Alister Cameron // Blogologist

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Will we learn from Pastor Michael Guglielmucci’s fall?

Michael GuglielmucciThe Christian newswires are abuzz today, because a big earthquake hit Melbourne with its epicentre down at Planetshakers. Michael Guglielmucci confessed that his battle with terminal cancer has all been a lie. Alun Davies immediately suspended his ministerial credentials.

Now begins a long and painful exercise of self-examination. And I’m not talking about Michael… that goes without saying. I’m talking about Planetshakers and about the AOG. The obvious question is this: How could no-one have known? Not even family! What kind of “system” can promote someone to such a place of influence and yet can fail to enforce a regime of accountability and scrutiny?

The thing about the Christian church in general, and Pentecostalism in particular, is that its history is littered with stories of fallen heroes. And this is not something to speak of lightly. It is very very painful stuff from which people never fully recover. People trust religious leaders like they trust very few other people and when one falls, it leaves a deep and very painful wound that will always leave a scar.

I know of a brilliant “man of God” who after decades cannot return to the congregation from which he was expelled for a matter of sexual indiscretion. Time heals a wound, but it doesn’t restore trust… not fully.

In a place like Planetshakers this kind of catastrophe will impact different people in different ways. For some it will not challenge just their trust in leadership… it will challenge their spirituality, their faith. That’s just what happens.

But see, the thing is… we KNOW that’s what happens. It’s happened many times before! And it will happen again.

So why don’t we learn from the massive damage of past leadership failures, and expect (and demand) a level of accountability and transparency from our leaders? I simple ask this: How many church leaders in this country — and in Pentecostalism in particular — have explicit structures of accountability and transparency in their lives and ministries so that it would be extremely extremely hard for them to get away with immoral behaviour for any length of time?

To leaders who resist these kinds of structures and strictures, I’d say… tough! It’s a very high call, so deal with it. It’s the price you pay to honour God and to honour the seriousness of your position of influence and leadership.

We’ve had too much spiritual abuse. Too many (especially young) people have been burned beyond recognition. Surely the least we can do is wise up to what’s going on here! And not to make too fine a point of it, I find it is almost a feature of Pentecostalism that the more senior a leader becomes, the more unconstrained his movements become; the more unaccountable we allow him to be.

Why did Michael not feel safe enough to confess his fraud to an intimate friend and co-leader, ages ago? Why did he find himself promoted to senior leadership, all the while carrying this deep inner turmoil, that never came out?

The answers to these questions should be none of our business. But they are when they spill out and hurt so many people. And spare a thought (and prayer) for the Guglielmucci family. Hurt indeed.

Never mind cancer of the human body. There is a cancer of the Body of Christ here and it’s called leadership. Even in Pentecostalism we are far more man-centric than Spirit-centric. We place so much on human leadership and so little on Spirit-leadership, and this sort of debacle is the fruit of it.

And lest you think it has anything to do with the size of a church, it doesn’t. Homechurch or Megachurch… leadership abuse and failure hurts people just as much in either case.

I, for one, have so much respect for Ps Danny, Michael’s dad. I can’t imagine his and his family’s pain right now. I’ll be praying for them.

Meanwhile, I hope the shockwaves of this earthquake lead to better “construction methods” in the structures of church leadership, designed to make sure it’s much much harder for a leader to fall like this again.

Will we learn from Pastor Mike’s fall?

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34 Comments

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  1. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
    9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
    3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

    Truth does not have a use by date.

  2. Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    @Henry. I think that’s enough. Do not forget what this post is about and what comments are for… in this case I think both you and Paul have made it clear to all that you’re on different sides of the fence.

    You both have to be really wet behind the ears if you think you’re going to convince each other with proof-texting and such.

    @Annette, not to throw a spanner in the works, but as obvious as it is that there is a lot to commend The Shack for… I’ve read a lot of “solid” negative reviews too (mostly on Amazon and the Facebook Virtual Bookshelf thingy). I’d be interested in your thoughts, but that would really take these comments off-topic! Shoot me an email 🙂

  3. Paul
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Many thanks, Cameron. Henry obviously comes from a church which takes the ancient Middle Eastern creation myths reflected in the book of Genesis in the form of poetry VERY LITERALLY (incidentally, my favourite Pentecostal pastor Michael Dowd, author of “Thank God for Evolution” does not. On the other hand, Henry does not take the words associated with Jesus’ teaching in Matt 7:1-5 literally at all! Wonder why… guess it must be convenient for his ends, whatever they are. He created a god in his own image, and now Henry’s truth is the only truth.

  4. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Sorry Alister, I do apologise for abusing the use of your blog forum, and for any others including Paul, it is not the right place to challenge the weird views. Also thanks to whoever organised the attack as it just proves I was on the right track.

  5. romani lovell
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Alister,
    I am very passionate about leadership, it is my one skill and I protect it. It does bother me that those who have a position think that they are a leader. Any one can go to college and get a piece of paper and say that they know something and anyone can get credentialled but it appears that not many people can build on this and lead. I am heavily involved in the John Maxwell mentoring programs and it has saved me.If what John teaches is true then, as the crisis’ come we will see who the real leaders are, and then I will start following.

  6. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Do you think that some of the problems with Church leaders today is that they do it for a career, how many go from church to church until they can get a place of power in a big one? And when they get into one a decent size then they get a higher position in the denomination. So tell me “where are the anointed ones?” The leaders who operate in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and are not leaders because of their personalilty, or there ability to be popular or preach a good message. Stories of Pastor C L Greenwood are that he operated in the “Word of Knowledge” and confronted people in the church who were committing sin such as adultery etc. Does anyone see that happen today?

  7. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Romani, I would encourage you to pursue justice for the wrongs. Leaders do need to be held accountable. But be careful in keeping your heart protected and in close relationship with Jesus. There have been failings in Pentecostal churches (and others) since they began. My Grandfather walked away from a Pentecostal church in the 1920’s when he received the Baptism in the Spirit because of stuff that was going on in the church, Even my Great Grandfather was filled with the Spirit over 100 years ago, his sister was involved in the Welsh Revival and was a foundational member of a Pentecostal Denomination. I walked away because of Spiritual Abuse, but never knew what it was at the time. Now I know how to guard my heart and I walk away from any smell of legalism and control, but now I am safe in Jesus as I listen to Him and not man. You are doing well.

  8. Romani
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Henry, thanks for your comments
    I am seeking justice – it is important for all of us. I have been following my gut on it. I have been having dreams for the last 8 years and everyone thought that I was going crazy – and I probably was. But then I started bumping into people who were in the dreams and as confidence grew I asked them questions to see if they new anything about the topics of the dreams and they did!!!!!!!!! so as I asked questions of people I bumped into I found myself uncovering serious crimes in church – absolutely amazing. Even today I have been praying for answers and I bumped into someone who might be able to help me – they are a forensic scientist and might be able to push me in the right direction for dna testing. It is a case of not what you know but who you know. So I am very happy, as I might be a step closer to finding out the full truth. And they way I bumped into them was the way the dreams told me things would happen. I am hoping like crazy that God is leading me!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Ramoni, No you were not going crazy, There are many instances in the Bible where God spoke to people through dreams. It seems rather special in your journey and as everyone can have different experiences we need to be open to what is happening to them, to be a friend and use discernment and wisdom, not judgement and religious views. I have friends who “see in the spirit” and many Christians freak out about that. We are all different and God speaks to us in different ways which “being the body of Christ” is all about. It sounds very heavy stuff you are going through, but your heart is on the right track, so go for it.

  10. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    In Regard to Church Leaders. Walking out of Spiritual Abuse by Marc Dupont and another about Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue are both excellent books to read in regards to failings of church leadership. I think it was Ken Blue who points out that the Apostle Paul never put himself above others, he always referred to others as fellow servants. Church Leaders forget that the higher the position the more of a servant they should be. Of course Spiritual Abuse happens in both directions, people can Spiritually Abuse their Pastors and Leaders as well. I have heard a Pastor share how he went through Spiritual Abuse but I have never heard a message preached on it, and it is a common experience for many.

  11. MAN
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Brother Henry, I am not really familiar with the church history in the west, but if you please can answer my question which is,
    – Are all Christian scandals happens only in America and Australia or Europe as well?!
    I think in Europe they have a different church structure!

    looking forward to hearing your answer!

    Cheers.

  12. Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    @MAN – can I suggest the lack of scandals in Europe makes a nice change from the Dark Ages… Europe kind of had the market share of scandals back them. Jokes aside, European Christianity is in such a bad way in most of Europe that a lack of a scandal probably says more about a lack of interest in the faith, per se.

    Also, if there are scandals in the church, it’s at least possible that they’re not considered as important as they are here, because the structures are such as to no promote “celebrity pastors” as is moreso the case in the West and in Africa.

  13. melodi
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    maybe alot of pp have been misunderstanding the message of “Healer” actually if you really listen to “Healer” it’s more like a cry from Michael to God to help him, in a way trying to convince himself that God will see him through his “problem”… but i guess everyone got a little too caught up in the “story” behind the song and all the fancy display…

    seriously, asking question is ok.. but after a while, its your own life that matters? so praying for them is still the best option and making appropriate changes… the rest(blaming, condemning etc..) really is not required? at the end of the day its us that accountable to God for our lives not other people…. at the end of the day its just us… pp have been disappointed its not the first time… we live we learn we grow

  14. romani lovell
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Henry,
    My greatest joy that would come from all of this is that I could get the AOG to change their policies to move into the evolving community. We are not responsible for who comes to church, but we are responsible for how we handle them. I had a dream and I am working on it now, and when the situation I am involved in comes to light I will present it. The dream was very clear in regards to managing difficult people and situations in the future. But I dont have the influence yet to present it – so I guess it is a case of they listen to me on the front end or on the back end. But something has got to happen to bring me before the leadership so that they will listen. I wonder what will happen.

  15. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    MAN, I have no connection with Europe but what Cameron says makes sense, he would know more about it than myself.
    MELODI, I love the Healer song myself and I think you are right. It does sound like a cry from the heart, which is why I like it. Discussions are not about blaming, condemning, but just a chance to air on a blog with others, what is not discussed in church circles. Discussion is not encouraged in any church I know, and definately not with or about leadership, as it is taken as rebellion and dissent.
    Ramoni, getting the AOG to change policy, well that would be one miracle to witness !!! I thought it would be more like close ranks and shut the door !!! Sorry I am still cynical about church leadership.

  16. romani lovell
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Henry,
    You are right about closing ranks and shutting the doors. That is what has happened and why I am in the situation that I am in. But when they are facing multiple law suits and criminal charges, that is when we will get our miracle. But the dream is very clear – they need to be presented with the problem and given ample time to work something out and then the trouble will come if they havent acted appropriately. Until the time is right I am just going to keep doing what I am doing. But I know what they need to do to make it right, if the dreams are true

  17. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    My Great Uncle, Uncle and Brother have all been Pentecostal Pastors, and I know some personally. As for me the AOG executive lost their credibility a long time ago when they supported a minority in a church spit when their policy was supposed to be “local autonomy”. They have never done anything to renew any trust since. Embracing the “hype of the day” made many leave the AOG church. If they want people to respect and trust them, then THEY need to show people they are honest, wise, truthful and trustworthy. In the case of Mike G, saying “I don’t know how it happened” is not good enough for a “leadership”. If they were in business or Government they would get the sack.

  18. Cos
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Henry,

    Do you gather with other like-minded Christians and if so what do your ‘meetings’ look like. Keen to learn

  19. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hello Cos, I now go to a charismatic church, a denomination that has not normally embraced the Baptism (or infilling) of the Holy Spirit, and some sections still don’t. I find it safe as there is quite an anointing of healing (spiritual, physical, emotional) and I would call it “well balanced”. I could never deny the Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Even though For the first 14 years of my life I was in a church that did not believe in the Baptism, I always loved the supernatural events in the Bible where healings and miracles occurred. I am also involved with an Prayer Ministry with people from all different types of churches. My church is not perfect by any means.

  20. Cos
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Henry, thanks for a little taste of your ‘church-life’. Can you let me know how your ‘structures’ allow for accountability and how you encourage each other to be ‘the message’. How can any church hold back the ‘super-pastor’ syndrome and what do you put in its place? God has obviously gifted and annointed some to be leaders.. How do your leaders lead?

  21. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Hi Cos, I am sorry I cannot answer specifics of your questions other than all our Pastors and leaders are really down to earth practical types, and we don’t have any “Super Pastors” as such. None of them are outgoing dynamic personalities. I don’t know much about their accountability structures as I to stay away from any of the day to day things and church politics. I am more involved in bringing healing to those who have been hurt in churches. Some of the things that I hear go on makes me feel like hitting some of the over the head with a 4×2. In my opinion some Pastors for what ever reason, should never be Pastors. Or if they started out right, have sure lost sight of what a Pastor should be – a Shepherd, Protector, Supporter and Encourager.

  22. Cos
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Henry, thanks for your honesty. Sadened to hear that you’re working ‘around’ your leadership and the ‘politics’ of church. It ought not to be so for His Bride, anywhere! God bless your ‘ministry’ because i’m confident the stream of hurt church-goers will always be there. I pray for a new vision for His church, in this great country, in the season ahead. Shalom

  23. Henry
    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Thankyou Cos for your kind words. You are right that it should not happen, but unfortunately these things do happen in church. But that is ok as I can now identify the problems and not be a victim of what happens. People alway have been, and always will be hurt in church because it is made up of people like us. There are some good ones out there. But Jesus is the one I rely on to lead me now, and not a Pastor.

  24. Charlie
    Posted 9 years ago // Permalink

    As others have stated, Mike was sick with sin and addiction. Maybe he was too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it. It is easier to say “I have cancer” in a church and get support than to say “I am addicted to pornography” and be restored (without losing your job!). The bottom line is that God is Mike’s Healer and now he will be healed even though he took the long road to get there. Too bad it didn’t happen sooner. Now the church can grow like it did in Acts when things got hard.

  25. Henry
    Posted 9 years ago // Permalink

    Good comment Charlie, and very true. It puzzles me why some churches and leaders don’t really practice what they preach. Do some just live in their own little world? The Bible says so many times “Don’t judge” but then we start classifying sin into bad ones, really bad ones, some not so bad. As some have said “sin is sin, there are no levels of sin as the world views it”. I do hope and pray that Mike is able to get someone who can really help him sort his life out. And not a “get over it and move on mentality” but a lets deal with the root causes.

  26. david carr
    Posted 9 years ago // Permalink

    The Pentecostal church needs to face up to one simple fact: it’s leadership have no externally recognized or ‘real world’ qualifications requiring them to follow a sanctioned methodological system of leadership, teaching, trainee ship or building of community. Any charismatic pan pipe equipped charlatan can rise to the top as long as he/she keeps the money rolling in and gets ‘bums on seats’. Please don’t call me harsh; I know from enquiry that this is true and I myself, as a curious lay-person have many more years of training in theology than the Pentecostal leaders I know personally.
    In a church that publicly places so much emphasis on wealth, rewards and riches, it’s not surprising that the accompaning downfalls of misuse of sex and power are among the top reasons for ‘fallen’ clergy. In the end, are they fallen or just plain found out?

  27. Charlie
    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago // Permalink

    “I’m Ripping Psalms out of my Bible” a great blog on Michael Guglielmucci and the great moral failure of King David.
    http://www.danislinus.com

  28. Henry
    Posted 8 years, 12 months ago // Permalink

    Thanks for sharing that Charlie. That is an excellent blog and so very true.

  29. MAN
    Posted 8 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    Hey Charlie, “I’m Ripping Psalms out of my Bible” a great blog on Michael Guglielmucci and the great moral failure of King David.??????????!!!!!!

    LOOOOooooooooOOOL , ha Ha ha…

    Are you serious?!! What a manipulating technique!!!!!
    I am sorry, May I am wrong, but are you comparing between king David the profit, that wrote a biblical scripture….a pentecostal “Pastor”

    How can you compare between strawberry and garlic, or between mango and hamburger, you are not making sense…

    if that MG was addicted to Porno why did not he resign from his “Christian job” if he is really pursuing honesty. and realy care about Jesus’ sheep.

    I do not think admitting his addiction that benefited any one else but his own wicked desires.

    may be the pentecostal churches needs to preach the bible correctly and talk about sin, and repentance

  30. Posted 8 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    HI! I’m an orthodox christian… for me it sounds so unusual “Pop star pastor”… it’s intriguing somehow! i’ve read the article and half of the comments. this is really great! thanx!

  31. Stephen
    Posted 8 years, 8 months ago // Permalink

    Will the Church EVER learn ANYTHING from a the fall of ANY pastor? Today is 2/1/09, and I just came across this website. Judging from the date of the oldest posts here, it has been almost 8 months since this happened. Given that amount of time, any post I choose to make today may be woefully lacking in pertinence, as this man may have been forgiven and fully restored to his previous position; though, I doubt that may have happened. I am reminded of the time when Jimmy Swaggert did his ‘adultery thing’. His leadership confronted him with a plan for restoration ‘under authority’, and he chose to ignore their advice. He still has a following of sorts, and it amazes me how gullible my brethren can be! I would have more respect (seeing as I have absolutely NO respect for the man – Any respect would be MORE respect, than I currently have for him), if he had submitted to the plans presented to him by the authorities over him. I am curious, what has happened to Michael Guglielmucci? Has he given up his faith? Is he still scorned by his former congregation? Or, has he been reconciled to the fellowship that he was in, even if he was not restored to his position?

  32. Paul
    Posted 8 years, 7 months ago // Permalink

    Stephen,
    Frankly, I don’t think he cares about being restored etc., but what he certainly cares about and appreciates is that the media got over him. He was made to promise to return the money that naive people donate to him. Now that he’s yesterday’s news… he can keep the firtune, yay! Who cares about everything else whe he’s got the money.
    I’m not being sarcastic. I checked the web, and there is no news about the money being returned, either from him or his sect. Obviously everyone’s happy.

  33. Posted 6 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    I hurt from reading this post

  34. Posted 5 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    I’m very saddened to hear all these arguements here on the site. I have a good communication with my angel, and able to think through my soul not just my human brain.

    Everyone has a soul and the soul knows more than the brain thinks. My angel told me, there’s a battle between God’s team and Lucifer’s team, and Lucifer’s team is building up his team here on Earth. Doesn’t mean that an atheist is against God, that, is just the game his human persona plays. My angel showed me that many scientists are atheists, but are on God’s team.. as God sees your heart (soul), whether or not it’s pure, whether or not it’s prone to corruption (being seduced into Lucifer’s team), God knows everything.. Life is an exam, of purifying one’s souls through lessons in life. It’s also an exam of whether or not you’ll be tempted to join Lucifer’s team. God has also told that he will spit out the lukewarm (people sitting on fences between God’s team and Lucifer’s team).

    Jesus came on earth to die for our sins (not literally) Meaning he came here for the purpose of teaching humanity through the sprout of Christianity religion. Without Christianity religion, there will be more lost souls who might be tempted to Lucifer’s team.

    Not only that, but Jesus came and said “love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. The second is this: Love your neighbours as yourselves” – “There are NO OTHER Commandments greater than these!”

    Listen to that message alone, Christians have been falsefully misinterpreted Jesus’ message and the reasons of why he was here. He said there are no other commandments greater than these.. Why did he said that? It’s because 90% of humanity still have not mastered the 2 most important lessons that Jesus came here for.

    Before you judge other non-christians, and people of other religions, please remove the log in your eye. Jesus’ message of no-one shall enter the kingdom of heaven but by me, he’s talking about firstly, practice his 2 most important message. He’s not talking about being under a religion called “Christianity”. Whether or not you’re “Christian”, that’s a term used, but being a believer of Christ can consist of non-“Christians”, in a way that even a lot of non-Christians are better believers of Christ than most Christians are.

    Christians need not be so absorbed in the whole “self-righteous” thing. God has already said the Jews are God’s chosen people, and some Christians even go as after as to say that Jews would go to hell because they did not believe in Christ. Let me tell you the truth, IF they’re practicing Jesus’ 2 most important messages, THEN they’re already believers in Christ.

    Bible also talks about this: “they claim to be Jews, they’re not Jews but are of the Synagogue of Satan” The bible is talking about the Rothschild (part Jew/German), they own the banking industry, media, federal reserves, and are part of an elite secret society (research for prove), see bohemian grove leaked video, they’re ritualistic, and they worship Lucifer as their God.
    They’re pushing towards a New World Order, and also the microchipping of all humans. Revelations talked about this, the time is near, and they’re pushing it by war, and creating misinformation through the media (Staged 9-11 to WMD to IRAQ & Afghanistan) Please do not be lied by the media over and over again.. These people are on Lucifer’s team, be weary.

    Stop the debate of self righteous debate on Christianity. God’s team is strong and do you think self-righteous Christians are the only ones to go to heaven? Most of the Christians do not practice Jesus’ 2 most important messages.. hence NO. Buddha, even as a non-christian is on God’s team, whether you believe it or not. Buddha has more chances of entering the kingdom of God that most self-righteous Christians will do. Since he has practiced Jesus’ 2 most important messages.

    Listen with your heart and soul, without your human brain for one second, speak to God for revelations, and read the bible with an open heart, not preconceptions about JEsus’ messages. Know why Jesus came here for, know who God loves, Love your Neighbours as yourselves, Stop the debate of religeous self-righteousness, as God’s team is strong and consists of people from all walks of lives.. who are you to think so narrow minded of God’s team, ignorant fools, if you may be.

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