Destiny Church called a 'money-making cult'
Former members of the Destiny Church say it is nothing more than a money-making venture.
The church has been heavily criticised by former members after more than half the congregation including Pastor Andrew Stock walked out of the Sunday service in Brisbane.
Those who walked out said they believed the church was no longer following the Gospel.
Since then former members had supported the walkout and said the church was a money-making cult.
Pastor Stock, his wife Helen and a significant part of the Brisbane congregation walked out over several issues, including money and a new covenant which they said went against the Gospel.
Under the covenant members were encouraged to buy a $300 signet ring, stop buying coffee and give up Sky TV so they could give more money to the church, the New Zealand Herald reported today.
However, the church said the criticism was not new, although the purchase of the covenant ring was not compulsory and was available to men only.
Church spokesman Richard Lewis said the church had a big vision.
"These kinds of comments are nothing new and we go about trying to build our vision as any other church in the country does and it costs money to do it."
The covenant also said that up to $1.3 million would be put aside so church founder Bishop Brian Tamaki could appear on his own television programme every weekday.
Former churchgoer Agnes Granada said she left the church in Auckland because she was "getting uncomfortable".
She told the newspaper making the $300 signet ring a compulsory purchase led her to believe Destiny was not a church, but a money-making cult.
She said God was spiritual and Bishop Tamaki was doing things materialistically.
Another member said Bishop Tamaki, a self-appointed bishop was moving away from the true faith and setting up his business empire.
Mr Lewis said the church had always been "focussed on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been our message from the start and always will continue to be our message".
He said the tangible expression of the message was the church's work in the community and that cost money.
He would not speak about 'the handful' of people who had publicly criticised and left the church although it was disappointing.
However, Mr Lewis said if people were not happy and wanted to leave, they could leave but they would always be welcomed back.