Thoughts on Proselytizing; Do the Churches of God Proselytize?

Some people think this type of work takes a lot of brain power.  The truth is that often it is quite boring.  Sure, there are things to work out like how to quickly get people’s browsers to find your new blog home, Smile, but once you’ve figured that out, it is mostly a matter of banging on a keyboard and double-checking for typos.

Those moments provide time to think.

Well, I was going to keep quiet about it, but I guess since I’ve been asked a few times about Victor Kubik’s accusations on proselytizing, I feel somewhat compelled to respond.  Obviously, it has caused a stir amongst some.

Have COGWA members been proselytizing UCG members to change organizations?  Perhaps.  I certainly cannot speak for each and every individual out there.  However, I do notice that the COGWA leadership has stressed on more than one occasion that COGWA members should not be doing so.  “They need to make up their own minds,” seems to be the refrain.

Supposedly, Kubik’s letter cited such things as inviting someone out to dinner “to talk”, inviting someone to services or some such other thing.  I suppose something like that can be seen as proselytizing if the other party is not a good friend or they weren’t all that close to begin with.  In fact, I would personally advise against such things unless you know the other party really desires to get together with you because it really could appear wrong.  However, people who meet once a week and attend various events together for years cannot be expected to just part their friendships either.  They will likely talk about shared acquaintances and circumstances, which may or may not lead to talking about the current situation.

If these things are “proselytizing”, then certainly UCG needs to look in their own backyard before pointing the finger.  Yes, I have heard of some people “invited to dinner”, literally, and were persuaded to return.  That’s what makes the accusation so ironic.

Let’s step back a moment and ponder something, though.  What is “proselytizing”?  Do the Churches of God proselytize?  Is it wrong?

What Is Proselytizing?

proselytize or proselytise  (ˈprɒsɪlɪˌtaɪz) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]   vb to convert (someone) from one religious faith to another

~ proselytize. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved March 21, 2011, from website:

The Random House Dictionary (ibid) adds: “or attempt to convert” to the definition.  Obviously, the references to proselytizing in this case are more towards attempts.

However, is this really a conversion from “one religious faith to another”?  If I look at “proselyte” in the Random House Dictionary, I see that a proselyte goes from one “sect” to another, but is that even accurate?

When both groups keep the holy days, seventh day Sabbath, clean and unclean meats, avoid pagan religious customs, etc., then what is being changed about the beliefs?

Do the COGs Proselytize?

If the COGs don’t proselytize, then why are groups constantly jockeying for position on WGN?  Why is literature being placed upon newsstands?  Why purchase all that radio time?

I mean, think about it.

Is Proselyting Wrong?

I think the above should illustrate it’s not proselytizing that is wrong.  However, can you do it incorrectly?  Or, more to the point, can you do it wrong?  Like anything else, yes, you can do it incorrectly.

To use an extreme example in order to make a point, the crusades were about control of the Holy Land and converting Muslims to Christianity.  It was often literally done at the point of a sword.  That is not the type of “conversion” we should be seeking either for ourselves or for others.

HWA often quoted the saying, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  The point is that if someone doesn’t want to believe something, they will not, no matter what evidence you present.

So, what we really seem to be talking about here is picking off believers from other groups, sort of the way that David Pack was trying to do right before UCG split.

We know from Paul’s writings that this happened in the first century as well.  He soundly condemned those who sought a following after themselves.  The difference seems to be, however, is that the ministers he was condemning were teaching heresies, such as Gentile circumcision and Gnosticism.

However, does that either justify or condemn trying to woo those who might be of similar mind?  While I would say it does neither, the fact remains that it puts one on thin ice.

Random Thoughts

So, given the above, here are just some random thoughts that have been going through my mind.  You may agree or disagree.

1. What is the basis of your friendship with the other person?  Are you sure you want to tamper with it?

2. What is your motive?

3. Is the other person a deeply converted Christian?  If so, are you sure you want to tamper with that?

4. If you’re in UCG, do you pray for the people in COGWA?  If you are in COGWA, do you pray for the people in UCG?  Why or why not?

5. Are you putting yourself in the dangerous position of judging another’s salvation?

Life is short.  I was just looking at some old pictures.  One dear friend stood out in my mind, and I won’t see her again until the resurrection.  Make good use of the time you have left and the relationships that God has placed you in.


  1. Hi, John. Like the new site–may finally kick me into gear in doing something with the blogs I’ve toyed with off and on for the past couple years.

    Anyway, where are these accusations from Mr Kubik? I’m aware they’re being made in general, but I was wondering what letter you’re citing specifically.

    And the questions you raise are good ones. I know in my local area, my sister and brother-in-law stayed with United. But they were the only ones out of a “group” of local friends that did. So anytime there seems to be something they might like coming to (whether church related or not), I do extend the invite. Otherwise, they’ll end up out of the loop just by default of not being around. It was also the case in this local area that it was the United members that tended to call everyone to convince them to stay.

    When does extending a hand to friends and family stop being extending the hand and start being proselytizing?

  2. @Andrew: Thanks. It needs a bit of work yet, but thankfully I got it up and running without too many more snags. I hope you do pursue some blogging. You have to keep at it.

    I’ve been told a few times that a member letter went out that wasn’t published on the net (or, at least I cannot find it). One woman was so upset by it that it spurred her on to finally write UCG and tell them to take her off the mailing list. Even though a couple of people told me some specific things in common, I figured it was better to let it go at that point.

    Well, it looks like there were portions of a letter read aloud in some congregations this past weekend as well. It sounds like it could be the same letter. If it is, then a certain minister added a few embellishments that I won’t repeat.

    It all bothers me from at least 3 perspectives:

    1. Is this helping or hindering what God wants us to be doing?

    2. Why call it “proselytizing”? Who is changing beliefs? Do I believe something different than two years ago? Do you? Does Dennis Luker? Does Victor Kubik? At the core level, I hope the answer is “No”. So, why call it something it is not?

    3. Given that, how does the outside world view this little dispute, or at least those who are aware of it? Don’t we all look like the smartest bunch of people going?

    Look at it from the world’s perspective for a moment: It is like one Baptist church inviting the Baptist church across town to a special service. Is the first church “proselytizing” the second? Be for real! They are both Baptist congregations, even though legally they may have no relationship to each other whatsoever. In fact, more than a couple of the world’s churches actually get along well enough to create alliances! Sometimes they even manage to pool enough money together to send missionaries all over the world.

    So, let everyone put that in their pipes and smoke it for a while.

  3. I guess proselytizing is in the eye of the beholder. The unfortunate side effect of some of this is the division among family and friends. If I had family in another group would I stop talking to them? Of course not. That’s the heresy promoted by another cog group. However if they continually harped on or attempted to convince me to change my fellowship when, as you put it we believe the same thing supposedly on the fundamentals, I’d tell them to drop the subject.

    I attend UCG and am not privy to the inner workings or unofficial communication channels are in cogwa. I do know officially they have a no proselytizing policy. Of course neither administration can be held responsible for what individuals may do on their own. I personally have not been “proselytized” nor have I gone around trying to do it to others. I figure people have made their decisions. I’ve heard stories though of others that have been.

    I do think the idea I have heard expressed, mostly by those that have become part of the new organization, that now we should get together for special services or somehow work together is naive. Afterall we were essentially told our leadership was so corrupt and unethical that it was spiritually dangerous to stay there. How does that equate to what some propose? I would suggest that I see more movement to a closer cooperation between LCG and UCG than is possible between UCG and COGWA. I say this relating to leadership, not members because the members made decisions for their own reasons, but to split and then suggest cooperation is odd.

  4. buckblog wrote: “I do think the idea I have heard expressed, mostly by those that have become part of the new organization, that now we should get together for special services or somehow work together is naive.”

    I haven’t said much about it, as I get the feeling it comes from a sincere desire to get along, but I have trouble seeing how that is supposed to work as well. If cooperation wasn’t possible when together, how is it supposed to be possible now that we’re apart?

    Having said that, I still would like to think that some day before Christ’s return it will be possible to at least have some level of cooperation between not just UCG and COGWA but other groups as well.

  5. The getting along concept…requires both parties to participate. If one feels offended, put down or otherwise then mutual participation is not easy or perhaps not even recommended until the hurt feelings are resolved. Someone did say that there were a lot of hurtful words said about leadership corruptness (towards ministers and others), non-Christian practices, Christians lying, etc.. This has to be addressed to even remotely expect any mutual corporation in the future. Yes, I pray for friends in other groups, whether COGWA, LCG, WCG, non-aligned, or even no-church goers. Do we associate with one-another regularly, no, because one primary connection path (a church congregation) has been severed, but when we do meet we can be sociable and civil, I think? GOD will put HIS church together when the time comes and we ALL had better be ready to eat some crow and fall on our knees seeking forgiveness for the injustices, small or great, we have caused others!

  6. “I haven’t said much about it, as I get the feeling it comes from a sincere desire to get along..” I don’t doubt the sincerity of it either, at least when coming from the members. My response then would be that itsn’t that desire a little late now. I don’t think many members still get the depth of division and animosity that existed in the leadership. I also think the members played a role in this because many provided an audience to those interested in forming a new group.

    As far as cooperation among groups goes, some groups have taken themselves out of picture. How do you cooperate with someone who declares themselves an apostle and says that the other groups are at best laodecian? How do you cooperate with groups that have in some cases taken up strange non traditional cog positions? Two have to be agreed at some level to cooperate. That being said there may be a few groups that cooperation can happen with. For instance in my earlier comment on UCG-LCG, Aaron Dean made some observations in one of the COE videos about how we are duplicating efforts. I’ve heard other UCG ministers express similar sentiments. There seems to be some movement there which probably need some other stimuli to speed up.

  7. Stephen Doucet

    If someone has God’s spirit – can there be any organizational reason not to meet with family, whether for meals, friendship or worship? On the contrary, there is every reason to meet together.

    The church is “holy”. Our relationships in the church are holy. They are made so by God’s presence in each and every member. And we are “one” through the Father and His son as we will shortly rehearse again at Passover.

    When we were baptized, we were specifically told we were not baptized into any corporate church organization. We were baptized into the one true church which is a spiritual entity. If that was true at baptism – when did it change later?

    Church organizations are “sacred”, not holy. They are created by men and dedicated to the service of God. Church organizations are temporary. It is so easy to get these priorities backwards – I speak from experience in doing that. It is too easy to get caught up in organizational splits and disputes.

    In the end, I cannot see how any leader of any church organization has any authority to prevent brethren from meeting together as family. Especially if they cannot claim others are not true “brethren”.

    It is one thing to commit to an organization and its goals and we should honor our commitments and not presume on others. The first century church spread out and brethren supported different “works” and efforts to preach the gospel. I am quite sure they had nothing like our corporate entities today.

    But there were no walls between them – at least between the true apostles and true brethren. It was the tares that came in that began building the walls of separation.

    I sincerely hope we don’t go down that path with these organizational splits that mean so little in the long run.