audited annual report?

You are right. Paul did rebuke Peter. Moreover, Paul rebuked church leaders for excessively controlling and manipulating church members in Galatians.

So it is recognized in the New Testament that leaders may do wrong and can be criticized.

Jesus himself said that many would come in his name, but he would not know them.

The safeguards of democratically elected church government and meaningful financial transparency are often the best protection from wolves dressed in sheep's clothing.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: May 20, 2011 09:48AM

pentecostal,


"Sorry, but if someone goes to another church then it must ipso facto be more accommodating. Can you see someone going to a less accommodating church? Cosy? Would they go somewhere where there is more perceived pain? “

Your choice of words here is I think deliberate and misleading. Why not replace your word choice “more accomodating” with “less controlling”. And replace your “perceived pain” with “perceived harm”. It works just as well. And you still appear to be disingenuously implying that people were leaving because they wanted a spirituallly “easier life”. Basically what we have here is a disguised “ad hominem”.

"Do leaders make mistakes? Yes.” I’m sorry but i dont think what is at play here is merely a few mistakes. This is clearly a systemic problem that stems from a certain leadership culture that has pervaded SMC.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: May 20, 2011 07:00PM

Hi English, good to hear from you. I remember the Pudsey group well, including a story about one of you nearly being sold for 25 camels, or something like that.

I also heard about the money being invested and lost in the stock market crash, and a number of professionals leaving at that point as they thought what happened was unacceptable. I know Mr Black volunteered to resign over this at a Saturday night meeting, but there was no notice of the meeting in advance, no written report, no real analysis of why it had happened and no action.

I think that answer the moderators question about whether the organisation is financially transparent – if they were, there would be a written report on this matter.

Pentecostal, you need to think carefully about what you are actually saying here- see my comments below.

“in the interests of balance an fairness” – great, we are all for that. Welcome to the forum and thanks for contributing.

“I find the tone too biased” – really? that is an entirely different matter. Bias implies prejudice or an unfair slant. I assume you don’t know most of the people here, how can you accuse them of prejudice or bias? Sorry, but this is typical Struthers-speak. Instead of answering the question, you criticise the way it is asked. “I find the tone” other than confirming the fact that you are criticising the individuals, not the quantity of responses, what does that mean? Do you have a criticism of what has actually been said, or is it just something about the “tone”? If there are things you disagree with, say them – I am sure they will contribute to the debate, and add to the overall picture, but please do not accuse people of bias or criticise the tone of what they say. Deal with the issues, rather than basing your comments on presumptions about the people raising them (bias perhaps?)

Thankfully, you do go on to do this, raising an actual example of a matter referred to in scripture when you say; " ‘If he refuses to listen to them (i.e. 2 or 3 witnesses), tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’. Ever seen that happen at your local church? Now we may debate how this public ostracisation is done, but I have seen it done in very few churches”

With regard to this question, can I first ask you to remind me how Jesus treated tax collectors and sinners? You seem to make an interesting jump between treating people as tax collectors and sinners and ostracisation. Do you have any scripture to back up this equivalence? That’s not what I read of how Jesus treated tax collectors and sinners.

Second, and more importantly, I don’t see how this comment is relevant to this thread. This thread is about Struthers Memorial Church, but you do not mention them in this context, you simply talk about whether people have seen this happen in their new church. Are you implying that this is something Struthers does? If so, I have not seen any evidence of it in Struthers or in this forum. Do you actually know of any cases where there have been 2 or 3 witnesses, and action has been taken on that basis? I am NOT asking whether you know of cases where THE LEADERS HAVE SAID there have been 2 or 3 witnesses, I am asking whether you have actually heard these witnesses speak with their own mouths. In your following post you say, “I do not have all the information from BOTH sides of any given "case history" to make a sensible judgement.” If that is so, how do you know that Struthers does in fact implement the practice you quote above? You don’t. All you know is that the leaders tell you that is what they are doing. And linking this back to my earlier comments, how can you accuse people of bias when you admit you cannot make a sensible judgment about any given case? If you cannot make a judgment, please do not accuse people of being bias.

Finally, is that really the test of a good church? Whether they ostracise their members? That is not the test that Scripture suggests we use. It might be worth having another look at an article I quoted earlier [smallvoices.net]

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: May 21, 2011 08:45AM

Pentecostal

You say that leaders can be wrong but do you mean other leaders can be wrong or do you admit that Struthers leaders can be wrong? This is important as I recently listened to a message from a Struthers leader that says they are never wrong (at the very least in terms of ministry)

You say

"Perhaps you are you referring to individuals being trained in the gift of discernment who may make the occassional misjudgement as they mature and progress?" and

"If I left a church every time I saw a misuse of a gift, I would be continually on the move!"

I am actually referring to the pastor of the church, Diana Rutherford. Im sure you would agree that she is not considered to be someone who is learning the ropes. Now ok she is human and lets take the stance that she can make a mistake. I really don't have a problem with someone making a mistake. The issue I have is what happens after someone has made a mistake. If I worked in a shop and somebody pointed out that I had mistakenly short changed them, my response would be to apologise and immediately rectify the matter.

This doesnt happen at Struthers. This forum shows that a number of times, leaders have spoken out what they feel is a discernment and have been told they are wrong. Yet there is no apology, no seeking to put right any damage or distress caused by the accusation, no lifting of any sanctions made due to this incorrect discernment being made. In fact despite the lack of evidence, despite the said person declaring before God that they are innocent, despite anything else, the leaders word on the discernment is taken as given.

Human error happens, its an acceptable part of life. However spiritual abuse is never acceptable. I have seen many good people destroyed because someone has abused their power and any gifting they may or may not have.

Secondly you contradict yourself. You say

"Weigh all things and if the church is on balance going in the right direction, stay and support them. Sorry, but if someone goes to another church then it must ipso facto be more accommodating. Can you see someone going to a less accommodating church? Cosy? Would they go somewhere where there is more perceived pain?"

So, what if you weigh all things and you discover that the church is NOT going in the right direction? What if you weigh all things and you discover spiritual abuse, misuse of scripture and many other causes for concern? The sensible thing to do is to leave and find a church that is going in the right direction.

So its not 'ipso facto' that anyone who leaves a church is leaving because they want an easier, more cosy lifestyle. It may well be that they want to attend a church that lives according to New Testament standards, with leaders who have got the humility to admit mistakes and the guts to put things right. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul says that if he, anybody else or even an angel from heaven preaches another gospel, let them be eternally condemned. Pretty strong words and a pretty good reason for those who were associated with such a church to get out and find a church that preached the true gospel of Christ.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2011 08:47AM by CovLass.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: May 21, 2011 06:40PM

I think what we have here is a church and its defenders that value above all else:

1) Obedience to leaders

2) Groupthink. ( I think many inside SMC would do well to read some George Orwell )

Naturally attempts by Covlass and Petitor will fall on deaf ears in such a situation. It is part of the human condition to defend ones own beliefs and loyalties, regardless of being confronted by new facts that contradict things.

Such True believers in SMC will forever find new rationalisations to explain awkward realities such as illustrated by Covlass here. In fact their position will harden rather than be forced to accept that they might be wrong in some way.


Tomorrow many Americans who followed loyally the teachings of another “wise leader” - Harold Camping are going to be faced with facts that contradict his predictions concerning the rapture. I would suggest that everone carefully notes all the rationalisations and defences his followers will invent just to avoid the painful confession that they - as mortals, got things wrong.

And please get ready to read reports that indicate many will actually HARDEN their stance, not admit failure. Many will come to their senses, but those “true believers” at the inner core of the Camping movement will instead batten down the hatches and continue to admit any fallibility. And yes - of course blame wlll firmly be placed on the “outsiders”. Who - since they are “not us” - must be evil and full of sin in their life.

And of course SMC will only likewise be encouraged that “attacks” from the devil - via outsiders and critics - like us here - are just another sign that the SMC must be doing something right. Its yet another case of persecution that must be bravely stood up against. SMC should “fight the good fight” and never apologise for any criticism. Never admit error.

By all means let leaders use an admission of fallibility if it can silence criticism and prevent the docile SMC followers beginning any process of re-thinking things - but then as soon as things go back to “normal” just revert to the old pattern of condemning any form of dissent. The leaders are right “95%” of the time and “thats good enough for us". As intimated by “Pentecostal” leaders should just push these minor “embarrassments” under the carpet.

Above all, one must never lose faith in Struthers Memorial Church, for to lose faith in the Struthers Leadership would be to abandon faith in God and be let lose among the wolves.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: May 22, 2011 04:07PM

CovLass, you are (once again!) spot on in your analysis. The Leaders in Struthers can go around saying “yes of course we make mistakes” all they like, but until they take action to correct these mistakes, no-one is going to believe them. As I said on 22 March:

“Confusion and upset, and it is always the fault of the people, never the fault of the leaders. That is why I think Matt 5v23 is so important. It shows that Christ did not say to people – ‘ignore any wrong to those around you, just go into a corner and pray. As long as you can feel My presence in meetings it will all be fine.’ He said that you were accountable TO OTHER PEOPLE for your actions, and you had to respond to their concerns. Mr Black frequently confirmed this when he spoke of Cain and Able, "Cain asked 'Am I my brothers keeper' and God's answer was yes, you are."

You know, I have just read over the last 18 pages of comments (took a while!) and there is just so much clarity and consistency there. So many people that did not settle for accepting someone else’s second-hand belief, but wanted a direct relationship with God. People that could not be trapped in delusion but, often through real trauma, broke free of the oppression.

That is why I don’t entirely agree with your comment Clive,

“Naturally attempts by Covlass and Petitor will fall on deaf ears in such a situation. It is part of the human condition to defend ones own beliefs and loyalties, regardless of being confronted by new facts that contradict things.”

In many cases, they will. I take your point entirely as far as the leaders are concerned. They and the favoured few who get all the attention have stopped their ears and have no interest in the truth, only their cosy delusion. I am not so sure about others in the congregation however. The situation is very much the Emperors New Clothes. Almost all of the congregation know in their hearts that they are getting nowhere in Struthers. All it takes is for one or two to ask some questions, for example asking the leaders whether they believe in Matthew 5v23. They will discover that the leaders are hypocrites who put their own discernment before scripture, as their reply will be something like, “yes of course I believe in that verse, and if God ever told me to apply it, I would, but he has told me not to apply it to people I have hurt or to those nasty people on RickRoss”. That puts them above scripture, and in direct conflict with God, and most people will see that.

It will take time, but the leaders of Stuthers are not more powerful than God. They are not even more powerful than human nature, and they cannot keep people trapped forever. One small breach in the dam, and the floods will open. The leaders know that, and that is why they are closing down, no longer publishing sermons online and removing the testimonies to healing form their website. If you want an idea of how it might develop, read some of the other threads on this forum, for example, the first few and the last few pages of Turning Point World Outreach Centre. Many, many other churches have claimed the same unique access to God but reality catches up eventually.

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