ExoDay Exposé

Exo Loo

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports…

“The evangelical organisation to which the Hillsong Church belongs has denied Hillsong is using New South Wales public schools to recruit new members.

The state’s Federation of Parents and Citizens says it has received complaints that the Hillsong Church has been trying to convert public school students through events called ‘Exo days’.

Federation president Dianne Giblin says the church is using its young people to go into schools and host barbecues in about 30 schools across the state.

The events are administered by the Youth Alive initiative, which is linked to Hillsong.

But the Australian Christian Churches’ National Ministries director, Keith Ainge, says attendance is not compulsory and students are made well aware of what the events entail.

“It’s totally voluntary and they understand what they’re going for… it’s going to be a day of encouragement and a day of fun really,” Mr Ainge said.

“It’s certainly not a recruiting thing in the sense of going out and just trying to grab people. It’s a ministry to people and obviously if people want to join the youth group, then they are going to do that.”

NSW Greens MP John Kaye says he has also received a number of complaints from teachers about the ‘Exo days’.

Mr Kaye says the new Education Minister, Verity Firth, should step in.

“The Education Department is calling it a cultural event but that’s not true. It’s an event which is designed to convert children to the Assemblies of God religion.”

From http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/09/2359983.htm?section=justin

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I thought this was worth discussing. Some probably read this from Lances blog but have no where to discuss this. So what’s your view on this? Do your kids go to the Big Exo Con Day? Is it for Christian kids or all kids?

Check out there website and look at their sponsors:

http://www.thebigexoday.com/home/

Concerned parents wondering what this event is about have every right to be concerned. Three of their sponsors are ‘Hillsong International Leadership College’ *shudders*, ‘Gloria Jeans’ and ‘Australian Christian Channel’. So if any non-Christian parent saw this event being advertised at this school and then accidentally stumbled across some of the foul and loose based teaching programs on the ‘Christian Channel’ and also saw that this event was being sponsored by a megachurch losership college, wouldn’t you be concerned?

An excerpt from their site encouraging kids to register their school for Exo Day (with Jesus): http://www.exoday.com/about.php

School Exo Day Purpose

– To present the message that: ‘Life is Excellent’ (Exo) with Jesus!
– To encourage students that their life can be excellent no matter what you’re going through.
– To provide a fun and exciting lunchtime festival as a gift to the school.
– To promote THE BIG EXO DAY.

Exo is all about taking your youth ministry and all the youth ministries in your area into your school; bringing what we’ve got at Church and showing how awesome it is!

Exo is a great way to attract the majority of your schoolmates into one place at one time for a free lunch, to be entertained and hear that life with God is excellent!

Its an amazing opportunity for the Christian students to be a blessing to your school, and to see your friends connect with Jesus and into your youth group.

It is put on for the students by the students. This God inspired idea gives a chance for the Christian students to unite as one in reaching their friends with the love of Christ through a free lunchtime festival.


18 thoughts on “ExoDay Exposé

  1. For what it’s worth, here’s my take:

    Any group can come along and offer a concert or whatever, free to schoolkids, or anyone else. They need to be honest about what they are trying to achieve by doing so. Attendance in any religious event at a public school should be optional.

    If the event is for evangelism, or if they hope to attract people to their church, mosque or temple as a result – this should be stated.

    Hillsong appear to promote events as a service to the schools etc. Internally, they appear to regard them as evangelistic events. The external and internal views need to be consistent. At the very least, they should state that they hope people will try out their church and come to know Jesus.

    I don’t think Christianity should be promoted by stealth – lets state our intentions, and if people aren’t interested, they need not turn up. Others may be very interested, and they will choose to attend. Parents also need to have their wishes for their kids attendance respected.

    Otherwise, its just like Amway. I remember when I was young, going to Amway recruitment events, where I was told it was something else. All that does is put you off. I remember one friend becoming extremely angry over it.

    It is our Father who wins people to Him, and He can reach His people regardless of an evangelistic event. If the event is welcomed, that is great. If not, we should not push it or pretend it is something different. All that does is create the impression of manipulation, which is not Christ-like.

    ********************

    For the record, I attended a public school where religious education was banned. Every time a scripture or religious class was scheduled, we would have a free class, to go to the library or whatever. Everyone looked forward to that!

    This didn’t stop robust religious debate from happening within the school, and some students attended Interschool Christian Fellowship during some lunchtimes, organised by a Christian teacher. Some students became Christians, subsequently to leaving school. Others, like me, enjoyed the challenges of having a Christian faith that was regularly challenged by atheist students, agnostics, and everything else. It was good.

  2. The entire time I was making the post a scripture kept niggling me:
    “Don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing.”

    To me that means doing something with different intents; manipulation or taking advantage. This event sounds manipulative.

  3. Um, I thought that verse referred to giving in secret, rather than drawing attention with a public display. 🙂

    Here’s Young’s literal translation, where it refers to more than just giving money:
    Young’s Literal Translation
    ‘But thou, doing kindness, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth,’

    Here’s a nice old fashioned commentary on the verse (Matt 6:3)
    Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

    “6:1-4 Our Lord next warned against hypocrisy and outward show in religious duties. What we do, must be done from an inward principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be praised of men. In these verses we are cautioned against hypocrisy in giving alms. Take heed of it. It is a subtle sin; and vain-glory creeps into what we do, before we are aware. But the duty is not the less necessary and excellent for being abused by hypocrites to serve their pride. The doom Christ passes, at first may seem a promise, but it is their reward; not the reward God promises to those who do good, but the reward hypocrites promise themselves, and a poor reward it is; they did it to be seen of men, and they are seen of men. When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son that serves him.”

    **************
    This is a scripture which any megachurch would do well to keep in mind, both in their external and internal activities – such as when donating publically, or when getting individuals up on stage to praise their substantial building fund donations in front of the congregation. Good for all of us to keep it in mind, really.

  4. Oh the oh so unbiased ABC. .An event designed to convert school children to the assemblies of god religion.
    Give me a break.
    Why don’t they say – an outrech program for christianity.

    Because it makes hillsong look less harmless.

    I agree with the top comment complelty. If somethings an evangelistic outreach then don’t try to masquerade it as anything else. It’s love with a catch and it’s a turn off. But that article (as what seems usual from my experience) is over the top.

    As for the kids taking it into public schools? What is that all about? Is it just another media exaggeration so to give the impression that the weird and evil assemblies of god cult (whatever that is) is infiltrating our schools to brainwash the innocent. Or are they just mixing up two things – student outreach from hillsong and the exo thing?

  5. Oh ok – my bad. I didn’t read it all (yeah I know.) So it’s an outreach from christian kids to say come check out the hillsong exo day. Fair enough.

    Man, they’d have to have guts getting up in front of the whole school and doing that. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do that as a teenager.

  6. Hey pente have you ever thought of doing an entry on why hillsong gets so much media flack. The catholic church is bigger and more corrupt and unchristian in their biblical outlook – they also have more money and power –
    so why does hillsong (as opposed to other large penti churchs like Oxford Falls) draw so much antagonism from the press?

    Any thoughts?

  7. Fair question meme/szzza.

    I think Hillsong gets a lot of media flack because of some of its similarities to the Catholic Church. 🙂

    Because Hillsong is loud and markets itself so publically, but is not yet entrenched in our society in the way the Catholic church is, it gets a lot of flack, for things which go unremarked re Catholic churches.

    The Catholic church is more extreme in some of its practices, but ask for a historical and intellectual justification, and you will get extensive ones. (Still doesn’t mean they are right.) Hillsong can’t usually give very convincing historical or exegetical explanations in the same way. They are a much easier target.

    There are however some things which the Catholics get a lot more flack for, such as the Bathurst college scandal, and similar events. I don’t think the media favours bashing any particular organisation over those things – wherever they occur, they will be rightly exposed if they come to light, whatever the organisation.

  8. ie: the Catholic church is a more difficult target, being more entrenched in our society, regarded as more mainstream, and being very powerful financially and politically.

    As Hillsong becomes more mainstream, it will attract less flack. It is attracting flack now partly because it is entering mainstream society, through schools and politics, and a new player will always attract comment from those alarmed by its presence.

    That’s regardless of whether Hillsong is a good thing or not.

    Just my opinion!

  9. Because I need to get some sleep – not avoiding the question.

    Also – CCC doesn’t get as much media flack because (I think) its not as influential as Hillsong, not as well known, it has no single church as large as Brian Houston’s, and also, I get the impression that it is less controlling than Hillsong seems to be – it seems a bit more laid back in some ways.

  10. I find it very interesting that when one leaves CCC, and goes to a more “conservative” bible-preaching church, CCC is virtually unknown! Talk about believing your own publicity! There really aren’t that many mega-churches out there, perhaps just a lot of small faithful communities fulfilling the great commission. The Lord builds His Church.

  11. Agreed, Teddy. Those small, faithful communities can have an infinite number of forms, too, I believe. Especially, since as you say, the Lord builds His church – and we are all part of it, regardless of denomination, when we have faith in Him.

    I think it is possible to have a healthy megachurch where there is still a relational first priority, rather than structural or organisational, but it is difficult. By relational first priority I mean, one – our relationship with Father, two – the expression of that relationship in love to those around us. These two are more important than any organisational imperative, I believe. I believe scripture speaks clearly against the hierarchical ‘gentile’ approach concerning the kingdom of God, and this is frequently ignored by leaders in many varieties of organised church.

    It’s also possible to have healthy smaller communities within the context of a larger megachurch, as these priorities are present in the lives of individual believers throughout the body, whether or not leadership emulate them. Even in small groups, its possible for organisational imperatives to take over, rather than relational ones, so any group can be following a healthy or unhealthy path, and its not always easy to tell from the outside.

    Teddy – I hope you are enjoying your smaller, more conservative gathering! My family is currently in flux, and the Lord will unroll our path as we go. We are blessed to be able to meet regularly with other believers, in an unstructured context at the moment. In fact, its amazing what opportunities are turning up.

    As an aside – got a call from some old friends yesterday. Turned out they are also leaving their CCC – which is not the one I was attending, and not Oxford Falls. They have similar concerns in common with yours and mine, but this is the first time we’ve spoken about it. Its all very interesting.

  12. Back to meme’s question – similarities between Hillsong and the Catholic church.

    Well, obviously they are not identical. However, there are some things in common, which exasperate people about Hillsong, yet seem to be unremarked about in Catholicism at the moment.

    1. Attitudes towards leadership. Brian Houston seems to be unquestionably right about everything. A bit like the Pope. Not quite as extreme, but the direction is the same. Having a leader endorse something at Hillsong seems to be like having God endorse it for some people, as leaders are more ‘anointed’ than you or I (apologies if you are a leader). The pope endorsing something is also pretty much like God endorsing it.

    2. Attitudes to money. There is an amazing focus on preaching about money and how to give it to the church (Hillsong is not alone in this of course). Giving money to church is seen as giving it to God. The Catholic church has a long history in this area. Maybe it focuses less on it these days, since it is now so rich – but Hillsong, as a church establishing itself, depends upon its money supply and hence preaches about giving all the time.

    3. Doctrine of tithing. Hillsong teaches it. BH doubts you are a serious Christian if you don’t tithe. The Catholic church had a tithing system for generations. Much in common historically here.

    4. Nepotism – or at least it looks that way:
    From wikipedia: “Nepotism is the showing of favoritism toward relatives and friends, based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability, meritocracy or suitability. For instance, offering employment to a relative, despite the fact that there are others who are better qualified and willing to perform the job….
    …Nepotism gained its name after the church practice in the Middle Ages, when some Catholic popes and bishops — who had taken vows of chastity, and therefore usually had no children of their own — gave their nephews positions of preference such as were often accorded by fathers to sons[1]. Several popes are known to have elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were used as a means of continuing a papal “dynasty”.”

    There are many reasons given why relatives and friends of current leaders are best qualified for other available roles in churches.

    5. Exorcism practices – in some situations.

    6. Seeker sensitive practices: The Catholic church has adapted itself remarkable to cultures around the world, often substituting Christian saints for pagan gods, or adapting pagan rituals into church rituals. All this helped people fit comfortably with Catholicism. Hillsong is also seeker sensitive. It takes on the practices of the world around it, and presents itself accordingly. While it hopes to make worldly practices serve it, these things are seductive, and ultimately distort the way scripture is viewed, as it becomes viewed through the eyes of the flesh, not the spirit. People will be attracted by this, as it is more acceptable to them, but it may not help people at the end of the day.

    7. Idolatry: It’s easy to identify idolatry in the Catholic church, when one looks at icons, relics etc. Hillsong and other Pente churches sometimes seem to worship worship, or leaders, or money, or programs – or even buildings. Individuals may not. However, en masse, this is how it looks.

    8. Historically, there are analogies between building programmes as well.

    Anyway, thats probably enough. I don’t hate Hillsong by the way. I wish them well, and recognise them as part of the body of Christ. As a fellow Christian, I have a different view of scripture, that’s all. I trust God in His work in the hearts of all the individual believers in His church. For some of those people, Hillsong is part of their journey.

  13. 9. Excommunication. Both the RCC and HS get rid of embarrassing people who are without strong relationships to the hierarchy such as the developer that lost HS pastors money while allowing those with closer relationships to remain. Basically both make political decisions to protect their name.

  14. A very strong link with the RCC is something Luther complained about:

    Heresies abounded around giving and money in the RCC to help further build new and beautiful churches. This is a dead ringer in many regards to the modern day megachurch. Hillsong does this and local wannabe ministries follow suit.

    Also you can only find God and live a forgiven life if you attend the church or it’s programs. Another RCC and Megachurch commonality. While it can be preached (although rarely), it is often felt.

  15. My very Dear Ravingpente!

    How did you manage to create this weird fork in the road which led from Exo-day to the Roman Catholic Church?

    “I think Hillsong gets a lot of media flack because of some of its similarities to the Catholic Church.”

    Rather, to answer Memes question;

    “.. have you ever thought of doing an entry on why hillsong gets so much media flack. The catholic church is bigger and more corrupt and unchristian in their biblical outlook – they also have more money and power –
    so why does hillsong (as opposed to other large penti churchs like Oxford Falls) draw so much antagonism from the press?”

    Some Reasons:

    -Megachurches appear to overawe the individual; in simple Advertising lingo; “If there are so many of them, they must be right!-lets get on the bandwagon!”

    -Megachurches like Hillsong threaten to overturn the established order of things-this is actually very cool, as Early Christianity did the same-

    -The Media, owned by Power-hungry information & Market-Barons, is clearly threatened by the ‘purity’ of massed Christianity- they will attack at the slightest flaw.

    -The Media holds a love-hate relationship with any Public behaviour that attracts masses of people- with the side-effect of drawing masses of Financial turnover. It is simple to attach notoriety and sordid motives to a conspicuous financial entity, and the media thrives on lowest-denominator notoriety; envy, greed, public-scorn or whatever, that makes the ‘little guy’ feel a bit better about himself.

    -From time-to Time, the Media retreats like a dog in awe and is prepared to do so whenever anything miraculous or genuinely awesome emerges from an entity like Hillsong; as a character in GLADIATOR observed; “The Mob IS Power!”

    -And finally, the Catholic Church is known & scorned by most for its corruption, idolatory, ethnocentricity, paedophilliac practices & property-investment; however, Hillsong is comparatively, and openly defiantly ‘clean of conscience and stridently pure- This really does represent an open challenge to Modern Society, despite the many doctrinal & practical flaws this & other blogs have identified.

    I hope these thoughts thicken the plot a little for you Meme!

    fond wishes to all & sundry,

    Z.

  16. PS- I actually think EXO DAY is really COOOL- If my own kid loves it , then its OK with us!

    {+I dont really construe much of a deception from the presented literature–]

    Z.

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