Historically, the Church of God has been a leader in numerous theological and practical aspects of the Pentecostal faith. Ministry via modern media, unfortunately, has not been a priority until recently. The road of recovery in this area has been established by partnership with Christian TV stations and several social media experiments. Occasional broadcasts, however, have been a part of the Church of God media presence for a long time. The 73rd General Assembly was televised live on the internet with avid success, though not without accidental interruptions and stream overloading. Thousands of Church of God members around the globe, who until that moment had never been at or seen the assembly, were able to watch it from their respective locations. Same was true for the following assemblies even when the broadcast had to be paused when sensitive to secular media issues were discussed or voted.
The denomination had only intermediate web presence until the spring of 2001 when ChurchofGod.cc was first established. Even then, a virtually uncommon domain extension .CC (TLD for the Cocos Islands) was implemented, generally used for commercial websites and/or credit cards. This choice left a void for other movements to occupy the Church of God name on the internet. As a result, the official ChurchofGod.org domain was obtained around 2008 from the Heritage Community Church, but not until heavily used for non-denominational web presence. Similarly, the ChurchofGod.com was held for a long time by occult groups until recently made available again for purchase for $25,000 – a small price for a web realty representing an international denomination of seven million souls strong.
Statements and Resolutions
1984 Resolution on THE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THOSE WHO CONTROL AND USE THE MEDIA
WHEREAS the American people enjoy unparalleled freedoms of communication and expression; and
WHEREAS the responsible exercise of these freedoms is necessary to vital democracy; and
WHEREAS those who control and use the media are uniquely situated to influence the thoughts, opinions, values, and conduct of others; and
WHEREAS the lack of accountability by the media in exercising this privilege not to impinge upon the rights of others; and
WHEREAS there is an obvious lack of objectivity, truthfulness, and responsibility on the part of many who control and use the media in presenting morality in American life; and
WHEREAS the Judeo-Christian values of the American majority are often ignored or ridiculed;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Church of God does hereby call upon all who control or use the media to be objective, truthful, and morally responsible in the exercise of their freedoms of communication and expression;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT we call upon those who control and use the media to respect the rights of all Americans and to desist from ignoring or ridiculing the Judeo-Christian moral and ethical values held by a majority of Americans (60th A., 1984, p. 57).
The 2012 Church of God International General Assembly added with the newly proposed Motion 18 on the RESPONSIBLE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. The original text in the agenda read as follows:
We recommend: That we amend pages 156, 157, S63. GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR MINISTERS, by adding the following:
10. Responsible Use of Social Media
Christians are exhorted by Scripture to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to provide things honest in the sight of all persons (Romans 12:17), and to do all things for the edification of others (Romans 15:2). The use of social media (such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, and so forth) by believers should conform to these and other biblical standards. Church of God ministers, as examples of believers in speech, life, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12), shall at all times agree:
a. To write and post only under their own name.
b. To not attack fellow ministers or members of the Church of God. One may disagree with others, provided the tone is respectful and does not become a personal attack.
c. To not disclose any sensitive, confidential, or financial information about the church, its ministers, or its members, other than what is publically available.
d. To not post any material that is defamatory, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, or embarrassing to any person or entity.
e. To uphold the doctrine of the Church of God by not writing or posting anything contrary to the accepted doctrine of the Church of God.
Failure to follow these guidelines on the use of social media shall result in the offending minister being subject to discipline
Item 18 was heavily altered before voted in as follows:
10. Responsible Use of Social Media: Christians are exhorted by Scripture to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to provide things honest in the sight of all persons (Romans 12:17), and to do all things for the edification of others (Romans 15:2). The use of social media by believers should conform to these and other Biblical standards (74th A., 2012).
Pros & Cons
These above measures recognized for a first time the open presence of the Church of God in all new media venues, including the world of social media. Such recognition does not come without its own challenges.
- Larger internet resource, staff and budgeting
- Scheduled pauses when sensitive issues are discussed and voted
- Occasional unexpected interruptions mainly due to expressions by members not realizing the global reach of a live broadcast using internet and social media
- A larger assembly participation by virtually any and all members of the global Church of God family around the world
- The necessary investment for needed equipment have already been made
- Previous live broadcasts have been done with great success
- Sensitive broadcast segments could be easily limited to a password protected login using a personal ministerial number
- Denominational stand on various public and social issues will be made in a clear and transparent way
Are these cons worth shutting seven million members off the floor or are they but a small price to pay for all members to participate in a Great General Assembly? Is social broadcasting one step closer to opening the floor for viewing members who are eligible to participate in the discussions and express their preference in an electronic voting for all motions? Would such move make the Church of God General Assembly a truly international one?
Share your thoughts: Should Church of God General Assembly sessions be broadcast live on the internet and social media?