… that when we look at these big denominations, and when we look at the way certain big churches are (being) run, they are really about protecting their brand. They want to control the narrative, even when somebody leaves, we must kind of like mention it in a way that and make the organization look good, and sometimes in doing so, they make the individual look really, really bad.Jonathan Ngan – Ex-Youth Pastor Of SIBKL
He was at the height of his career. A senior pastor in one of Malaysia’s fastest growing megachurch, Sidang Injil Borneo, Kuala Lumpur (SIBKL). He had it all. But in two compelling testimonies, he shared his views on YouTube, detailing out why he left what he has built for over 10 years. And he left many of his followers baffled. He left SIBKL.
But why did he leave? He said, for many years, he wrestled with many different questions, and while he saw big results, big impact and big numbers in church, but he was also very conscious of the fact that events in megachurches were producing masses of participants and spectators, but not producing actual disciples for Christ.
In 2020, SIBKL started a new college and university ministry, and when COVID-19 hit, all of that was like being wiped out in one stroke. Conferences were cancelled, youth services went from physical meetings to online sessions, and they had to streamline their university and college ministry for two years. Basically, everything that they knew and were familiar with, all came to a stop, according to Jon Ngan. And the opportunity gave him room to be still and to reflect on what he was doing, and doing for God.
He said that what really got him thinking was that, where the things that they celebrated or the things that they value and measure as success in the church, is not found in the Bible. And this was indeed a bombshell statement, that gave other believers from Malaysia, an insight to what was really going on in SIBKL.
Personally, when I became a Christian during my teen days, SIBKL, its Kuala Lumpur chapter, had not existed yet. But approximately thirty years ago, they came about, and caught everyone’s attention by the uniqueness of their name for a church – Sidang Injil Borneo. SIBKL was known to be a very popular church even during its formative years, and by the time they became the talk of the town, they already had several hundred regular members attending their Sunday services each week, a far cry from the rest, that were struggling with a few dozen members at a time.
SIBKL is known to have originated from East Malaysia, and after they branched out to the West Peninsular, they became an instant success. And they grew and grew and nothing was stopping them. If you have been to their services, you’ll quickly notice they are like the Hillsong of Southeast Asia. Everything they do is centered upon staging and presentation. Going to church is like attending a rock concert. People sing, yell and jump to the boisterous music, amidst discotheque-like setup with bright spotlights and state-of-the-art sound equipment.
But at the height of his career, Jon Ngan said if Jesus were to walk on earth today, he believed that his church won’t invite Him to speak at their conferences. And he reasoned by saying that among those that SIBKL usually invite to speak at their conferences, they would only invite the most charismatic, the best dressed, the ones with the most stage presence, or how big their ministry is, and how much influence they have. “If I think about Jesus, He only had twelve. And when I think about that, we celebrate, and we push for numbers, more views, and I go, is that even in the Bible?” said Jon Ngan.
“And you must understand, at the point of where I was, it was thirteen years in the making. I was where I had thought I would be, ever since I got into Bible college. Pastoring in a big church, influential ministry, in a senior leadership position, everything seem to be okay, and I believed everything would have been alright if I had just stayed the course. But let me tell you, boy did the Holy Spirit, in His grace and wisdom, as well as glory, provide a course correction.” Jon reiterared further.
And he said that he was impacted by the writings in Matthew chapter 7, where Jesus said that in the last days, many will come to Him saying, Lord, we healed the sick for You, we did this for You, we did that for You, therefore are You pleased? And the Lord said, be gone from Me, you wicked and evil people. I know none of you. Jon Ngan said he was convicted because he didn’t want to reach a point in his life where at the end of the day he would say to God, “God, look at the great programs I ran for you. Look at the great, holy huddles I had for You. Look at all the nice events, and all these nice things I had for You. Aren’t You pleased?” And he was wary of the idea of being questioned by the Lord; did He ask for any of these.
Jon Ngan is not the only Christian believer from Malaysia who started developing alternative views from mainstream charismatic movements. In fact, many of us already did and saw the fine lines between the truth and the duplicity in these churches. If you review his testimonies released publicly, as a matter of fact, we knew something adverse had happened in SIBKL that led to his departure. But far from that, we could also see that this ex-pastor was questioning his church along Scriptural principles and what was written in the Bible. Indeed, we can also see that Jon Ngan is a person who reads and is familiar with the Bible.
It was a sad thing that it came to a point, when he left SIBKL, there was very little closure. He said he went from being a very public person in an organization, in the church industry, to just being disappeared. And Jon Ngan dropped another bombshell by saying, “… when we look at these big denominations, and when we look at the way certain big churches are (being) run, they are really about protecting their brand. They want to control the narrative, even when somebody leaves, we must kind of like mention it in a way that and make the organization look good, and sometimes in doing so, they make the individual look really, really bad.”
Now, isn’t it all too familiar to those among us, when he said that there was very little or no closure after he left. And the churches, as institutions, made those who had left, look really, really bad in order for them to protect their brand and their image. And how true is the saying that goes, there is nothing new under the sun. It’s the same things, the same babbles happening everywhere, even inside our churches.
He Saw The Truth, & Found No Truth in The Institution Church
Jon Ngan did not mention anything about the truth. But essentially, we can read between the lines, that he was confronted by principles of righteousness and the truth. As a person who grew up knowing Christianity only within the context of charismatic movements, he would probably need some time to figure it out, what the Scripture meant when it stated that God loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Psalm 45:7). To the charismatics, to do what is right is merely to be nice to other people, and to be wicked simply means not being nice. That too, is how they love others, by being nice to others. But those who struggled with charismatic teachings, struggled with the same catechism that rocked our conscious mind; what exactly is righteousness and what exactly is wickedness according to God and Scripture. And the truth is they never told us the truth inside these false churches.
But in his own words, Jon Ngan said, “You can clearly see that many things were buried or kept hidden or just pushed aside for years. Why? To protect the organization. Rather than to address real issues, or even failures, or even matter, they didn’t want to do that, because if you do that, it gives the organization a bad name or a bad rep (reputation). But hey, isn’t this church? Isn’t this a faith community where authenticity, where sincerity, where integrity is supposed to be paramount. … but what is lacking is the kind of courage, the kind of maturity, the kind of love, the kind of generosity, to actually talk about certain issues. Whether it is an issue of morals, an issue of methodology, or an issue of philosophy, or even an issue of theology. Quite often, as the church leadership, we want to silence critics. We want to keep people quiet. We want to control the narrative.”
“We don’t just go to church, we are meant to be the church.” Jon Ngan said. From my own opinion, if a person is able to distinguish the difference between going to church and being the church, the body of Christ itself, this person clearly understood the true meaning of following Christ. And in doing so, he could only attain such accomplishments, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, a man is blind, and he sees not the truth.
More to come, as we dig deeper into this story, and below are the links to his testimonies uploaded on Youtube. In over two months since publication, his first video had already garnered a massive 547,000 views and with 11,000 subscribers, at the time of this writing. And in over two weeks, his followup video is already quickly catching up with 34,000 views. The shocking thing is, this guy only had two videos in his Youtube account and he came from a church with less than 10,000 members. Therefore I could only conclude, unless the Holy Spirit is speaking, no large crowd would have gathered to listen (Luke 8:4).
If you are going through his videos, allow me to ask this question; can you find any lies in what this man had said? That’ll be the clue, in identifying between what is the truth, and what are lies and deception. Jesus said, He is the truth, and likewise, in all practical sense, it means in every piece of truth on earth, we will find Christ in them. Christ is the Father of all truth, and all truth comes only from Him. Everything else, especially comments and opinions by others over what Jon Ngan had said, are either mere assessment or noise that does not add or change anything to the truth.