Thursday, January 1, 2015

Church of God, a Family Community (COGFC) at One Year

It has been a year since ministers and members leaving Church of God, an International Community (COGaic - David Hulme) began to form a new Church of God fellowship, Church of God, a Family Community (COGFC). When they first met January a year ago, they may not have known for certain that they would start a new Church of God fellowship, but that is what most of the leading ministers did. That group began to set a direction for themselves in a number of matters, chiefly, that they would feed the flock and hold Sabbath services, but not preach the gospel to the world in the near future (except perhaps in a tiny, token way). They also did not accept top-down governance as taught in the Bible and practiced by Herbert W. Armstrong, but instead planned to develop a new model of governance based on the family, though they did not make clear what that means exactly.

Shortly after that, some ministers including Peter Nathan left COGFC to go to Living Church of God (LCG), which preaches the gospel to the world.

Those who remained in COGFC have stuck to their original direction.

When they left David Hulme, Mr. Hulme and many ministers and members in COGaic no doubt viewed these men as rebels against government in God's Church. Some of those who left COGaic to go to COGFC probably said, "No, we are not rebellious, but God commands that the gospel be preached to the world, and we want to preach the gospel and Mr. Hulme is not doing it. We have to leave COGaic in order to support the preaching of the gospel."

Also, some might have said, "We want to reconcile with other Church of God fellowships and bring unity to the Church, and we cannot do that in COGaic". But just as with the gospel, I do not think COGFC has has done much to reconcile with the rest of the Church of God. They did not show a spirit of reconciliation in the matter of Peter Nathan accepting a position with LCG. They did not publicly congratulate him and wish him well. They have not taught doctrines that build unity, but rather I think their teachings cause division in the body of Christ. For they have alienated many who really want to obey the Bible in the matters of preaching the gospel and government in the Church of God. They have in effect driven those people away from COGFC by their refusal to obey God's word in the matter of preaching the gospel to the world.

So COGFC has neither preached the gospel to the world in any substantial way nor reconciled the Church as some of those leaving David Hulme may have said they would. Their policy on preaching the gospel excludes members and fellowships that understand God's requirement that we share the truth we have been given with others who need it. They do not directly say to such members, "We exclude you." They no doubt welcome their attendance and tithes. But such members know they cannot support a group that does not preach the gospel to the world and demonstrates by its example that it does not give it the same priority as feeding the flock.

So events seem to have proved Mr. Hulme right in this matter, at least in regard to those who stayed in COGFC (not those who went to LCG). They have NOT preached the gospel to the world more than David Hulme. They have not reconciled with brethren in other Church of God fellowships who understand the urgency and importance of preaching the gospel to the world. It must appear to those who stayed in COGaic to be rebellion after all.

It seems the leading ministers in COGFC just did not want to be under the authority of Mr. Hulme. I think that was the main reason they left and started a new Church of God fellowship. Not the gospel, and probably not reconciliation with other Church of God groups and members.

One year is more than enough for COGFC to show its true nature.

Is it possible that COGFC will preach the gospel in future years? Yes. But if that happens the question will be, is it a token effort or a real effort?

There will be two ways to measure. One will be effectiveness of their reach. How many people are being reached with the truth that they never heard before? These things are best measured with magazine or printed booklet circulation and with new people coming in to be baptized. It can also be measured with website statistics, though these are less substantial. The second way to measure is to measure the effort. That is best done via financial statements. Many of the more responsible Church of God fellowships publish financial statements for their members and for the Church of God at large showing how much money was received and how it was spent. LCG does this for example. I expect COGFC will soon publish something on their finances during 2014.

When financial statements show that COGFC is spending about half of their income on preaching the gospel and about half on feeding the flock, then this will show they are making a real effort to preach the gospel to the world.

No comments: