My unpleasant experience at City Harvest Church after being brought there by a female friend
Posted by temasektimes on June 29, 2012
We were never close, she suddenly turned up one day with this weird statement, claiming that she didn’t know how to be my friend and I look like a “lost soul” and wanted me to come to her church. I was on the look out for churches at that point, I have heard of CHC, but didn’t really like it. Decided to give it a benefit of doubt and went to church with her.
Clever packaging of Sunday services
Truly. It was one of those things where there’s a live band, it was in an old movie theater and the acoustics were great. It certainly felt more like a rock concert thing than going to church. For us who were than mostly underage (most of the people surrounding me looked under 21) or who were just on the right age to go clubbing, this was a “healthy” alternative with more people and, on the plus side, with no drunks, it’s easy to network with them as well.
Extra revenue in the form of advertisements, sales of CDs
When I first attended the church, internet was sort of a “new” thing. Not many people had it, and I can’t remember now if they even had a website.
However, even then, they were still selling things. First was Sun Ho’s CDs. To me, it was hilarious. It was like having a commercial break in the middle of the service.
“Do you all love Pastor Ho!?!?!?”
Then, there was some blurb about how great and godly her music was, we should all water our souls with her godly music (unlike others out there, ahem ahem).
Tacky advertisements, they somehow worked. Everyone was, for some reason, worked up into a frenzy, all cheering for the CDs.
Next up was a compilation of bible studies by another pastor. At that point, they hadn’t produced sermons for sale yet, so all these compilation CDs were their main selling points. Yet another tacky blurb, yet another advertisement. Again, people were cheering ceaselessly like it was the best thing they have ever heard.
If you stand up at this point, you could see all the new faces – they were the ones with awkward looks on their faces.
30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold returns on your church donations
When it came time to throw in tithes, they made a big issue about it. My friend insisted I have to put some money in, even if it was just 5 dollars. As someone who was only working during the holidays, and it wasn’t a holiday then, technically I earn nothing that month. 10% of nothing is still nothing. The cell leader than asked if I was given an allowance, and if I was, I need to give 10% of that – for the glory of my soul and all sorts of nonsense related to that, at which point, I threw in 50 cents in frustration. The awkwardness was overwhelming.
Social pressure to conform in church settings and ease of influence
By the “2nd commercial break”, I had pretty much decided this was not the church for me. I am an introvert. The church was a loud concert that forces me to interact with people.
Furthermore, we were forced to chant to everyone surrounding us that we will bring in 2 more people the next weekend. if you calculate the number of people you “promised” that to, it equates bringing 8 people to the church the next week altogether.
I didn’t like feeling like I am forced to give a tithe. When I eventually went to church, I donated whenever I worked, which amounted to hundreds of dollars – but I was not forced to do it. Tithe used to be the only way pastors/priests could live and maintain the church. These guys live in houses and cars that even I couldn’t afford, so why do they need our donations for?
Also, at the end of the session, there was a cleansing session where everyone is made to chant that we are “backsliders” and we will do better. Then, people who have done wrong during the week need to come up front to be “cleansed”. The ironic part was, while I was fine, my very staunch friend was collapsed in a heap of teary mess. this happened basically all around me and I panicked because, being such an introvert, all eyes were on me.
All these chanting, by the way? Enough of it can brainwash a person.
Finally, there was the after service gathering. Cell groups gather together. At that time, cell groups go by where they lived. I was not located “right” for that cell group, but they “accepted” me, I even got presents, and got called a sister! However, nothing seemed genuine. I was actually scared of them.
Needless to say, thereafter I refused to go back. My friend was then told that I will suffer eternal damnation and it would damage her soul and theirs (the cell groups’) if she keeps associating with me. I haven’t talked to her since.
I found a church where my soul belongs to anyways, and it is one of those “small” churches that is a bit more traditional. Where I found real friends who didn’t just took me to church because she promised other people she had take 2 people to church the next weekend
*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.