In an extensive video report from the nightly TV program ‘A Current Affair’, reporter Sacha Passi puts forward a well-documented case against Phil Pringle, senior leader of the C3 Church Global movement. In Part 1 of the investigation, Sacha focused on the ‘money for miracles’ aspect of the church. However, as hard-hitting as it was, it’s important to remember that many C3 members have already left, not because of the obvious ‘prosperity gospel’ being presented, but more importantly the fact that C3 Church Global and its pastors, preach a different gospel, a different Jesus.
And you would have to wonder why this is the case – why does Phil Pringle and the majority of C3 pastors globally, not present the case for Christ biblically?
“Phil Pringle, along with Brian Houston, rely on their own creativity, rather than the biblical texts for their sermons.”
Now we ask the question – does Phil Pringle serve Christ in such a way as to not bring reproach upon the name and cause of Christ? Is Phil Pringle ‘above reproach’? The answer is clearly ‘no’. Only qualified godly shepherds may serve as pastors of God’s flock.
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.“1 Timothy 3:1-7
Because of this, the body of Christ needs to be warned. We thank God for faithful pastors like Chris Rosebrough, who are defending Christ’s church against such movements who openly abuse God’s Word, those cult-like movements and their leaders who ignore discerning believers who question the real ‘agenda’ behind their rise to ‘global power’ within Christianity.
Members ‘brainwashed’ by mega-church into donating thousands.
He’s the flashy church leader who takes money for miracles and is living a million-dollar lifestyle thanks to the tax-free donations from his thousands of believers.
Phil Pringle rose from humble garbage collector to leader of C3 Church – one of the biggest churches you’ve probably never heard of, and the focus of a two-part exclusive investigation by A Current Affair.
Its target is God’s hipsters – a following of young faithful hooked on Instagram.
Over three decades Phil Pringle has built an empire including around 400 churches world-wide, and the church claims more than 100,000 members.
And for a man of God, Phil Pringle is incredibly rich. He drives a luxury car and owns a palatial clifftop mansion overlooking the beach at Sydney’s Mona Vale. It comes complete with an infinity pool and cost him $3.4 million seven years ago – it’s now valued well above $4 million.
He also enjoys skippering yachts in exotic destinations around the world. His message seems to be less about repenting your sins and more about building your finances.
“Go make millions and give it to the House of God … Amen!” Phil Pringle preaches at one conference, recorded and published online. In another clip, the leader of C3 Americas Jurgen Matthesius is also captured giving the hard sell to parishioners.
“God is brilliant with ledgers. God is the most perfect accountant, he knows everything you give and he makes sure it comes back to you with interest,” he said.
Another deputy and leader of C3, John Pearce, is even more blunt about how God’s blessings work.
“Some of you are going to walk into heaven and God is going to go ‘massive mansion over there for you’ like what’s that for? He’ll go, well you were part of C3 powerhouse,” he said.
In a special investigation, former members reveal the extent of the pressure put on followers, starting with tithing – a term that requires you to donate 10 per cent of your pre-tax salary.
“The first 10 per cent of whatever they earn. So if you’re on $100,000 that’s $10,000 that you’re giving per annum to them,” former C3 Church member, Aaron said.
When asked by A Current Affair Reporter Dan Nolan about tithing, Phil Pringle said tithing is optional, but on C3’s website, it’s made clear that even if you are in “significant debt”, your regular tithe is still expected.
The preachers claim this is okay because if you give money to C3, God will bless you with more money in return.
“They would describe giving as like a seed,” Aaron said.
“You not only give once, you’ve got to continue to give, which is like your watering of the seed and then it will grow and then eventually you’ll get this big blessing and this good stuff will happen to you.”
It’s claimed by giving, followers can be blessed with ‘miracles’ – curing the sick and exorcising demons.
“In one offering, $50,000, $100,000, a million dollars in some cases, just at the drop of a hat like that,” Aaron said.
The most recent information lodged on Australia’s charity register reveals the total revenue declared by all C3 churches in Australia is $40 million annually – less than half of Hillsong Church’s $103 million, but growing fast. Most of that revenue was from donations and everything is tax-free. C3 Church Sydney Limited, a company that Phil Pringle is a director of has total assets of $46 million. That includes 11 church locations, including the sprawling C3 Headquarters at Oxford Falls.
Kerri Ferguson was a member of Christian City Church before it became C3.
“They call it a free will gift or free will giving, that simply isn’t true. You’re brainwashed into giving this kind of money,” she said.
She says even when she was raising five kids on her own, the pressure to tithe remained.
“There were nights in our house when my children did not have food. And I never got any assistance whatsoever from anybody,” she said.
Chris Rosebrough is from Fighting For The Faith, a podcast dedicated to exposing prosperity preachers like Phil Pringle.
“They’re playing on people’s greed, playing on people’s needs and basically exploiting them,” he said.
The Christian pastor has analysed C3 Church and Pringle for years.
“Stories like these they are intended to bring large amounts of money, and convince somebody that God wants them to empty their savings account,” he said.
At the recent C3 Australia Conference at the Gold Coast, a speech about giving was streamed online before being removed the next day.
In the clip, worshipers are directed to the portable eftpos machines before stories of healing take centre stage. One man, who happens to be the son of another C3 Pastor John Pearce, claims Phil Pringle cured him of his epilepsy last year. Another man seeks a cure for his gut health. And then there are ‘miracle offerings’, encouraging believers to donate a one-off hefty amount for a special need in their life – often to have children.
“They would portray it in this way of do this and you get this back, kind of thing. So whether that’s new job, new house, new car, is it kids for some people?” Aaron said.
Chris Rosebrough, a devoted Christian, says the church’s teachings don’t align with the bible.
“The gifts of God are not for sale. Gifts of God are received as gifts, they are given freely by God, they cannot be purchased,” he said.
Phil Pringle denied preaching about miracle offerings when approach by A Current Affair, saying, “well we certainly haven’t preached that.”
But audio recordings, since deleted offline, capture Phil Pringle explaining how “miracle offerings” work.
“It’s a miracle because as you bring an offering to the Lord and stretch yourself into a zone you’ve never been before you’re going to find yourself, God stretching his resources to you,” he said.
“I believe there’s a person here today who can give $1 million. In fact I believe there’s two people who could do that.”
Statement from C3 Church:
C3 Church has robust governance policies in place regarding remuneration of Pastors which extends to the remuneration of Ps Phil Pringle. All remuneration is set by an independent board of Directors and the quantum is benchmarked to organisations of a comparable size in the Education sector.
C3 Church complies with the disclosure guidelines articulated by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
Ps Pringle confirms he fully complies with all his taxation obligations.
From our good friends over at Pulpit & Pen, some food for thought on why people are leaving movements like C3 Church Global:
“The fact is, and let this serve as a warning to those who view discernment ministries as troublesome, caustic or sinful…your pew-sitters are turning. They are turning away from the shallow and anemic Gospel preaching. They are beginning to detest the Scripture-twisting and purpose-driven pandering taking place in the pulpit. They are beginning to tire of being called babies for wanting to be taught doctrine or being told that they “officially suck as a human being” for disagreeing about man-centered worship styles [click here]. They are beginning to find out that the seeker-friendly growth strategy is a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by mega-church pastors that is filling their auditoriums and emptying Christ-centered ones. They are beginning to discover the cold, hard desperation that comes in times of unquenchable sorrow because their pastors have given them life-tips on living instead of enriching them with a theology of suffering. They are being told that church is about vain and vapid celebration rather than heart-felt and contrite worship. They are beginning to investigate their pastors with the Word of God in hand. And they are beginning to figure it out.” (Link)