Reminder: This blog is my personal opinion, hopefully informed by Scripture and the Holy Spirit, and is not affiliated with nor endorsed by any particular Church of God (COG).
Administration changes are never easy. I used to work in a place that underwent several reorganizations. They used to quip that they weren’t going to be part of the Reorg of the Month Club, but in reality that is pretty much what it became. It still ranks up there as one of the most stressful times in my life.
Change causes stress. Even positive changes, such as marriage or a new job, can cause a significant amount of stress. People need to be aware of that, and they need to take action to reduce the stress, or else the stress will control them.
Whenever changes happen, the rumor mill starts up, which fans the emotional fires. How do you reduce wild rumors amongst employees in an organization? How do you reduce the tension in such an atmosphere?
For one thing, you state the facts. “Just the facts, ma’am,” was a popular line on the TV show Dragnet. When you state the facts without opinions and without commentary, then it gives people something valuable to chew on. I have found that transparency goes a long way towards the morale of any group. Not providing transparency allows the fires to rage until the smoke becomes toxic.
Unfortunately, UCG has had a history of not disclosing a lot of things for “privacy concerns”. Justified or not, this will leave a lot of the emotional smoke burning in the eyes of everyone in the room. How else do you explain some of the reactions to the news? Given some of the events that have occurred in the past, I believe more could have been done to reassure the brethren rather than forcing them to come up with answers on their own.
However, this part really isn’t directed at the UCG leadership. While I would have anticipated concern about and even some criticism towards the organization, I certainly hope that some of them that are going as far as to not tithe to UCG really think it through before making such a decision. God has at times not only allowed but caused events to happen because they are His will, so I believe it would be helpful to prayerfully consider any reactions to recent events rather than allowing knee-jerk reactions to predominate.
Why address the membership first? Because no explanation of any type will ever be accepted nor objectively analyzed unless an objective attitude is in place. UCG membership has been promised more information in the future, but if cool heads do not prevail, it is for nothing, and may even be against the wishes of those whom they are purporting to “support”.
As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. It is evident from Scripture that our hearts need to be informed by our heads. While the facts have been few, there are facts we can look at. When emotions rule, problems seem much larger. Ancient Israel thought the Anakim made them look like grasshoppers in comparison, and so they were afraid to enter the Promised Land. I implore UCG members to not fall prey to such thinking.
With that in mind, I would like to turn on the fan so we can see past a few of the more emotional items:
1. First and foremost, it is evident that the 3 ministers resigned from their positions in order to promote unity within the organization. I would hope that everyone would honor this desire at least as long as they desire it.
2. Worldly corporations change leadership all the time. In the beginning of this article, I pointed out how I’ve been through one so tumultuous that even entire departments were changed around 3 – 4 times per year! The COG organizations aren’t used to this, seeing as HWA was Pastor General for about 50 years, and his successor a “short” 9 years.
3. The 3 ministers resigned from administrative positions within UCG. They did not resign from the ministry. Therefore, we must conclude that they didn’t do anything “wrong”. Furthermore, it is pure speculation as to whether or not the COE did anything “wrong”, seeing as all 3 of them seem content to stay on.
4. According to Wikipedia, Clyde Kilough was the longest standing president of UCG. Evidently, no matter what appearances there may be, he was respected enough to stay on longer than any other to date.
5. The president is not the one in charge, even physically. He is appointed by the COE. The what of UCG’s mission really has not changed, only the how and through whom.
I hope that UCG members will take these things into consideration before making statements and decisions that will affect them long term.
Hate to be cynical, but I would conclude that these men would never resign from the full time ministry. Why? Pure economics. What else could they do for a living and for retirement? Also, they will not start a new group unless they have sufficient tithe payers to pay their salaries/pension etc. This is the sad reality as I look at the past 15 years or so. Not a great time in church history (the last Era).
@Porky: Well, there have been exceptions to that in the past few years. There have been past UCG presidents who left and started their own church, and there have been ministers with very small followings that have left as well. And, there were the 2 ministers who were asked to resign from the actual ministry a few years ago over differences in opinion about evangelism.
I remain guardedly optimistic that this won't be the same.
UCG may have taken a step back from transparency today — as Mike Bennett pulled the item about the three resignations from his blog.
That saddens me, in a way. A mature church ought to be able to discuss their differences, and "reason together" about these things. The New Testament shows cases where that happened.
@Richard: Yes, it is a step backwards, and it is very unfortunate seeing as the main problem right now is a LACK of information. I've been told that it is going to be on Facebook, but I haven't seen it there either.
On the plus side, there is a general note at UCG's member website. But, of course, that doesn't allow comments, and it is actually less information than we had before.
Goes to show that things on the net don't really disappear!
BTW, it's not quite the same, but there is a new blog covering the story from the official side (at least, I assume it is official) at http://realtimeunited.wordpress.com/.
Not exactly Facebook, but you can read Bennett's blog post,and 21 of the disgruntled members' comments, here [broken link removed by admin].
Look for a rash of disfellowshipments in the near future, if the threats to withhold tithes pan out.