I can’t believe I found this old BRILLIANT article from ‘Saint’ on my computer. I thought I had lost this forever. I’ve mentioned this article that acknowledges the google God for revealing ‘truth’ in how mega-churches run… This was from Saints blog, ‘Dog Fight At Bankstown’:
03 May 2006
google god and me
Following my comments on Hillsong’s view of depression, FX made a pretty strong statement to which another commenter, Facelift took great exception. I dunno, I think FX has a point.
Get yourself a cup of coffee – or a swig of scotch – and sit with me for a while. Have a look at the current batch of articles posted at the Hillsong site brought to you by Brian and Bobby Houston and their PR team:
- Casey Treat, Mr Seattle, U.S.A.
- Ray McCauley, Resurrection Man, South Africa
- Christine Caine (Hillsong)
- Ray Fergusson (Hillsong)
- Gary Clarke (Hillsong London)
- Zhenya Kasevich (Hillsong Kiev)
- Phil Baker (Aussie independent charismatic)
Today with Marilyn (and friends)
Start with the one who got the ball rolling: Marilyn Hickey, snake oil saleswoman, whose article (cache) on depression was – coincidentally? – removed from the Hillsong website after it got some attention but which, according to one commenter at Signposts, was also published in Hillsong’s monthly newsletter.
Not indicative of Hillsong teaching? Marilyn has also had several “speaking engagements” at Hillsong over the years, the last one in 2005. You only speak at Hillsong when you’re invited.
Marilyn is notorious in the U.S. for her marketing gimmicks. You can Google yourself for more. Check what else she peddles:
Marilyn on 21 Days to Excellence
You are just 21 days away from achieving excellence in every area of your life as you follow the simple formula of this teaching!
But who needs Marilyn’s simple formula when you have Google god? Try a random Google pick:
Natural Physiques.TM Become the journey. Become your best.
Who in turn bring you:
Filed under Articles: Personal Development. Of course.
Which also comes complete with inspirational literature to read:
“The best book of all to read is that priceless diamond of world literature – the Bible. You’ll never know what wonderful results from reading it are around the corner until you open its covers!”
Get results. Get a Bible.
Ironically Natural Physiques doesn’t claim to be affiliated with any church or faith group. It doesn’t claim to be much at all apart from a division of Golden Summit, Inc. which I am sure will lead to some fruitful end for Google fiends. But it doesn’t sound much different than Marilyn – except that they at least want you to focus on someone other than yourself at least once in 21 days.
But let’s get back to Marilyn.
Good News for the Blues: A winning attitude is essential to gaining and sustaining success:
When you feel like your life is “in the pits,” how do you go about developing a winning attitude? How can you smile and believe God for a miracle when your husband is mad at you, your kids won’t obey you, and the dog just dug up your garden? Do you go out and buy self-help books written by worldly people?
Do you join a meditation class, dabble in the occult, and invite the devil to help you? No, a thousand times, no! When you’re in troubled waters, don’t ask for a tidal wave! Get in tune with God, and ask Him to turn those troubled waters into rivers of life!
And Marilyn will show you how how to smile and believe God for a miracle if you just visit her church and buy her merchandise instead. Because it may never occur to you to smile at your husband or exercise some self-discipline and get your kids to bed on time.
But wait a minute, you ask, isn’t Winning Attitude Resurrection Ray McCauley‘s line?
Indeed it is. Although I think McCauley – who is a former bodybuilder – needs some work from Natural Physiques instead.
This is what he looks like when he’s not posing for his publicity shot for his Hillsong article but making headlines in South Africa because of his stress:
Not so winning is it?
But great Google god, thank you.
Here’s Mind Media: Your center on the Web for interactive personal exploration and self-improvement.
With an announcement for their newest feature:
The Mind Media Top 10 Self-Improvement Technologies!
Huzzah, there in the Top 10:
Attitude for Success: Develop the Mind of a Winner:
Thrive in your career and relationships by developing a positive attitude Increase your energy by overcoming negativity Discover the magic of positive attitude through expert advice and dramatized video examples A positive attitude is a priceless possession. Let Attitude for Success show you how to create a winning attitude using practical, common-sense strategies. You’ll learn how to keep your spirits up when faced with challenges. Receive valuable tips from experts in the field on recharging your batteries. Find out how to simplify your life and focus on your resources so you can make small wins every day.
Filled with expert advice, humorous video-roleplays, and informative interactive exercises, Attitude for Success will help yo increase your confidence by focusing on the positive factors in your life With Attitude for Success, you’ll boost your self esteem by enhancing your appearance; think big by taking steps today to reach your long-term goals; and enhance your creativity. Go ahead and share your new positive attitude with others–it’s contagious!
Sure is contagious! McCauley’s caught it and so has just about everyone else.
But because Marilyn is so sure of her formulas to improve your life, she also has another formula for success, this time one of Your Very Own:
The Bible tells us that God wants to give believers increase: “I ave planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase”(ICorinthians 3:6).
Notice, it’s God Who gives the increase. We are to plant and water and let God give the increase. Any farmer knows that he can sow the seed and water it, but God has to make it grow. In the spiritual realm I believe that planting has to do with praying and watering has to do with the washing of the water of the Word. You plant in prayer, water with the Word, and expect God to give the increase.
Just sprinkle in a few quotes from the Bible and everything is sweet.
Notice that Marilyn doesn’t want you to read all of Corinthians in case you work out what Paul, who wrote the letter to the Corinthians, was really writing about. (Hint: it’s not about you, sunshine)
And notice how in the material realm (and certainly on her website), Marilyn believes that if you sow some seeds of money in her pocket, then God will give you manna from heaven.
And if He doesn’t, well that’s not Marilyn’s problem is it?
Hec everyone seems to have a spirit of increase.
And a spirit of excellence.
And a round on the public speaking circuit.
Heaven’s no, says Marilyn, how can you think that! Slam the Door on the Devil!
Marilyn on bad stuff: regression, repression, suppression, depression, obsession, possession. It’s all there. You must be somewhere on that slippery slope. This is not the stuff of self help types who don’t believe in devils. This is where Marilyn offers you the stuff of “fresh insights”, spiritual stuff, the stuff which will “change your life”!
Indeed, says Google god. The stuff of plagiarizers!
No doubt the decision to buy John Bevere’s book.
No I’m not, says Bevere, I just look and sound like one.
Stop there for a minute and say to yourself (because this is what Marilyn and friends always tell you to do):
The Hillsong website gives me Marilyn Hickey (used with permission) who sounds like Ray McCauley (used with permission) and John Bevere (not used but well Brian Houston thinks John Bevere’s books are great and invited him to last year’s Hillsong Men’s Conference).
And Google god tells me that they all sound different: just like everyone else. Except they’re all in the same bed together. And kind of read the same books by body builders and marketers and sophists.
I’m being conned.
Hold those thoughts. At least for 21 days. You will thank me.
And it won’t cost you a cent.
…a Christian organization created to unite the Body of Christ. Our mission and purpose is to network, market, and develop Christian businesses and to aid Christian professionals around the world for the purpose of bringing wealth and increase to ministries, missions, and the church overall. With that increase, the Body of Christ will be better positioned to do what it has been called to do – that is, to seek and save the lost. The Kingdom of God, Inc., will create an environment of unity in which Christian businesses can and will rally around these goals. So the kingdom of God is here. In fact, it is in us. It’s time to unite!
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
… Deuteronomy 8:18
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
… Luke 19:10
I was expecting the old standard verses about plundering the Egyptians. I think millions of people would prefer they drop the adjective Christian.
But if that sort of reasoning nevertheless sounds familiar, it’s because it is. You’ve heard it straight from the mouth of Brian Houston, senior pastor of Hillsong:
So it’s not a matter of whether or not a person loves money or not, or whether they’re going to serve money, it’s absolutely certain that that’s only going to be destructive in your life, but if you build your life in a way that you resource it so that you can be more effective. I see it like this, if a person has nothing and they see a need, then materially speaking, there’s nothing they can do. If they have a little, they can help a little, and if they have a lot, there’s a whole lot they can do. So I want to encourage people to resource their lives in a way where they can do a whole lot to be a blessing and to help other people.
Seductive isn’t it?
I however, was rather captivated by the photo on the page straight from the woman of God.
I recognize this woman of God from my TV idol (this is what a working life of red-eye-flight-induced-insomnia does to you). She is none other than Gloria Copeland, wife of Kenneth Copeland.
Kenneth Copeland is a devotee of both Oral Roberts (more), the man who brought you seed-faith and founded an empire that kind of collapsed and Kenneth Hagin, the father of the name-it-claim-it school of thought (well actually he plagiarised that but let’s not get into it) and founder of the Rhema churches. (Yes that’s the Rhema of which Mr-Winning-Attititude-without-a-Winning-History McCauley is a pastor).
Google god would positively bury me with a mountain of fire and brimstone if I cared to ask him about Ken, Oral and Ken.
And to prove that I at least, am not one-eyed: above Gloria is Dr Frederick Price of Ever Increasing Faith Ministriesdevotee of Kenneth Hagin and Oral Roberts. And also admirer of fake faith healer Kathryn Kuhlman who kind of fancied Oral. (Yes, it’s a mutual admiration society. Which could easily have an acronym that sounds a lot like ‘kooks’.) another
Price is an unashamed, self-proclaimed, proud Word-Faith teacher.
Guess what, says Google god. He was also a speaker at the Vision 2005 Leadership Conference hosted at Casey Treat’s church in Seattle. Along with him at that gab fest was Yongghi Cho (hmm, love fest with board member Marilyn), Ray McCauley (yep the Stressed-out-
overweight-winning-Resurrection-Man), Brian Houston (our very own) and Rick Godwin.
Oh he has an invite to the Hillsong 2006 conference says Google god.
And don’t fret over the perfect fundraiser or Channel 7: you haven’t seen marketing and cross promotion until you’ve seen Hillsong.
Are you getting the picture?
Google god doesn’t have to spell it out for you: it’s a cosy, incestuous little network.
And the more you ask Google god, the more it tells you how increasingly incestuous it’s become.
And brilliantly effective. Deceptive, fiendish, repulsive. But nevertheless effective.
All in the family
A quick look at one of the rising stars at Hillsong before I leave you to your own Google prayers. Christine Caine, a staffer now with her own books and her own speaking circuit. Her fresh insight is to wrap the market speak around a metaphor of child birth and a few stories. Joyce Meyer wrote the foreword to that book. She tells lots of stories about herself as well.
Caine spoke at the Joyce Meyer Leadership Conference in Germany last year. Still in Germany and later this year, comes the Women of the World Conference where we will have Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, Bobbie Houston, John and Lisa Bevere.
Now you haven’t seen those names before have you?
- John and Helen Burns who were also at the 500 Plus conferences organised by Riverview, church home of Phil Baker, independedent charismatic, also featured on the Hillsong site;
- Deborah Cobrae also guest at the Hillsong Colour Your World conference for women (this year’s conference features Lisa Belevere wife of John Belevere);
- Lisa Gilfillan who along with her husband heads Good Shepherd Ministries International and who claims to be the founder of Women of the World.
Hey even Gloria Copeland and Marilyn Hickey are going to be there too!
Dig deeper and you will find connections going way back to the same players. McCauley got his brainwave when Benny Hinn visited South Africa in the 1980s. Rodney-Howard Browne (a prime instigator of the Toronto Blessing) was a member of McCauley’s church at the time. Benny Hinn was the one time darling of the Australian AOG, invited to their Biennial National Conference in 1997 (he had rallies here in Adelaide). Joyce Meyers – also on our TVs – is now appearing on Benny Hinn’s TV program as is everyone else he can muster. And on it goes.
Google god is awesome.
Draw the conclusions
Are you seeing the connections? Can you connect the dots?
Shall I draw a few of them out for you?
Correction: Keith Copeland above should read Ken(neth) Copeland
It doesn’t take long. Just an hour with Google god and you get the Hillsong message:
No one has a fresh message or some new insight.
Just the same messages packaged differently, plagiarized mercilessly and never much different than any other human potential seminar out there in sportsland and corprotopia.
And no one practises what they preach.
And there’s a surprising paucity of miracles.
Some of my former employers used to send me to these sorts of seminars. Except I got them minus the Bible verses and just as many miracles. And at least I didn’t have to pay for them and got a day off work and my lunch free. Even if they too, sent me to sleep.
The vocabulary – be it in a conference, a sermon or a book – is relentingly, mindlessly, mindnumbingly the same: leadership, potential, passion, purpose. Unleash, success, positive, principle…awesome really: how you can spot pentecostal speak from a mile off.
The behaviour is just the same: No different than anywhere else.
It’s not the gospel. It’s an infomercial.
All that’s different is that it is wrapped up with some Bible verses and a Christian adjective.
The people at Beaconsfield just live it.
The ever-widening gyre
Google god tells me that once upon a time, some of the older pentecostal denominations, like the AOG held their ministers to strict doctrinal orthodoxy. Word-faith teaching was considered heretical and shunned. Pentecostals were Trinitarian – a bit loopy around the edges at times – but quite orthodox on the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Even if they never saw miracles. Google god does not lie: it agrees with what I have heard first hand from crusty old pentecostals.
Now such stuff is dispensed with. Word-faith preachers have been invited into the fold as mainstream pentecostals. Oneness shysters like T.D. Jakes are tolerated because you know, he seems to be more articulate than half the mega church pentecostals who just spout market speak.
And he’s successful.
Relevant. Another favourite pentecostal word. Not so long ago most pentecostals would tell you rock music was considered of the devil. Now our church comes with a mosh pit. But it’s our music see? And it’s relevant.
The road much travelled
Even after an hour with Google you can track key persons and events to determine how Hillsong got to where it is: peddling shysters as part of its marketing program.
Billy Graham extending friendship to Oral Roberts which gave him legitimacy in some conservatives’ eyes; once you got Oral you got all his spawn including many of the word-faith movement which owes more to sophistry than pentecostal theology.
One time Australian (and World) Superintendent of the AOG, Andrew Evans (now Family First Senator in the S.A. Legislature) sending messages out ten years ago that the Toronto Blessing was to be “accepted” in the AOG churches in Australia; that let in all sorts of loopies.
Benny Hinn – one of the slipperiest snakes of them all – being credentialled as an AOG minister despite his track record and his heresies, even being the keynote speaker at a Biennial AOG conference in Australia before that paradigm of good judgment, Andrew Evans, distanced himself from him.
The departure of Geoff Bullock and the pick up of a Darlene song on the Christian Music circuit.
The independence and autonomy of pentecostal churches – which leave the less discerning and educated individual pastors free to invite all sorts of nut cases to preach in their pulpits.
The generational change in the AOG leadership in Australia. Many Pentecostals are either contemptuous or ignorant of all church history before them, much less 2000 years of Christian teaching which preceded them. What makes you think they would listen to their fathers? Doctrine? We don’t care what you believe, as long as you do what we say you will be healthy, wealthy and wise.
You can see patterns amongst the word-faithers. Many grew up in poverty (Copeland, Hinn, Roberts) wanting to be accepted and acknowledged and make a name for themselves, a church in their name. All having sudden revelations about how to make it. They aspire to power and influence. The Holy Spirit is now “an anointing” you can get and own. The shepherds are as lost as their sheep.
Funny how some of this sounds like our mate Brian:
With a team of people, Bobbie and I had started a couple of churches, and I actually had a friend who said to me one day, he said, Brian, if you start a church in Baulkham Hills, he said, I know so many people who will come. And in those days there used to be a guy who was famous or infamous, whatever, on TV, who many people might remember who used to be on the TV and sell Holdens, sell General Motors, and apparently he was the biggest Holden dealer in Australia. And I thought to myself, if you can build a Holden dealer like that, the largest Holden dealership in Australia, surely it must be somewhere where you could build a church. Between those things and me sensing a spiritual pull, we went and started in a little school hall.
Let’s speak it into existence:
Before our church had any influence really, I sat down one day and imagined the church that I would I’d love to pastor. So I called it The Church That I See. And in that I describe the church, I talk about its worship, I talk about its mission, I talk about its people. And I would have to say that at that time, our church didn’t look like that, but I read it now, and it sounds like I’ve just sat down, and in some ways, described what, what the church has become. Which to me is quite an amazing thing.
It’s a vocabulary and understaninding that is foreign to the church of the last two millenia, in fact foreign to that of Christ and the apostles and foreign to the rest of the contemporary Christian church: “The Church that I see.” “Our church”. “I’d love to be a pastor.” Like it’s a career option down at the local job centre.
And Jesus is nowhere to be found.
But it’s a vocabulary very well known to our visionary friends and our marketing friends. And a vocabulary to which the young and the restless are very attuned in our present society. Just tickle the ears and they respond.
You can see the current trends. Having exhausted their own limited independent networks, the next move is to find anyone who has built a successful church or ministry (anyone but Jesus of course, he’s far too difficult to understand and much harder to follow) and invite them to your church or your conference. Then network mercilessly to get invited to each other’s churches or conferences and get your speaking fee, your love offerring and your royalties.
Cross promote. Please endorse my book, I’ll post your article on my website.
Suddenly they have new audiences.
Suddenly you have an exciting speaker with “fresh insights” and new products for you to buy.
Except they all say the same thing and twenty years later you are still buying Joyce Meyer books on “How to overcome your anger” and still feeling stressed and exhausted and are probably divorced and broke as well.
It’s. Not. Rocket. Science.
But it’s not church either.
It’s marketing. Pyramid selling even.
A juggernaut indeed: you get sucked in through some community outreach program (first it was mass rallies, then it was miracle crusades, now it’s self help and health programs).
You get drawn into an “experience” with all the trimmings, where you are constantly invited to make a “decision” for Christ, to change your life, succeed at something.
You are told to “unleash your potential” and aspire to “leadership” and “be positive”. You are always being challenged, challenged, challenged. You are constantly told you must do more, do better, seek excellence. Strive, strive, strive.
Obviously not everyone can be a leader in your hierarchy so you can be a leader in whatever endeavour you like. Just come every week for your experience which is always raised to “new heights” so that you can throw some cash in the can, maybe buy a book, a sermon tape or a CD, and support some outreach program to get your new converts into the door or help put on the experience. You can feel good about yourself because you’ve “helped someone.” And your life is full.
And if you don’t get your weekly hit of God’s presence (because you see, only some anointed people can “lead you into God’s presence”) then you get withdrawal symptoms. So you have to keep coming back.
But if you are really ambitious, a member of the pastor’s family or just real chummy you can get on that stage and maybe crack the market with your book and your effective communication skills. And those “fresh insights.”
If you’re sensible, you leave. Preferably before you get cynical, burnt out, bored or bitter and twisted.
And whatever you do, never bother asking Brian Houston for advice if Australia is under attack. Or ask how every little AOG church is faring. Because if they’re not growing, and don’t have a million dollar soundsystem, and aren’t overseeing government-funded community programs, then they’re not it.
That’s Hillsong and just about every other mega church. All packaged for you in your weekly experience in your worship centre (complete with coffee, childcare, counsellor and chiropractor) and your annual conference: Leadership (Marketing and Finance), Worship (Customer Experience), Community Outreach (Recruiting and Customer Relations) and every other midweek program designed to unleash your potential and keep you busy.
And away from the church on the corner.
It’s not easy being green. But it’s the colour of money you know.
When criticised – even if criticised by others in your own denomination, even other pastors – Hillsong’s usual defense is: look at how successful we are. You’re just jealous.
I think it’s the other way round.
I think it’s jealousy and ambition that drove the mega church/mega ministry movement in the first place regardless of where it has taken root. The need for recognition. The competition for numbers. Who has the biggest church; the fastest growing church; the best program; the hottest selling book; the anointing; the most charismatic preacher. And if you can’t make it in your neck of the woods, you start your own church and your own ministry. If you don’t like your own church organist, you go to the one up the road with better music.
It seems at first there were several stove pipe “pentecostal movements” that took hold with only minimal cross-pollination yet fighting for the same customers. There were the pentecostals; the word-faith dudes; the third-wave; the church-growth specialists, whatever.
Judging by the round up of this year’s Hillsong conference, and other networks like Women of the World, the way it works now is like every other comptetive system: the purpose is not to compete but to eliminate the competition.
Eliminate or collude. Same diff.
Now, instead of competing for the customers, everyone is competing for anyone who pulls big numbers of customers on pet topics – leadership (Maxwell), action (Warren), whatever, and whoever and whatever their background. Just invite them into the fold. Unite. Incorporate.
If they come then you get your cross promotion and your new networks. More cash. More influence.
I blog you decide
If you want to know God, don’t go to Hillsong.
And if you want to know Hillsong’s god, try Google.
(Edited 5/5 wee hours: to correct some typos and to correct reference to Phil Baker)