Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three Charges Laid Against Me

Several days ago, a person whom I've considered to be a friend for more than 30 years--AND WHOM I STILL CONSIDER TO BE A FRIEND--accidentally sent me an email intended for another couple.

S/he is a reader of this blog and was sending a link to my INSTEAD OF ANOTHER WORKSHOP... post to the other people. The note included three comments about how I have responded to the credentials thing...

...and also suggested that I'm not mentally well.

I responded and I'm going to address the perceptions here because they may represent what others are thinking.

(I'm doing all I can to preserve the anonymity of the person who kicked this off.)


1. I haven't returned my credentials because I refused to accept delivery of the ERC's certified letter.

This is not true.

The truth is that, only after I whined to the ERC Commission on Church Renewal that, months after Conference sessions, I still had not heard anything from the Conference, a notice that a certified letter was awaiting me at the Denver post office appeared in my mailbox.

I did not pick it up.  That charge certainly is true.

The truth is that I have not returned my credentials because they have, to my knowledge, not been recalled.

Everyone who holds credentials in the CGGC is bound, by WE BELIEVE and the STATEMENT OF FAITH, to submit to the Bible as their only rule of faith and PRACTICE. All of us with CGGC credentials are required to PRACTICE...ONLY what the Word teaches.

The Word is clear about how conflict should be handled among followers of Jesus. And, as a member of the Eldership, I expect other CGGC elders to submit to the authority of the Word.

In fact, I DEMAND it.

Nothing else will satisfy me.

It seems to me that the ERC, these days, operates as a legal corporation, not as the Body of Christ. Nothing in CGGC Faith documents justices the behavior of ERC staff.

And, I won't accept it.

The rumored action against my credentials is against MY credentials. I believe therefore, I have a right to demand biblical obedience in this matter pertaining to ME.

I will settle for nothing less.

CGGC leaders adopted the "only rule of faith and practice" language. I did not. It's up to them to submit to it.


2. I had previously said that, if the Conference in session recalled my credentials, I would return them.

Same answer, sort of.

I don't know anything about the recall of my credentials.

In addition, though, while, according to reports, ERC mountaintoppers were FORCED to address the status of my credentials on the Conference floor, it would be hard to argue that mountaintoppers were biblical in dealing with me.

Whatever else was said and done, I still have no idea what charges I am facing. I still have no idea according to the Word, or under CGGC polity, what I am accused of doing wrong.


3. I'm now saying that the General Conference will have to recall my credentials.

Honestly, I don't know where this charge came from. I can't imagine what I might have written here that could have led to this conclusion.

For the record: I know that my ordination came from the ERC.

It may happen, in time, that wisdom may demand that the General Conference meditate due to the nature of the charges I'm raising against the ERC.

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I learned years ago, after I began to try to live faithfully according to what I believe to be my calling to be a prophet, that, in the CGGC, there is a ton of gossip passed on about me and that a lot of derogatory remarks are spoken and written about me...behind my back.

People who remain my friends hear them and pass some of them on to me.

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I write this here to clarify the truth.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Instead of another Workshop, Why not Submit to our Mission Statement?

I submit to authority, even an authority whose wisdom I question.

I believe that the tension that exists between the mountaintoppers of the CGGC and me is related to my ability to submit to an authority which they all defy.

The highest earthly authority in the CGGC is not the General Conference Executive Director and his staff. The highest earthly authority in the CGGC is the General Conference in session.

In 2010, the General Conference in session declared this to be the mission of the CGGC:

As witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to make more and better disciples by establishing churches on the New Testament plan and proclaiming the gospel around the world. 

This sentence is, in my opinion, a diabolically clever twisting of Church of God mission announced by John Winebrenner at the first Eldership meeting in 1830.

Winebrenner declared that the first focus of the Church of God was the conversion of sinners and that, when men or women repent, the Church of God organizes them according to the pattern described in the New Testament.

Since 2010, the General Conference in session has determined that the end of what we do is making more and better disciples and that the CGGC uses two methods to make disciples:

1. Establishing churches on the New Testament plan, and,
2. Proclaiming the gospel around the world.

As I said in my first sentence, I question the wisdom of the revision of Winebrenner's vision.  But, here's the thing:

I submit to the authority of the highest earthly authority in the CGGC. I set the making of disciples as my ultimate goal and I begin by organizing what I do in ministry, as best I can, according to "the New Testament plan."

I do that to live in harmony with the CGGC community. Sadly, it feels to me as if I submit alone.

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When people have passed on to me the, still unsubstantiated, rumor that the ERC removed my credentials last spring, I normally ask what the charge is that was leveled against me and no one has been able to answer that question but they do talk about the suggestion that I am guilty of criticizing leadership.

If, that is the charge, I absolutely deny it.

The truth is that, since 2010, when I have been at odds with Ed Rosenberry, for instance, or Lance or Kevin Richardson or, say, Dave Williams in the ERC, it has been because I have been DEFENDING the leadership of the Eldership when members of the hierarchy have defied it and, usually, because they are not, in my opinion, following the New Testament plan. 

And, that is what I am doing now.

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The truth is that the highest earthly authority in the CGGC has spoken. The goal of all that we do is to make more and better disciples.

And, according to the highest earthly authority in the CGGC, we perform two activities in order to achieve our goal of making more and better disciples:

1. We establish ourselves on the New Testament plan, and,
2. We proclaim the gospel.

So, why is General Conference staff promoting a workshop on discipleship and mission?  I can see no reason to have that workshop AT THE MOMENT.

As I've said previously, I expect that the material contained in the workshop will be good.

But, I prophesied, and I will repeat myself, the workshop won't make a difference in the CGGC because we need to change ourselves before we can be effective in changing what we do.

We need to submit to the authority of the Eldership and make establishing ourselves according to the New Testament plan our first activity in seeking our goal of making more and better disciples.

Or, of course, we can ask the Eldership to redefine it definition of our mission.

After we've worked ourselves toward that goal, if Lance suggests that, in order to refine our New Testament identity, we should look to 3DM for training in discipleship and mission, I'd listen. I'm certain that all of us would.

But, clearly, we are not living in obedience to our own earthly authority and the Lord will not bless this and the majority of our people will be cynical about it and see it as nothing more than our hierarchs following another fad that will soon be abandoned for a newer, shinier bandwagon.

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One other note about our highest earthly authority. As I've said, I question its wisdom.

Yet I submit to it.

If I'd been given the chance, I would have voted against the Mission Statement. But, I submit to it nevertheless.

On the other hand, our hierarchs pay lip service to the Mission Statement, yet they have been defying it from the moment it was approved.

How can we possibly think that the Lord will bless them, or us?

We must repent.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Oh Great. Another Workshop!

What follows is some thoughts about Lance's February 17, 2017 eNews.

In this one, Lance addresses the reality that most churches, particularly CGGC churches, are not making disciples even though it is widely understood among Evangelicals that it is our purpose to make disciples.

Lance refers to the CGGC annual Ministry Review form which has a section that raises the question of how well a congregation is making disciples.

Lance notes, with chagrin, that many CGGC congregations that claim to be making and mentoring disciples claim to do so because, as he says, "Our doors are open."

Lance argues against that line of thinking by pointing out that a worship service is not a disciple making tool.

And, while I would not agree with Lance in terms of the make up and purpose of our gatherings here at Faith, I agree with Lance in terms of what a typical CGGC congregation's worship service is.

On the other hand though, in suggesting that a worship service is not a disciple making tool, Lance is arguing against established CGGC wisdom that has been in place for nearly 30 years and, as far as I know, still stands.

The latest statement from CGGC leadership on what discipleship is dates from the early 1990s and leadership's goal:

MORE AND BETTER DISCIPLES: 35,000 in Worship by 2000

So, while I agree with Lance in his frustration, I can't take issue with the people in CGGC congregations who claim to be making disciples by having open doors. To a degree, I feel sorry for the churches Lance criticizes. They're simply following a long-established CGGC game plan.

Lance, nor any one else in the CGGC hierarchy, has supplied our churches with any other definition of what a disciple is since the 20th century!

I'll say this to the men and women on the peaks of the CGGC mountain: The discipleship ball is in your court. This problem is not a problem for the churches to solve.

It's time for you to step forward on the issue of truth. Give our churches some truth that they can sink their teeth into!

You need to supply our people with a concrete definition of who a disciple is and what a disciple does that replaces the false definition the mountaintoppers of the last century provided.

And, here, I think, is a big picture problem we have:

The people in our hierarchy will not challenge the ways, or the thinking, of the past.

Until they do, they will not lead change.

We need you, Lance, to lead us to a different definition of discipleship, one that is built on the teachings and way of Jesus.

We don't need you to chastise churches who are simply being faithful to our vision that has been long-established and widely praised.

It's not enough for you to chastise people because they are living faithfully according to the unchallenged definition of disciple-making from the last century.

So, while I agree with Lance, I can't help but feel compassion for the people he, well really, attacks. They are innocent victims of a failed theology created by the last CGGC generation.

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A comment on the title of this blog post:

At the end of Lance's article, he encourages attendance at workshops in the ERC and, later, in the Midwest, on "Discipleship and Mission" conducted by 3DM.

I'll make two predictions about the workshop.

1. The material will be good.

2. It will fail to bring change in the CGGC because we need to change who we are before we can put useful knowledge into action.

When I came into the East Pennsylvania Conference 40 years ago, the hierarchy was always thinking that having the right workshop will solve our problems. It never has. It won't this time.

We need to change in our hearts.

We must repent.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lance's Awesome, Awesome, Awesome eNews: February 10, 2017

If you haven't read it yet, you need to find and read it.

Lance wrote it having recently returned from a trip to Asia a CGGC mission field. Lance didn't name the specific country due to the possibility that persecution may arise if he was specific enough that individuals he mentions could be identified.

Lance describes a vital, Spirit-blessed ministry through which people are being converted into disciples of Jesus and living, to use the words of Jesus, as salt and light in the world.

And, he devotes some space to describing the people who are being used by the Lord to plant the Gospel into the hearts of people who had previously not repented and believed.

He says that in our world (in the CGGC USA) we might call these people evangelists or church planters. And, you probably would.

However, as Lance describes who these people are and what they do, in terms of the language of Jesus and of New Testament disciples, these people are apostles.

I've been clear on this blog that I have a very specific understanding of my calling. Part of my calling is:

"...to uproot and tear down and to destroy and overthrow the church's pastor dominated leadership culture and to build and to plant a servant community where apostles, prophets, evangelists and shepherds and teachers are all empowered to live within their callings..."

I am thrilled that Lance is describing, in the CGGC environment today, something that actually exists that bears an almost eerie resemblance to the prophetic vision the Lord has called me to build and to plant.

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Here is my prophetic word to my friends in the CGGC USA:

YOU WILL NEVER REVERSE THE DECAY THAT DEFINES EVERYTHING YOU DO UNTIL YOU COME TO HATE PASTOR-DOMINATED LEADERSHIP, FEEL SORROW OVER IT, REPENT OF IT, END IT AND EMPOWER APOSTLES, PROPHETS, EVANGELISTS AND SHEPHERDS TO LIVE WITHIN THEIR CALLINGS.

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What follows is not a prophecy but a suggestion based on my prophetic conviction:

Perhaps CGGC USA people should bring the people Lance met in Asia to us and empower them to live, temporarily, here as apostles on a foreign field to empower the sort of Kingdom-focused ministry that they and their people take for granted.

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Back to the prophecy.

We will never reverse our decline until we repent of pastor domination and empower apostles, prophets, evangelists and shepherds and teachers to live within their callings.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Report to My Commission

Here's a quick update on the decision of the ERC Administrative Council to provisionally sever ties with our people here at Faith.

Dave Williams did send an email to me recently in which he said that he'd reviewed my correspondence with George Jenson and that he stood by his assertion that I refused to supply the information requested by the Commission. 

I, then, sent to Dave a copy of an earlier email I sent to George in which I offered to do everything possible to create conditions in which genuine and productive dialog between the Commission and our community could take place. (George, to my stunned amazement, rejected that offer.)

Incidentally, I made that offer even though the Commission was attempting to set up a face to face meeting dealing with the status of my credentials with third parties when the Conference had not yet had that meeting with me. And, it still hasn't.

I added that I understand that Dave may not have seen the actual email but that, as the ERC Director of Congregational Care, I am certain that George told him about it.  (I may, at some point, copy that note here for the benefit of the members of my Commission.)

Since then, the Commission on Church Renewal has been mute.

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Here's where we are in the saga, as I understand it:

The Commission has explained that it decided that, under our polity, since I, the pastor at Faith had had my credentials removed, it needed to act. 

I have pointed out that, years before the rumored action against my credentials, I had resigned as the pastor of Faith and that, during those years, the Conference showed no concern at all about Faith not having a pastor.

I was not Faith's pastor when the rumored action against my credentials was taken. 

In fact, the only action the Conference took, to my knowledge, was to remove my name as pastor of Faith Community in its Directory.

I also pointed out that since Dave Williams is the staff person working with both the Commissions on Church Renewal and Church and Pastor that he, at least, knew that the story Renewal is telling is disconnected from fact.

And, I have pointed out that, here at Faith, we continue to embrace CGGC doctrine and to seek to carry out its Mission and Vision Statements and that we were doing that before I resigned as pastor and that we continue to do so to this day and in a way few ERC congregations, if any, do. 

But, and I don't say this facetiously, truth doesn't seem to stand in the way of the ERC when it wants to do something. 

The truth seems to be that the powers that be in the ERC are going to do what they want to do no matter what the truth is.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What is the WE in the CGGC?

My first comment on Lance's blog from February 3 (which is still available in the archive) addressed the issue of who the WE in HERE WE STAND really is.

I suggested that the two comments offered before mine proved that WE, the people of the CGGC, are not the WE of HERE WE STAND. I said that the comments demonstrate that WE don't stand here and that the document was foisted on the whole CGGC body by a few people.

The issue raised by the comments made before I made mine raise an important question about who WE really are.

In my opinion, there no longer is a WE in the CGGC.

In my opinion, the lack of the existence of WE became apparent in 2010, even to General Conference staff.

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In 2010, Ed Rosenberry the General Conference Executive  Director.

His staff and he were proposing an update of WE BELIEVE and CGGC credentialing standards and Ed and the General Conference staff scheduled meetings across the CGGC to receive feedback.

I attended one of those meetings. While I wouldn't say that meeting was contentious, it was spirited. One other person present at the meeting and I expressed concerns, especially about WE BELIEVE. Interestingly, one of the concerns, even back then, was on the use of the word WE.

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Anyway...

...In the end, WE BELIEVE was tabled in 2010 by the Ad Council and re-presented in 2013.

But, in 2013, it was not presented to the people of the body for face to face dialogue.

WE BELIEVE was subsequently approved by the Ad Council and the General Conference in session in 2013.

But, in my opinion, it was approved at the highest possible cost to the identity of the CGGC.

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Here is the meaning of what the people in Findlay actually did:

Between 2010 and 2013, the General Conference staff, the Ad Council and the General Conference in session changed the meaning of the word WE in the CGGC.

In doing so, they ripped apart what nearly 200 years of vigor in Winebrenner's movement had built and fed off of.

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From our first days, our body functioned as what theologians call a Presbytery, an Eldership. In this case, ours was an extremely democratic Eldership in which the voice of every Elder was sought and welcomed and respected and where it was taken for granted that the Holy Spirit speaks through the body, the Eldership, no matter how chaotic the process may be and no matter how patient the church may need to be in waiting for the body to reflect the work of the Spirit.

When, between 2010 and 2013, Winebrenner's commitment to giving voice to every elder was abandoned and the body, the community of Elders, was ignored in the creation of WE BELIEVE, the very essence of who we had always been, since the first Eldership meeting in 1830, was gutted.

Human leadership by a community of Elders, as our founders envisioned it, was cast on to the trash heap. From the perspective of human authority, a new head was placed on the CGGC body.

And a new WE was asserted.

(As far as I know, I'm the only one who noticed that, and squawked about it at the time and, as far as can tell, I may still be the only person who cares.)

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I will add one more thought which, I believe, is the most important thing I'll say in this post.

In my opinion, at the present time there is no longer a WE in the CGGC.

My guess is that the reason that Ed and his staff set aside our historic commitment to seeking and respecting the voice of every Elder and ignored the body in 2013 is that they knew that, if they sought feedback from Winebrenner's WE, it would become clear that there is no consensus in the body and WE BELIEVE would, again, not be revised.

In other words, they realized that there is no longer a WE in the CGGC.

But, rather work on the real problem, the lack of genuine community in the CGGC, they chose an easy solution and redefined the meaning of WE and, in effect, dismantled the vision of community that was at the core of Winebrenner's Spirit-led movement.

They dismantled human leadership by the CGGC community and put themselves in that place. They conducted a silent coup.

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Having said that, I'm certain that they were not thinking about any of this at the time. But, that is a meaning of what they did.

So, the WE in HERE WE STAND is not the WE Winebrenner envisioned. It's a faux we.

And, the CGGC's putrification continues.

We must repent.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The eNews Blog has Finally and Belatedly Published My Comments

I checked this morning and they are there.

A few thoughts about them:

I never keep a copy of what I enter there so the precise content of what I write is lost to me unless my comments are published.

Having just seen them again, I am happy with what I wrote. The first comment is very strong, even to me, but I still stand by it. The second comment contains the essence of what I believe the Spirit is telling me about why the Western church is in decline. It operates as an institution, not as a Spirit filled and driven body.

Why did it take so long for the comments to be entered?

Was there pressure created by me through my blog posts?

More cynically, I wonder if they waited until the day before the next article appears so what I wrote won't be easy to find for a very long time but, at the same time, the powers that be can't be accused of censorship.

I'll probably never know but I hope the deviousness of the mountaintoppers has not reaches that height.