ICC in Singapore: “Bad, good, great, awesome… Lawyer: Central Christian Church rated its leaders this way”

Bad, good, great, awesome…
Lawyer: Central Christian Church rated its leaders this way

The Straits Times (Singapore), 9 July 1997.

The Central Christian Church kept detailed statistics of members’ attendance at church meetings because it wanted to exert tight control over them, defense lawyers said yesterday.

Mr. Daniel John, who acts for the Christian magazine, Impact, said that the church rated its leaders “Bad, Good, Great and Awesome,” depending on members’ attendance. If a leader could not ensure that all his “disciples” attended a certain number of meetings, he might get a bad rating. By doing so, said Mr. John, the church used its members’ feeling of guilt to motivate them to work harder for the church.

The church also kept records on “missing discipling time” to keep track of leaders who did not spend time with their disciples. The lawyer made this point yesterday when he cross-examined engineer Lee Teck Ming, 33.

Mr. Lee was the fourth church leader to testify in support of the church’s defamation action against editors of The New Paper and Impact magazine. He denied that the church, which now has about 950 members, had used attendance statistics as a form of control. He said: “It was not used like the grading system in schools. It was more for organizational reasons ‘to see how the church has grown.'”

Such statistics also enabled the church to determine which leaders were in need of help, when they received a bad rating. He said: “But we do not hold it against them. When we put “Bad,’ it does not mean that you are a bad person.

But when questioned by Mr. John, another church leader, Mr. Chan Gin Kai, 27, admitted that the church did make use of attendance records to make members “accountable.” Mr. Chan said he submitted weekly forms on his disciples’ attendance to the church.

Earlier, Mr. Tan Chee Meng, the counsel for The New Paper’s editor, had also questioned the church’s practice of keep attendance, especially for Sunday services. He said that this was a “serious matter.”

This is because the numbers were used to rank the Central Christian Church against other overseas affiliated churches under the umbrella body of the International Churches of Christ. If the church here had high attendance figures, it would be ranked higher than other churches. It would thus gain more prestige, counsel said.

Mr. Lee denied that there was such a ranking exercise. He said the statistics were only used to categorize the various churches by to the size of their congregations.

The hearing before Justice Warren Khoo continues today.

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