LOVE IN ACTION OR LOVE INACTION?
The Wirral Christian Centre has been operating for nearly 40 years. In that time Pastor Paul Epton claimed to have received many "visions from God" including one promising a five thousand seater church with numerous community outreach and social programs.
A later vision had Pastor Paul Epton overseeing house groups more than twice the size of the promised five thousand seater church. Neither vision ever came to fruition and today as he enjoys semi-retirement the Wirral Christian Centre, or Gateway Church Wirral, has nowhere near the number of members Pastor Paul Epton claimed God promised him.
SO WHY DID GOD NOT FULFILL HIS VISION?
An obvious question one might ask is why did Pastor Paul Epton's visions
from God never come to pass? Were they indeed visions from God? If they were then
what prevented them from coming to fruition? Ironically the answer might lie in
something Paul Epton himself once wrote:
"Do not be ambitious which will lead to a Godless pursuit of power and position, but do be open to the call of God in your life and He will open the door to His gift and call in you. He will close the door to vain ambition."
WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE?
A great many people have attended and left the Wirral Christian Centre over the years. Repeated controversies have contributed to an unusually high congregational turnover. The sheer number of such incidents are enough to raise alarm, but individuals have always tended to choose not to proceed with complaints, especially given the fact that Elim themselves are unwilling to get involved and have even described themselves as "powerless" to intervene.
Because of this, the leadership of the Wirral Christian Centre has remained unchallenged in their behaviour, repeating the same patterns, of what some have called abuse, year after year, controversy after controversy.
Today the church is lead by Paul Epton's son, Greg. It's fair to suggest that under Greg's leadership the church is different now and changing the name of the church to Gateway Church Wirral may well be his way of trying to break free of his fathers legacy. The authoritarian style of his father is simply out-of-date today. People respond better to guidance rather than the constant rebuking style that the Rev. Paul Epton was well known for.
INTEGRITY, QUALITY, AND AUTHORITY
In his 1988 book 'Love In Action' Rev. Paul Epton wrote, "We are going to build a Christian community of such integrity, such quality, such authority, that society will have to take notice of it." There's nothing wrong with lofty aspirations, but under the leadership of Pastor Paul Epton the Wirral Christian Centre gained notoriety yet accomplished little.
One review of the book reads "The key to understanding this book is understanding the author. Interesting that the author says how God has told him he will pastor a church of 5000+ yet, only a few short years from retirement, has only just opened a new church that can't seat 500." - S. Cotter.