A MISSIONAL DECADE Later: Issues in the Church of God @TravisJohnson73

NEWS SOURCE: actscelerate

Issues in the Church of God (Travis Johnson) | wayne
I reposted the important side of a thread started by: Aaron Scott

Issues remain in the COG. We need to have discussions about the liberalizing of theology and even attacks on orthodoxy. It’s becoming an issue that is being baked in the cake. There are issues with some of our academics. It’s a discussion that needs to be had. We have some doctrinal forest fires going on among some of our academics. Those fires need to be dealt with.

There are issues of substantially resourcing the Great Commission on a denominational level. If we don’t do it, our existence won’t be justified and our effectiveness will be blunted. I believe we are gaining good ground. Tim Hill has shown good leadership. Money was plowed into the church planting bank this year. $1.5 million to be exact. We need to back him with full throated support so that kind of thing happens every year. The forces that will push against that are structural demands. Our system demands support. But, we can still starve things out if it comes down to a choice between apparatus and furthering the establishment of a robust Great Commission engine.

And, we need to take a serious look at the number of large churches we have lost, regardless of the reason or personalities. Statistically, it’s a high percentage. We may decide we want to be a denomination that only serves a certain size church. That’s our perogative. But, I believe we can have some informed discussions and make conclusions (with action items) to address that situation. We can do it without malice or animosity towards anyone…just love and a desire for increased effectiveness. The reality is that we are getting the exact results our system is designed to produce. We can tweak our systems and get different results (positive and negative). But, there are some good discussions to be had.

There are plenty positive discussions to be had. We can have them from behind pen names or in our own names. For me, I would prefer that we not hide in the tall grass. I want to know what people are thinking. Principled people who can articulate a good Gospel future for our fellowship are critical. We don’t need any more people advancing just because of warm personality or camp meeting exposure. We need godly leaders with a principled clarity of thought…thought that isn’t based only on political pragmatism…but on solid Gospel conviction and clear leadership principles.

Those thoughts can be articulated on Actscelerate, Facebook, or in person. Sometimes the tools change. If they do, let’s not shrink back from the tasks at hand. Let’s have courage, hope, and intentionality in our future. It’s a good future.

Travis Johnson

============

Questions:
1. How is our theology being liberalized?
2. What attacks are being made on our orthodoxy?
3. What is causing the doctrinal forest fires?
4. What issues are there with resourcing the Great Commission?
5. It is fantastic that we have 1.5 Million dollars for church planting but what money is set aside for existing churches who need assistance, low cost loans, etc. Especially, churches who are faithful in sending in their TOT.
6. It’s kind of hard for a pastor of a smaller congregation to focus too much attention on mega congregations when at times it seems he is ignored in his needs. How will this be addressed?
7. How will these discussions be facilitated? I don’t mind if they happen on this site or facebook but if the conversations are going to be had we need serious dialogue and not the rants of someone who has a pen name or an axe to grind.

I ask all these questions because I don’t know the answers. I am a church planter, Pastor, District Overseer and often I don’t know what my leadership is dealing with. I don’t know why my leaders chose to extend the moratorium on co-signing loans. I don’t know why it takes months for our missionaries to get the money we send them. I don’t know why the licensing process for some of our young people takes too long, I don’t know why it takes a long period of time to do a background check on someone…. I say all this because, I also have managerial level secular job on top of pastoring that requires extensive communication with my staff, problem solving skills, data collecting to anticipate future problems and continued support for those faithful members of my team. It also requires that I offer training(free of charge) to help my team continue to grow in their roles.

Thanks for allowing me to ask questions

Wayne Guilliams
Pastor
MISSION Church of God
Florence, KY 41042

 

While I recognize this question is not directed at me & I don’t claim to be as bright as Bishop T. Johnson, I would like to respond to the inquiry in part.

Some of the liberal theology, attacks on orthodoxy & doctrinal forest fires are often times the result of academic debates. We have had a few of the kids in our church attend Lee in Cleveland, Vanguard in So. Cal. & Evangel in Springfield, Mo. In each case we have heard many reports of various challenges to the beliefs & practices we all hold so dear.
I am of the opinion that every institution loses footing at the foundation sooner or later.
In the N.T. God gave us a better covenant than what He originally had given Moses, why? The system allowed men to fail.
We’re facing the end times when men will become more violent & evil while the love of many waxes colder.
The truth of the matter is that in these end times it will not become easier to do ministry but instead it will become more difficult if we’re trying to model evangelism with man’s approval.
Again, I agree with Travis in that we need to have serious heart to heart dialogue & I think those discussions should include upper leadership, peers & Millennials.

As far as resourcing the great commission I think the topic alone could be its own thread but I believe I have an idea as to how to help. We currently use an ancient model for the collection of resources that allows people too much opportunity to under-report their true records of giving. The giving to HQ needs to be tied directly to a ministers personal credentials & not on a loose ToT system that is open to failure. If my ToT were to rise to something like $15,000 or $20,000 a month I might be asking some serious questions as to why are we doing this & what do we get in return?
Are the larger churches leaving the CoG because the ToT has become a serious issue financially? The type of issue that would cause a large church to re-consider where they send those funds? Is it possible that some of our larger churches have a set dollar amount that they pay each month instead of a sliding scale based on their monthly tithe?  If my denominational contribution were attached to my own personal giving & likewise to the 10’s of thousands of other ministers in the CoG, I don’t think we would have a resource problem but we might have an allocation problem.

Lastly, and it’s a big lastly, I believe the CoG should release the title deed to churches who are viable & fully capable of managing their own properties. Some of the larger churches already have this in place for their ministry but the smaller churches as a whole do not.
Let me share a story: A few years ago our church was in some serious need of repair to the point we were on the verge of losing one of our buildings. I requested a meeting with our state board & acting AB at that time and made our plea to search for a loan; they turned us down almost immediately but also offered no further help of any kind.

Now why would we want to repair a building that belongs to someone else who refuses to help us? The difference is we see the bigger picture so it never got personal.

We have several trades people in the church so the work could have been handled easily enough w/out a huge bill from a contractor. If we had our deed we might have been able to secure a short term loan & handled the drastic situation. Instead we ended up raising money every way we knew how. In the last 7 years we have had multiple sales of every kind, raised money from the membership via building fund donations & we have sold fireworks. It took a few years to get enough money but we finally did it, of course the building continued to fall apart as well which ended up costing us even more.

Not one single time in the past 7 years has a state board member or AB ever asked about the condition of our facility.
What does Cleveland gain by holding our deed in a file? If they think its to keep us from ever leaving the CoG they’re wrong. We don’t choose to remain in the CoG because our deed is locked up, we love the CoG & I wish they trusted us more & wish they would try to see it through the lens of the small church for once.

I’m afraid the time is approaching when possibly more people will evaluate their need to be in a denomination that offers very little dialogue with it’s hot topics amidst their own personal struggles to survive. Personally I pray it never comes to that.

Email me at: SteenburghDean@gmail.com

I remember once at a COGOP General Assembly, yet another issue was tabled. One young pastor inquired “Just how large is this table getting”.Sounds similar to the issues you raised, or they were never brought to the table in the first place.30 years ago, I said the COGOP was much closer to the Catholic Church than they ever imagined in terms of bureaucracy and infallibility of the “pope” (General Overseer). In the latter years of MA Tomlinson’s term, the question was raised on how the new GA would be selected in the event of moral failure or incapacity of the GA. A prominent General Official actually made the comment that Brother Tomlinson could not sin (fail). I think he may have also said he couldn’t become incapacitated (but I’m not sure of that). I don’t know how long it took the Catholic Church to determine the Pope was infallible, but the COGOP was coming close in less than 90 years existence (if the calendar started in 1903, per COGOP Historical view). Fortunately, the infallibility of the GA was never official doctrine and not quite fully accepted by the membership (though it was likely very close to that in mental attitude). I recall that a second floor of the Communications building was constructed SOLELY because Brother Tomlinson made an off-the-cuff comment that a second story would be nice. Almost immediately construction began based on that simple comment, and if memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t brought to the Finance committee for approval. It was done cause Bro Tomlinson made a casual comment–I doubt he ever knew the significance of his comment.I say all this because the COGOP is a much smaller organization than the COG and yet 30 years ago, they were deeply entrenched in buracracy that was firmly set on maintaining favor and power. No wonder the COG is at the point it is. Unfortunately, 4th generation Churches far too often lose their initial focus and resort to political maneuvering to acquire and maintain power.Fortunately, for the COGOP, Brother Tomlinson finally relinquished his position (and I do not think he held it out of a desire for power, rather, it was the burden he felt obligated to hold, and he seemed to make many decisions based upon what he thought AJ would have done). Brother Tomlinson was a tremendously meek man and I do not think he was in the position for his personal power. Fortunately, he finally realized he did not need to stay in the position until he died. The COGOP is also deeply indebted to MA’s successor, Billy Murray. Brother Murray underwent tremendous “persecution” for ridding the Church of the legalism that had been prevelant. Brother Murray was an extremely intelligent and principled leader that helped the Church rid much of the legalism that had been firmly entrenched.It seems the COG needs a similar infusion of intelligent, principled leadership to try to shed the cloak of bureaucracy, tradition, and centralized power that has apparently overtaken the Church. Although History may indicate otherwise, it is possible for the Church to change. My advice is much prayer and supplication as men must move to the point that they put the mission of the Church at a higher level than their own desires for personal gain.

=========================

I remember once at a COGOP General Assembly, yet another issue was tabled. One young pastor inquired “Just how large is this table getting”.

Sounds similar to the issues you raised, or they were never brought to the table in the first place.

30 years ago, I said the COGOP was much closer to the Catholic Church than they ever imagined in terms of bureaucracy and infallibility of the “pope” (General Overseer). In the latter years of MA Tomlinson’s term, the question was raised on how the new GA would be selected in the event of moral failure or incapacity of the GA. A prominent General Official actually made the comment that Brother Tomlinson could not sin (fail). I think he may have also said he couldn’t become incapacitated (but I’m not sure of that). I don’t know how long it took the Catholic Church to determine the Pope was infallible, but the COGOP was coming close in less than 90 years existence (if the calendar started in 1903, per COGOP Historical view). Fortunately, the infallibility of the GA was never official doctrine and not quite fully accepted by the membership (though it was likely very close to that in mental attitude). I recall that a second floor of the Communications building was constructed SOLELY because Brother Tomlinson made an off-the-cuff comment that a second story would be nice. Almost immediately construction began based on that simple comment, and if memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t brought to the Finance committee for approval. It was done cause Bro Tomlinson made a casual comment–I doubt he ever knew the significance of his comment.

I say all this because the COGOP is a much smaller organization than the COG and yet 30 years ago, they were deeply entrenched in buracracy that was firmly set on maintaining favor and power. No wonder the COG is at the point it is. Unfortunately, 4th generation Churches far too often lose their initial focus and resort to political maneuvering to acquire and maintain power.

Fortunately, for the COGOP, Brother Tomlinson finally relinquished his position (and I do not think he held it out of a desire for power, rather, it was the burden he felt obligated to hold, and he seemed to make many decisions based upon what he thought AJ would have done). Brother Tomlinson was a tremendously meek man and I do not think he was in the position for his personal power. Fortunately, he finally realized he did not need to stay in the position until he died. The COGOP is also deeply indebted to MA’s successor, Billy Murray. Brother Murray underwent tremendous “persecution” for ridding the Church of the legalism that had been prevelant. Brother Murray was an extremely intelligent and principled leader that helped the Church rid much of the legalism that had been firmly entrenched.

It seems the COG needs a similar infusion of intelligent, principled leadership to try to shed the cloak of bureaucracy, tradition, and centralized power that has apparently overtaken the Church. Although History may indicate otherwise, it is possible for the Church to change. My advice is much prayer and supplication as men must move to the point that they put the mission of the Church at a higher level than their own desires for personal gain.

Methocostal

 

One point you hit on was the influence of “unofficial” (not approved by the General Assembly) opinions/false teachings on the body politic and leadership whose positions in the current system might be lost in the new system. In some since, those who proclaimed M. A. Tomlinson should stay until he died, made it harder for those, including Bishop Tomlinson, to move towards an Assembly approved system that would allow for changes in leadership. One might call it vested interest, or protecting your personal kingdom, to the point that when the subject came to the Assembly floor under Bishop Tomlinson, someone would stand up and gave a message in tongues with interpretation that he was overseer for life or the usual, “touch not my anointed’.

As you recall, committees did not bring any thing to the floor of the assembly without the approval of Bishop Tomlinson. However, several years before he retired/vacated the office, he had one committee bring the subject of how to allow for change of General Overseer. You would have thought the committee had “tricked” their way on to the assembly floor. What was amazing to me was that those who held positions were the most vocal against change. Often this was true, as an example when the assembly passed a “call to repentance” in the early 1980s, or even earlier when the committee wanted to adjust the use of the King James Version. Even with M. A. Tomlinson support, the KJV report failed.

However, the assembly final passed that the GO could vacate the office due to health concerns. It was Bishop Tomlinson who choose to use that process in 1990 (he passed away in 1995), despite opposition from some in leadership. They did not want to lose their power. After retirement the assembly enacted several changes to the Office of General Overseer and enacted the “plurality of leadership concept”. That said, you would not be surprised to learn that some have found ways to say in power longer than expected.

So change came, but new leadership, like freshly poured cement, found a way to harden in place. One thing I admire about the COG is their voting on and term limits for top leadership. This process has provide a number of great leaders and stable institutions. Then again, there is that “revolving door” problem.

~Mat

Personally I feel the revolving door we experience every 2, 4, 6 or 8 years is too tough on churches & pastors.
I know there are some tough nuts in the CoG who are in leadership positions & they make life difficult for some of our guys.
I would rather we have a system in place where our elected leaders have the option to be left alone to lead us for an indefinite period of time just like pastors have the option to lead their churches indefinitely. A failing leader can always be voted out.
_________________
“Empty nest syndrome is for the birds!”

Email me at: SteenburghDean@gmail.com

The Church of God is not perfect, it has it’s faults but I am sure there are more great things happening vs bad things. Not everyone in leadership will do things that will satisfy the masses. As a Pastor I have already found this out.

There are times when leaders have to make decision that will upset people. There are times when actions need to be taken and the reason for the actions cannot be revealed – this is why we elect these people to lead. So they can make decisions for us. We may not agree but that’s okay.

My recommendation to the disgruntled: Show up to the state meetings. Show up to GA. Stay for the whole meeting not just to get your buddy or yourself elected. Stand at the light and have your question/concern heard. Don’t stop there, write/email your leaders and ask questions. So far, every question I have asked has been answered. May not like the answers I get but I get an answer.

Also, there is nothing wrong with asking why. I’m sure our leaders want to be challenged from time to time. I am sure they want to hear from the people they are leading. I am sure our best interest is why they make these decisions. If not, it will come to light.

Something else to consider: If you are always getting mad, always seeing the negative, always challenging leadership, always complaining and never lifting a finger….Maybe, it’s time to look in the mirror.

Wayne Guilliams
Pastor
MISSION Church of God
Florence, KY 41042

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