LifeGate Church – State of the Union Address?

A US president makes the State of the Union speech every January or February to “give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” In other words, a status report – of the union of the United States of America.

I reckon the self-labelled chief executive of a local church should likewise be asked to account to the congregation the “state of the union”, particularly a union of two churches. It has been more than 2 years since ICC Church and Oakleigh Cornerstone Church came together to form the LIfeGate Church of Christ in Glen Waverley. I wonder what the state of that union is.

At the board level, I am gone. My mate is on his way out, unless those of us who have been trying to persuade him otherwise, succeed. Strangely, Tham Fuan the pastor, who sees himself as the chief executive, was also given the prerogative to appoint the Board and the Chair. Disingenuously, he made a mate his Chair. The youngest of all board members and the most tied up with 3 young kids, a young and inexperienced chair was exactly not the sort of chair an enigmatic and reclusive “chief executive” needs but there it was – a Chair and “CEO” combination that wreaked havoc on the board for the next two years – not by any careless or reckless act but the opposite.  Inaction and non-responsiveness seems to be the order of the day. Even when plans and “strategies” appear to look good on paper, such inaction and unresponsive mantra meant much of what was tabled and approved just got ignored, only to be “reviewed” months later. I haven’t got a clue how to review something when no action has been taken.

 Initially, my mate the Chair of ICC and de facto pastor of ICC for 5 years before that, was omitted. He may have expressed a desire to be left out to have a rest but leaving aside the Asian tendency to be self-effacing, surely that expression needs to be countered – as not only good manners but also wisdom dictates – and cajoled if necessary, so that the preceding “pastor” and chair, continues to serve in a senior role. I discussed the matter with Tham Fuan at length at that time, and he finally invited my mate to be part of the Board. This was more than 2 years ago. Since then, he has all but by-passed virtually one half of the adult congregation. He does not engage the board and sits and mulls things either by himself or in some other forum – anything but before the board. In fact the board was discouraged from even getting involved in ministry matters. Ministry leaders appointed by him eventually formed the view that the board has no place in terms of providing input on ministry matters. He was to be their source of input. So the board is told to go sit in a corner and just approve what the ministry leaders ask for, nary a question to be asked.

Anyway, here I am… without a church and not knowing where I will find fellowship. My mate is unmotivated and disillusioned. We both feel betrayed and lied to. A third person feels even worse but that is another story. We were at his house for CNY last weekend and he regaled all his unhappiness with Tham Fuan and it is just incredible how many similar accounts I have now heard, all of which he seems to show no interest to engage the injured party to address the matter in a deep and meaningful way. “Touch and go” I once called it, meaning superficial touching on the surface and hurrying along, not dwelling to attempt a more engaging and meaningful outcome but skirting over things. Lazy mind, maybe. That appears to be his MO

State of the Union? Shudders. All the right appearance maybe, but dig deeper and you’d find mangled remains – wounds and scars everywhere.