COG: Where Will Our Heart Be 5 Weeks from Now

In Matthew 6:21 the words of Christ seem to offer an observation on the human value system, “Where the treasure is, there the heart will be also.” Last year while reading, “The Treasure Principle” by Randy Alcorn I was deeply challenged by what he establishes as the trail of evidence our money provides. There is a strain to consistency between our heart and our money (or treasure). Find where a person spends their money and you will find their heart. But he goes further in saying that if you want “develop a heart” for something…then put your money there.

Next – COG Treasure and Heart Report #1:

In 1942 there was a group of people who gathered for a Church of God General Assembly and said essentially, “We are about to make a statement to God about our heart. We are going to make a statement about the heart of the Church of God…and we are going to make that statement through our “treasure.” We are going to designate a significantly large percentage and portion of our “treasure” resources to be invested as specifically as possible in the Great Commission.” This was pursuant to other specific resolutions and declarations in the 1927 and 1931 General Assemblies.

In 1931 at the 26th General Assembly of the Church of God, one E.W. Williams makes this declaration, “When the Church of God ceases to be a missionary church she will die.” By 1942 the spirit and heart of this conviction was formalized into the language we presently hold today concerning the percentage of our “treasure” we allot to World Missions and Evangelism/Home Missions. If we are to accept the observation of Jesus in Matthew 6:21 then what happened there was as well a declaration of the “heart” of the Church of God.

We have been presented with an agenda item titled, “Realignment of Resources.” Part of that measure includes removing the segment of the COG Minutes regarding our “declared” designated contributions to World Missions and Evangelism/Home Missions. The “Realignment of Resources” provides the “cut” through the removal of this historically designated missional giving.
Perhaps our “resources” will be realigned.
Perhaps as pastors we will be willing to take a cut anywhere we can find it and vote it through.
Perhaps……

But we already know Jesus’ opinion on the matter…call it a vote on “resources” all you want…what we are really voting on is a, “Realignment of Our Heart.”

We have a heart problem…but not nearly as bad as the one we may have on August 10th.

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26 Responses

  1. Excellent post Tom.

    Last week Fred Garman led a few Leadership Labs at WV Campmeeting. He pointed out more than once that if you want to know who your God/idol really is you need to look at your check book register. “Where the majority of your money goes, that’s where your heart is”.

    I find it interesting that we have to jump through so many hoops to see where the CoG office funds are going, and even then are limited in what we can do with such knowledge. I also find it interesting that CoGWM is so open with the same info. Obviously there are different hearts within each department on the CoG corporate office campus(es).

    God give us Your heart! Please!

  2. We can only pray for a real “Realignment of Our Heart.” during the next assembly. My heart is broken over some of the thinking of our leadership and where we stand. I pray that the true mission of Christ will become our mission as a denomination. We must return to the heart of God, financially, emotionally, spiritually and organizantionally.

  3. Very true. I’m afraid that our love for money is quenching our love of Christ and desire to reach those away from Him.

  4. So, are you saying a vote for realignment is a vote against missions?

  5. Bobby,

    There is a third option.

  6. Trav,

    I’m interested in hearing more about the 3rd option.

  7. Sure, we truly cut the 10% (I refuse to call it the tithe of tithes) and make sure the World missions money funds missions and EHM funds churches.

    Therefore, 2.5 to state and 2.5 to international for administrative and whatever, with 2.5 going to international missions work and 2.5 going to state missions.

  8. oh, by the way, can I get on the bloggers list?

  9. Bobby,

    You’re all set on the COGblog list…good to go.

  10. Thanks trav. Tell Paul to get to work.

  11. Bobby,

    What I am saying is simply what the measure is saying as presented. The financial reduction being submitted is the percentage local churches send to World Missions.

  12. To get at the “heart” of the matter, it would follow that a clear study of how finances are spent would be in order. I have one suggestion for such a study which might prove informative in any realignment process.
    A. Chart the growth of the Church of God and its finances from the completion of the new International offices to date.
    B. Chart the growth of the Church of God in Administration and corresponding expenses for the same period.
    C. Place these lines on the same graph and draw conclusions for proposed realignment.

  13. As a Pastor and church planter in the Church of God for 17+ years I have personally seen a lot of what I would consider financial waste and mis-alignment of resources. I believe that our resources DO need to be re-aligned, but not away from World and Home missions. How about instead we start with the extravagant salaries, life-styles and resources provided to care only for our government officials. From what I read in our church history, our central governing structure was created to support the local churches. However, in my experience, it appears to be the churches that exist to support the governing structure. How about we consolidate the central governing structure, and take some of that money used to buy elaborate homes and to pay extravagant salaries, to give salaries to new field work Pastors who are giving their lives to the work of fulfilling the great commission and to undergird struggling congregations?

  14. Jonathan,

    The first problem is that those records are not available for analysis even though they are declared to be so in the Minutes of the General Assembly.

    In the next few weeks there are a couple people who hope to visit COG finance office in Cleveland to obtain specific information in person. I would be interested in you expanding on your synthesis for their use in determining some real world picture of that information.

    (BTW – I am NOT the “Tom” that posted above…thanks)

  15. Sorry brother Sterbens, I didn’t mean to cause confusion. I will post as Tom N. from now on.

  16. Tom,

    I just realized the capital letters may have suggested an intensity of concern…or a negative reflection on the content of your post…neither would be true. So much for the challenges of written communication. 🙂

    Thanks for joining the dialog.

  17. I understand that we need to be about the Great Commission and all, but there is one thing I believ we need to understand. Taht is if the world missions is not going to to distribute fund right then the Pastors that want to send money to the missionaires then they should start there own mission funding just like the North clevelan Church of God did.

  18. leave it as it is

  19. I personally have never had a problem paying tithe of tithe and a 5% offering for home and world missions to headquarters. I have always thought that it follows the Biblical pattern God gave to the Levites for the use of the tithe. We don’t have an altar to burn our tithe of tithe and offering from the tithe to the Lord, as God commanded the Levites, so we send it to the office instead. I hope we do not stop sending it in. It is how that money is used that needs to change.

  20. Eric,

    What makes you think that World Missions is not distributing funds correctly? From what I can see World Missions has bent over backwards to show that they are faithful and accountable to those over them and to the the general church. They are the only department that posts their budget on their website and they are open and upfront with all their expenditures.

    If you have any evidence to the contrary please share it with us.

  21. The Great Commission cannot be experienced until the Great Commandment is embraced. Loving God and Loving each other will give us the mind of Christ.

    My Life goal is to hear the Father say ” Well Done thy good and faithful servant.” I think the modifying adjective is Faithful, we can not be good if we are not faithful

  22. I have no objections in regards to World Missions money, but do not believe that we have the same open accountability with the home missions 2.5%
    I have personally been told that there is no money to help plant churches or to give a hand up to struggling churches in several regions where I have pastored. There was one region where if we, the other district churches, hadn’t raised and offering ourselves, the Regional office would have allowed the church to close because of money alone. We, the other district churches, provided the hand up they needed and they are still ministering today in a completely unreached and isolated part of our country, over 2 hours away from any other church of God. Why wasn’t the 2.5% made available for thier aid? Were they judged “unworthy” of helping because they were poor? For just a few thousand dollars (About $5,000) we were able to save an existing ministry from closing. I am sure there are many other churches in the U.S. in the same situation.

  23. Tom, Renee and I just wanted to thank you and Travis for addressing this situation and have been praying God would give you wisdom and favor. At general assembly 2 years ago I could not believe the decisions we were being asked to make with no financial information. My 15 years as a banker screamed within me how insane and unaccountable it appeared. The last two years as I have seen what the salaries are in Cleveland and how difficult it is to obtain info from general headquarters I have been very disapointed. So Renee and I have focused on growing our church and not these issues that would drive me crazy. Thank you for being a voice of reason and accountability, you have our full support! Blessings, David and Renee

  24. Thanks for your response Tom (Sterbens). If there is difficulty obtaining the information, the “ruling body of the Church of God”- General Assembly, can mandate the study and the distribution of the results.

    My hunch is that the figures would speak for themselves, and action could then be taken to reign in the growth of administration- INCLUDING in the World Missions department which now occupies 2 entire floors instead of one.

    I have served as a Church of God career missionary for the past 17 years, and I’m frankly not concerned about what happens to the 2 1/2%. Personally, I am responsible to raise 100% of my budget and receive no finances from the department. I was concerned about how it would affect national workers, but then observed that after it was left in at the last Assembly, the department cut support to all national workers by 30% anyway.

    What we really have is not a crisis of money, but a crisis of trust- and it falls to leadership to lead a “trust reformation” within the Church of God…if not, sooner or later God will raise up someone to nail up some theses.

  25. A well written, heart felt thought, thank you. Your heart for missions is evident… keep up the good work.

    Over the last eight years the argument has gone from reducing national dollars to build locally, to, the mistrust of national so keep the monies local.

    When the debate began in San Antonio 4 years ago, it was the integrity of the Moderator that kept it on the floor. The Moderator could have went in many directions, but wisely led us into debate. In that year, the ministers on the floor decided not to extend the debate. Two years ago, again the integrity of leadership brought the issue to the floor. It was then the assembly decided to keep the status quo.

    Respecting the authority of leadership is the correct response on any level. It is a slippery slope when we begin to mistrust others who were elected by council and approved by Assembly.

    The real issue was and is where do we put our money. God’s response is that he will give seed to the sower. If Cleveland has seed, it is because God has blessed us and those we serve.

  26. […] Julian Robinson) Posted on July 31, 2008 by tomsterbens Weeks ago, I wrote concerning the heart of the Church of God and I wrote about our “Heart Song.” I guess for me, that’s where I’d like […]

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