Recession? What recession? S’pore church raises $19m in 24 hours

03.10.09 | Comment?

Six years away from Singapore and the megachurches continue to grow and make the headlines in ever newer ways. Some things have changed and some things haven’t. Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church (which I used to attend and play the keyboard for) continues to wow the crowds with his magic (no kidding). Lighthouse Evangelism, led by the miracle-working Rony Tan, has opened up a new church in Woodlands and services at both buildings are now linked by live teleconference, like FCBC’s used to be. Not happy with their S$48 million building in Jurong, City Harvest (which wants you to know they’re the first titanium clad building in Asia that also has the largest stainless steel cross and the largest sound console in the world) is now looking to build a new building downtown. They’ll have no problem doing that some day because their coffers are bursting to overflowing — thank God for sermons which they can sell digitally at S$8 a pop and singles at S$1.99! The senior pastor Kong Hee continues to trot around the globe while his wife, having given up the pulpit a few years ago, does pretty well for herself as God’s ambassador to the music world with her chart-topping hits (check out this MV where she gets all ghetto and grinds it with Jamaican rappers as a *gasp* bikini-wearing geisha). She now has no problem sharing the stage with someone like Peter Rauhofer at the Dance Music Awards (I wonder if she knew he was gay?).

Today in the Straits Times we read of another of these churches, New Creation, and their super-duper money-raising feat:

THEY came, they listened and they contributed. The 22,000-strong congregation rallied when their senior pastor, Pastor Joseph Prince, 45, asked them for help in funding the construction of their premises in the Integrated Hub, during a special service held on Feb 15.

Located at Vista Xchange at one-north in Buona Vista, the hub is scheduled for completion by mid-2012.

The nine-storey civic and cultural plaza in the complex, developed by Rock Productions – the commercial-development arm of New Creation Church – will house a 5,000-seat auditorium.

Let’s put things in a little perspective here. The nation is looking at the possibility of shrinking 10% this year, which has just about everyone freaking out, and this wonderful organisation that claims to serve the community responds to that by building itself a church cum shopping mall all rolled into one? Wow! That’s some major lost opportunities we’re talking about here, and I’m talking from a purely PR perspective!

I’m not sure Jesus ever asked for a high-tech multi-million dollar house but I do remember him throwing the money-changers and merchants out of the temple. Just ask me a few years ago and I would never have said this, but boy, what shameless merchants these pastors are becoming nowadays! With fund-raising methods and name-it-claim-it teachings imported straight from the US of A, it’s no wonder churches are now making their brand of Christianity more easily accessible to Singaporeans these days. Jesus Christ, after all, is not so different from the Fortune God people have been praying to in the past. Just replace one with the other and you won’t even have to dust some stupid statue no more!

The “God wants you to be rich” theology is so easily palatable because there is nothing people love in life more than money. Just think about it — would you be a more popular pastor if you told your congregants they could have anything they wanted in this life if they believed it strongly enough or if you told them they needed to sell all their possessions and give it to the poor in order to store up treasure in heaven?

And boy what a gullible bunch we Singaporeans have shown ourselves to be when it comes to money. We hand over the dough when the pastor tells us God wants us to build him a shopping mall, and we hand over our votes when the government offers us pittance from our own money just before an election. Incidentally, the church and the government are the only two organisations in the world that don’t really have to “work” for your money and yet can lay claim to your money on a regular basis via taxes and tithes.

I hate to say it’s taken me this long away to develop some real critical thinking, to realise what lies I’ve been taught in the name of God in the past, and to set myself free from the wool they’ve pulled over my eyes for so long. But all is not wasted and I’m making up for lost time — you see, I was blind but now I see.

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