COG World Missions: Souls for Sale. CHEAP!!!

For the last few years in particular, I have been told by several members of the Executive Council of how “wasteful” Church of God World Missions is with their funding. I have been told and read that World Missions, “spends the entire allotment of the 2½% ‘in Cleveland,” and that one of the primary benefits of a unified budget would be to increase the efficiency of World Missions. I have also read the same in several posts and comments in online forums.

If those allegations are true, I have not yet been able to substantiate that.

Recently, I began rambling around through the Minutes of the General Assembly I have on disk, it includes the years 1906 – 2006. (It’s really cool how quickly you can search through the stuff. You can pick it up at the COG Dixon Pentecostal Research Center). Anyway, I began to plug in some numbers on a spread sheet and became really fascinated with what the bottom line had to say.

Disclaimer: I am no statistician by any stretch and I am certain there are all sorts of violations of standardization, no conditional probabilities, which no doubt skews empirical viability. However, I think you will get my point and see some heart moving data below:

In 1966, the number of COG churches in the United States was 3107 and the number of World Missions churches was 3198. 1966 United States COG membership 221,000; World Missions COG membership 216,000. Now, observe their growth side-by-side:

Year United States Churches United States Members COGWM Churches COGWM Members
1966 3707 221,000 3198 216,000
1976 4830 359,632 5864 440,444
1986 5666 542,608 10,215 1,105,359
1996 6101 773,483 19,066 3,316,000
2006 6595 1,025,896 27231 5,842,474

(Note: I was not able to find any reporting on “salvations” per se so I had to use “membership” as the factor.)

During that same 40 year window local churches have sent about $1.1 BILLION into General/State Executive Headquarters/Evangelism and Home Missions (see amended article below) and about $200 million to Church of God World Missions (In terms of designated tithe of tithe, etc…).

  • Net gain stateside has been 804,896 new members into our church.
  • Net gain in COG World Missions 5,626,474.
  • Dollars spent per member won Stateside $1366.00.
  • Dollars spent per member won through COGWM $35.50.

(Does anyone hear the MasterCard commercial in the background?!? PRICELESS!)

THREE OBSERVATIONS:

1. It seems to me that it costs a lot more to get to heaven from the United States than just about anywhere else on the planet, at least if you’re in the Church of God.

2. I don’t know what the objective standard for efficiency is. And, I am certain that World Missions could use some tightening up and even restructuring. From what I am told by those in leadership in World Missions, they want that.

3. I have rewritten this (#3) more times than you can imagine, editing myself…editing “my heart.” But when I reflect on the number of times I’ve heard, “We need a unified budget so that our organization can be more efficient.” In the words of the great prophet Sinbad (yes, the comedian), I have to, “bite my tongue until blood comes out my nose.” Enough.

I am involved in a teaching series that has me hanging out in “The Sermon on the Mount” lately and boy it can really get under your skin. That whole thing about the, “speck in your brother’s eye,” … I really hate that one. Do you know what I mean?

A parting note: I’ve been a pastor in the Church of God for 27 years. And for those years, if every $35.50 that we have sent in through the 2½% has brought one more into the kingdom…and even more specifically, into our family of the Church of God…I’m good with that.

Like I said, this is a discussion I think we really need to have.

*** AMENDED/CORRECTED INFORMATION ***

The actual stateside expenditures on ministry (1966-2006) would include $450 million sent to General Headquarters…PLUS $450 million sent to respective state and regional offices in the U.S. …PLUS an additional $200 million sent to state and regional offices for Evangelism and Home Missions.

Total Stateside Appropriations for mandatory local church contributions (1966-2006) is:

  • $450 million (General) +
  • $450 million (State and Regional) +
  • $200 million (Evangelism and Home Missions) = $1.1 BILLION
  • $1,100,000,000.00

  • 6.6 billion people worldwide….U.S. pop 300 million – US is 4.5% of World Population
  • Worldwide COG increase 1966-2006 = 6,431,370
  • COG U.S. membership gain = 804,896…
  • COGWM membership gain = 5,626,474
  • U.S. increase is 12.5% of overall
  • World Missions Increase 87.5% overall
  • Approximately $1.3 BILLION total giving to State/General Headquarters/EHM and World Missions combined through required local church contributions 1966-2006
  • $200 million COGWM = 15% overall mandatory contributions
  • $1.1 BILLION State/General Headquarters/EHM = 85% of overall mandatory contributions
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91 Responses

  1. Can it get any plainer than this? The issue presented by the Bishops was not an indictment on World Missions. It has always been about the General Executive Headquarters and the EMH budget. At the very least there are egregious mistakes of judgment if not misappropriation. But how can we know when we are not given the financial reports required by the Minutes of the General Assembly? How can the General Executive Committee justify this secret society?

    Their response to this whole issue is communicating the following to every Bishop in the COG: “You all are too ignorant to understand how things work. So, go back to your insignificant lives and stay out of our business.”

    If I’m ever allowed to learn the secret handshake and the password, I hope I would have the integrity follow the will of the General Assembly.

  2. Does anyone else see a Jerusalem / Antioch parallel in this matter? The “home church” has been surpassed by the “mission church” in almost every measure. Perhaps it is time to consider a different kind of “Realignment of Resources”. How about declaring the US a mission field and putting us under the jurisdiction of WM. (Just kidding, maybe) I am sure that the institutional response to your data would be something about mergers with other organizations…etc, but I wish we could realize that the lines between “us” and “them” are really just in our heads. From God’s POV their is neither “Jew nor Greek, make nor female, slave nor free” and if I may be so bold; Missions or Non-missions churches.

  3. My heart just sank…. What if the current “Realignment of Resources” item passes??? What in the world will headquarters do with those World Missions/EHM funds?? Would we see a decline in the success of World Missions?

  4. Bishop-jla,

    You said:

    I am sure that the institutional response to your data would be something about mergers with other organizations…

    I’ve heard that said as well. I would ask if we disallow mergers in the USA? Of course we allow them. I can think of several. Further, we even have a measure in the 2008 General Assembly agenda, item #14 that deal specifically with affiliations that reads:

    14. AFFILIATION WITH CHURCH OF GOD (International)

    We recommend:

    That we amend page 183, S50. AFFILIATION WITH CHURCH OF GOD, by substituting the following for the last sentence:

    All of the necessary forms pertaining thereto, including deeds, shall be submitted no less than five (5) years after the date of the affiliation/organization meeting, renewable at the request of the local church and with the approval of the Administrative Bishop.

    I would respond to that objection by asking: If the whole reason that the number of COG churches in the USA only grew by 8% from 1996-2006 while COGWM churches grew by 43% during that same period is amalgamations and new church affiliations, what is it about the COG USA that discourages those same affiliations?

    This whole realigning of the talents from being managed by World Missions to the General Church reminds me of a parable…the parable of the talents, only in reverse.

    I agree with Tom. This is not the discussion we are wanting to have. Let’s change the discussion.

  5. I think you would get the same result if you picked about any Evangelical denomination.

    What would really be interesting is the comparison between such costs in Anglo churches and non-Anglo churches in North America.

  6. The big problem here is a lack on information. When the Executive Committee absolutely refuses to give out financial information we are forced to draw what conclusions we can from what information we can find. The information is incomplete (at best) so our conclusions will also be incomplete.

    I have called, emailed, visited Cleveland….even signed and notarized a document in effort to get some information, but have (at every turn) been summarily denied any credible access to useful financial data. That, in itself is frustrating, but when I keep signing checks totaling $10,000 a month to various COG offices, it gets really frustrating.

    Now, I’m not on the bandwagon that World Missions is doing a great job. I certainly see some error there. But it is impossible to get on the unified budget bandwagon with this agenda unless you’re just willing to drink the kool-aid and just blindly follow.

    The whole thing leaves me very conflicted in my spirit and deeply disappointed in the Church of God and its leadership.

  7. Tom – While I appreciate and share your zeal for this subject, your data is severely lacking and misleading. The funds coming out of the church for world missions is not only the 2.5%, but most of us also give substantial amounts that directly support missionaries. I would imagine if those dollars are included, it would still be more expensive to get to heaven from the US, but the spread would not be near as great.

    Just some food for thought.

  8. Mark,

    Was hoping someone would bring that up. You are absolutely right. But it is also true that the “Total Net Receipts” category for General Headquarters budget – in the General Assembly Minutes for the same time period is $708 million dollars….not including “allocations which are subtracted from the “From the Field” category. That amount…probably another $150 million for the same 40 year window.

    I am guessing the amount to be offsetting at least. (for the monies contributed COGWM such as you described)…or perhaps make an even greater point regarding the yield of the dollars spent through World Missions.

    I do not think it is “misleading” in terms of the overall conclusion and spirit of the issue at hand. But as Jerry pointed out…. if we could get everybody to the table to see what’s what…that would be incredible.

    In the end I did provide as disclaimer about the empirical nature of the comparison…and that, not for reasons to license the presentation of misleading information…I am working on completing the spread sheet…then you can help synthesize it.

    Thanks

    • Hi, do you have any current information regarding this post and a updated spread sheet. Please let me know.

      Jerome

  9. Looking at your spreadsheet it would appear that if something isn’t broke you shouldn’t try to fix it. It seems that thus far however and whoever is and has been in charge of the spending of WM monies is doing a good job.
    Could it not be said that the real concern here is not so much about supporting COGWM or the General and State Offices, but rather an accountability of just how the monies are used. A former Bishop in the Church of God, however at the time he was just ordained said it this way, “You can not have responsibility without accountability.”
    I offer every supporting person not just member of my congregation the opportunity to see where their monies are spent. Should not ministers who are responsible for sending in the support to the General and State at least have some idea about how those monies are spent? Yes, they have the authority to spend, but does that mean because we give them that authority they do not have to account for it?
    Daniel Kellum

  10. Thanks Tom – hey are you aware of any place where I can get the data to assist me as I teach my church the importance of giving to missions both through the 2.5% and directly to missionaries. I do get questions sometimes as to why we should have a missions Sunday each month when we technically give 5% (2.5 state/2.5 world) to missions already.

    Mark

  11. Mark,

    Send me an email…I would love to talk to you about it.

    Tomsterbens@aol.com – thanks

  12. First of all I am impressed with the time you pastors have spent on computing this info. Second, I think the aim of this article is clearly to show how much better the WM dept spends money on evangelization in comparison to the general church. While the numbers presented seem to be clear proof of your positions, they are skewed and your statistical formulas are in some ways flawed. First, the pool of souls in the USA is about 300million compared to 5.5billion in the pool of the WM harvest. Proportionately, these numbers produce a reality that is not as bad as what we are trying to convey. There is a problem we do need to address. I do think we have a financial issue to tackle but let’s try to be faithful to statistical accuracy.

  13. Rereading my previous post, it may seem I am not pro change. Indeed I am. I just think that we have to get the facts straight.

  14. Kev,

    You said:

    “While the numbers presented seem to be clear proof of your positions, they are skewed and your statistical formulas are in some ways flawed.”

    First – Your point is taken…and to take your point even further I have made lots of public statements about the unique (and difficult) challenges of evangelism in the U.S. as opposed to other parts of the world. On the occasions I have to travel and minister the receptivity is incredible.

    Second – My offering of a statistical formula was intended as tongue-in-cheek to some extent. There really was no statistical formula just a display of the numbers both fiscal and human…and see what they say…

    Third – you are right…the numbers are skewed…(I updated them…The original post and number your responded to was just the $450 million sent to General Headquarters…but the actual stateside expenditures on ministry (1966-2006) would also include an additional $450 million sent to respective state and regional offices in the U.S. …PLUS an additional $200 million sent to state and regional offices for Evangelism and Home Missions. Total stateside appropriations for mandatory local church contributions is $450 million (General) + $450 million (State and Regional) + $200 million (Evangelism and Home Missions) = $1.1 BILLION. $1,100,000,000.00 WOW!

    * (In the original post the equation for “dollars-per-member” spent stateside was $559.00, but as corrected it is $1366.00 versus $35.50 per member outside the U.S. through COG World Missions.)

    OK, here we go…to use your “small pool” / “large pool” analogy. I would agree there a fewer souls to draw from. But the numbers I cited are at least reliable to this end:

    * 6.6 billion people worldwide….U.S. pop 300 million – US is 4.5% of World Population
    * Worldwide COG increase 1966-2006 = 6,431,370
    * COG U.S. membership gain = 804,896…
    * COGWM membership gain = 5,626,474
    * U.S. increase is 12.5% of overall
    * World Missions Increase 87.5% overall

    * Approximately $1.3 BILLION total giving to State/General Headquarters/EHM and World Missions combined through required local church contributions 1966-2006
    * $200 million COGWM = 15% overall mandatory contributions
    * $1.1 BILLION State/General Headquarters/EHM = 85% of overall mandatory contributions

    I absolutely agree about the restraints of potential fish to be caught and the size of the respective pools/ponds (analogous adaptation – LOL).

    Your analogy triggered a thought……BAIT…..:
    We are using 85 of our 100 worms to fish in a pond where 4.5% of the fish are.
    We use 15 of our 100 worms to fish in a pond where 95.5% of the fish are.
    Net effect….the 15 worms yield 87.5% of our fish caught.
    The 85 worms yield 12.5% of our fish caught.

    You’re right…..it’s all skewed up

    (BTW – You’ll still come preach at our church won’t you? LOL!)

  15. Kevin,

    Miami’s ratio to Cleveland, TN is about the same as WMCOG TO USA COG…spectacular how that logic doesn’t exactly translate so well.

    I do agree however that we ought not to divert our attention from the larger population pool.

  16. Tom,
    I agree that souls per dollar for COGWM is greater than souls per dollar for COGGF. It should be. For every one american there are 21 people from other nationalities ripe for harvest. The odds dictate First that less dollars will win more souls. The numbers also neccesitate that less souls would be won per dollar in America because there are less people. I would be interested in seeing this put in a proper ratio. It seems to me that the outcome would still be similar, however, it would not be as drastic as is presented. I do think the matter is important enough to get exactly right. I am only suggesting that the computation involved in your conjecture is not exactly apples to apples. I do completely agree with the notion that we have to put more bait in the water in the usa. I think we do need a restructuring of what we do with the worms in the bucket. I have an issue when we spend 380,000 per year on the Youth/Ce department in the Church of God, and someone talks about needing more or resisting a cut. We wonder why we can’t attract or keep sons and daughters in the church.
    I simply think that every one has a responsibility to downsize including WM. I am not saying we are addressing in the best way. I think we have to start getting specific about what is going to be cut.
    I look foward to the invitation to preach…I would be honored LOL
    To Travis,
    I did not comprehend your response. Please elaborate.

  17. Tom,

    Your quantitative research here would not hold water for even an honorary doctorate! 😉 Nonetheless, it makes a clever qualitative illustration. Here are three things I think that I think:

    (1) COGWM has been effective at expanding our international outreach, and in that sense it is far from broken.

    (2) COGWM could be run more efficiently, and needs to be trimmed to some degree like every other division, but needs to be trimmed in the right way.

    (3) Nick Park’s 1/3’s proposal, where everyone (COGWM, EHM, state, and general) bears a portion of the cut, makes the most sense to me of any proposal I’ve read.

    I have never been this informed b/f a G.A. Too bad I can’t attend! Keep up the good work.

  18. Kevin,

    Your rationale for our reaching more people outside of the USA on 1/6th of the dollars is because there are more people.

    I was saying that there are about 40,000 people in Cleveland, TN and if you fainted while walking through Cleveland, you’d likely land in the yard of one of our largest denominational churches.

    On the other hand, Miami has about 5 million people with a fraction of the number of churches and members. That’s all I was saying.

    It seems like what you are suggesting is the following formula:

    fewer $$ + more people = a faster growing church (WMCOG)

    OR

    more $$ + fewer people = a smaller church (USA COG)

    That’s where I’m left scratching my head.

  19. You guys are right…I guess what makes my jaw drop…

  20. Jonathan,

    Explain what you mean by “quantitative” vs. “qualitative,” (even though my satire sensor is engaged – I always want to “get” the joke).

    If by “quantitative” you mean an inadequate volume of reinforcing data…you would certainly be correct. Then I get the joke that 1 + 1 = 2 is so “qualitatively” self evident that a broader range of reinforcing data becomes unnecessary.

    Please explain rabbi…….thanks

    Oh yeah…and I agree with both you and Nick…which really was the reason why I began the whole examination of the numbers in the first place. I had been told that such a cut would, “sink the church.” So I went in search of the data from the last cut that took place from 1974-1990. (More on that next Tuesday) Anyway….while searching for that I found this.

  21. Anybody,

    I had written this long response…it bored ME…can’t imagine the effect on others. 🙂

    I certainly agree with Jonathan’s assertion and Kevin’s implication (I think).

    You know…….(pause) the virile network of communicating the essential need for restructuring World Missions has indeed been effective. And I would agree………..

    Restructure…realignment….re-something…here’s the deal…

    After 40 years (adequate quantitative window I would think) you have one group that has received/spent $1.1 BILLION of mandatory local church contributions…and then…

    You have another group that has received/spent $200 million of mandatory local church contributions…

    And the recurring voice from the top down is that World Missions is wasteful, needs restructuring, needs to brought under the group that has had oversight of the $1.1 BILLION amount. PUHLEEEEEEEZE!!!! I hope….I hope with all my heart that one more time I hear that THE PROBLEM we have is 501(c)(3) organizations like Men/Women of Action, People for Care and Learning and Operation Compassion, etc. – “redirecting resources away from local COG congregations,”

    I really want to have that discussion……

    And absolutely……Let’s realign our resources:

    Resources like righteous communication….

    Resources of adherence to to the words of our covenant…

    Resources like trust and credibility…

    Resources like truth…..

    And maybe then we can have the conversation about worms….

    Frankly…this latest discovery of the sheer volumes of dollars over the last 40 years….has amazed me…still synthesizing it all….

    oh well……….

  22. COGWM is a favorite of mine. Not because that branch of our church has been more ‘fiscally responsible’ than the general church with its resources, but because missions is the heartbeat of God. World Missions is a favorite of mine because it is not restricted by our American culture of affluence. It is open-ended. ‘Whoever’ calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. ‘Whoever’ lives in the mud huts of Ghana, Africa; ‘Whoever’ harvests rice in the fields of Viet Nam; ‘Whoever’ plays baseball in ragged shoes and worn out gloves in Nicaragua. But, ‘Whoever’ also rides a Harley and smokes dope behind the Dairy Queen in Small Town, USA. I love missions because it leaves nobody out. The point is this…I love missions and COGWM holds a dear place in my heart. Yet, COGWM is not without its problems, too. I do share the belief that turning the ‘World Mission’ budget over to the EC and our current system would be foolhardy. However, some very serious inspection should be made in COG World Missions, as well.

    Having served as a missionary, I’m left scratching my head when I think about huge sums of money going into COGWM without any of it going to COG missionaries. Yes, Bible schools are being supported with the money. Of course, national workers are helped. Obviously, some very good things are happening because of COGWM support. But, that does not mean we should overlook some ‘over-the-top’ administrative spending and irresponsible support of questionable projects around the world. For instance, while serving in Russia, I had a real ‘crisis’ experience when I personally witnessed unbelievable amounts of money (millions) wasted as we rushed headlong into the former Soviet Union (1992 – 1994) with guns blazing, trying to show those poor Russians ‘how church is done’ (what a mistake!). So much was lost (respect, opportunities, finances, even new disciples) and so little was gained (although, it did make for some really good video clips for fundraising, wink-wink). Granted, not all permission and funding for the Russia fiasco went through COGWM, but enough of it did.

    Over the years, I’ve been disheartened to watch how COG ‘membership numbers’ increased by amalgamation instead of by evangelization (I learned to be cynical when I heard about “another 100,000 people joining the COG in Africa”). I’m bothered when I hear that national workers’ funding is being cut substantially while we add another half dozen or so Mission Rep positions. Maybe it’s just me…but, I am dissatisfied with the status quo. Do we really have to continue like this?

    Having said that… I strongly support maintaining an ‘independent’ COGWM, as long as, COGWM understands that it must do better. We (COGWM) must put the emphasis back on the missionaries who are sacrificing so much to build God’s Kingdom and not on the organization. We must spend our money on training and discipling native workers to do the work of ministry. We must be more responsible in the way we allocate funding for huge projects. Like I said, I love missions and I believe COGWM can be better than ever…but, there has to be some change in World Missions, too.

  23. Jim,

    I agree.

    But, I don’t think I can stomach another person kicking COGWM in the backside for its structure (though COGWM is clearly the most productive and faithful denominational entity).

    We drag the relatively small foibles (in comparison to the General Church foibles) and moan about lack of accountability, etc…

    -Yet, I have well over 200 pages of financial detail and disclosure from the 2.5% World Missions and Roland Vaughn manage. I have zero disclosure from the 12.5% that the General Church manages.

    -We want to talk about inefficiencies at World Missions (and, they do exist). But, we turn a blind eye to the watsed half of Missions money being managed by our states (EHM) and the stacks of $50,000 stipends being doled out to individuals who occupy empty positions by the General Budget!

    I’m beginning to feel like the unproductive servants have organized after burying their talents and are ready to jump on the two productive servants (the local church and COGWM) to either deny a reduction of funds or to remove the talents that have been doubled many times over and subsequently redistributing those funds to the lesser productive entities.

  24. WOW! So much to talk about and so little time to do it. Yes, I do get up early each morning, but in a different time zone. So, I’m left feeling frantic about replying to many of the comments before you guys go to lunch, and I eat breakfast!

    If I promise to cut on Tom, Jonathon, and Kevin, will you all come back and read after lunch?

    Give me an hour or so to run some numbers and formulate a receivable/ unoffensive reply.

    Blessings, Matt

  25. Jim: your observation that we wasted millions in Russia in 1994 reminded me that, at that time, you didn’t have to spend much money to waste millions:

    http://www.vulcanhammer.org/unusual/roubles.php

  26. Guys,
    The problem that we are having here is the same problem we have with every issue that we face in the church, we have no information. I started to say we do not have the proper information, but that would mean that we have been given some information, which we have not.
    How can we form an opinion or vote on an issue such as the uniformed budget with no financial information? Someone explain how we can vote on any financial issue in the church with the lack of information that we have available to us. Doing business this way reminds me of Russian Roulette, you just pull the trigger and hope for the best.

  27. Trav,

    I’m sure I’m sensitive in this area because of my experiences in Russia and Eastern Europe. I am also concerned, as you are, about the that 12.5% that the general church handles. $50,000 donations to ‘past officials’ and ‘favorite sons’ have to stop. My point is that we have to be more accountable, even in COGWM (not just in providing a disclosure of numbers, but in providing a disclosure of why millions disappear into black holes of ill-advised relationships and questionable projects.

    What is actually happening here is that when light exposes error, the light is not very discriminating.

  28. Trav,
    I now understand what you were saying. The basic premise is that more money should be going toward reaching souls and less in other nebulous places. I still think the fact that 21 more times the people in the rest world means something in the equation. Next I think this formula is necessarily indicating that there are monies being spent on “administration” that people do not consider worldwide ministry. If we are going to single out the most effective departments based on there income then the Youth and CE board would be more effective per dollar than them all(or at least it seems that way in my mind).

  29. Jim,

    You, as the son-in-law of perhaps the most recognizable COG name ever speaking about favorite sons carries weight with me. I think our conclusion leads us to the same place. And, that place, when illuminated should encourage us about our future, not frighten us.

    What I have experienced from COGWM is that when I asked tough questions about practices, I received real answers, whether they were flattering or not. Unfortunately, I have received no such treatment elsewhere.

  30. Kevin, one reason why YCE is effective–and what I am about of observe is true of every department in the Church Ministries Division (YCE, SpiritSound, Lay Ministries, Women’s Ministries and Family Ministries)–is that all of these departments raise a great deal of the money they operate on. Although I don’t have the figures on this, I would say that, overall, the majority of the CM Division’s income comes from somewhere other than the TOT.

    If you raise your own money, be it through product sales, programs or donations, you have to provide something that your “market” (or constituency) feels is of value. If they don’t like it, they don’t buy it, and you have to find something else. Over time this process is educational.

    One factor that doesn’t get much comment on this blog is that local churches have more options for resources and even missions outlets than ever before. Denominations aren’t the “gatekeepers” they used to be, and our church is no exception. That’s especially true of larger churches.

  31. Travis,

    We ALL need to soul-search and realign to being missional- that’s how I heard your message.

    Your nod to World Missions for giving you more info is understandable, but doesn’t earn us a free pass. Who more than World Missions needs to be challenged to return to being missional?

    The fact is, the Missions Department has increased spending in Cleveland since the last Assembly while dramatically cutting support to the field- we’ve moved from missional to promotional with our finances. That’s not the right direction for a return to missional focus.

    SEE MY POSTS TO NICK

    I appreciate your support for Missions and concern that its support be maintained. Speaking as a missionary- thank you. However, more money are raised by Missions (and missionaries) than the 2.5% provides- and this is what is in danger long-term if we lose our credibility.

    Again, we’ve ALL got to come clean, search our hearts, and move together to realign to our missional genesis and eschatological destiny.

    Blessings…

  32. Poor Jim- Travis why would you go and “out” a brother like that? 🙂

  33. There as been a debate to bring World Missions under the General Budget. That’s fine whatever…the problem is that there are 6.6 billion in the world and 7 in leadership in world missions trying to reach them. There are 300 million in the US and 5 in leadership to reach them. Roland Vaughn as disclosed how directors, coordinators, and staff are paid. He has disclosed how the money is spent where it goes for all the COG to see in the front of the World Missions Mag. Jerry Lawson still has not gotten information he signed for. We have 70% of Pastor in the US that are bi-vocational. And we have buildings in Cleveland that cost somewhere between $1 and $22 million that were to unite all departments to a single campus. That did not happen. When you lead a company that you really care for then you make sure the company survives before you personally thrive. I have one question. What does everyone do in Cleveland? I mean do we really need to elect someone for 2 years to supervise the supervisors to the people that work at HQ regardless of who is elected? Is not the Directors of the departments capable of doing their job and then reporting to one person. Is it to much to ask that one person have 11 people report to them.

  34. Pastors not Pastor

  35. First let me say blessings to all of you and a “thank you” to Pastor Tom for the work and effort put into this.

    Before, I became a full-time minister, I was heading down the track of engineering. I LOVED and still love Math. I think one of my students at Lee summed it up just before he died in a motorcycle crash: “Math testifies of God. It is always faithful, perfect, and unchanging. 2+2 never equals 5. It does NOT lie.”

    Although Math doesn’t lie, people do. They can use math in different ways to prove their own point. For an example, if a company made $150 this year as opposed to last year’s $100, I could state those earnings in two different ways. If I was trying to minimize the growth, I’d say the following: “Last year we made 67% or only 1/3rd less of the profit we made this year without the great inflation…blah, blah, blah.” 150 x .6667 = 100.

    If I wanted to maximize this year’s advancement, I would say it like this, “This year we made 1/2 or 50% more profit than last year alone!!!” 100 x 1/2 = 50. (100 + 50 = 150)

    Our goal in statistics is to look at the data in a number of ways, to remove the “skew” and find out what the data is telling us.

    So…the question is: “Does this information ‘skew’ or lead us down a biased path.” Well, I ran some more numbers that may be helpful. In many non-C. o’ God World Mission articles that I read, the writers often use population growth charts mapped in conjunction with the particular growth rate they want to measure. The results are often relayed in percentages to convey a more accurate picture. Without going into detail, this type of comparison removes so many arguments.

    I gathered some extra information, added Tom’s, and did the Math. By the way, as biased as Tom COULD be, I think he did fairly well in just giving the data. Yes there are many “extras” to go with it, but he mentioned that fact. Well, Here’s what my extra numbers said:

    1. U.S. population growth during the 40 year period (1966 to 2006) increased by 47.6%
    2. U.S. Church of God membership growth increased by 64.2% GOOD JOB!
    Anytime you increase more than the population growth, you are doing well. 16.6% more than P.G. rate.
    I do not have all the data to chart each year, but that’s beyond the scope of this point.

    3. World Population growth during the same 40 year period (1966 to 2006) increased by 94.6%
    The World Population has almost doubled over the past 40 years.
    4. W.M. Church of God membership growth increased by 260.4% GREAT JOB!!!
    165.8% above P.G. rate. That’s almost triple over the past 40 years (2.7 x’s)
    And 10 times the % of growth State side!

    These numbers as a percentage vs. P.G. % rates then, negate the questions of many fish, big ponds, or fast worms.

    I personally believe that you can be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. However, here in Ecuador, I have every chance of being stabbed to death with a fishing knife!

    This does NOT imply that I think we should stop spending the extra money on hard to reach places. The U.S. (contrary to the belief of some of my kinfolk) is my favorite country in the World. For example, I have directed mission trips to hard to reach, expensive, and time consuming locations in the Amazon, and would do it again. I have also led other teams to less expensive, closer, and more productive locations. The point is not the value of one area over the other. It is more of a discussion that we’d like to have if one of my mission teams that has less production, more expense, and less transparent financial disclosure tells me that they now want to control or terminate the other mission team that has more production, less money, and greater disclosure.

    My point with these numbers was to help remove some of the arguments. Just like Travis removed some of the argument about mergers and affiliations when he pointed out that the U.S. has had the same opportunities, and would further point to another failure in the U.S. as to why we have not had the same success. In fact most of the arguments with Tom’s data can be removed and summed up with the following:

    If one area of an organization is doing better (by the numbers) than the other areas, why in the WORLD (or why in the World Missions) would we give the direction of funding from the more successful branch to the less successful branch. The story of the talents mentioned above is absolutely perfect. Why did the Lord of the Harvest give the removed talent to the top guy and not the 2nd guy? The 2nd guy had done fairly well. The U.S. Side has done well (16.6% more than the population growth!) And yet, He chose the more productive servant. A second part of this argument also lies in the fact that only 1 of the branches, (the more successful ‘by numbers’ branch), is actually transparent enough to show their expenditures.

    I hate using “them & they” language. Please, forgive me for not taking the time to write it in a better format. I’m just afraid my electricity, internet, or computer will go out again before I send this.

    I do have some other things to say about W.M. funding and expenditures, but I’ll save that for a later discussion.

    Blessings, Matt

  36. Let me expound on the 70% of bivocational Pastors.

    Cleveland and State Offices expect their cut from those churches.

    They expect the ministers to do what they are doing.

    Yet there are men that have served on the EC that are wealthy enough to not NEED a dime for their service on the EC yet I would be willing to say they got paid for that service.

    How does that conversation go with Jesus

    My greedy and arogant should have been servant that use what I gave you to better the world to better yourself and then you kept taken and became consumed with the love of money instead of the love of God. That is not accepted in this place. Micheal show them to the down hatch.

  37. I would also like to point out that Mark mentioned the extra offerings given beyond the 200 Million to W.M., but he failed to mention the rest of the tithe (85%) + offerings that stay in the local church (stateside.) If we add that to the 1.1 Billion given to the National & State offices, we now push the 1.1 Billion up towards 10 Billion $$ staying stateside.

    However, I believe the focus was administration fees & productivity verses administration fees & productivity, which DOES equal to comparing apples to apples. (Unfortunately, it is hard to compare all of the apples when only one apple stand seems to be open to the public.)

    And, NO…I’m not suggesting every dollar should go out of the states. I’m just trying to help balance Mark’s comment.

  38. I am getting confused. Answer me this, Are we a US church with just over 1 million members AND a World wide church with just under 6 million members, or are we one church with just less than 7 million members? Last time I checked we were one church. Also, we do not have a US national overseer, so our PB, Br. McGuire, who I truly believe to be one of the best we have had, is God’s man over all of us. Does that meen he and the rest of the EC and C18 are infallable, no. Do we need change in this church, yes. But we are, and should remain, one church.
    When we bring in new members, we ask them “will you be in subjection to those over you in the Lord?” the appropriate answer is “I will”. That applies to all of us. COGWM is part of that “all of us”. We can learn from the good that WM is doing, I would love to see a growth of 260.4% in my church. I am also sure that we can do better at helping and even teaching WM. In the mean time, could someone send part of those millions and millions of $$ my way, my church building needs serious structural help!

  39. John Edwards…that was great!

  40. John,
    I agree fully with you that we are one church. When we start seeing our church as “we” and “them” then we are in trouble. If one department is rejoicing we all rejoice is one is hurting we all hurt. The only thing I would like to see is more information on how we as a church are doing.

  41. Jim made some great points.He was there so was I.Both of us had a great heart for Russia..Jim and his family stayed in Moscow while the rest of us made long trips back and forth..Jim lived in a postage stamp apt..I visited him in that place and hats off forever to you Jim..
    But the problem was not money it was ego..For example..
    The World Missions Board met in Moscow so they could check it all out…
    Certain people wanted to “get the credit” for what was done.The egos came to the forefront all wanted to made headlines..
    Meanwhile Jim worked with others in the greatest field the COG had ever known..
    If we had been left alone we would have had scores of churches and untold amount of members…
    Instead most of what we had done went south,Jim’s effort was wasted and the church ended up with nothing..
    Our problem is an ego problem and until that is put under control by the Lord we will be short of what we need to be…

  42. Ron,

    I appreciate the kind words. I cherish my time living in Moscow. I’d like to add a little something, though. Trying to plant 15 churches in one day was a waste when we did not have trained pastors to take them over. Billy Graham crusade did the identical thing…and failed along with us. Thanks to Dieter Knospe, the ill-conceived idea and implementation of Strike Force did not keep ministry from taking place. Dieter took what remainded from those early relationships, tried to salvage them, and began to slowly build on them…not by offering money or prestige. He offered his hand. Many had already become accustomed to handouts and bolted. Others, like Sasha Abashin (Orel COG), stayed put and are doing a wonderful work. We now have a fine school, with a fine staff in Moscow. We have a fine network of churches all over the former Soviet Union. What I’m saying is… not all was lost, thank God! Remember, His Word will not return void. Ron, I hope to see you in San Antone.

  43. J.W. Church,

    Your post crosses way over the line. I’ve never posted to a web forum on our church before and only started because I understood that vital issues would be raised and discussed with honor.

    I did not start posting here to listen to people suggest that the men of God who lead our church are going to hell. Those are my brothers you are talking about- I ask you by the mercies of God to retract your post and assume a respectful tone.

  44. Just to make a point of clarity… My goal earlier was not to offend or suggest that we are not one body. Although the United Sates government is ONE government they do have different “branches.” That is the word I used earlier. I could use body part analogies like the hand telling the feet they would like to take over walking for a while, but that would sound too spiritual!

    I believe that I, as well as others, have stated previously that I/ we believe that men in our higher offices have God in their heart and truly want His Kingdom to advance. At times we all may have different ideas of what that means. I personally have many friends and family serving in some of those positions and believe in them. The truth is that those positions have much more weight than many of us would care to bear.

    However, one of the reasons why it is difficult to have forums like this one, is that if you say the wrong thing, people call you a hater or label you on a certain “side of the fence” where there really shouldn’t even be a fence. This can be done by throwing a rather large verbal BONE of praise in a different direction leaving the previous commentator left looking like he through a bomb.

    In other words, if someone speaks about a desire to restructure World Missions and the next guy says, “Well! I personally think Roland Vaughn is a great man of God!!!!” That attempts to slant the previous statement away from its original intent (of restructuring) to now sound like an attack of individual leadership, specifically Roland’s.

    In other words, I love and respect my overseer and have a good relationship with him. But please, do not remove my or any of our ability to speak freely on this forum with such a practice.

    Some of the things that I have gleaned, and hope others have learned, from this forum are:

    1. We can/ should be better informed prior to a General Assembly than in times past.
    (If we can get ALL of the information needed.)

    2. Crucial information is being denied on some but not all parts of the “system.”
    This seems to go against the will of the General Assembly. It is also interesting that the “branch” that stands to loose its funding, is the “branch” that is the MOST transparent.

    3. Although the General Assembly asked for a reduction in the general administrative infrastructure and expenditures (2004), we have yet to understand why in 2006 we, the General assembly, were only given a chance to remove the W.M. 2.5%. I think many would still like “to have that discussion” in 2008.

    4. The discussion from today is one of simple numbers. The higher “branch” (that wants to remove/ control the funding of the subordinate branch) does not have the productive numbers that the smaller “branch” does, nor the transparent disclosure that they do. Add that to an already damaged “trust” of said government and it doesn’t sit well with many.

    5. Hopefully this is one of the most important: I’ve found a place where dialogue can take place and light can be shed on it by other godly members of the Kingdom.

    Thank you again Travis and Pastor Tom for providing such a place!

  45. Jim-

    I affirm all that you have said. I watched the “Strike Force” fiasco pitched in the Executive Council, listened to Russian Bishops relate (in their native tongue) the effects, and observed Brother Knospe picking up the peices years later.

    Praise God for the faithful seeds you and others planted, the watering of Brother Knospe, and the harvest that Jesus alone can bring- we now have some wonderful churches in Russia and a great school to train future pastors.

  46. On 2nd thought…
    I just received another post that I missed earlier. The internet is slow here, and I just read what J.W. said and Jonathan’s rebuttal. Perhaps some of the comments were not directed to what I wrote.

    So, to repeat the thought my last lines:
    Please, lets keep this forum an open yet Godly and Redemptive place to cast light on some very pressing subjects.

  47. Jim…

    You are correct in so many areas..However the Ego thing was part of the problem…than and now…
    One of the reasons some of the churches made it.they were funded by a ministry..some to this day….
    I wish all that was done were known today,,,what I do know is that a host of souls were placed into the kingdom…like that KGB man in Red Square…I have used that day for a wonderful example of God saving them to the uttermost….
    WE must get self out of the way….until that happens we will never do what God has called us to do….

  48. Jim,
    I’m so glad that I finally realized who you are. You were one of the greatest helps to me in such a short amount of time. I had just returned from the mission field and was in a huge transition. We spoke while playing golf together. I don’t remember much of the game; I’m sure I lost. However, I do remember the conversation. You were very encouraging and offered great insight. Thank you!

    I am currently at a cross road, especially with Missions and the Church of God. I think that’s why this forum has become so important to me. I haven’t spoken much about the W.M. part here because I feared it would confuse the issue, but I’d really love to speak with you.

    My internet phone rings here in Ecuador. 817-764-0176.

    Blessings, Matt

  49. Matt,
    My intention was not to intimate that you said the wrong thing, or to slant what you said, or to make anyone question your loyalty or respect for our leaders. My intention is this, to remind everyone that we are one church. You used the US government as an example, so I will follow that line, like the government, we have one man, elected to serve guided by God, to lead all of this church, like the government, we have the EC, C18, Bishops, and other leadership to advise and balance, and like the government, we need to improve everything we are doing. (260% growth, how can we make it 300%) But unlike the government, we are all men of God who know how to listen to God and act on God’s direction.
    We all have opinions, and some differ, that is good. Prayer, love and Unity will get us through this GA stronger and more unified than ever.

    If I offended, I am sorry, that was not my desire. If I presented a different perspective and caused one person to think a little more about our direction, then my big mouth, or over extended keyboard have served.
    Love and grace
    your fellow servant
    John

  50. P. S.
    This forum is helping me form my thoughts.
    At the 2006 GA, I was fully in favor of the realignment as writen. Now, after listening to everyone on this forum, agreeing with some, disagreeing with others, and sometimes just shaking my head in disbelief, my mind is open to several options. This is a big topic, and I just pray that we can see a resolution this time arround.
    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. . .even the head shakers! LOL

  51. Matt,

    I remember you. Isn’t Darryl O. your father-in-law? Am I mistaken? My e-mail is chambgang@yahoo.com. Write me. I will try and call you soon. God bless! JC

  52. I do not understand what is going on about world mission. I do know I gave $1000.00 in help build a church in Peru and now the pastor or church are in the Church of God, they never did build the church. Every time I ask what happen, our mission rep just look at me and say, You would not understand, it really complicated. I don’t understand or want to believe the rich gods in Cleveland miss used the mission money.

    Is there a simply answer?
    In His Work, Edwin Long

  53. Let me first bring clarity. My “conversation with Jesus” IS NOT to imply that someone is going to hell that is or has been on the EC. After rereading my post I see how that could been seen that way. But that is not my call now or never, that is solely at the discretion of the Creator of Heaven to choose who enters. I was trying to use a little humor thus the “Michael show them the down hatch” part that we need to make sure we do not lose focus at the true task at hand with is being good stewards.

    What I am stressing is that we are discussing the difference in the souls reached using money. And that we can shift our focus from the Love of God to the Love of Money before WE realize it. Jesus paid the whole price to win a soul…HIS LIFE!!! HE gave freely…yet we seem to sometimes bicker over what WE send to WM or Cleveland or wherever and yet the reason that the stateside Church is not growing is because WE allow other churches on OUR district to struggle with a bivocational Pastor when in reality we could help and strengthen the entire COG by supplementing their income.

    Example: Seven churches on the district, two churches in need of full time Pastors. The other five churches give some to help offset the cost of operation including salaries of Pastors to the two churches that is giving to State Mission and Evangelism at its root.

    Now one other thing. I will hold to the comment that God will not tolerate people to enter into heaven if they love money more than they love God regardless of what position they hold within a church, corporation, or civil organization.

  54. It is late please put a comma between “two churches and that is giving” so that it reads “two churches, that is giving”

    Thanks

  55. A less complicated query:

    From 1966-2006 COG local churches have sent 1.3 BILLION dollars to State, General, Evangelism and Home Missions, and World Missions.

    During that 40 year window $1.1 BILLION were spent on stateside ministry and administration…and $200 million was spent by World Missions.

    What is your opinion of the stewardship (fruitfulness) of the respective dollars spent?

  56. Tom

    May I ask how 200 mil was spent by WM and 1.1 spent by stateside. If my late night math is correct that is 15% percent of the total spent by WM correct. I thought that WM only got 2.5%.

    Also, Tom if that question is geared toward me. I would refer back to the five for 300 million and the seven for 6.6 billion. But then I would like to say that the Administrative Bishop is suppose to be over the entire organization including WM. So say four for 300 million. That is still a little lopsided.

  57. Currently: If your church has $100 in tithe money

    5% ($5) is sent to General Headquarters
    5% ($5) is sent to State Headquarters
    2.5% ($2.50) sent to EHM
    2.5% ($2.50) sent to COGWM

    Total $15.00
    $2.50 is about 16.6% of $15.00
    The 2.5% to COGWM is, as you stated, about 15% (or 16.6%) of the total mandatory contribution sent in.

    The percentage of overall dollars will be slightly less for the 40 year window I submitted due to the fact that prior to 1974 COGWM received 2.5% and General and State received 10% each…followed by an incremental decrease from 1974 to 1990.

  58. Thank you John for your reply. I too am enjoying this dialogue and looking for some good men to shine some light on things for me.

    I’m currently packing up to move my family out of a country that I love this weekend. There are tons of decisions facing me right now, and to be honest, I just want things to go well (breakthrough) this G.A.

    If the denominational “loose ends” could be tide up, I’d feel a lot more comfortable about trekking around the world with my family under their umbrella.

  59. I’m a bit wary of trying to compare things on a soul-to-dollar ratio because it can be a case of comparing apples with bananas.

    Ministry is different in different places and costs vary wildly because of economic conditions. For example, in some countries you can support a pastor for a month for $100 and build a church property for $20,000. In Ireland $100 won’t even cover my gasoline for two days and land costs over $1 million per acre.

    Also, there are parts of the world where the harvest is ripe. In some parts of Africa all you have to do is stand on the street and shout out the Gospel and a crowd will gather and there will be some converts. In an atheist stronghold like Prague, however, winning even one soul is a lengthy and costly process.

    So, comparing the amount of souls won per dollar in Rwanda, Ireland & the Czech Republic might be interesting, but it would reveal little about efficiency.

    Where we can compare is with other missions organisations and denominations. I haver heard repeatedly that, in terms of bang per buck, Church of God World Missions is producing more souls per dollar than any other church movement.

    I am sure there are areas where WM needs to improve as no large organization runs perfectly. However, the best people to implement such improvements are those who know about missions and understand missions.

    The accusation that WM is, on a whole, wasteful is, in my opinion, untrue. The claim that all of the 2.5% is spent in Cleveland is a blatant untruth.

  60. Nick is absolutely right regarding souls/dollars equations.

    There are seasons of harvest- and we are called to enter not only into the harvest of others (which is what happens when we race to the latest “hot zone”), but also to be faithful in pioneering where the souls are hardened and the ground unyeilding. Some of the greatest missionary stories are those where a person labored for 10, 15, even 20 years with virtually no results and then “boom”, all those faithful seeds start breaking out of the ground and its harvest time.

    It is at this breaking point that we all want to have a part. Then “Promo Missionaries” show up with the cameras to claim souls by the hundreds and thousands. Also, dollars are easy to find because we utilize the “soul/dollar equation” and things just add up to sending our dollars where we can get the most “bang for the buck.”

    Now, it would be cynical to imagine that the majority of us come at Missions this way- Church of God people by and large DO NOT.

    Sincere Church of God pastors and churches truly want to see lost people find Jesus- and sacrifice to give to build churches they will never worship in and support ministers who they may never meet- this is a true “Body miracle,” and I pray God’s richest blessings on everyone who gives like this to reap a ripe harvest field.

    Also, there are people who God calls into areas where harvest season has broken out because “the harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.” This is true of me in going to Bulgaria and Jim in going to Russia, for example. We know, or at least learn very quickly, that it is not “our” harvest- we have the honor of meeting the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who labored faithfully under persecution, betrayal, and little fruit for decades- these are the heroes of the harvest.

    (Unless of course you believe the hype we listened to several years ago: “Strike Force: a team of highly-trained specialists establishing a beachhead for the Gospel in Russia. 100 churches in 100 days!”) I’m still waiting for the “Strikers” to publish their book, “I Was Wrong.”

    For me, it raised my faith to walk with honest-to-God apostles who had planted dozens of churches and it instilled in me a passion for the purity of the Missions endeavor. I asked God, “grow my faith to become a planter,” and this is what lead us to plant new works in Bulgaria and then travel to Prague, the atheist stronghold of Europe, to join others, like Nick, who have labored to plant the seeds for the revival that is coming to Europe.

    I need to get on the road to get to my Missions service in Louisville, but before I take off, let me share with you how I’ve seen Missional harvest come in with this Kingdom equation:

    In September of 1991, the National Overseer of the Church of God in Bulgaria sent me to pastor a small home group in Kustendil, Bulgaria. I arrived to find 15 divided people, roughly into two groups. To make a long story short in 7 month’s time the church I planted out of this group grew to 300 in the mother church and we planted two satellites of 100 each. BUT- that is not the story.

    The story is that when we began to grow I found out that an apostle had come to that city 30 years before and preached the gospel. He had been arrested 6 times and finally forbidden to ever enter the city again. One of the 15 people who was there when I came was a convert of this man’s sowing- a home group of a handful of people met in her home for 30 years before I came…30 years!

    I found the apostle who had planted the seeds (then in his 70s) and brought him to the church on Sunday. I stood him before the church and “gave honor to whom honor is due,” and then, as the people stood and applauded, I whispered in his ear, “this is your harvest.”

    He wept, I wept- we all celebrated. He spoke a few words of encouragement and then sat down. I went to him and said, “Uncle (term of respect) Boris, please preach.” He said, “now is not my time, it is your time. It is enough for me that I have seen with my eyes what my spirit beheld.”

    “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” I Cor. 3:6-9

    Blessings…

  61. Thank you for that Story, Jonathan!

    I can’t wait to use it! 😉

    –Matt

  62. Jonathan and Nick Park are right in what they are saying. Writing from a very difficult country as it is Italy, I cannot agree on this souls/dollars equation. When you live in a place where religions, witchcraft, atheism, money-business, etc. are what people live on and look for, evangelism is slow and painful. (and you cannot just enjoy the beautiful land with its historical places, bla bla bla…). Any soul coming to Jesus is a victory and not money matter. We, as other evangelical churches in Italy, are sowing, praying, hoping …to see revival but it takes time… and maybe another generation? If I had to follow this line of thought, looking back at last 30 years work of COG in Italy, and seeing just few good results-few churches and missions planted, must we say that we failed in our ministry? Did we waste our time and God’s money? Of course, I thank God for WM. Brother LeRoy and brother McClung (that I know) gave us first and foremost trust,
    then support and not just financially. With this I’m not denying changes as needed, but there must be changes that help to improve our outreach for the Kingdom.

  63. Domenico,

    Thank you for sharing. I think the souls to dollars comparison is a comparison that is natural to arrive at and well stated, especially when we are being asked to eliminate funding for World Missions so that our local churches can experience much needed financial relief.

    Let’s get the relief without achieving it solely on the back of 100% of the only denominationally mandated funds. We want the cut. We don’t want to injure our missions reach globally to arrive at it.

  64. Has anyone stopped to ask why we are even having this discussion?

    Why is it that again, the local church is being put in the position where we have to choose between a reduction and a defunding of mission, a consolidation of power, and a removal of 100% of mission mandates on the denominational level?

    Is anyone participating on MissionalCOG.com prepared to say that if they were the only one responsible for coming up with a reduction of fees agenda item, your conclusion would be to eliminate 100% of our mission mandates on a denominational level?

    Tom Sterbens?

    Jonathan Augistine?

    Jon Stone?

    Tom Rosson?

    Bill Isaacs?

    Nick Park?

    Jerry Lawson?

    Matt Jett?

    Jim Chamberlain?

    John Edwards?

    JW Church?

    Edwin Long?

    Ron Zimmer?

    Don Warrington?

    Kevin Wallace?

  65. I still don’t see this as cutting 100% of the WM funds, no one is talking about shortchanging WM, but everyone seems to fear shortchanging WM.
    I am against anything that will harm ministry, but as it stands now, small churches and their pastors ARE getting short changed. Is it right, or fair to require me to send money to help build someone else’s church, when I need help with mine? No it is not, even though I would send it anyway.
    My 2.5% comes to about $100 a month. Many of you think that $100 is poket change, but in a small rural church some months that could mean running a + or – balance, yet we have to send $100 even if it means being late with other expences, including payroll.
    The problem is not the money, it is the mandate. And often that $100 comes out of my salary.

  66. Trav –

    For me… if we were to eliminate missions, we are eliminating THE mission…not possible, unthinkable.

  67. John –

    This discussion shows the precarious position that we face. We are forced into a ‘lose / lose’ situation, if the agenda item remains the same. If we vote for the cut, we hurt WM. If we don’t vote for the cut, we hurt the local church. This is not a good place to be (in my humble opinion).

  68. John Edwards,

    I’ve never said anything about a removal of 100% of the WM funds. I said:

    “a removal of 100% of mission mandates on the denominational level”

    In one agenda item, we are removing the mandates that govern the spending of the 2.5% WM budget and the 2.5% EHM budget. Therein lies the question. If the decision was yours to come up with a cut, which as you’ve so excellently illustrated the need for, is this what you would come up with?

  69. If the information that I had indicated that WM is where a cut would be the least dammaging, then yes that is where I would make the cut. The same goes for any other department in the church.
    That is how I see this issue. We have demanded that people fund missions wheather they can afford to or not. God does not put more of a burden on anyone than they can bear. So why should the church?
    If you are able to give more and don’t, you are in sin. If you are required to give more than you are able, how can you be a chearful giver?

  70. PS
    From the figures that I have seen in the Mins of the GA and on this forum, and I do not claim to be a financial brain, it appears to me that WM is the department that will be harmed the least by a cut. Will it hurt YES, will it devistate, NO. Will it solve all of our issues, NO. Can we save money by cutting administration, YES, Can we sell it. . . .

  71. John, I agree that we need to cut the amount of money spent on administration – and that is where the comparison between what is sent to World Missions and what is sent to State Offices & International Offices really comes into play.

    Quite simply, administrating the 1 million Church of God members in the US costs four times as much as it does to administrate the 6 million members who live outside the US.

    Now we are being asked to cut the mandated giving to World Missions in order to reduce wasteful administration. Do you see why many of us have a problem with that?

  72. Not the giving, the mandate. WM should be opperated, like every other division of the church, out of the tithe and FREE WILL OFFERING. Don’t order me to give more than I am able to give. Will you cut your salary to repair my building? That is exactly what I am expected to do for WM.

  73. John, Now let me see if I understand your position. Since WM manages it’s finances so efficiently and they HAVE so much LESS funding and yet, DO so much MORE let’s take funds away from them put it in the hands of the top heavy, free spending and sometimes power hungry leadership at International Offices. Wow! Is that what you are saying?

    Punishing the successful doesn’t sound right to me. Lets just fix what is broken and leaving alone or fine-tune what doesn’t need to be fixed.

    Job’s troubles didn’t cease until he turned his thoughts away from his own suffering and started praying for his friends. Likewise, the fastest way to grow your own church is to make it a Missions-minded church and start freely giving.

    Pastors, if you have found that giving generously to missions has made a difference in your own church, I would like to hear your testimony.

  74. Nick — great and simple summation.

    John — 1. What financial data have you seen from the G.A. or from this forum that have suggested a 100% cut from the W.M. budget would cause the LEAST amount of harm?
    2. One of the problems is that we’d ALL like to see the rest of the data.
    3. A serious question to you and everyone else:

    If you were given some real choices, Like:
    a. change the 15% down to 10% straight across the board, and let every department share in the cut.
    b. Cut 100% of only World Missions
    c. Cut 100% of only Benevolence ministries including Widows, orphans, retired ministers, etc…
    d. Cut 100% of only Home Missions.
    e. Cut 100% of _______________.

    Which would you choose?

  75. J James,
    I do have a story for you:

    A growing church wanted to start a building program. They didn’t have very much money, and they were given an estimate of $100/ foot. That church told the contractor that they’d do it themselves, but were then told it would still be way over $50/ foot. They replied, “We have to do it for less than that!”…the contractor laughed!

    The church decided they would START the building program by inviting a missionary and taking up a missions offering, before the ever began taking up building offerings. They gave that missionary close to $4,000 to go to China. They built close to 10,000 sq/ft for only $15/ foot. Their faith offering brought the $1,000,000 down to $150,000.

    I believe that story because I was that missionary!

    Although many out there may be tempted to select (a) from my question above, or (e) and fill in your own blank….

    What would it be like if someone DARED to stand up and say, “Let’s Double our Tithes!” Or “Let’s doulbe our World Missions giving, and see if GOD can’t get us out of this mess!”

    I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve have actually been to the place where I was about to have to come home from the mission field, and have given an extra tithe in the amount of money that I needed. And, what a surprise! Out of nowhere God sent what I needed.

    As a missionary, I have way too many stories to tell. I’ll see how this one goes before I say anything else.

  76. Can I remove the ‘ve or one of the “have” words from above.
    I should have used grammmmmar check. 😦

  77. Again, and again, and again, I will say it. Mandated giving is not free and chearful giving. And taking some from WM is not taking all from WM, I have said many times, that I don’t support hurting WM. And I don’t think our leaders, in International offices or WM are greedy or power hungry in general. And I saw the same figures that you saw in the 2006 GA Mins. If I am mistaken, sorry, but that is my perception, THAT DOESN’T MEAN I WANT TO SHUT DOWN WM. Far from it. If we all gave more and griped less there would be plenty of money to go arround. I am still adamantly against the mandate.

    Just one thought, J James, for expressing my financial concerns as the giver, I am faithless, that is what your Job illistration says, basically if I will quit whining and give more my finances will be blessed. And yet WM is faithfull for doing the same thing as the receiver?
    I AM NOT AGAINST WM AND I DON’T THINK THAT WM IS AGAINST THE SMALL LOCAL CHURCH! In the end we are ONE CHURCH. THERE IS NOT THEM AND US.

    No, making WM eat the entire cut is not fair, and I am not saying that, we need to cut across the board, including WM. But mandated giving is not fair either. Everyone seems to think that the local church is an endless fountain of funds that can be tapped at will. There truly is a point where people have just given all that they can give. That is not whining, that is hard reality.

    WM is very successful, praise God, but there are other areas of the church that are not as successful. We need to focus some of our efforts and $$ on those areas. Go back to a prior example, the 260% increase in international membership. No one will argue how great that is. Now how do we get that success rate in the local church. Yes missions giving is part of the answer, Yes God blesses a chearful giver. But giving is not the full answer. We need support at the local level.
    If the US church starts to decline, where will the WM money come from?

    You see, I do believe that giving is key to any church growth. I want to give freely and biblically. Mandated missions giving is neither. Also, giving out of obligation instead of freedom always brings less. Give us credit for being men and women of God. Lift the mandate and let us truly show what the CoG is made of. Some will disapoint you, but most will surprise you with their giving.

  78. John,

    Thank you again for your comments. I agree with your statement:
    “No, making WM eat the entire cut is not fair, and I am not saying that, we need to cut across the board, including WM.”

    I believe that to be one of the biggest points here.

    Please believe me when I say that I hope you get the needed relief for your local church. I know for sure that the local church is NOT an endless fountain of funds, and have felt their losses way over here.

    I just want to see a reduction offered in a Godly, forthright, and informed (openly disclosed) manner.

    I truly pray that you and your church will receive blessings & relief from the Windows of Heaven…God’s resources!

  79. John,
    BTW — What other departments represented in the 15% are NOT “mandated” offerings?

  80. The present mandate is that World Missions receives 1/6th of the mandatory funds from local churches. That budget and our commitment is insulated against tough times and the temptation that tough times would present which would allow the General Church to use 1/6th of those monies to offset the pain experienced in the 1/3rd of the General Church budget.

    What happens when our states face tough times? We dip into the 1/6th designated funds for Home Missions, which are mandated to be spent on “new field work and in case of AN emergency, small church assistance.”

    If past behavior is any indication of future behavior, which it is the BEST indicator, I will have to excuse myself from believing that the General Church will protect World Missions funding. Instead, what is likely is that World Missions funding will be reduced as has the Youth Department, Evangelism Department and all of the other departments under the oversight of the General Church.

    Therefore, I don’t trust the General Church to steward the mandated missions giving. The states, which are under the direct appointment of the Executive Committee have utterly failed in the distribution of the EHM funds. They have failed, over decades now, to comply with the mandate of our highest governing body to spend these monies purely on mission.

    Under a unified budget and under the banner of “trust me,” we have no guarantees.

    JDWYSYWD – Just Do What You Said You Would Do.

    Spend it like you said you would spend it. Inspire us to trust you again. Establish a track record of following the mandates of the General Assembly before you ask us to give up the mandates that protect the Mission of Jesus in the COG on the denominational level. The past indicates that it needs to be protected.

  81. J James,

    Several years ago, I pastored a larger church (consistently in the top 10 – 15 of that particular state) that begrudged anything to WM above the mandated 2.5% and it never had a surplus of funds. This particular church (composed of some very good people and some who had the potential of being good 🙂 ) was primarily concerned with the local congregation, which may or may not include the pastor.

    I left there and went to a smaller church that had built several church buildings around the world. It had about half the people of the larger church, but ran about the same in finances. Its parsonage was four times the size of the larger church and considerably nicer — they took care of their pastor.

    We usually gave the largest (or 2nd largest) WM offering in the state, until two progressive pastors came in and caught the vision of WM giving. CD and RH, if you are reading this, thanks for taking that distinction from me 🙂 One year, we gave the most per member of any congregation in the denomination.

    I never had to stand up and raise money for any church bills. The money was always there.

    We heard of one bi-vocational pastor in Romania who was pastoring five congregations and trying to finish a building. The congregation voted 100% to empty our building fund and send it to him. We replaced the money (and more) in 6 months without taking up a single offering for the building fund. When I left, the church had six times the surplus that they did when I arrived. They received God’s remuneration for their faithfulness.

    One of the highlights of my ministry was meeting this Romanian pastor at the GA. He grabbed me and hugged me and cried — as did I — and through an interpreter thanked me for helping him finish that building. I have rarely been so humbled as at that moment.

    I know giving to WM brings the blessings of God — I’ve experienced it.

    IMHO, taking the cut solely from WM is very short-sighted. Sometimes we get what we ask for, but not what we expect….

    Keith

  82. Matt Jett and Keith Whitt:

    Thank you for your missions giving stories that are a refreshing break from the business at hand. We need to remember the mandate of the great commission. We are blessed when we are obedient to the Word.

    I hope other’s will take the time to give their testimony as well.

  83. just a question how much will COG spend to have general assembly or is that burden on WM also?

  84. This topic is enflamed enough without adding sarcasm to the mix.
    GA is expensive, no doubt about that, but it is also important. We must have a forum for debate and governance, that is the way the CoG was founded, and I think it is the best way. That is why some of us are asking the CoG to spend more money and make GA voting available on-line, we are also willing to pay the registration fee for the privilage.

  85. i did not mean to offend i just think there are other ways to give back to the local church other than cutting monies to WM they need every penny they receive and from what i have read the one department in the COG that is making it work is the one that is going to get attacked and it is not right they are being good stewards

  86. […] financial findings I submitted in the “Souls for sale…cheap” article/post was simply a comparison of dollars received into the various funds from the […]

  87. Tom,

    I asked this question on another forum and this is my first time here, but there was another proposal that was denied by WM. for us to say that no other proposal was given is simply not true.

    The proposal was simply this:
    100 tithe
    5% to General headquarters
    5% to State Headquarters

    The difference as you pointed out is this.
    General Headquartes would still receive their 5% and WM would receive a third of that 5%. The 2.5 would be eliminated on state and general.
    In essence here it is on the 100.00 tithe given to headquarters:
    WM would go from $2.50 to 1.66
    General Headquarters : from $5.00 to $3.34.

    I am aware that WM would be World Global Evangelization, but this would get rid of the 2.5% to state in which we all agree is very unnecessary.

    This cut allowed everyone to take a cut and get us to a place where we have to work together instead of at war with one another.

  88. Chris,

    The proposal I have which has the numbers you’ve recorded has the words “World Evangelization” and was first presented in April of 2007.

    For reasons I listed on Actscelerate regarding the uncertain distribution of funds to “World Missions” as one of the sub-departments of “World Evangelization”…the proposal was rejected by the leadership of World Missions.

    World Missions has agreed to the shared cut from the beginning and has even submitted taking less than 1.66% and it was rejected.

  89. Chris, the present arrangement is supposed to be:
    5% to International Offices
    5% to State Offices
    2.5% to Evangelization within the US
    2.5% to World Missions

    The proposed arrangement (apparently rejected by WM):
    3.34% to International Offices
    5% to State Offices
    1.66% to cover both Evangelization within the US & World Missions. (If split equally that makes 0.83% each!)

    So, under that arrangement the State Offices receive no cut.
    International Offices are cut by one third.
    World Missions is cut by two thirds.
    US Evangelization is cut by two thirds.

    That makes no sense to me whatsoever. It would, however, speak volumes as to our commitment to evangelization both inside and outside the US.

    A much more sensible arrangement would be to remove the extra 5% and then then allocate the 10% as follows:
    3.34% to International Offices
    3.34% to State Offices
    1.66% to World Missions
    1.66% to US Evangelization & Church Planting

    Everyone takes a cut of one third (assuming that the 2.5% for US evangelization has previously been used for its stated purpose).

    Nick Park

  90. Although, late to the discussion about COG World Missions, I am pleased with the comments made by the previous bloggers. World Missions has always been the best to use what it has had to do what it has done. As a missionary with the organization for many years, I feel they have achieved many outstanding goals with the economic resources it has had.

    However, today, World Missions faces the challenge of re-tooling itself for the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the circumstances of today. This means it must look at new horizons for reaching those who have not had the Gospel, find ways to use it’s resources better, We can congratulate the outreach, but what about those who have not heard.

    In reading a book about reaching the Middle East over 500 million Middle Easterners have not heard. Most are Muslim and will reject the Gospel at first. Those that do will face harsh persecution, and perhaps death. Yet, can the Church ignore them? Must we forsake Israel to win Muslims?

    I believe that World Missions has accomplished great things of the past, but if it is to make greater strides for the future it must be committed to strategic targets and partner with those that are reaching in those areas.

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