Monday, December 31, 2012

Bob Thiel's Prediction

First, I have to correct myself. In yesterday's post, I said about Bob Thiel's Continuing Church or God: "They have not had their own Sabbath services yet, not even one meeting, not even one sermon as far as anyone knows." But I did not read Bob Thiel's post thoroughly - I only skimmed it. In his post about love, he says Continuing Church of God held their first service last Sabbath and that love was the subject of the sermon they heard. Here is a link to Dr. Thiel's post:

I am not sure if the service Dr. Thiel refers to is simply the video group he hosts and if the members were aware, before they arrived, that they were attending the services of a new group, not LCG. It is possible that all LCG members attending the video group were informed of events by telephone. It is possible that Dr. Thiel held a separate service for those who wanted to be part of Continuing Church of God.

In Bob Thiel's "News of Those Once Affiliated with the Global Church of God" page, in the entry dated 12/30/12, he makes a "prediction" that Continuing Church of God will reach more people in its first 30 days with the message of the Church of God than any Church of God coming out of Worldwide did in their first 30 days.


This is not a difficult thing for Dr. Thiel to accomplish for the simple reason that every other group had to start from scratch to build an Internet presence, but Bob Thiel has already built a sizable Internet presence that was built with the support of Living Church of God (or Global before that) and the Living Church of God brethren. By "support" I do not mean financial support, I mean traffic. The traffic to his COGwriter website, first from Global and Living Church of God brethren and later from brethren from many Churches of God has helped Bob Thiel achieve high Alexa ratings, high search engine rankings, and high sales rankings for his books (I am sure many COG brethren have purchased one or more of his books). Moreover, in building his blog over the years, he has written extensively, and he can now use his writings in his new group. That is something that other Church of God leaders were not able to do when they raised up Churches of God. Why? Because they were employed fulltime by the Church they left and their material was written while working for them and the copyrights stayed with the Church of God organization they left.

For example, when Roderick C. Meredith raised up Global Church of God, he had no inventory of literature he could use because the writing he did before then was done while he was an employee of Worldwide, and Worldwide owned the copyrights. Dr. Meredith actually did extensive writing for Worldwide in his career, but he could not use his own writings. He had to start from scratch. He could not use the old Ten Commandments booklet he had written because the copyright for that booklet belonged to Worldwide, so he had to write a new booklet.

Moreover, he could not build a very big work in just 30 days when he started Global because the Internet was not as big then as it is now, and he had to use radio, which is more limited, for the first few weeks. It may be hard to even get radio time arranged in that timeframe.

Dr. Thiel's situation is somewhat unique. He was able to work under the umbrella of Global, then Living for a number of years, building web traffic, building an inventory of writing, and building publicity and sales for his books, yet because he was not an employee of Global or Living, he keeps control of everything he has built. And Global/Living has helped him, indirectly, to build the traffic to his websites and his book sales. So unlike others who have raised up Churches of God, Bob Thiel has a head start. He leaves LCG, but he doesn't lose his website or his writings. He doesn't have to start from scratch as other COG leaders did.

Ask yourself, how did he build traffic to his site?

It was someone in the LCG ministry that asked Dr. Thiel to start his website. I have heard that he received encouragement from Dr. Meredith. If memory serves me, at one time Global and/or Living Church of God provided a LINK to the COGwriter site from the Church's website. There may have been a link in the Church's website to a page called, "Related Links" or something like that - I don't remember the details. That is how I found his site many years ago, through the Global or Living Church of God website. And because he was a friendly advocate for Global/LCG, word among the brethren in Global/LCG spread about his site. Over time, traffic to his site grew, but it grew because Global and then Living brethren "tuned in" to his site on a regular basis, and they did that because he was a fellow member. As his site grew, it caught the attention of members in other Church of God fellowships as well.

The brethren of Global and Living Church of God, by giving Bob Thiel's site traffic, helped to build its web presence, and it is because of that traffic that Bob Thiel now enjoys a high Alexa rating, high search engine rankings, and high book sales.

So he is not starting from scratch as other COG leaders had to do.

Now I am not saying this to belittle his effort or desire to get the gospel message out.

I do not want to see funds diverted from LCG to CCOG. I think, dollar for dollar, tithe money sent to LCG will accomplish more good than money sent to Bob Thiel's new group.

But if tithe money does go to Dr. Thiel, I am glad he wants to use it to preach the gospel to the world. I say this even though I fault Dr. Thiel for some of his teachings.

My attitude about this is similar to Paul's when he said, in Philippians 1:15-18, "Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice." Paul was saying that even when the truth is preached by those who are not sincere or are carnal, he rejoiced that the gospel was going out, no matter who was getting the message out (I am not accusing Bob Thiel of being insincere).

So if Dr. Thiel is successful in reaching people with the true gospel who never heard it before, I will be glad of that success, but Living Church of God is already doing that, and I think LCG will be more effective with God's tithe in preaching the gospel than Bob Thiel will be.

For anyone who wants to support the gospel, I think sending tithe money to Living Church of God will do more good for more people in getting the message out than sending it to Continuing Church of God. So if the choice is between sending God's tithe money to CCOG or to LCG, I hope people will send it to LCG. But if it is a choice between sending God's tithe money to CCOG or spending it on junk food, movies, video games, toys, vacations, and restaurants, then it is better to send it to CCOG.

Dr. Thiel will have to work at getting the message out to more people in the first 30 days than any other COG group in their first 30 days - it won't happen automatically. And I hope he tries and I hope he succeeds (with his own money I hope, not tithes drawn from LCG members). But if he does succeed, it will not be so remarkable, simply because he has a head start no other leader of a Church of God group had starting out. And the fact that he has "predicted" this will also not be so remarkable, and should not be considered a "prophecy" fulfilled.

His particular circumstances, and the shape of media today, make it easier for him to reach a lot of people in the first 30 days than other leaders of COG groups were able to reach in their first 30 days. The "shape of the media" I refer to is the fact that the Internet is more dominant today than it was in the past. The circumstances I refer to is the fact that he was able to build up a web presence, search rankings, inventory of literature, and commercial book sales, over a number of years, under the "umbrella" in a sense and with the encouragement and support of one of the largest and most dynamic Church of God fellowships since Worldwide, and (here is the key) TAKE ALL THAT WITH HIM WHEN HE LEAVES. No other Church of God leader had that opportunity because no other Church of God organization gave so much support to someone who was not an employee and who owned their own websites and copyrights.

For Bob Thiel to achieve his goal for the next 30 days of reaching more people than any other COG group did in its first 30 days (which is not really a lot after all), all he has to do is take advantage of the opportunity that Dr. Meredith and the brethren of the Living Church of God have handed to him on a platter.

I'll be glad if his does it (with his own money, not God's tithes drawn from LCG members), and he better try hard at it now that he has gone out on his own, but I won't be impressed very much if he does it.  He needs to do a lot more than that over a longer period of time.

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