Tony Scott on The Dynamics of the Council of 18

GUEST BLOGGER, TONY SCOTT, pastor of The Church on Strayer


For many reasons it is wise to believe that the Church of God, like many other denominations, stands at a critical crossroad. Do we continue the path dictated by our history or do we chart a new path, create new paradigms, and become innovative in our structure as well as in our missional approach to kingdom ministry? The cry for change permeates the atmosphere from General Headquarters to the newest church start-up.

Since we are no longer a movement and have become an entrenched institution, change will not be easy. Institutions are facilitated by adapters while movements are energized by innovators.

Adapters operate within the scope of certain secure boundaries – elected officials living in Cleveland, recycled leaders, 2-year General Assemblies, State Offices, Administrative Bishops, Youth and Christian Education Directors, Evangelism and Home Mission Directors, Camp Meetings, Prayer Conferences, etc. Adaptors ask why?

Innovators ignore boundaries and discover creative, innovative ways of getting business accomplished. Innovators ask why not?

Adapters are needed to run the Pension Fund, the Insurance Program, the Credit Union.

Innovators should run the Research and Development Department, New Product Design, and Marketing.

Unfortunately, the Church of God is heavily laden in leadership circles with too many adapters and too few innovators. As an innovator I have advocated regionally elected general officials who live in the region from which they are elected; regional offices staffed by ministry professionals such as Children’s Specialists (far more important to local churches than Youth Directors), Church Plant Specialists, Family Life Specialists, etc.

The only means of effective change for the hundreds of ordained Bishops sitting on the floor of the General Assembly is to elect to the Executive Council a majority (at least 13) of strong, committed, Pastors. The balance of power would then be taken out of the hands of the adapters (Executive Committee, Department Heads, and Administrative Bishops) and placed into the hands of innovative Pastors.

The minutes state we are to elect a minimum of nine (9) Pastors. Nine Pastors are not enough to swing the balance of power from Cleveland to the field.

Many times our efforts (Council of 18 Pastors) to change this church have been blocked by well-meaning bureaucrats who are buried in an adaptive philosophy. It is time for innovation!



Tony Scott has been the pastor of The Church on Strayer since 1974. He is a graduate of Lee University. He is the author of the books: “Living A Diamond Life In A Rocky World” and “The Increase Life.” He is an Ordained Bishop who served multiple terms as a member of the Council of 18.


101 Responses

  1. It is time for innovation! We have been living off old bread for to long and we don’t even throw out the molded pieces anymore. I want fresh bread. New Life. Fresh ideas.

  2. Amen here! Year ago (was it 4 years?) Lamar Vest stood up and gave a farewell address that spoke about the need to create room for innovators, which would necessitate not only resources, but room to make mistakes, room for failures. That has seemed to be ignored by many administrators (certainly not all!) since then. I’m glad to hear that war cry once again…I hope we listen!

  3. Your use of the “why/why not?” pairing remind me of Teddy Kennedy’s eulogy of his brother Robert forty years ago, which I commented in my piece “Robert Kennedy’s Eulogy: Seeing Things as They Are Not” at

    Many of the comments I make relative to American liberalism and it’s failure in the wake of the 1960’s to consolidate its primacy in American society parallel your comments about innovation vs. adaptation.

    But much of liberalism’s problem stems from the fact that too much of its intellectual and political underpinnings are not geared towards freedom but towards command and control. “Adaptors” and careerists thrive in such an environment.

    If your idea succeeds, it will only move forward to the extent that those who implement it are committed to empowerment. That’s not a given; authoritarianism is more deeply rooted in our local church culture than we like to admit, and on top of that many in our generation, paranoid about the havoc our contemporaries created in the 1960’s, are drawn to a top-down view that exceeds anything our parents knew, something I look at in a secular sense at

    Success is a wonderful thing. Just be prepared to make it work!

  4. Great article. It’s funny, I am paid to be an innovator at work. It is my job to seek out ways to make our airplane lighter, faster, and mor efficient. Maybe I need to look at the denomination in the same way. Seek out ways to improve it.

  5. As I have read those founders of the Church of God were being led of the Holy Ghost. They only innovators as far as the Holy Ghost leading them into the perfect will of God. Yes we need innovation but only as directed by the Holy Ghost of God, not by our lust for power, greed, wealth and other liberal ideas that are so widespread in today’s church areana. Innovation, yes, but only as directed by the Holy Spirit of our God.

  6. I believe it is time that we look for innovative ways to move the body of Christ forward in this uncertain world. As Pastor Scott mentioned and echoed by many others, we are sitting on too much beaurocarcy.
    We definitely need to be guided with strong leadership and at the same time, we need to create opportunities for others. We need to be pro-active. There are lot of talents out there. Let us be innovators rathan adaptors…..

  7. For the next several decades, we will be in a pitched battle—a battle between those who have the power and those who have been disenfranchised. Those with power are the leaders, their families and their friends who primarily reside in the South and are white. The disenfranchised are those who reside in Northern and Western USA, our Brothers and Sisters who live oversees and minorities.

    Those in power don’t want to share their influence and notoriety and will attack change as though it were the slippery slope the Devil uses to immerse the Church in carnality. They are in control not because of their strength in numbers or ability, but by the inability of the disenfranchised to stay the course for change. Too many jump ship permanently removing their innovative influence. Others fall into the temptation to hate those in power and eventually discredit themselves as angry, jealous kooks. Then there are the tens-of-thousands of the disheartened, who have given-up hope and have slid away into obscurity.

    I have been a Church of God minister for 18 years. I’ve planted churches, saved dieing churches, worked oversees and stateside. Except for one six month period, I and my opinion have meant nothing. While the pastors of other denominations seek my advice and follow my leadership, my denomination has little or no interest in me. Why is this so? I am a first generation Church of God member/Bishop, I am from the Pacific Northwest, I pastor a church in the North and I have the audacity to think I matter.

    The solution is for the disenfranchised to stay the course. We need to calmly, intelligently articulate the issues which are important to the majority of COG members/pastors. We need to dominate the agenda of the General Assembly year after year until the wrongs have been made right and those who are elected know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they need to conform to the General Assembly and her decisions. And finally, we must encourage the young, the innovative, the righteous to remain Church of God and change her back into the movement she once embodied.

    To God be the glory!

  8. I really appreciate this article! I also believe innovation is necessary for us to move forward into an uncertain future. But, I agree with the poster that it must be innovation directed by the Holy Spirit– not simply our own ideas and copying what works in other places. We must be willing to understand our specific audience and determine how we can involve them in this innovative process (without isolating them) . I believe in the creative power of God to reveal to us (and perform through us) those things that will allow us to reach the world effectively for Christ. I also feel it will take individuals willing to take risks and chart new paths for such creativity to occur– true innovators who are willing to suffer as well as enjoy success.

    I hope there are a majority of pastors elected to the Council of 18. I believe in pastors and in the local church. However, I do realize there are other ministries besides the local church. We have chaplains, educators, missionaries, etc. I do hope that we can value the ministerial role and fucnction of these individuals as well. My main concern with the current issues at hand is that we are failing to think broad enough about all areas of ministry within the COG. If we believe ministry happens in new ways– both in the local church and through various other means– then I hope our traditional thinking that nothing can happen outside the local church does not cause us to limit even further other vital ministries taking place by men and women who are impacting the COG already in innovative ways. I know many individuals connected to local churches whose ministry is not endorsed or supported through the local church. They deserve a voice and our support as well. In our desire to be innovative, let’s truly be this and acknowledge and empower our ministers outside of the local church setting while also finding ways to better equip the ministry of our local churches.

    Thanks, Pastor Tony. I really appreciate your thoughts– and I well remember when God used you to speak to me at Mississippi Campmeeting over 10 years ago. I was in a great inner battle– either going to break free from man-made legalism or else going to join the UPC denomination. God used you in a tremendous way to speak to my heart.

  9. Great post and comments.

    There is certainly a difference between an adapter and an innovator. But both are very necessary.

  10. I have long awaited a voice to speak to this issue. Innovation speaks to the future and unique ways of getting there. It seems for years we have walked in a maintenance
    mode that simply facilitates the future whatever it may be. With innovative concepts we do more that protect our present or wait for the future we make the future happen the way we feel God has called.

    I believe the voice of the field pastor must be heard. We have echoed for years that the stranglehold and bottlenecking at the top must stop to allow for freshness and the gifts of the pastor to come forth.

    We seem to always be stuck in the muddle of the old. Old priorities, Old traditions, Old thinking, Old policies, Old buildings. I convinced that it takes much more money and resources to keep up the Old than it does to pursue the new in innovative ways.

    Thanks for the voice of the pastor telling a story from the most hurt community of the Church of God.

  11. Here it is in a nutshell…things will never change! Here you go…
    This year Culpepper will go in as General Overseer for four years…then……Time Hill who will be the 1st asst. will go in for his four years….then Mark Williams…then so and so and on and on and on.See what I mean. It’s predictable.

  12. Tony,

    I agree with everything that you have said. The C-18 model is fundamentally flawed as far too many council members answer directly to the EC. It does not make sense for an overseer who is in limbo about his future (i.e. all of them) to challenge and measure proposed by the EC. And when no one challenges your ideas you are getting dangerously close to absolute power. And from what I have heard from the EC, there is really only one man in control of the EC. That is, by definition, absolute power.

    How can this corrupt model be turned around? Put independent-thinking pastors on the EC. Those who have shown that they can be successful without the help of the “establishment”. Find the innovators Tony was talking about and promote them. Otherwise, our denomination will continue to build walls around what we have done in the past and continue to feed on yesterday’s produce. Before long, that will be all eaten up and gone.

  13. Not only do we need a greater influence from pastors on the field, but if we are going to truly be innovative, we are going to have to intentionally include the members of the churches in the decision-making and the direction of the denomination they help support.

    I am a pastor, and I would like to be able to include the tithe-paying laity in the process because true evangelism will effect their families and friends more than ours.

    I think those are who the policy-makers tend to leave out of the process.

  14. Thanks, Pastor Scott, for saying what should be said…and done. It seems a bit familiar with the report by the Injoy group some years ago, that was critical of the “good-‘ole-boy” system of appointments, etc. We Pastors have often been told, “If you want to see something different, you’ll need to do something different”. It’s way past time to do something different!

    Isn’t it amazing that the COGIC is led by Bishop Blake, from his LOCAL church, in Los Angeles?!? Lamar Vest tried to change the “paradigm”, to turn the triangle upside down. It ALL begins at the local church. So, do the smart thing, and reduce the tithe of tithes, and by doing so send a message of confidence to all Pastors and members.

    I’m convinced that only the denominational groups that truly embrace “Kingdom” ministry will stand the test of these last days. I’m proud of changes the COG has made, like the document that did away with the outdated and often misunderstood “Practical Committments”. That was done because of the need to adjust and adapt. It’s time for more of that, before the COG dies.

  15. I have heard it said “we need innovation, but it must be led by the Holy Spirit.” I totally agree—and that is exactly what the ministers and laity of the COG are asking from their leadership. There are some who want change just for the sake of punishing those who currently hold power. This is the minority. The majority of ministers/laity want change that will prevent the misappropriation of funds, prevent the election of leaders based on popularity instead of prayerful consideration of who the Holy Spirit has chosen, and finally, prevent the growth of bureaucracy which replaces the Great Commission more and more each year.

    Some ministers and laity seem to believe change or innovation will produce decisions based on carnality. Let me pose these questions: Was it the Holy Spirit that inspired our leaders to use monies designated for the planting of new churches and assisting struggling churches for hiring an old friend as an EHM director and then paying for him to lead our state on an Alaskan cruise? Who are they going to evangelize on this trip? Are they going to plant a church in Alaska? Was it the Holy Spirit that inspired our EHM department to spend money hiring their old friends to come in and teach people how to plant a church with out any monetary help from their denomination?

    You are right, we need the Holy Spirit more than ever.

  16. Great information & articulate writing Tony.

    As a centralized form of government we have been teetering for years in a duo format as opposed to a tripod format. We have the EC5 & the EC18 which simulate the administrative ability of the White House and the Senate, but where is Congress?

    Now we have heard over & over what our dilemma is from great guys like Tony but we are no closer to change until action occurs.

    Since we don’t fully trust our administrators we need to elect reprentation to the process even if it means creating the Council of Pastors. We elect 24 members from our pastoral body (1 more member than the 23 in the administrative) & ask these men to serve in a role which can effect change in cooperation with the administrators, thereby creating the effective tripod. These men would need to come from all parts of America, not just the S/E corridor.

    If we are not moving toward re-establishing the strength of the centralized format then we must create a fair & balanced system with what we’ve got that facilitates representation from all over the U.S. If we don’t heed the cry for help, silently we will see a back door exodus like never before & it will be the brightest/youngest who will leave first.

    QUESTION: What are we going to do as of right now to implement change?

    Blessings, Dean

  17. I agree that change is needed, however, I think that before we start changing the administrative order, we need to make it possible for small churches and their pastors to have a voice in our GA. As it stands now, the only way I can take part in GA is to Spend thousands of $$ that I and my church don’t have to go to Texas. I am in N. E. Tennessee, I pastor 50 people, and I can’t go to texas, and I can’t vote by proxy, or by mail, or on-line. I am a Bishop, I am a 22 year minister, and the only way that I can partisipate in GA is if it is in Indy, I can stay with my In-laws there.
    If we are all members of the GA, and all Bishops have a place on the GA floor. . .

  18. I can’t believe that I finally heard someone say out loud what I have been thinking for years! The leadership of our movement needs to be restored to a “calling” and not a “career.” When I have seen leaders in our church who are clearly called to their roles, and others who are simply in their roles, there is an obvious difference. Who would think of having regional leaders over childrens and youth ministry who actually have a calling and anointing to work effectively with children, instead of biding their time until they can become a regional overseer. There does need to be a change and I believe brother Scott is in touch with the leading of the Holy Spirit for our movement.

  19. The buzz word for both the Church and American Politics is change. Change must be planned carefully.

    Brother Scott has been sucessful because of his commitment to his local body. He has invested in his local body his time, talents and treasure. Thank you Brother Scott for your commitment.

    I believe the time proven method is to Invest in the local body to build the national church.

    The local Pastor is the backbone to this organization. If he is strong, then we as a body are strong.

    Brother Scotts suggestion of regional leaders who can connect with the issues of Pastors in that area is wonderful.

    As a national body we must invest time, resources, training and planning to make the local pastor more productive.

    A strong local body solves many major issues of our church today.


  20. John Edwards, did you use to be a senator? 🙂

    I’m so glad you brought this up. It’s a major driver in our inability to see systemic change. The General Assembly is still the highest governing body in the CoG (though some have recently questioned if that pride of place has been lost, and rightly so). Yet, the same minority shows up every two years. By minority I mean the small number of ministers that are actually able to attend because of the reasons you listed. Think about how many international minsters are not able to attend! I hope this gets addressed in the next few years. We need a new format for voting and policy! Thanks for bringing it up.

  21. Jonathanstone, NO!! I’m not even a Dem!

    Thanks for your words. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who sees that. The COG was founded on, and is still largely made up of smaller churches, we want to partisipate, but $$’s, or rather the lack there of, hinders us in taking part. I was reading in the ’06 min’s today, of nearly 7 million members, only about 10,000 were in attendance. That is awesome, but it is still a very small %. As a matter of fact, that is only about 1% of the US membership.

  22. John,

    Those are the kind of percentages that lead to revolutions–“No taxation without representation!”

    Internet Technology and the overall “flattening” of the world makes it more possible than ever for organizations to move away from a “viewer’s forum” and towards a “participatory platform.” Our structure, with the G.A. as the highest governing authority, was a pretty unique structure in the 20th century. But it will not continue to be that if we do not broaden the way that members and ministers can vote and/or weigh in on policy. I hope that this becomes a serious discussion for us in the next few years!

  23. The technology is there that enables the powers that be bring the GA live to those who cannot attend because of finances. Not only could it be viewed, but with proper registration and log in, those unable to attend could actually be allowed to vote on the agenda. Of course it may change the outcome of the votes and the control, some may even consider it too dangerous. By the way, my church was able to raise $435 for me to come to GA. Did I mention I live 1200+ miles away in NC? I love my local church, they did all that they could do. Now, if I could get the general church to do everything they could do, I could participate in the GA, from a distance. Any chance?

  24. Tim,

    I’m afraid that the only way to make a “seismicly” simple transition in our voting is to do exactly what Tony has advocated and elect a Council of 18 full of strong, committed leaders who are not under the appointment of the Executive Committee.

    A move like you are suggesting would likely not be voluntarily offered by our present Executive Council.

  25. Once again we are railing against the elected leadership of our church because they insist on doing what “they” think is right rather than what “we” think is right. More us vs. them rhetoric is not the answer. Pastors, let me ask you a question, what is really preventing you from being an “innovator” in your own church? Has any state or general official called or written to you to say what you could or could not do to reach souls? I am beginning to wonder what is really driving this issue for each of us on a personal level. What prevents you from partnering with the COG’s in your area or reaching across denominational lines to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick or imprisoned and preach the gospel? I hope we are not blaming the EC or C18 or any AB and staff for our own unfruitfulness. Trickle down theory may or may not work for economies but waiting for change at the top of the COG before you engage the opportunities in your own backyard is not the answer either. Pray, motivate your people, pray, build community trust, pray, establish mutually enriching relationships, pray, tap into extra-church resources, pray and pray. If necessary then AB, EC and C18 proof your church. Whatever happens in SA your ministry will still thrive if you are following the heart of Jesus!

  26. Pastor Don,
    No railing here, and nothing against our current leaders, I think we have good godly men leading our denomination. We are doing ministry in our local churches and communities, however we are a part of a world wide church, and we do, with our speach, actions, and votes impact that world wide church. If we can’t have an adult conversation about the operation of our church, we have no business leading. OOPS! Did I type that outloud?

  27. Travis,
    On what basis would you say that innovation or any such innovation, such as Pastor Pack advocates would not likely be voluntarily offered by this Executive Council?

    Who can say with any certainty what any collection of 18 would do?

    Please explain that statement. I’m confused…

    Bill Isaacs

  28. The present Council of 18 has nine pastors…

    Jim Bolin–pastors 10,000 people in metro Atlanta
    Mitch Maloney–North Cleveland–longest pastor in history of church
    Gerald McGinnis–started and built innovative church in Knoxville
    Floyd Lawhon–no explanation needed
    David Ramirez–captured vision in SA for seminary second to none
    Ishmael Charles–Carribean leader of great church
    Bryan Cutshall–no explanation needed
    David Cooper–Mount Paran–$15+ million building renovation completed in past years…excellence personified
    Joe Edwards–Liberty Square…like no church I have ever seen…

    Would any of us deny there are some incredible “innovators” in this group?

  29. Nine at-large members on this Executive Council…

    Mark Williams
    Oliver McMahan
    John Childers
    J. David Stephens
    Jerry Chitwood
    Grant McClung
    David Griffis
    Larry Timmerman
    The guy in Louisiana

    Is the problem this group?

    Can someone help me figure out “who” our problem is?

  30. Bill,
    I believe the “who” problem is every individual that is human in our great church. Whether we choose to start at the local level and move toward the executive level or vice versa. At East Coast Bible College, before it was wasted( that’s for another time), a professor taught that we as leaders were all on the same plane. There was no top or bottom in our centralized government, except that we all were under the direction of the Sovereign God. I have been in the ministry of the Church of God since 1977, there have been times I have felt alienated by our leaders and times, such as the present in Western NC , that I believe that my AB is the best thats ever been in that office. Bishop Chitwood has reconnected “us” for the benefit of the ministers, churches, and leadership. I write in hopes that the leaders at the general level develop and implement goals that reconnect the leaders at the local church. “Our” goal is to serve God in our diverse settings. This requires that we innovate, adapt, adopt, and apply our actions for the benefit of the whole body. We have the ability to put the GA floor in front of every member of the Church of God that has an internet connection at a minimal cost compared to funds that will be spent in SA. On this we have to think outside of the box. I suggest that before the next GA we develop it. Ideally, the agenda would be completed 3-4 months before, and each state’s leadership could discuss the issues on the state/local level and delegates chosen to represent the desires of that area for speaking purposes. Then, if a voting member is unable to make the trip, it would be possible with a secure log in to see, hear, and vote on the measures being brought to the body. This would be a tremendous step toward all feeling united and represented. I know this would be a great challenge, but we must do it as unto the Lord. We must pray and unite so that we are found by God to be in one accord so that His blessing can fall on us.

  31. Bro. Isaacs,

    You asked:

    On what basis would you say that innovation or any such innovation, such as Pastor Pack advocates would not likely be voluntarily offered by this Executive Council?

    Who can say with any certainty what any collection of 18 would do?

    I can’t say with certainty what anyone would do. It is my opinion. That is why I said, “A move like you are suggesting would likely not be voluntarily offered by our present Executive Council.”

    I arrived at my conclusion based on the following pieces of data:

    1. No minutes of any meetings are offered to know how people vote on individual issues. When I’ve spoken to individual members of the Council of 18, I’ve never had a single pastor object to having Minutes made available with individualized voting records. I can’t say the same thing about the overseers I’ve spoken to.

    2. Being totally honest and brutally transparent, I struggle to get definitive/concrete positions from people who are under EC appointment. When I do, it is followed by the phrase, “But, let’s keep this between us.” I’m personally tired of keeping this between us. We need men who have ideas that are significant enough be owned and to be shared openly without regard for the awkward situations that may leave them in with those who appoint them. (which leads me to reason #3)

    3. Good men who are under appointment by the Executive Committee are placed in an incredibly precarious position when it comes to voting on issues that run counter to the consciousness of the Executive Committee. It would be like me making my pastoral staff available to sit on a church and pastor’s council while also having the ability to fire them.

    Our overseers are employees under the direct supervision of the Executive Committee. I am of the opinion that voting counter to the Executive Committee on challenging issues may reflect poorly on the overseers on the Council of 18 which causes them to have a less independent voice. In the end, this diminishes the independence of the Council of 18.

    4. Between this General Assembly and the last two, there seems to be a lack of responsiveness to the heartbeat of the local church in the handling of the TOT issue. Pastors and members want a cut but, we absolutely didn’t want to eliminate 100% of the mandates governing our giving to Missions. I am of the opinion that there are not many state overseers that want a cut like I do. But, there are some pastors on the Council of 18 that do.

    The answer?
    Get more pastors who are more closely in touch with the heartbeat of the church on the Council of 18…people who will advocate NOT spending EHM monies on anything other than church planting and if necessary “small church assistance.”

    5. It does not seem that a highly centralized form of government, which is now proposed to be even further centralized under Agenda Item #2 is showing any signs of a desire to open the doors of accessibility or to disperse the decision making to more people, much less to the credentialed ministers who cannot make it to the General Assembly. Out of 23 men, the Executive Council only has 7 pastors who are not under Executive Committee appointment. If we want to give access, we need to swing control away from the areas of the COG that protect and advance the centralization of our denomination.

    6. Finally, pastors I know who are on the Council of 18 and pastors that used to be on the Council of 18…pastors like Tony Scott who have and are continuing to love the daily ministry of a local church, who have a passion for his city, who sees significant Gospel advancement, and articulates a conviction that this is the path to take, give strong credence to this direction.

    I hope that answer has sufficient detail. I’d love to have an ongoing conversation with you in this kind of detail.

  32. Bill,

    It’s them “THEY’s” and THEY knows who THEY be- an WE’uns knows who THEY be. WE’uns is gonna git THEY’uns afore THEY run me an my kin off’n this here holy mountain…HALAYLUJAY!!

    (I’m sorry Bill, as you can see, I have a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome which causes me to involuntarily inject inappropriate humor into serious church discussions…pray that I remember to take my meds before the General Council meeting) 🙂

  33. Jonathan,

    While I agree with the heart of your message, I’m concerned about the tone. 😉 And, if you are really in need of meds, Tom Sterbens prescribes doses of “Sarcasma: sarcasm relief capsules” for me…possibly, you too would like a dose?

  34. Bill:

    I’m confused by your confusion. I thought it was clear in recent posts (e.g. the post entitled “The Executive Committee Didn’t Create Our Present Situation”) that Travs’ view was that the problem was not people but the system. Unfortunately, our current system is set up in a way that the system is hard to change without the EC and the EC18 leading the way. Pastor Pack and I were alluding to a seriously radical shift, that is O.B.’s voting on agenda items over the internet. And I thought Travis was basically saying, “Who knows who would seriously put this on the table? Guess you just roll the dice and wait for a group of guys that wants to go there.” I’ve seen nothing that indicates to me that the current leaders would be willing to go there. I’m not sure that I am willing to go there. I just know that a system that is shaped by less than 1% of its constituents should consider some pretty radical ideas, such as internet voting.

    The current 23 are great. I love them. I personally know a lot of them (including that guy from Louisiana), and have confidence in them because I have seen their character and integrity first hand. At the same time, I’m more than a little confused on their take on what happened last G.A. It was clear to me that the church sent the message, “If you’re going to make cuts don’t do it to COGWM.” Yet, the current group seems to have thought that the church said, “If you’re going to make cuts make sure you spread it out over 8 years.” How did they get that? But my point is this. If some of our most innovative leaders (I’m referring to that list of names you listed) cannot hear that message and come back with something more than what they gave us on this agenda, why in the world would I believe that those same guys, despite how innovative they have been in the past, be willing to consider something as crazy as internet voting?

  35. Ok, Seriously.

    Field Directors are not allowed to sit on the World Missions Board and there would seem to be a parallel in logic to the issue of appointees on the C18. Neither, as I understand it, is anyone who presents a budget to the EC allowed to sit on the C18. The reason for this is obvious and common sense- so that the C18 not be unduly influenced regarding any particular department.

    In the above policies, we have addressed the issue of undue influence from without. As understand it, Pastor Scott is addressing the possibility of undue influence from within. The concern, as raised, is no more personality-driven than the policies in place to protect the C18 from influence from without, so I’m unsure as to the relevance of discussing persons.

    I’m in a uniquely objective position to speak about the C18 since I was the unelected 19th man in the room for several years. I had the privilege of serving as an interpretor to the Executive Council when one of the prescribed “internationals” could not speak English. The first day as I prepared to walk into the ECouncil chambers I felt like asking them to tie a rope to my ankle…

    Anyway, among the many things I learned during that time I’ll share three:

    1) Everyone who speaks is right.

    I remember listening the first day to dialogue on several issues and becoming rapidly confused. The first member spoke and I had to repress an “Amen, brother.” Then the next member spoke and I thought, “I was mistaken, now we have heard the counsel of the Lord.” The third member rose and by the time he finished I wondered that I had believed the first two were at all tuned in to the heart of God on the matter…you get the picture. Each member is a gifted, eloquent, and anointed preacher.

    Eventually, I had to learn to listen beyond the sermon, and I realized the importance of not only “what” was said, but “from where.” Learning the place of ministry of the speaker helped me unpack what was said, and take it in context.

    2. If there you have a perspective on an issue, it probably got talked about.

    During the time I was there, I was amazed at how an issue got hit from seemingly every angle from members. Later, I would hear pastors reflect upon a decision and say, “I bet they never even thought about THIS.” 9 out of 10 that pastor would have lost that bet.

    I learned that there are many times in leadership when there is not a win/win option. I watched the Council get out of their chairs and hit their knees more than once when confronted with such decisions-knowing that even the best option was going to be painful for good people who would not understand.

    3. Tony Scott is NOT a silent member.

    Sorry, Pastor Scott, I couldn’t resist :-). Actually, that is not a joke and it does have a larger point.

    Without divulging more than I should, I observed a change of the guard during my time there and noted the silence of many new members. There were certainly some members who observed where the wind was blowing before speaking up- as in any Board or Council. There were others who spoke up quite a bit after they had finished writing their Sunday sermon and were ready to get home…I better stop there. (No names except to say Pastor Scott was NOT one of those pastors).

    The point is, having a diversity from our church was a good thing and while the pastors by and large exhibited a greater freedom of speech, not all were as engaged and informed as they could have been. From my perspective, it is important to elect men who take the responsibility seriously and are courageous enough to speak when they are convinced it would serve the church to do so.

    There IS validity to insuring that the C18 members not only not bring an undue influence from their sphere by having diversity, but also insuring that they are free to represent us with impunity.

    AND, having observed it- I wonder at all the twitter and sweaty palms at the GA as so many Ordained Ministers longly watch for their names on the role. VERY long days, tough decisions, and time away from place of ministry call- but it is an “iron sharpens iron” opportunity.


  36. Jonathan,

    Thanks for recounting that….much appreciated. As you mentioned concerning the makeup of the Council of 18 about the importance of “having a diversity from our church,” it should be noted that there are only 8 pastors on the present Executive Council. That is 33% of the EC. At the same time, there are 6,000 churches worldwide. These 8 men makeup only 1/10th of 1% of global pastors.

    Yet, 7 of our 48 USA state overseers are on the Executive Council. These men makeup 14.5% of USA state overseers, which amounts to a massive over-representation of this position- a position which is also under the direct oversight of the Executive Committee.

    I’m sure you’d agree that is not a diversity of representation. Again, thanks for the really great perspective from where you were sitting, Jonathan…it was valuable.

  37. I think that if the % of GA members, and Ordained Bishops who partisipate, even by observation via the internet or satalite, and then have the opportunity to vote as if we could be there, should increase that many of the other issues we are discussing could be more easily changed. I know many of the men that Br. Bill listed, and I truly do have confidence in them and their point of view, however, they still represent the minority of the Pastors in the CoG. Very few of us pastor 500+ much less 5000+. That is not to say that a Pastor who leads 50 is neccarily qualified or even able to sit on the C18, however, if we had more of a voice @ the GA, these good godly men could more easily integrate our views, some of which are good, others are overly influenced by our local issues. Just because we pastor small churches does not mean that we are not innovative.

  38. “The early converts were predominantly proletarian, with a sprinkling of the lower middle classes…they lived for the most part orderly and industrious lives, financed missions and raised funds for impoverished Christain communities” – Will Durant, Caesar & Christ / p.596

    “The Holiness Church was not popular with other church groups because of its very smallness and its tenacious holiness precepts. This unpopularity was greatly aggravated by the doctrine of Holy Ghost baptism” – Charles Conn, Like a Mighty Army / p.60

    “The young Holiness Church refused to be discouraged by the aloofness of the larger churches but instead sought comfort more and more exclusively from fellowship within its own group” – Charles Conn, Like a Mighty Army / p.60

    “It was in the year 1905 that the idea of an Annual Assembly was conceived. There had been some ingathering of souls during the year, and at the same time some perplexing questions had arisen. We had joined ourselves together as Churches of God to walk in the light, and at the same time search the Scriptures and earnestly seek for additional light and knowledge.” AJ Tomlinson, Book of Minutes (1912) / p.54

    “It was wisely decided that there must be a unison of opinion on Bible subjects and concord of worship practices. No subtle disintegration should be allowed to separate the congregations into independent local bodies as had happened to many other denominations…this affinity should be reached through discussion and delibration rather than coercion, duress, or intimidation.” Charles Conn, Like a Mighty Army / p.62

    “If this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God.” Gamaliel, Acts 5:38,39

    The genius of the COG-GA has always been its ability to recognize the movement of God within the body, to recognize what God was already doing in local churches and respond by affirming the unity of the COG in releasing the Spirit to work as He saw fit. Those who came before us succeeded because they realized that they could not legislate the move of the Spirit of God, only recognize it and submit. This grass roots approach to denominational authority remains our best hope for the future. If our Leadership can’t or won’t recognize the way God is moving today then we are free to elect those we feel will, but the real power is where it has always been, in those front line pastors, evangelists, church planters and laypersons who hear the heartbeat of Jesus and obey.

  39. Thanks brethren, I think this discussion on the C-18 has been enlightening and largely positive. I have some observations, most of which are obvious;

    1. Of the list of current EC & C-18 members-almost all of them have been pastors, and highly effective ones. Does the fact that they have been elected by us or accepted an appoinment by those we elected disqualify them from being effective advocates? If so-then why? (I know, this has been discussed already but I remain unconvinced.)

    2. The C-18 were not appointed–they were elected. I personally voted for them because I believed they were wise, Spirit-filled & directed men. If we feel they are failing in this regard we have every right to choose someone else.

    3. Tony suggests we increase the number of elected pastors to 13. If we beleive pastors would better represent us than the the others why not just elect them. Do we really need to change our GA minutes to do this? My understanding of this process is that we currently must have a minimum number of pastors but we are free to exceed this if the members of the General Council choose to vote that way.

    As I said, just some observations. I offer them respectfully and with great appreciaton for this forum that allows us to offer them.

  40. I too am for innovation but not at the expense of Biblical Authority. There are those who have the idea that this generation is innovative yet many of the policies that pastors are talking of really are not new. Historically the Church of God has been an innovative Church. Bro. Scott is correct when speaking of well meaning church bureaucrats blocking innovation today, however just having more pastor’s on the council will not necessarily make a difference, especially if those same pastor’s are looking to become entrenched in the same bureaucracy that he purposes we do away with. far too many are looking for position in the kingdom (who will sit on the right and who will sit on the left). With so many issues at hand this Assembly, structural change is only one area. It would behoove the Bishops of this denomination to take a close look at what this agenda is purposing in the structural changes, such as; local church licensing of the exhorter minister making the local church and Pastor totally responsible for the licensee in legal matter, This means that pastor’s and local churches will not have the assistance of the denomination when it comes to erring individuals. Only the Lord knows what that can lead to in the legal world. How about women serving as an Elder -vs- serving as Deaconess of the eventual move to allow women to be Bishops within the Church to finally allowing them to hold the highest office within the Church etc. We have a real problem remembering that this is still the CHURCH the BRIDE OF CHRIST not a Business with managers and CEO’s. While there are some within the movement who are pushing these as part and parcel of the so called innovation of the future, perhaps we should look closer at the scriptural mandates and order that God places on things. I have served as Bishop of my congregation for well over 20 years (the same Church). My concern is my local congregation and the vision God has given us to reach our city and surrounding communities. In the eyes of some, I may not be as successful nor innovative as some would like; but hey, I am not here to impress you, I am here to do the Father’s business. I agree that business as usual needs to end, and we need to be relevant to our culture, however I am not willing to do it at the cost of reducing the Word of God to just a book that is outdated. If innovation means going the way of the Methodist church, Episcopal church and other mainstream denominations or losing our Doctrinal structure as many of the Charismatic or non-denominational churches have gone then count me out! I will stand by the word of God.

  41. Dale, who suggested that the “Word of God is just a book that is outdated?”

  42. Pastor Dale, I’m offended! I thought you were trying to impress us! 🙂

    I think you’re exactly right, there is much more on the agenda, and we can get lost in the business. However, I balance that by saying that I don’t know of a single agenda item to come before us in recent years that has as much potential of damaging our church as the proposed TOT cut. As a former missionary I echo what Tom Rosson and Nick Park have already said, this will be absolutely devastating to many fruitful ministries around the world. I too think a cut is needed, but we have to look at more options than just cut COGWM and let states decide what to do with their EHM. Because of the implications of this measure it has taken on an important emphasis here, and it’s my opinion that that emphasis is due. You can find some of the other issues discussed on various blogs and boards, many of which are linked here. If you’re interested in agenda item “Lucky Number 13” come take a look at my blog.

  43. My purpose was not to offend or impress, I simply think that it is possible to not see the forest because of the trees. The TOT is a big issue (when did the 2 1/2% became a part of the TOT anyway. It was suppose to have been an offering equal to the amount of the TOT). I am all for WM and I will continue to support WM weather it is part of the TOT or not. This is not an issue for me. I think that how we have stated the issue in the agenda is a problem. How do you make an offering compulsory when the word of God says it is not to be. Was Paul wrong when he stated … Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity (Compulsion): for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7). Should we continue to be made to do something simply because that is the system we have or should we follow through with what was asked some 20 years ago and fulfill the scriptural mandate as local churches. While I am just as concerned with the ministry of reaching the world, I cannot help but remember what Jesus stated in Acts 1, .ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.. The first responsibility we have is to build Jerusalem, then Judah, Samaria and the uttermost parts. The Local church can do more when given the opportunity to do so freely not when it is mandated by the minutes.I am of the opinion that WM will see increased giving as the local church sees increase. On a final note here, I am really surprised that you feel that this is so damaging. Last time I checked, this is God’s church he always makes provision for His work to be done. I am of the opinion that doctrinal integrity and proper Biblical order is of as much importance as the redistribution of the TOT which is not a biblical mandate as much as the COG mandate.

    The reason for my comment on the word being just another book, I was looking at some of our ministers responses to the Doctrine of the church makes me feel that the Inerrancy of scripture is coming up next. That is the position of many so called ministers today.

  44. Dale, thanks for your response. When I said “damaging” I had in mind the number of bible schools, regional offices, and local outreaches that are currently dependent on the 2.5 percent that comes in to COGWM. The measured pace of this new proposal would allow some works to adjust as the monies decreased, but some works would fold immediately. So, when I say damaging I do not mean it in a vague or spiritual sense. I simply mean we will be cutting ministries.

    When the TOT was cut nearly in half during the 70’s and 80’s we did a great thing. Now it’s time to cut a little more, and get to that 10 percent that we all want. But a lot of people do not realize the ministries that were cut at the end of that first reduction. Many state offices sold their property, especially campgrounds. And bible schools like West Coast, Northwest, and East Coast had to be shut down. This was still probably worth it (though some of the property sales were unfortunate, as the properties have all appreciated greatly sense they were sold–take the West Coast campus in Fresno, California for example. It was still “out of town” when the school closed, but today it’s right in the middle of the fastest growing part of town and worth several million dollars. Luckily the CoG state offices purchased it!). Anyway, my point is that almost every minister I talk to says they want to cut administrative costs, not ministry. But doing away with the 2.5 percent to COGWM, even over eight years, will cut much more than administration.

    As far as this being God’s church…then why do we even discuss any of this? Or have polity at all? Why vote? Why have an opinion? You seem to have some pretty strong opinions. And I agree with most of the ones I have heard. But why do you have them? Just leave it all up to God.

    As far as the bible as just another book comment and your concern about the Inerrancy of Scripture (I know you were speaking to Travis on this one, but I wanted to step in), I’m certainly glad that you are committed to being doctrinally sound and biblically accurate! I am well aware of some of the problems along some of these lines in other denominations. But I just don’t see that happening in the CoG. Perhaps it will happen in certain pockets, but I just don’t see that happening in terms of a G.A. measure….ever. You could be right. But I sure hope you are not.

    Also, I knew you were not trying to impress or offend. I was just trying to joke around a bit. Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. Thanks for the dialogue!

  45. Jonathan, I have been a part of this church since I was two years old. My great grandfather was a pentecostal preacher before Pentecost was popular, my grandfather, (deceased) father (retired), Great uncle (deceased, and Uncle (retired) all have been a part of this church. In fact my Great Uncle gave our GO his first position in ministry. My son is forth generation Church of God and my grandson is a 5th generation Church of God child. The church while flawed in many ways has been good to me and my family. The reason is that God has blessed us as a movement. I have a great love for this church. It has always been my opinion that the only way to bring change is to be in the place of change and that is where we are today. A place of change. I believe that the proper way to deal with being Scriptural is to make the necessary adjustments to get there. All departments must make concessions. there are some that need to be done away with completely. This includes WM. administratively and HM administratively and any other heavy administrative positions. I wonder why the Church of God in Christ can have their highest office held by a pastor and we cannot. Why do we need Representatives to come to our churches and try to convince our people to support some project when the salary they make could well support the project. What they need to be doing is building a stronger Jerusalem so that we can go to the utter most parts. That can be done by them getting back to what they were originally called to do preaching the gospel not being financial promoters.

    This is God’s church, and frankly He does not care about our opinions (He allows us to dialog together which is healthy) especially when they go against what he has already stated in his word. That is the final Authority. Most of the blogging I have read have little scriptural basis for the opinions stated. This causes me to wonder on what basis are we trying to hold or change an issue.

    If you think that this church cannot move away from inerrancy of scripture then you are not as aware as you seem to think. There are those who would chose that we not be a Pentecostal movement at least not as a primary issue. We still believe in the Verbal inspiration of the Bible, History is not on our side on this one. (take a look at the Christian Church in Europe in general or as I stated earlier review the history of major denominations today that now allow homosexuals to be Ordained which by the way all stared when they ordained women as Bishops in their churches. The Church of God in America is far less then the international church.
    Well I can tell you that i enjoy this blog stuff especially since it is fairly new to me. I know how to take a joke as well, please don’t hold that against me. I do however think that this is a very serious matter for this church and it is coming again to the floor in the same manner as it did the 2 years ago and that bothers me since they again tied it to WM. These departments should come under one Budget and work from there. This would be the best thing for the denomination and we can get on with the business at hand. I have a hard time believing that when the cuts are finalized that WM will take a larger hit then any other department in the church. Besides, they all knew this was coming for the past 20 years! Now is the time to get it done.

  46. Dale,

    I certainly share your commitment to doctrinal purity, but I was distracted by what sounds like someone grinding an axe in the background while you are typing. Please speak more specifically, because I’ve got alarm bells going off in the background as I type.

    “Some of our ministers”, “many so called ministers”- are these the same people? I have yet to meet a bonafide heretic who is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God. Rather, we are among the most doctrinally conservative and consistent church movements on the planet with Ordained Bishops, myself included, committed to the purity of the Gospel ’til dying breath. I’d like to see someone try to challenge the bodily resurrection of Jesus, or propose sanctioning homosexuality at any Church of God ministers’ meeting- instant “persona non gratis.”

    While true “doctrinal drift” is a legitimate concern which ministers of the Gospel are to be vigilant about, it is also the knee-jerk accusation of every religious system to those who challenge its “missional drift.”

    Consider a few of the better known “heretics” who challenged “missional drift” in religious systems ():

    John Wesley (Anglican)
    Martin Luther (Catholic)
    John Huss (Catholic)
    JESUS CHRIST (Judaism)

    The Catholic Church’s response to Luther and Huss’ calls to return to biblical missional focus were anathema and burning at the stake, respectively. Their legitimate questions were not answered, rather doctrinal accusations were brought against them.

    Of course, the supreme example is Jesus, whose calls to the religious leaders to the missional focus of being “God’s chosen people” were met with silence, followed by- you guessed it- doctrinal accusations and then crucifixion.

    LISTEN- if you read nothing else I have to say in this forum- READ THIS because it is more than my musings:

    IF legitimate questions regarding “missional drift” in the COG are met with silence and then doctrinal accusations… God will bring renewal, but not through us. Rather than a revisitation, we will experience a “passing over” of His glory and our children will grow in the house of another.

    Yes, my spirit is greatly moved on this issue and I sense an urgency to declare the warning above.

    Even critics will rally to a witch hunt- the divided Sanhedrin united to answer the doctrinal “threat” of Jesus of Nazareth. BUT, (Dale, I realize I’m speaking now far beyond your comment to a much larger concern so do not take this personally), before mounting the high horse of doctrinal purging, let’s make sure it is not Saul’s transportation to Damascus. lest we find ourselves knocked off our high horse by the Lord of the Church.

    This is a watershed moment for our church, a moment of both danger and wonderful opportunity. We must face it together, honoring the Lord and our leaders, speaking the truth in love- which builds up rather than tears down. We are right to love this church, but wrong if we do so above the 1st Commandment- we all must bow before Jesus and ask Him what He wants the Church of God to be in this age, and then obey to seize our destiny.

    BE AWARE, not only of how doctrine is defended, but also how it is used within the church to answer questions of policy.


  47. Dale, I tend to share your concern about doctrinal fidelity and the effects of the erosion of same. Most who regularly comment here are aware of my concerns and I’ll refer you to some of my thoughts on this subject here:

    However, as a purely practical matter, I don’t see this as a major problem in the CoG in the immediate future. There are some important differences in the dynamic of our church vs. those of the Main Line denominations which help us in that matter.

    However, if we cannot properly deal with the trust and mission issues that are the leitmotifs of this blog, I can guarantee that our problems of money and polity will manifest themselves doctrinally. This would be a disaster for our church.

  48. Dale, I’m glad you’re enjoying this whole blogging thing! Keep it up!

    I am also glad that God has blessed your family through the CoG for so long. We have similar testimonies in that regard. My daughters are 7th generation CoG and direct descendants of R.G. Spurling, the founder of this blessed movement. Before my daughters were born they had fathers and mothers that had preceded them in ministering for the CoG on every continent on the planet. Trust me, I could go on.

    SO, when you add all of that up what is the total value? The answer: DUNG! (Phil. 3:8). Don’t get me wrong. I won’t be leaving the CoG. Wild horses would have to drag me away. But all of those things are worthless compared to knowing Jesus Christ! I grew up in the church and never knew Him. The things I did for the first 25 years of my life are unspeakable. Praise God that He found me and reached out to me in the midst of all of that. But my concern is that we would become a movement that gets so focused on its heritage that we lose site of the harvest of lost souls right before our eyes.

    I don’t confuse the CoG with “the Lord’s church,” which is much bigger, much stronger, and much safer than the 501-c-3 listed in the USA state of Tennessee as the “Church of God.” I understand that the Lord’s church is safe. And I understand that I might currently be a part of one of man’s institutions that is sinking in the tides of a 21st century context of globalization. Nonetheless, this is not only where the Lord has placed me, it is where the Lord rescued me, and I am safe in Him!

    I hope you understand that what I am trying to say is that I am neither holding on nor tearing down the CoG. I am safe in Him. I just happen to be called to this ship at this time in history. If it’s going down I will go down with it, unless He beckons me to abandon ship and jump into his lifeboat.

    I’m sure our views and opinions are quite different in many respects. But I’m glad we’re in this together. I think we share some passion about the Lord. I hope that you agree, that deep calls to deep.

  49. Jonathan stone, I am with you 100%. I do not consider myself one who holds to the traditions of the C of G. I am anchored in Christ. No boasting of my heritage, although I am glad to meet a decedent of our church fathers. 🙂

    J. Augistine, I have no axe to grind nor do I want others to perceive that I am riding a high horse. I have always considered myself as Paul stated a Chief of sinners even though I grew up in the church. I do not deserve all that God has done for me. I am thankful that God chose me putting me in the ministry.

    Don’t take this wrong, I don’t need the Church of God to preach this gospel, but I am thankful that I have the opportunity to fulfill my call here. I would not consider one a heretic just because they have a differing opinion nor would I point a finger at one without first examining myself. It is easier to criticize the movement from the outside, which means i must be careful at all times with the way I speak or write because as flawed as our system is at times, we are still His church. If changing the number of pastors on the church council can make a difference then the GA should move towards that.
    Looking at the agenda for this assembly, and perhaps reading into it more then I should, I see a slippery slop approaching. I know we seem to think our system will protect us from the potential danger that lurks, yet when I listen to what some are questioning concerning areas of our doctrine and Biblical order I am concerned and feel right in it. I have no difficulty with calling us to reexamine ourselves to see that we are not drifting from our mission, I too think it is important to take time to examine our doctrinal position for clarity, I do not wish to burn anyone at the stake, especially if that someone was me. I believe we should have a Christian World view, I want the C of G to be as relevant to our culture as we are suppose to be, but not at the expense of who we are as a Pentecostal movement. This is not a knee-jerk reaction it is something that has been gaining momentum over the past few years. So here we are blogging about it. I am impressed by the healthy dialog that I am reading but at the same time, I am cautions and very prayerful. I believe that God will raise up whom he wills to finish what needs to be done and if this church willingly submits to it PTL. If not, I will continue to preach as well as you what thus says the Lord!. I have always been a proponent of change, but not for change sake. I want what all of you want, Christ in you the hope of glory! That is the secret to life isn’t it. We are in this together and we will walk away from the GA united not divided.

    Bless you all!

  50. Robert a. moore,jr., no where in my article do I advocate a change in the G.A. minutes. I simply refer to the inherent power of the Ordained Bishops @ the G.A. to elect @ least 13 pastors thus providing them with a majority potential on any given measure. This would most definitely shift the balance of power from the Exec. Comm. & under appointment Admin. Bishops into the pastors hands.

  51. Pastor Tony, I appreciate your thoughts but was stunned and saddened to see it written that we are no longer a Movement but I know it is true, we are bogged down with an Institution.

    Your said: “Field Directors are not allowed to sit on the World Missions Board and there would seem to be a parallel in logic to the issue of appointees on the C18. Neither, as I understand it, is anyone who presents a budget to the EC allowed to sit on the C18.”

    Your expressed concerns are the same that I have had for years; The EC can make it easier or harder for pastors as well but it is not so blatantly precarious as their power over members who serve under their appointment. Just as international ministers must be represented, why not have laity represented by allowing/requiring two or three lay men to be elected to the C18? Think about the vast number of spiritual business men and the added dimension they could bring to the table. I wish someone would make this recommendation.


  52. Tony,

    I stand corrected and thank you for making that clear. I went back and re-read your post and am enlightened–at least I feel like I am.

    You are probably right, if our goal is to change the “balance of power”, then our best chance of bringing change would be to simply elect at least 13 pastors to the C-18 . There is still a bit of that logic that seems inconclusive to me and somewhat misdirected. Here is why I say that.

    Your discussion seemed to indicate that most of the EC, AB’s and department execs were adaptors rather than innovators. (I may be overstating this but it was my impression) if your assessment is true then this leads me to a couple of questions.

    1. are they adaptors or innovators because that is where their emotional & intellectual intelligence naturally forces them to function?

    2. or do they function as adaptors rather than innovators because of a system that locks them into becoming bureaucrats?

    My instincts and observations tell me, in most cases at least that it is the later. Our system of two year GA’s, appointments and elections doom us to take the best, most visionary, most creative men the COG can produce-if they answer the call to serve as an elected official or AB–and turn them into frustrated, weary and sometimes even beaten men by the time they reach their limitation of service.

    Oh, don’t worry; I’m not trying to get anyone to feel sorry for them. They are strong and effective leaders in their own right-I’m just making a point. Most of them were already leading cutting edge and pace-setting ministries in local churches before they accepted an election or appointment.

    When you and I began our pastoral ministry the role of the state overseer, elected department head or EC member was one of almost absolute power. We’ve both witnessed occasional abuses of that power that resulted in terrible wounds to friends and colleagues. That day is gone–or at least enormously reduced. All of the AB’s I’m personally connected to only left large and effective pastorates and ministries because they had a heart to help pastors and LEAD in transformational change.

    That simply ain’t hapn’n in this present system. I better stop.

    Thanks again Tony. I have the highest respect for you, your ministry and for your contributions to the Church of God. Keep rowing the boat—we need you.

  53. Doug James: as one would expect, I think the idea of a lay member or two on the C18 is wonderful. But it would be a tough sell in this, which one highly placed official I deeply respect describes as a “preacher’s church.”

  54. Robert A. Moore,jr.


    In my years on the Exec. Council the one EC member I observed most willing to take on the system was Paul Walker. He did so by simply ignoring it @ times. By working “outside” the system he was able to accomplish a lot more than he gets credit for. He opened the door for more pastoral involvement than ever before in modern history. True innovators refuse to become “systemitized”. When anyone becomes “institutionalized” they can no longer be considered “movement “. A few of us fought to move Hdq. out of Cleveland. The entrenched “institutional people”would not hear of it. When theNational Pastors’ board asked to meet with the Board of Christian Ministeries they simply saw no need to meet with us & they did not. The attitude seemed to be-what for?

  55. Tony, it’s sad to hear about the response from the Board of Christian Ministries. We talk about a unified budget, but few people have mentioned the problem of disunified agendas. In my estimation, administrators could go along way by simply opening themselves up to “intradepartmental” partnerships. Instead, we have competition, fear, jealousy and territorialism. Historically, great things have happened when departments partner together. And of course the issue is multiplied in the case you mentioned, as it was an opportunity to reach out to more than a department, but to the pastors. And the mistrust between pastors and administrators has been well-voiced here.

  56. Don,

    As you pointed out a statement you heard, this is a “preachers church.” Is no one concerned that too many laity don’t even want their giving to be in the form of tithing? Is that not a problem, or, is that what the ministers want? Apparently it is a serious problem for International Offices!

    Believe, me, we know it is a “preacher’s-church.” That’s not a news flash. Is there a venue anywhere that laity have to contribute ideas? I love my local church and the Church of God at large; I want my church to be better than that and I want people pulled into the circle not blocked out.

    As a move in the right direction, the preachers need to make room for laity on the C18! We already have “too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.” I hope that statement is not politically incorrect (I just can’t keep up). However, you get the point.


  57. Doug,

    There absolutely should be room for everyone to contribute ideas…even when that venue is not an official expression, as you can see here.

    And, the issues you raised are legitimate issues. The Church of God is not a preacher’s church. It belongs to Jesus. Now, if we could just live that out in the Church of God, headquartered in Cleveland, TN.

  58. Tony,

    I must confess my ignorance. How often does the National Pastors Board meet?

    And just what is the Christian Ministries Board? I don’t remember hearing about the latter.

  59. Tom Rosson


    The National Pastors’ Advisory Council meets twice yearly with an E.C. liason for the purpose of enhancing dialog between pastors & Gen. Hdqs. Some of us fought vigorously against much opposition to insure its passage. Everyone except the pastor was represented by a board @ that time. Again Paul Walker{then a pastor on the Ex.Coun.} helped get the measure on the G.A. agenda. The Bd. of Ch. Min. as I understand it, consists of Gen. Dept. heads & their asst.

  60. Tony, you are correct about the Board of Church Ministries (the proper title.) I am a member.

  61. Travis,

    Thanks for the meds offer-normally I wouldn’t need it. You see I’ve had alot of sucess with a natural cure for the last several years. Daniela (my wife with a D.Th in Theological Ethics) spoon feeds me large doses of humility and that has really helped calm some of the sarcasm. However, since she can’t sit next to me during the Council meetings, you might want to bring an extra bottle. 🙂

  62. Travis,

    Certainly the church belongs to Jesus, that goes without saying, without Him we would all need to close the doors and go home and tend to our spotless lambs. However, we are talking about the organization of the church and from my perspective in this context, the CoG is a preacher’s church. Remember, I am not the one who said that, it was a minister in high office (see Don Warrington’s remarks). I am just agreeing. However to me, by say “preacher’s church” I mean that in the local church and also the denominational church, when it comes to the business of the church and the attitude of the ministers, the church belongs to them.

    As I see it, preachers should be the primary leaders but I don’t think that means that the laity don’t have a mandate to contribute intellectually and spiritually to the business of the church or that they shouldn’t be well represented.

    Why not have a couple of seats on the C18 filled with lay men? Why not put it on the agenda to be studied and brought to the General Assembly in the future? Is it because that in this preacher’s church laity have no place in leadership?


  63. Doug,

    I’m glad you are bringing this up. I’m not sure if we will ever see seats for laity on the C18, but I’d love to give it a shot. But even if that does not work out there still must be some way to get laity more actively involved in the business of the church. In the 21st century all organizations will feel the pressure to move away from a “viewer’s forum” to a “participatory platform.”

    It’s funny, I’m a minister who returned from the mission field last year, and I have had the opportunity to “just be a normal member” of a local church for nearly a year now. What I have seen, and this is not a critique of my local church, is that most of our members are sitting in the pews of our churches unused and unenlisted into the army of God. We (ministers) often blame this on the lukewarm spirituality of our members, but it is time for us to recognize that we as leaders are failing to provide the type of participatory platform that would motivate many of our members to jump into the cause. Unfortunately, I fear that if we cannot even do this on the local level we will be hard pressed to wake up to this need in a way as to do something as radical as allow our laity to sit on the C18. However, with God all things are possible! And I will quickly jump behind efforts (such as the things you mentioned) to bring a greater involvement of our members on the bearing and direction of the church at large.

  64. Doug,

    My attempt was to differentiate between the “Church of God” and the “Church of God headquartered in Cleveland, TN.” One is a subgroup of the other. That subgroup may certainly be setup as a preacher’s union. But, the whole certainly isn’t.

    I love how Paul would blow into a city like Philippi, meet a heathen Roman soldier and a couple unqualified females: one being demon possessed (which reminds me: remember your place, ladies…especially the unqualified ones like Daniela, Jonathan’s wife who has a D.Th in Theological Ethics). Then, Paul would leave them to build the church.

    I can’t find any Scriptural support for building any type of “preacher’s church.”…even though I have heard that about the COG myself.

    So, Doug James…we need to throw the doors wide open for the church to be led by spiritual men AND women whether they be sellers of purple or wearers of Barney Purple suits standing around slapping one another on the back.

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  65. Tony & Jon Stone;

    There seems to be a bit of confusion about the Board of Church Ministries (BCM). I think it would be a disservice to any readers of this blog to misrepresent their purpose, even if it was accidental. The BCM consists of all elected and appointed department executives as well as their deputies and key employees/co-workers at the international offices. They meet several times a year and it is required of members to attend unless prevented by extreme circumstances. The purpose of these meetings, at least as I perceive it, is two-fold;

    First to help keep BCM members informed and to have ‘’face time’’ with each other and members of the EC. In one respect this is like a large staff meeting. The GO and the EC have an opportunity to reinforce the general direction of the church to those serving at the intl. offices. On several occasions they have used these meetings to include blocks of training for the members.

    The second purpose of the BCM is to aid all of the departments in their efforts to work together. As you might imagine each leader is passionate about his/her particular area of ministry and they stay very engaged with it’s pursuit. The BCM meetings are opportunities to ensure we stay engaged with each other. We may get updates on divisional or departmental projects and requests for additional support or cooperation between departments as needed.

    Jon, if someone prevented the BCM from having dialogue with the National Pastor’s Advisory Council this would indeed be sad—but I doubt that it was done as a decision by this EC or this BCM. The emphasis from the administrations of Paul Walker, Lamar Vest and most certainly Dennis McGuire, as conveyed to the BCM, has been to remind us that every department exists to serve and aid the ministry of the local church and pastor. Each of these men—and the men on the EC during the time of their administration—have hammered this emphasis repeatedly in every BCM.

    Tony, I’m not saying it didn’t happen—I feel confidant you would not lie about it. On the other hand I must tell you I never heard about any such denial to meet with the National Advisory Council in a BCM meeting. Most importantly, this seems to run totally contrary to the emphasis of the last three GO’s as represented repeatedly by them to the BCM. Are we talking about the same issue?

  66. Robert A. Moore jr.


    When this happened it was a request of the N.P.A.C. through the then G.O. The minutes recorded the request. We were told they saw no reason to meet with us. This occurred several years ago.

  67. To: John Edwards

    Several days ago I read your July 18th comments and can’t get it off my mind. I was drawn to your situation as the pastor of a small church and not being financially able to attend the GA. It is an expensive undertaking but let me encourage you to not let circumstances hold you back. As a young man, I’ve literally robbed my piggy bank to attend the Assembly. Somehow, I took to heart the seriousness of these business meetings and the value of the church coming together for corporate worship and I decided early on that I was going to be at every GA possible and I’ve only missed two or three over the last 40 years.

    When I first started attended Assemblies, laity weren’t allowed in the business meetings and I would slip in behind the curtains and listen and occasionally would manage to get into the balcony and slump down in my seat where I wouldn’t be noticed. Thankfully, progress was made and I have been able to attend the business meetings for many years now; I still have to sit in the balcony along with all interested laity and I have no microphone available if I should have something to say, however, I listen. I have no complaints because at the end of the week when the General Assembly convenes, I, a no-body as far as this world is concerned, have the chance to speak (but never have) and I get to cast my votes.

    I know these meeting cost individuals and the church a lot of money and a practical minded person would think the financial cost too high. I also realize that Internet hookups could possibly manage the business and voting but I hope and pray it never happens. I value new technology and I will continue to run my business back home online while attending the Assembly this year; these things can be done. However, the COG coming together for business is a spiritual undertaking and there is no substitute for coming together, praying together, bonding friendships and making new ones and I could go on and on. The point is, you and your laity need to be present on location at the next General Assembly. I encourage you to plan ahead with determination.

    Just an added observation; you pastor a small church but the general attitude of the COG does not condemn or look down on the small churches or lift up the larger ones. I’ve heard them talk about having “healthy” churches and size doesn’t come into that equation.
    May God bless you,

    Doug Lancaster

  68. First: Bob Moore is correct in his description of the Board of Church Ministries. I was unaware of any proposal to meet with the NPAC; however, from a purely personal standpoint I would have enjoyed such a meeting, and doubtless found it educational. I always enjoy getting together with the pastors of our church, especially being in the “Church Ministries Division.”

    Since Bob mentioned divisional matters, let me add that, in addition to the BCM meetings, our division’s leadership has met with our EC liaison (Dr. Culpepper) regularly during the last biennium, and these meetings have also been very valuable.

    Turning to the business of laity in the EC18, the last time we gathered in San Antonio, a report was released entitled “Portrait and Prospect: CoG Pastors Face the 21st Century,” which I usually refer to as the Bowers Report after its editor. It spelled out in black and white what I had suspected for a long time: that our pastors are all too often alienated both from the lay people below them and the “celestial hierarchy” above them. This bothered me then and bothers me now.

    Many here talk about trust, and rightly so. But unless we deal with alienation at all levels, our church is going to have problems. Lay representation in places such as EC18 isn’t the total solution to this problem, but it wouldn’t hurt either.

  69. Thank you for that information Tony.

    I’m disappointed to learn the BCM ever missed an opportunity to get direct interaction with the NPAC. Frankly, I was relieved to learn that several years had passed since this denial. As I stated earlier, the mantra of BCM activity for at least the last ten years has been to emphasize their role of servant-supporter-supplier to the local church. A refusal to meet with the NPAC while publicly holding to a philosophy of pastoral/local church support would indeed be disingenuous.

  70. Doug,

    Thanks for your comments. You brought a perspective of the GA I had not thought of in a long time–the GA as a primarily spiritual gathering and how special it once was and still is to many people. I remember my first assembly–I was a youth pastor in Atlanta and we were driving to Ft. Worth, TX. My brother-in-law and I drove non-stop to save hotel and food costs. It was the first time my WV born wife had ever been west of the MS and insisted I wake her up to see it.

    I still hope that some day soon we will enlarge the participation in the GA via the internet so that it can be open to our folks worldwide irregardless of their income leval or geographical location. At the same time I agree with you, there is an important dynamic that occurs when folks come together face-to-face to seek and worship God.

  71. Doug,
    Thank you for your comments, and if it were possible I would be there in TX this year, I agree with you that there is a spiritual dynamic that will be missed when we partisipate on-line instead of on-site. However, it is not a matter of practicallity, it is a matter of possibility. There is no “piggy bank to rob” there simply is no money available. I am faced with a building that is in need of repair, encreacing utility costs, and a large % of my congregation on fixed income. For the last month I have not even taken my full salary, because I felt, as the steward of this local church, that the money needed to be in the Church treasury instead of in my bank account.
    It is offensive to me that your responce is to “not let circumstances hold you back” That is a valid centiment, however, some circumstances are unavoidable. I have only pastored this church since November, and every dollar that we have raised in that time has gone to opperation and soul winning. It is not a matter of preparation, there hasn’t been time, stewardship, we are doing the best we can with what God has given us, or desire, my partisipation in this forum should speak to that.
    It is also offensive to me that your view of internet access to GA is that you “hope and pray that it never happens”. Your desire is that only 1% of the CoG membership partisipate because the other 99% aren’t conserned, or worthy, or what?
    God called me to be a good steward of the church and finances that He has placed me over, I would fail at that calling if I spent $2000 to $3000 that this church and my family do not have to attend GA or camp meeting or any other function. I WILL NOT put my church or family finances at risk, that does not mean I am unconserned, or unfaithful. I am a Bishop in the CoG, and that is an honor, but my responsibility is to the family and Local church that God has placed under my care.

  72. John Edwards

    Offending you, or being offensive, is the last thing that I intended to do. I’ve never had the responsibilities of a church and certainly was not judging you and I deep regret that my words came across in that manner. Please forgive me.

    I’ve read almost everything on this web site and realizing that I am out of my league with such effective orators. I have wisely not participated in the dialogue, however, when I saw your desire to be included in the business of the church I was touched and wanted to encourage you, not criticize you. From your first entry, I clearly saw that you are a pastor at heart and that your church and sole winning comes first. I admire that greatly.

    Another thing, saying that I would pray that Internet voting would never come to pass was not right; I’m not a child and I know that when I have a concern, my prayer needs to be according to His will. I humbly stand corrected. I will still pray about Internet voting because I see some dangerous possibilities but I will be praying that God’s will be done.

    Doug Lancaster

  73. Doug,
    Thank you Brother.
    I will admit that internet voting does pose some real dangers. However, I believe that the bennefits would far outweigh the risks.
    1. Security. This is always a concern. But not offering on-line voting will not solve this. I live in a small rural town where everyone knows everyone, and most are related, yet we had a church robed at gun point this summer. Security is something that we all have to consider, on-line and off.
    2. Cost. It will be costly to initiate internet or satalite partisipation, however, every delegate at GA pays a registration fee. Consider the added income if the registrations went from 10,000 to 100,000. Enough to pay for the technology, tight security, and perhaps even help with the $ issues between the US and International churches. OOPS! Did I cross threads, sorry.
    3. On-line partisipants could vote and listen but not partisipate in the depates. That’s ok, I have been to GA several times, only once as a Bishop, and I didn’t get to talk then either.

    I am sure that we could all add other concerns and solutions, but after all isn’t that what this forum is for.

    One other thing Doug, never hesitate to speak up if something is on your heart. You may learn or you may teach, but always partisipate. Many times a layman can inject a perspective that no pastor, missionary, or official would think of. You can also, as you have done here, become an example of love and humility that we often forget in the heat of our hectic walk. I believe that the true test of a man is how he takes correction. I hope that I do as well in that test.

  74. Over at my blog, church planter Grant Theissen raises some interesting thoughts which I believe are critical to our discussion of the future leadership in this denomination.

    Because of our humanity, we are always tempted to use human thinking in the selection of those who lead us…but in our hearts we know that is not how God chooses leaders and not how we should.

    In our sincere desire to be better, more effective, better led, etc. we may be tempted to look at the position of a person (pastor, administrator, youth leader, etc.) and feel that qualifies them or we may reflect on our “comfort” levels with someone’s personality or preaching styles and think that will make them a good leader…all of which are genuine thoughts among many others.

    In truth, this is what happened to Samuel when he saw Jesse’s boys line up to be chosen for Israel’s vacant king position and each one with his attributes impressed Samuel and caused him to wonder…”could this be the one?”…only to hear God say “no this one…” and on it went until the unsuspecting one, the one with no visible public record, no notable achievements except those known to God emerged because God raised him up.

    Now, I’m not mystical in my thoughts but it does beg to ask can we be trusted to choose leaders when we are so enamored with style, performance, self-promotion and the likes? In truth, with God it has always been about the heart and such distinction is not always easily discerned in such a large church as ours.

    So, how do we proceed?

  75. God told Moses to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. . .”
    I think that is good advice for us. The Egyptian army of fear and mistrust is behind us, and the Red Sea of change and obedience is before us. My prayer is that our Moses, the man God has placed in leadership over us, will be able to stretch his rod out over the sea of change, so that we can pass through on dry, solid ground, and that fear and mistrust will be drouned in our obedience to God’s will. I just hope that it isn’t 40 years before we can enter the . . . OOPS! I’m not in the pulpit, Am I, Sorry.

  76. There is a part that we as humans play…my thoughts do not imply a lack of effort, energy, passion and investment. This board and others are evidence of the deep passion in those who participate. How that translates on the floor will remain to be seen.

    What I do know is that none of us can rely on our own thinking, genius or skills to navigate the journey God has for this church. Our forefathers were guided by the sense that God was calling them to greater things. I sense that as well and I’m sure that is the consensus of many in the church.

  77. Bro. Isaacs,

    I can’t say that I’ve got a lot of genius. I can say that I am really hungry for straight talk at this point. In my pursuit of a spiritual conclusion about who should lead, I just simply need to know the practical application of that spirituality.

    Will we keep our word? That’s the simplicity of my decision making at this point.

  78. It is my sincere prayer for you and others that God will again be faithful to the searching heart and give divine guidance just as He always has for you, me and this great church.

    Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
    he answers him from his holy heaven
    with the saving power of his right hand.

    Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

    They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm. (Psalms 20:6-8)

  79. Wow, this is a long thread, nearly 80 comments! 🙂

  80. Pastor Tony,

    “Adapter”??? – I am quite challenged by a label being placed upon me that at best lacks authenticity and in the worst scenerio is void of the diginity a sacrificial follower of Jesus Christ might merit. Yes, there must be a greater involvement of pastoral leadership in the life of the Church of God.

    In fact I believe there must be a greater level of involvement for Laity. Our dichotomy of ministry and laity lacks New Testament validity and is birthed from a Modern influence on the Movement of the Body of Christ – Missionally Speaking – Our Pre-Christian Culture is fluid – organic – and relational – more on this later.

    Throwing off an adjective like adaptor describing anyone associated with or involved with leadership in any way in the Church of God not having the ability to be innovative falls short of reasonability.

    Our family has personally sacrificed, given, moved across the United States, traveled around the world, lived in the city, planted churches, and pastored. Today after 12 years of service in three state/regional offices, I am daily challenged, inspired, and convicted that I must have legitimate conversations with people about Jesus Christ.

    Yes, I suppose one could say that there are administrative people who are adapters – assimilating (Resistance Isn’t Futile) into the institution of an organization without ever asking questions or challenging institutional entrenchment. However, I ask everyone in this conversation to please think long, comtemplate and be reasonable. My seven day a week 10-12 hour days consist of pastoral care, youth evangelism planning and implementation (Winterfest, Youth Camps, Training, Mission, etc.), regional evangelism planning, training, teaching, inspiring and assisting church planters, preaching, and doing my best to share Jesus Christ with lost people.

    Additionally, praying for and now planting a church with the most incredible group of people among Asian-Indian People Groups living in the Central Valley of California. People are moving from darkness to light – death to life through finding relationship with Jesus Christ!

    It has been years now since I first looked at someone who made the statement that ‘We need to get out of the box”, and said to that person “What Box?”

    I see the Church of God as a movement and firmly believe that we as a church should embrace the language and lifestyle of being a movement of followers of Jesus Christ. This endeavor will take the concerted efforts of all who worship, pastor, teach, lead regionally, share their faith, live in the United States, and throughout the world. We need the strength, gifts, talents, and perspective of all. We as a movement must Come Together.

    Are there challenges – Absolutely. I am challenged by the fact that there are very few in the Evangelical world we talk about genocide in Darfur, Ruwanda, Congo, and even fewer who make efforts to feed the poor and heal the wounded. I am challenged by the lack of diversity in leadership in most churches in the United States, and our own racism and ethnocentrism and elitism as Christians. I repent – and cry out to the church to be the church. Challenges – issues – and frustrations Yes these are real However – there are miracles, there is hope, power and life. Today we have the incredible opportunity to take a deep breath, be reasonable, and unite through the presnce and power of the Holy Spirit in our Lives. There have been and continue to be significant innovators who are Pastors, Missionaries, Pioneers, overseers, evangelism directors, youth & ce directors, Evangelists, Retired Ministers, and emerging leaders.

    In this regard – I commend to you that a council of 18 followers of Jesus Christ totally committed to turning the world upside down for the sake of the gospel will be more effective than mandating a specific role in the church as the threshold for eligibility to serve the MOVEMENT of Jesus Christ through leading the organization of the Church of God.

    peace & blessings,


    Hebrews 12:1-2

  81. Sean, great to hear your wisdom on here!

    Of course, any of us who know you, know that you are anything BUT an adapter. We also know that you are one of the most unique YCE Directors around! So, I don’t think you can claim being called an adapter on here. Nice try though. 🙂

    Seriously, I noticed that Tony did not refer to YCE Directors as adapters, but rather, YCE Directors who cannot see beyond the minimal requirements and programs that have, you must admit, become fairly standardized in states and regions in the USA. The things you listed in your post (church plant, personal evangelism, inspiring others, casting vision, long hours, etc. etc.) tells me that you are exactly NOT the person Tony had in mind when making his generalizations.

    With that said, I agree that leaders are under appreciated. I also agree that some of the generalizations are unfair. In fact, I agree with every single thing in your post, with the exception of what appears to be your feeling slighted.

    And most importantly, I certainly agree with the GREAT point you ended your post with! That is, that mandating certain roles for the C18 is not only grossly inadequate for resolving our current crisis, but it actuality perpetuates a good portion of the current mindset. Well said!

    Hope to see you soon!

  82. Thanks, Sean. I really appreciate your comments here and your heart for God. I hope we run into each other next week.

    BTW, will you have any of your books for sale at the Assembly?

  83. Sean,

    There is absolutely nothing in my article that labels any individual, positively or negatively. The article refers to a structural system that, like many institutions, has failed to keep up with the times. Please notice the statement-the COG is heavily laden with too many adaptors & too few innovators in leadership circles. At no time did I suggest there were no innovators in leadership circles as you suggest. For many years I sat & listened to professional ,highly paid consultants warn us about the COG becoming an institution. Unfortunately we failed to heed the advice. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck- My admiration for you, your family, & your ministry is & always has been of the highest regard.

    At no time have I ever conveyed the thought that a particular office is the threshold for eligibility to serve in a specific office. Hopefully you did not intend that statement as a (mis) characterization of my suggestion that a council with @ least 13 pastors would help bring about a much needed swing in the balance of power in Cleveland.

    Pastors have very little input into the decision-making process of the day-to-day operation in the COG. I hardly think any knowledgeable person could dispute that. I have spent many years trying to help elevate the role of the pastor w/in the COG. To this day the pastor in the COG is still very underapprecated. May God help us all to be totally sold-out to Jesus & the establishment of His Kingdom on earth .Wanting dialog about change does not dilute my passion for Him or my love for His church.

  84. Tony raises a good point that continues to nag at me. In this diversity of thought and the staking out of “my point” in the community of dialogue, how do we move forward? Much talk without action only heightens our frustrations.

    Maxwell’s adage applies…everything rises and falls with leadership. As such, our prayer should not be pointed more toward the execution of certain “pet ideas” or concepts but more toward “who should lead us?”

    My sense is that leadership which is responsive, creative and relevant is vital to the health of our movement–and I contend we still are a movement–a people in transition. Even though I accept Tony’s assessment of our problem with inclusion, I still see our church as moving toward its destiny.

    I would like to see the church embrace technology to a greater degrees than we do now. As I mentioned in another blog recently, “being there” is different from “going there” and when we consider what can be done in this area (just as one example) we can envision a future where more can be done with less.

  85. Bill,

    In the venacular of our day, a “movement” is defined as a verb more so than as a noun. There is great synergy , hope , excitement , fueling the cause creating increase of participation , release of gifts , talents , abilities and , yes, growth. In that sense I hardly think the COG qualifies as a movement. GM , Ford , Chrysler , are all moving toward their destiny. Most definitely they are no longer “a movement”.

  86. I accept that.

    When I mention our movement, I’m thinking perhaps more locally and that may be the difference between our great minds. In places like Toledo, Ohio we are experiencing “great synergy, hope, excitement, fueling the cause creating increase of participation, release of gifts, talents and abilities and yet growth” Are we not? (Gotcha?)

    Believe it or not, in our International Offices there are places where this description applies. I have experienced it first-hand. One example is Hispanic Ministries where there a tremendous movement of cause, energy and resources. They have embraced a vision of 1,000 new churches in 10 years and in two separate presentations, I have been deeply moved by the leadership, vision and innovation this department is experiencing. This is just one example of my idea.

    But on a more nationalist/international approach, I can see your point.

  87. Bill and Tony,

    The question is “how much movement does it take to define us as a movement”? In my opinion, there is exponentially more stagnation in the COG than there is movement. Clearly, there are pockets of great movement in the COG. However, our leaders seem so paranoid that instead of embracing and elevating the catalysts of these pockets of movement, they marginalyze them. Why is that? Are the leaders of an international organization with 6+ million members really that weak that they are actually threatened and intimidated by the success of others?

  88. Movement vs momument may not be the all important question here. Movement can occur when a group or institution simply goes in circles. They create movement but not progress. The operative word Jerry’s last statement is “stagnation”. While there may be pockets of movement within the denom – we are far from being a denomination meeting the current emerging church demands. We are antiquated in movement which creates the endless and boring circle Tony mentions in his first article. Hat’s off to you Tony. Your experience and progressive ministry outweighs yours credentialed qualifications to make such bold and needed statements as you have made.
    We are prone to protect and defend what we have created ourselves. Hence the cycle of re-elected officials to “lead” this denomination. We tag old ways with new terminology. We are simply pouring precious wine into old wine skins. We have told oursevles they are new winde skins – but we they are not. To change a monument to a movement again will take inovative leadership that reveres our history but is not intimidated by the need of change. Jesus Himself brought absolute change to His world. He introduced change in leadership, worship and yes, even Judaic politics. He lost His life for the cause. He was the forefathter of an “emerging church”. The only difference in His approach to it and ours…He had divine authority and ours is limited to traditional and legalistic measures that even He would have a hard time changing. Just a thought.

  89. Louis,

    I appreciate your kindness.

    BTW – Look forward to seeing you in San Antonio. I have a book for you. Hope to connect.

    peace & blessings,


  90. Pastor Tony,

    I was speaking to your statement,

    “Adapters operate within the scope of certain secure boundaries – elected officials living in Cleveland, recycled leaders, 2-year General Assemblies, State Offices, Administrative Bishops, Youth and Christian Education Directors, Evangelism and Home Mission Directors, Camp Meetings, Prayer Conferences, etc. Adaptors ask why?
    Innovators ignore boundaries and discover creative, innovative ways of getting business accomplished. Innovators ask why not?”

    However, I agree that your article clearly advocates pastoral leadership, support, and innovative organizational change. And I also completely and totally agree that you have visibly been a tremendous pastoral supporter throughout the years, and pastors should always be affirmed and not overlooked. I completely and wholeheartedly believe in you and your ministry that powerfully stand as a tremendous testimony to your incredible ability as a leader and availability as a servant of God. I believe in you and absolutely value your leadership.

    There is little doubt that we as an organization need to collectively participate in a continual self-examination / self-reflection process guided by prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I have been thinking about this upcoming assembly contemplating the future of the Church of God and what our role is in these last days within the greater church in general and in fulfilling the Great Commission. It occurs to me that on the whole our passion for lost people, compassion for the least, lowest and last has moved from the highest place on the priority list for many in the organization to somewhere at the bottom of the list or even on the 2nd page of our ministry priority list.

    Yes we as a church need to think through and be pro-active in the ways that make sense: Analysis and Streamlining administration for effectiveness, Analysis of Budget allocation and revenue analysis for greater effectiveness, etc.

    However, The greatest challenge we face that is affecting the organization of the Church of God is the institutional tendency of any organization to live to the point of experiencing “Mission Drift”. Perhaps as a body the greatest effectiveness for ministry will be realized as we work together to become Mission Driven once again.

    Movements are Mission Driven! The Mission of a Movement is the Primary Focus of a movement. In this regard our Mission should guide our structure.

    We as a church must decide who we are and who we will become.

    Our history is integral in this process, our theology is foundational in this process, and the Mission of Jesus Christ (Sharing the Good News, people receiving Christ in relationship, embarking on a journey of discipleship including being Baptized in the Holy Spirit) is the driving force of this process. This is our Mission!

    We can choose to embrace the mission. We can cover-up the mission with the extreme compartmentalization of ministry in Christianity born from modernity. We can cover-up the mission with everyone standing up and throwing “my ministry is this” at the wall and into the mission/vision of the organization OR we can choose to follow the ways of Jesus Christ and seek to save all who are lost. Every ministry of the church should support this – the Mission of Jesus.

    Perhaps having more pastors on the Council of 18 will help in this process. However, while there are incredible, gifted innovative pastors, there are also many pastors who are adapters as well.

    The point I want to communicate is that when we gather to vote men onto the council of 18 we should approach our voting process based upon the person and not the position in which that man is currently serving. Pastor, Missionary, Teacher, Professor, Administrator, State Youth and CE Director, Evangelism Director, Retired Minister, Prophet, lovers of Jesus, etc., we are men who should stand equal on the floor and seek to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in our voting process.

    In this regard a man who is an Ordained Bishop and has served in ministry in the Church of God for any length of time has worth, ability, and wisdom to serve. In this regard I make two points:

    1. If are to we vote for 13 pastors to serve on the council of 18 then, who will be the 13 of the 18? Will we select the best of the best of the best? If this is the case – What is the standard? Who are the best of the best of the best?

    In our society the best of the best of the best in the church world consistently appear to be considered those few incredible men who through the power of God’s presence, their incredible giftedness, hard work, and grace have developed churches which are large and significant in Sunday morning attendance. Perhaps in a corporate America way of thinking these are those who can affect the changes needed in order to lead the Church of God as a body into the future. However, I submit that there are many among the masses of the congregations within the Church of God inside and outside of the United States who are significantly effective in kingdom ministry and most often overlooked. In fact, I fear that there are many who trudge through the ditches of life visiting the sick, helping the poor, sharing their faith with the lost, loving people, pastoring the community, and Shepherding who are not recognized but are faithful brilliant and effective leaders.

    One such Hero I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and become friends with was Pastor Melton Nelms who passed away recently. Pastor Nelms Pastored the Logan Church of God in Logan Illinois for (I think) 25 years. When He began pastoring the church the congregation had an attendance of 100. Twenty-Three Years later the church grew to an attendance of 130ish. Now a primitive observation would lead a person to the conclusion that the church had not experienced growth to any significant extent. However, this isn’t the case. The reality is that the town of Logan Illinois had declined in population to the point that the schools were closed and students were transported to another nearby community. Additionally, Pastor Nelms had done over 100 funerals for people in the church through the 23 years when we talked about his congregation’s growth throughout his ministry there in Logan. Pastor Nelms was such an incredible leader that people would drive over 1 to 1 ½ hours to attend church. They loved their pastor!

    Pastor Melton Nelms was a hero. There are others, many others who are heroes.

    Consider the statistical reality of the Church in America and more specifically the Church of God in the United States. 65-70 % of churches average an attendance of less than 100 in any given Sunday worship service. These churches contribute the majority of tithe to the state and international ministry of the Church of God through their monthly reports. These are the masses. These faithful churches and their faithful pastors are those in the Church of God who send their youth to youth camps, attend camp meetings, fund missionaries and ministry to many, many masses of people throughout vast numbers of communities, neighborhoods, and towns in the United States, (This is also very true in the countries of the world outside of the U.S. in which the Church of God exists). These churches are the majority of the Church of God constituency. Yet, these faithful effective pastors seldom are recognized, appreciated, and elected. When was the last time a pastor from a small town / “small church” was elected to the council of 18? My point is when we begin to speak of electing a majority of pastors to the council of 18 because they can bring change in the Church of God; which pastors will we elect? Are they innovators? or perhaps they to are adapters. Are they large church pastors (over 500) or are they pastoring churches under 500? 300? 100? Are they rural or urban? Do they pastor traditional churches, emerging churches, or what about HOUSE CHURCHES? (House Church are often small – however, one of the fastest and most effective church planting movements in the world today).

    I once again emphasize, “The point I want to communicate is that when we gather to vote men onto the council of 18 we should approach our voting process based upon the person and not the position in which that man is currently serving. Pastor, Missionary, Teacher, Professor, Administrator, State Youth and CE Director, Evangelism Director, Retired Minister, Prophet, lovers of Jesus, etc., we are men who should stand equal on the floor and seek to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in our voting process.”

    2. I speak to the validity of the role of State Youth and Christian Education Directors in the Church of God. It has been too often and too long that there are some who have diminished the significant importance of this ministry (incidentally, I view you as a strong supporter of the State Youth and Christian Education Directors/ministries and not among these).

    The state youth and CE Director is a ministry role which has been filled both historically and presently by some of the most innovative people in the kingdom – pioneers, and visionaries (given there are adapters among this group as well). However, I think of the men whom I personally hold in the highest regard as some of the most tremendous innovators in the Church of God throughout their ministry. Men whose ministry has traveled the path through the state office creating developing and leading ministry among the masses of youth and children existing in the majority of the churches in the Church of God. Innovators such as:

    Dr. Raymond Culpepper
    John D. Childers
    Bill Isaacs
    David Griffis
    Tom Madden
    Lane Sargent
    J David Stephens
    Dr. David Gosnell
    Keith Ivester
    Dr. Lamar Vest
    Dr. Paul L. Walker
    Darell Rice
    Andrew Binda
    Daniel Vassell
    Dr. Donald Aultman
    Dr. Floyd Carey
    W.A. Davis
    Quan Miller
    James Byrd

    There are just too many to remember or name. Men who have created, preached, pressed forward with vision innovated and effected change. Men who have learned to be road warriors traveling to small churches in every small town, city, urban area, rural area, everywhere to preach the gospel, pray for pastors, people, children, teens, everyone. Often their travels have been at their own expense with little or no honorarium to help with gasoline, food, hotel, etc. (contrary to the opinions of some). Often those who have served in this role have worked countless hours behind the scenes with little or no recognition as servant-leaders in the truest sense. They have brought giftedness, innovation, and creativity to their work learning while they lead, leading while they learned.

    Innovation for them, at times came by inspiration and at times through the necessity of learning to pay for youth ministry, children’s ministry and training without any apparent resources – trusting God, working hard, and pressing forward. Many, Many of these men both present and past are creative innovators, problem solvers, and servant leaders driven by the passion of Jesus Christ.

    The role of state youth and CE director is a role of being a children’s ministry specialist, youth ministry specialist, pastor, preacher, counselor, friend, event planner, administrative leader, team builder, fund raiser, packing expert, transportation specialist, and servant leader, WOW!

    Now given; the significance of the State Youth and CE Director to a church with an average worship attendance of 1000++ may or may not be as impactful to that congregation as to the vast number of churches with average attendance under 1000, 500, 300, 100, etc. There is great significance of this ministry to these churches. In reality, the majority of churches in the Church of God exist utilizing volunteer youth ministry leaders, volunteer children’s ministry leaders, and volunteer Heroes who work sacrificially in the local church. Unfortunately, the turn over rate of these volunteers in these churches is often high. State Youth and CE Directors, who are engaged in the life of the church work hard to stay relevant, trained and specialized in children’s ministry and youth ministry and discipleship. This is no easy task. They often spend time on the phone, and in person mentoring and training these volunteer leaders.

    Additionally, the atmosphere in our society is continually changing. The earth moves under our feet constantly (not only in California – smile). This brings additional challenges, and discerning the times and understanding what to do is a primary focus for everyone involved in youth and CE ministries. (An example of this is the time span today between puberty and adulthood in the human socialization process in the United States among youth who are born in the United States. In the early 1900’s this time span was 2-3 yrs, in the 1950’s 4years, 1960’s-1970’s 5 years, and today 14-16 years). Understanding the development process of children into adolescence and then adulthood is significantly important in targeting ministry to these age groups and developing rites of passage both spiritually and socially guiding youth in their maturation and discipleship process.

    Pastor Tony, I affirm once more that I believe in you; You are an Apostolic Leader! Shyrel and I hold you and the entire Scott family in the highest regard. We will always cherish our time of fellowship with you and Sister Shirley at that significant time in our journey while we were in New Jersey. (Wasn’t that Italian restaurant in New Brunswick just phenomenal??)

    My prayer is that we as a church come together and sincerely pray and seek the leading of God as we gather. In this regard I pray that everyone voting searches their heart and we leave San Antonio charging forward into the world for the sake of Jesus Christ and His mission in the world

    peace and blessings,


    Hebrews 12:1-2

  91. Sean,

    It is evident you put time and passion in this post–thank you!

    Clearly we are a church of diversity of talent and ministry. There must be a place for affirming all of those that are faithful in following hard after God.

    As you shared the story of Pastor Nelms I couldn’t help but think of some of our men who lead our military centers overseas. They are tremendous men and women of God. Their congregations will totally change every 12 to 36 months and they must stay mission focused or they will die. They have reached thousands of men and women for the Kingdom and for the Church of God. These are people that probabaly would not have been reached any other way. They focus on military but since they are Great Commission focused will reach, Koreans, Germans, Italian, Fillipinos, English, Japanese, Iraqi’s, Afghani’s, etc. Willie and Carolyn Courtney have pastored a military church in Heidelberg, Germany since 1986. Their congregation, most of the time, has been about 50-60 people and never over 100. Yet there will be several dozen pastors at this General Assembly that could tell you that they found the Lord or heard their call to preach while with the Courtneys in Heidelberg.If you were to gather all of the folks that had been part of his fellowship over the years you would need a small stadium. They have “stayed by the stuff” and made sure we continue to get a steady supply of visionary young men–of all races BTW, to help us reap the multi-cultural harvest.

    God will help us to select our leaders wisely. God help us, as we ask these men to ‘flaten our organization’ that at the same time we empower all to have a place where they can pursue the mission God has called them to.

  92. Pastor Tony,

    I thought of more men who are or have been very innovative in the Church of God and their journey included State and/or national youth ministry:

    Dr. Tim Hill
    Mark Abbott
    Junus Fulbright
    Dr. Ray Hughes
    Dr. Robert White
    Dr. Don Walker
    Dr. Lynn Stone
    Terry Hart
    Dr. Doug Leroy

    I am confident that there are many more. In fact Dr. Michael Knight incredibly lead youth ministry at the local and national levels for many years and is quite possibly one of the most innovative leaders in the movement of the Church of God.

    Additionally, I emphasize again that there are a multitude of church pastors of churches under 500, 300, 200, 100 who are tremendously innovative.

    Pastors, evangelists, evangelism directors, youth & CE directors, etc. There are incredible people in the Church of God organization.

    Peace & Blessings


  93. Sean,

    Do you realize that roughly 14.5% of state overseers in the USA are on the Council of 18? On the other hand less .15% of senior pastors in the USA are on the Council of 18. (I’m using USA #s because I’m not familiar with the rest).

    Further, between the agenda review committee and the budget review committee, there is only 1 pastors represented…hardly provides a reasonable voice for pastors and local churches to be heard in the process. That’s plenty picture for me to realize that we need a lot more pastors being heard…not to mention other legitimate ministry roles which are underrepresented and locked out of the process of shaping our church fellowship.

  94. UNBELIEVABLE stats, Travis. That fact, alone, is reason enough to add more pastors to the C-18.

    But here’s another – THE CURRENT MODEL IS BROKEN!!! It’s a mess. This agenda shows it. The C-18 is miles and miles away from the heart of the COG right now.

    The C-18 is supposed to be the highest leadership body in the COG. Leaders and supposed to be leading. Ask yourself one question: “Where is this agenda leading us?”

  95. Jerry,

    I agree on all but one point. The General Assembly is the highest governing body of the COG on paper…not in practice but, on paper. Perhaps, there is an opportunity to correct our practice this year AND elect a Council of 18 that is more representative of the General Council.

  96. Travis,

    Thanks for the insight. However, The Council of Eighteen currently includes 8 pastors, 1 evangelist, and a Missiologist / Missionary. This is 61.11%

    peace & blessings,


  97. Trav,

    Just a note of clarification. My post says that the C-18 is our highest “leadership body”. I was referring to those groups we elect into leadership over us.


    I think Travis’ stats refer to the percentage of total pastor’s serving on the C-18 versus the percentage of total number of state overseers. In other words, 14.5% of ALL state overseers serve in the C-18 and 0.15% of all pastors serve on the C-18. That’s a pretty unbalanced picture.

  98. At the risk of the appearance of obsession, I still think that the key to making real change in our CoG is to find a way to increase partisipation. Several on this forum, myself included, have mentioned internet partisipation with secure log in, others have suggested regonal Assemblys with 2-way sat. links, and I am sure that others could suggest even more ways of increasing partisipation. Think of the impact of a movement from 1% voting to 25% or 50% or more. Also think of the financial blessing if all of those partisipating pay the same registration fee that on-site delegates pay.
    I am attempting to make changes in the church I pastor, the key to success is getting my congregation involved. They are starting to partisipate, and change is happening! Praise be unto God!

  99. […] 13 are not under appointment by the Executive Committee. 11 are pastors, including Nick Park and Tony Scott. The complete list of Council of 18 members are […]

  100. […] there and you could see everyone: outgoing and incoming members of the Executive Committee and the Council of 18, pastors and seminary professors, and just about everyone else. If the General Assembly is the […]

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