Dennis McGuire at Engage 21

This is the first of 14 video clips of Dennis McGuire, the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God at Engage 21 inviting the Church of God to a transparent conversation. The others listed below cover a range of topics from COG idnetity to relevance to the financial situation and challenges of the COG.  I considered grouping these to and posting them a few at the time to keep discussion focused. But, I’m in a time crunch.  Enjoy the vids and discuss.

You can also see the videos in full of all of the sessions beginning on Friday by clicking here (making conference video free and available to all is awesome…mucho thanks!). Still, I don’t think the Thursday night session is included on Faith News.

So, check out these 14 vids of Dennis McGuire on:

God’s Judgment on America for Abortion

Cultural Relevance

Denominational Reserves = $0

COG Identity

Having Roots Before Wings

A New Call for the COG & Structure is not the Problem, Faith Is

Average age of COG Ministers

Labels and Doing Your Best

Is the COG Dying?

The Keys to the COG

State Meeting Attendance

Salvation, Sanctification, Water Baptism, and Spirit Baptism

J.H. Ingram’s Shoes


15 Responses

  1. Was that an altar call at a meeting for ministers? It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the cheesy piano music playing in the background.

  2. I appreciate Dennis McGuire’s passion for the denomination and his dedication. However, we certainly have different opinions about the current state of the COG.

    An honest evaluation must include long term stats (1970-present), but also contemporary stats (the last five years; trends in the last 1-2 years, etc.). I can’t just look back at what my business did in its distant past. I need to know where I am now to help me lead it on a path of continued growth. I also have to know where I want it to go — and that has to be consistent with the culture and climate in which I live.

    Unfortunately, I am encountering other business owners who are going broke, because they fashioned their present goals based on what they have done in the past. That no longer works in today’s economy or culture. I do not say this arrogantly, because even the best of us can make missteps.

    I also know that the church is not a business, but it is subject to the same basic principles as businesses, whether we like it or not (grow or die; invest or starve). Truth is thruth no matter where you find it.

    Someone has said, “we cannot change what we will not own.” We must evaulate honestly and critically if the COG is to be a leading denomination once again.

    We are no longer in the 70s, 80s, or 90s. It is time we faced that realization. Neither, can we wait on someone else to correct the problems. They demand attention now.

    Ironically, today I received my first non-mandated mailing from headquarters in several years (other than the usual requests for money…). It was the packet for Pentecost Sunday. It was almost identical to the one I received in the 80s. Actually, the one in the 80s was more useful. I know that Pentecost is important. I have written the Pentecost lesson for the SS Commentary for the last few years and an examination of those lessons will reveal my passion for Pentecost (not sure if I wrote this one or not…). Pentecost has to be something more than a series of sermons on speaking in tongues — even though this is important! Pentecost has to be communicated in our lifestyles BEFORE it is communicated through our preaching. If people cannot see that it makes a difference in our lives, they will not listen to our words, no matter how eloquent or steeped in tradition they may be.

    We can fuss about it all we want, but the reality is people want to know how what we preach is going to benefit them in their everyday lives, not just on Sunday. Truth is, I’m no different.


  3. Very interesting! Here is the key, come on in, sit on down, if it’s not right, change it! Now that should be followed by action.

  4. Dennis,

    Is that the statement of the new COG?…that allows and even encourages change from the grassroots? Practically, how is that intended to work?

  5. Travis, when I heard Dennis McGuire state this during his introductory address on the Engage21 video, it caught my attention incalculably! Certainly it could be and most probably (worded differently, with the same “grassroots “application) should be the “new” meaningful statement for the COG. Whether allowance will be “leashed” out to those who are willing to accept this invitation is another source of deep imaginational processes that will have to be used in dialogue at this point. In practice this could be very healthy for the COG. Having a “key” thrown out to the audience (is there significance to this or a veiled meaning of sort from the speaker?) When an invitation is accepted, especially when offered a “key” gives the right to use the services of ideas in such a manner that would bring change if the invitation is “real” “sincere” and “trustworthy”. “Sitting down” sort of draws me to a “grassroots” implication of mobility through dialogue and proactive relevance but it also states that action may not be taken! As far as the “change it” appropriation, well, I am really hesitant to say how that will happen in the “real” world of the Church polity. The question is can we become strong enough in our quest for change that change will naturally take its effectual place in the COG?

  6. It’s interesting to consider the contrast between Dennis McGuire and Raymond Culpepper. McGuire is talking about keys (to the institution) and coming (to the institution) if you want to talk about something. On the other hand, Culpepper is talking about “circumstances summoning leaders” and leadership not having anything to do with “position.” It’s actually a stark contrast. I think that’s one of the fundamental reasons why I see these videos and think to myself (even though it’s probably unfair to think this way) “Culpepper gets it–McGuire doesn’t.”

    Dennis (Adams that is), I have reasons to suspect that the invitation is not that sincere. However, I do not think that it’s a conscious insincerity. I think McGuire thinks he was really reaching out to the younger generation during that…what do you call it?…speech. But it can’t really be sincere if he still doesn’t get it.

  7. Jon,

    I agree with your abridgment and also I am deeply concerned about the “sincerity” and the “vulnerability” that Dennis McGuire is “seemingly” revealing! I agree also that Raymond Culpepper on his assessment of the summoning of leaders. His statistics and approach is certainly obvious that he “gets it”

  8. From what I can tell, Bro. McGuire has a philosophy of the Church of God that goes something like this:

    The COG is one church and he is the pastor, the Executive Committee is his pastoral staff there to execute his vision. The local churches are the members of his church. The corporate structure is the mother and the local church is the daughter.

    Brother McGuire is leading with his philosophy. One of the biggest issues our denomination faces is electing people based on it being their turn or on popularity. We need to unmask denominational leadership philosophies before selecting leaders. So, we know what we’re getting into.

    Going forward, I believe the kinds of leaders we must have are people who:

    -collaborate in decisioneering.
    -have a high view of the local church and a lower view of administrative structure.
    -have an strong grasp of cultural and societal dynamics.
    -end the patronage system of denominational rotation and power-brokering
    -throw the gates open to denominational discussion, embrace the conflict as healthy, and rally to the call.

    There is zero doubt in my mind that Bro. McGuire is a very godly man. He’s human just like us…not infallible. He has guts. I really think he wants us to involve ourselves in change. But, it is a painful process for everyone….kind of like the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

    I am focusing on praying for Bro. McGuire now more than I have. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide him and all of our leaders (every member of the General Assembly) to discern the voice of God for our church…that as we make decisions for our future, we can say, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”

  9. Travis, that’s quite helpful! I really appreciate both your thoughts and your heart that are revealed here.

  10. Some of you know that I am also a huge proponent of change.. But before change can happen, I believe the COG needs more consensus.. Let’s use some of the recent discussions on actscelerate. I tried to make some points in a different way, and instead of addressing my points, I get personal attacks.. That’s ok, but it shows bigger problems. I stopped posting, and I’m visiting there less, so now they’re getting on Travis.. Oh well..

    1. Except for a small percentage of people and a few issues, we (as an organization) cannot seem to find consensus on what needs to change, and why.
    2. When some of us suggest change that others disagree with, Christian suddenly turn into wild animals and attack each other. Missional COG does not see that because we are forced to use our real names.

    If we could make use of the fruit of the spirit (myself included) and come together more constructively (like I’ve seen on this site) we might actually be able to catalyze more effectively for the future.

    Until the masses of the COG see the younger, missional, emerging views as valid, we’re gonna risk coming off as rebellious. Until then, I’ll continue being the liar, hypocrite, and whiner that I apparently am..

  11. Here’s a personal observation…

    In a recent obituary posted on the COG website, the COG Executive Committee was defined as “the denomination’s highest governing body.” This is incorrect, and may have been a simple oversight. I make mistakes as well, so I can be very forgiving regarding this. However, I do believe this is how some in the church view the Executive Committee and/or the Executive Council. Please know, I respect these offices and the individuals serving therein. However, the highest governing body in the COG is the General Assembly… not the PB, not the Executive Committee, not the Executive Council, and not even the Int’l General Council of bishops. According to the Minutes, it is the General Assembly (all members of the church age 16 and above who are registered and participating in the process at the end of the business week every 2 years). In recent times, we have seen some decisions made by leadership that, according to our polity, first should have been discussed by the General Council of bishops and then approved or rejected by the General Assembly.

    I do not know how our PB views his role in the church, as I have not spoken with him about it. It may or may not be the way Travis proposes. However, if it is, then I would suggest that the reason we elect the various positions for the Executive Committee and Executive Council is to offer different perspectives. Each of those members should have the right and privilege to vote according to his (and maybe one day we can say “her”) conscience regarding the issues. This should allow room for disagreement with the PB if deemed necessary. Now, I’m not trying to be critical of anyone in these positions. I’m just stating what my understanding is of the role and function of these positions as set forth in our polity.

    I understand that leadership is difficult. Decisions must be made that are painful, and no one will agree with everything. I also realize these are changing times. However, if leaders expect followers to abide by the code, leaders must also be expected to abide by the code. The very nature of Christ’s leadership was to lead by example. If one pastor is held accountable to the Minutes, then we should all (leaders included) be held accountable to the same standard. Otherwise, our structure is made ineffective, trust is lost, commitment decreases, and turnover intentions increase.

    And please “hear” my heart in this post… I’m not trying to attack any person or group of persons. I just believe that we need to revisit our polity and determine whether or not it is working for us in this age. If it is working, then we should all abide by it. If not, we should hammer it out as a body. I also believe some aspects need to be revisited for clarification of roles/duties.

  12. Travis,

    I “ditto” Jon’s sentiments and add that prayer is so necessary for the advancement of change.


  13. I appreciate what DM stated when he said, “The COG will not hold anyone back who wants to win souls.” He also said, “preach in sandals if you have to in order to win the lost.” However, I do feel like he and the people who organized the Engage 21 conference meant well but they don’t get it. I’m glad they gave it a shot, but other than Ed Stetzer, Brian Hunter, and a handful of comments from the forums and panels that this conference truly addressed what it takes to Engage 21st century culture. I love and respect DM, but his time on Thursday evening was mostly spent in the 20th century talking about where the church has been. We need to address where the church is going. This conference scratched the surface on that issue, but that’s about it.

  14. Hey MAC, I lost your email address. Please forward one to me thanks Rod…

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