LifeGate Church – What Gives?

The church I used to be part of – LifeGate Church fka ICC Church – has disintegrated into an administrative and governance mess. I suspect the leaders would rubbish this statement if one is to suggest to them that this was the case. However, if one of 4 remaining board members can be totally excluded from document and information circulation even after query, and that board member has his views and opinions locked out of deliberation and records, you know you have a lemon forum.

The remaining board members once prided themselves on their administrative skills. These skills included a failure to produce a simple contact list for members, at a time when contact was to be key to establish relationships in a newly merged church. I had provided a database of the old – ICC Church – members’ names and contact details but apparently they could not reciprocate and the list from the Cornerstone folks could not be provided. In its place, a convoluted process to have members provide details was concocted and the simple contact list could not be generated. I believe that list remains elusive and anyone wishing to contact someone in that church has to probably enrol in a graduate research program to master some obscure research skills to obtain something like a telephone number or address.

The claim to protect privacy is a curious one because this is a private and closed group. The list is to be one for church members and data was only going to be used for church matters. If the problem was a failure to understand what privacy laws are meant to do one need only ask for advice. Instead privacy was used as a reason for not producing the basic tool to keep each other informed and in touch. Strong administrative skills? Probably the same strength which lends itself to this exclusion of a board member from basic information and communication.

I guess even more grave is the fact that by twisting the basic governance matters of locking a board member out, the whole integrity of the process and the integrity of record generated comes into question.

How can one trust the minutes of meetings if they were generated with a view of locking out the presence of a board member? How can one be sure the others’ views were the objective and fair reflection of what actually went on and what the actual issues and concerns were? Whitewashed and skewed, they serve to paint a different picture – more akin to record of a despotic regime to prop up and justify one’s own existence, activities and of course… wages.

I know for a fact that the pastor takes home a healthy pay packet. Not opulent to be sure but by no means a pay packet that will create hardship in any event. I know not many in that church would take home a pay packet that would be the equivalent of perhaps in excess of $80,000 per annum. While (again) not a princely sum, it is probably not a pay packet that would be offered by too many churches or like organisations. So the financial incentive to stay and justify one’s existence is sufficiently strong I guess.

Strong enough to make things look rosier than it really is? Probably. Strong enough to try and paint oneself as the party in the right and the others who oppose him as those in the wrong? Strong enough to look like nothing is wrong and everything is travelling along well? One never knows. He has after all, stated quite clearly that the livelihood of pastors need to be protected. We all didn’t know the principle of not muzzling the ox I guess and I guess we needed to be told. But to put into question the integrity of a church by compromising the governance and administrative process so that the meetings and records generated are looking like a farce? Strange? Not if Tham Fuan remains at the lofty role of Senior Pastor.


Quick celebration in Klang, curse momentarily forgotten

It was one of those crazy trips. It was a chilly morning last Friday. Tress and I decided to have a hot Chinese breakfast so we went to Box Hill and we had some hot congee. After that Tress drove me to Tulla and I took the arvo flight to KL, arriving at KLIA around 8.30pm.

We had a wonderful celebration of my mum’s birthday on Sat night – she looked really happy. There were great drinks around – including a really nice bottle of scotch (a Chivas Royal Salute) and a great bottle of brandy (Cordon Bleu) – but I couldn’t enjoy them unrestrained as I had to be up early to get to the airport the next day for a 10am flight back…

I got back home in Melbourne on Sunday night just before 10pm, went to bed and went for an office planning day on Monday… what a weekend that was.

At least it saved me from having to think about what to do for church on Sunday. Tham Fuan’s curse hasn’t abated but at least temporarily forgotten…