Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why Has the UCG Council of Elders Failed to Identify Personal Behaviors that Create Obstacles in the UCG?

The United Church of God has been limping along these past few years with one debacle after another.  From a major church split to failed publicity campaigns its image is not the best in COGland.

UCG would do well to recall the minutes from it's August 13, 1998 Council of Elder's Report where it talks about how it brought in Mike Snyder to revamp its image.  Snyder has along history in the Church of God.  He worked in the WCG public relations department during the doctrinal and church changes and was instrumental in presenting the new face of the trinity believing WCG to the world at large.  Snyder is now the Vice President of a major advertising company here in the US.

Vic Kubik renewed his relationship with Snyder years ago as he was trying to improve his own image in the UCG. 
 “He has given me several ideas and principles to better present both myself and the church in ways where people can quickly understand and appreciate what we do and who we are,” said Mr. Kubik. “Mike showed me how I could further improve on publicly discussing the church in a way that would generate genuine interest instead of controversy or suspicion.”
Apparently Kubik failed to heed those words of advice because controversy and suspicion has plagued Kubik and the UCG for years.

Kubik states:
He stated that his presentation would not address theological issues, focus on personalities or “ancient history,” or indulge in “hand-wringing” over the past. Rather, he hoped his research, applied to our position today, could be very helpful for the Council in leading and responding to the needs of the Church. “This is a forward-looking presentation that is supposed to prompt and challenge you to develop the solutions to your communications issues.”
A thinking person would have thought that with all the stuff that went down during UCG's apostasy from the mother church that these men would have learned to communicate better with their members.  They all felt that the WCG was not communicating fully with them during that time.  These guys knew better but still did nothing, but that's another story.

Some of the things Snyder recommended that the United Church of God implement are:
The current state of affairs Mr. Snyder began by asking Council members to consider two quotes that portray a choice of perspectives. “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, `It might have been'” (Whittier), and “No person can lead other people except by showing them a future. A leader is a merchant of hope” (Napoleon). The first is one nobody wants to ever have to say; the second speaks to the role of church leaders in particular.

The Council, in order to improve communication and establish a strong church identity, needs to “identify organizational and personal behaviors that inadvertently create obstacles instead of opportunities, start a process of changing those identified behaviors, identify your strengths as an organization and start a process of maximizing those strengths.”
Imagine that...the UCG Council needs to improve its image!  Who knew!!!!!!  This has proven to be a rather difficult thing for these boastful arrogant men to do when it came to recognizing personal behaviors that created obstacles.  Even worse, they were supposed to CHANGE those destructive behaviors!  Imagine that!

Next Snyder told the UCG Council to STOP being so defensive when crisis arise:
He encouraged the Council to not be too defensive in dealing with crises, which will inevitably arise. Defensive modes back people into corners so that any move that is made seems to make the matter worse. He also pointed out that in all aspects of society today, crises now are complicated because of the Internet, especially in the absence of good communication. “When people don’t trust what you are saying, and don’t think they are getting the information they need, what they will do is make it up, and they will put it out in any format they need,” he warned. “What do you have to do?” he asked. “You have to take control. You are the decision-making point of this whole organization you are the leadership.”
Being"defensive' has been one of UCG's biggest failures. Instead of talking things through and actually listening to peoples concerns they react with knee-jerk fashion creating huge turmoil where none would probably had existed if they had only listened.

When people don't trust what UCG is saying....they then write all kinds of things about it.....YEP!  We sure do! We all know the track record of the UCG.

Snyder went on to tell UCG the kind of people in their organization:
Most organizations, at any given time but especially during times of change, are made up of the following three categories of people, Mr. Snyder said: 
  • The “Quitters”_20 per cent of the people who are “professional complainers” and do nothing but take pot shots (every decision is wrong, no matter what it is). They have a different agenda, may actually work against organization goals, are often highly de-energized and work actively to make other people that way.
  • The “Campers”_60 per cent, people who started climbing the mountain of life and at some point they got burnt out or said `I’ve had enough adversity’ and they stop and “camp out.” They are moderately-to-neutrally energized, but are willing to be directed and follow leadership.
  • The “Climbers”_20 per cent of the people who have faith in something bigger than themselves and even though they face adversity they keep going; they never stop their entire lives despite setbacks and discouragement.
Snyder encouraged the UCG to have a goal they were working towards and to be visionary in focus: 
He also urged the Council to watch for personal burn out and to be aware of the signs indicating tiredness, because that affects leadership capacity. Countering deceptive myths Next, Mr. Snyder reviewed one author’s listing of various myths that affect views of business, and identified how truly visionary leadership creates success. Visionary companies “are significantly less likely to have early success but, like the tortoise and the hare, win the long race often after a slow start.” They communicate a vision for big goals, consistently champion and live by right core values and do not change them (“When you start messing with the core values, you take away the very thing that made it successful,” he said).
In the old WCG the "goal" always was...making it into the Kingdom. Now the predominate goal of most Church of God's is amassing as much wealth as possible, building campuses, auditoriums, and trying to out do the other COG's.  UCG has been just as guilty of this as Pack, Flurry and Meredith.

Snyder then told them to stop focusing on money and to build credibility in leadership.
Another business myth he noted is that one should focus primarily on beating the competition. In reality, healthy, visionary organizations focus primarily on beating themselves they never think they’ve done good enough and are always seeking to improve their own performance. Additionally, visionary organizations make some of their best moves not by brilliant and complex strategic planning, but by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism and sometimes by accident. “Visionary organizations do not brutalize themselves with `the tyranny of OR,'” he said. Rather, “They embrace `the genius of AND'” the view that allows them to pursue “A” and “B” at the same time. He offered, for a church example, various efforts to preach the gospel both locally and centrally. Successful businesses focus on clusters of objectives, rather than making money. Income is a by-product of achieving other fundamental objectives, such as exemplary service. In the contemporary church context where there are several organizations, he noted that people are still committed to tithing, but will send their tithes to where they believe there is value. If you are focused on the right objectives, people will want to support your efforts, he said. Building credibility as the foundation of leadership “Leadership is a relationship,” Mr. Snyder said. Telling people to “do this” or “do that” is command and control. People find you much more credible if you give them ownership, energize them and we do it together. People march in step because they trust you, believe in you and you have a relationship with them.
Imagine that, the lay members given ownership and energized in the structure of the Church of God! Its hard to imagine any COG giving its members a say in what happens in the church.  Almost every single COG is ruled by a cabal of men who wield power stronger than the Pope could ever hope for. Here it is quit apparent that UCG has failed in this area immensely!

Credibility is a huge issue in the UCG, as it is in all the other COG's.  Snyder goes on to state:
“If you have no credibility, you can only govern on the basis of fear,” he said. “The higher degree of credibility you have, the more you get done, the more you attract people. Your organization becomes a magnet, as opposed to a person.” Reasons for cynicism The book Credibility lists several reasons why people become cynical in business, Mr. Snyder said, and the same principles can apply to the church. One is scandal. Organizations cannot avoid scandals, because of the human element somebody will eventually do something scandalous so you just prepare for them. However, most people want to cover them up and they just become “skeletons in the closet.” From a scandal perspective, you beat cynicism by open acknowledgment, recognition of repentance, he advised.
Bravo to Snyder for making such a statement to the UCG hierarchy.  They have a horrendous track record of covering up scandals.  From rapes, to stalkings, to child abuse and much much more its all been swept under the rug and kept from members.  I wonder how many UCG members know that the UCG paid money to cover up a stalking case in the Pacific Northwest some years ago in an attempt to brand the victim a liar?

Snyder next focused upon "betrayal." Though sadly I have a feeling that most of the men listening to this feel they are martyrs in this regard.  They were betrayed by their mother church.  They ignore the fact that they betrayed the WCG by plotting behind the scenes for months to form UCG while still on WCG payroll.  They betrayed friends and church members by causing huge divisions in the church.  Many of these martyrs only jumped ship for the steady income stream.  The list could go on and on.  Who betrayed who?  Tkach betrayed all of these martyrs?  Did they betray the WCG?

Betrayal is another big producer of cynicism. “Everybody in this room has gone through emotional disconnects in the last decade,” Mr. Snyder pointed out. “You get cynical about it when betrayed by a leader.”
People then sometimes make judgments based on cynical feelings “I’m not going to join this group because everyone’s just as bad as the one I came out of.” Disillusionment brings on skepticism. People believe in something, give it a chance, and then it fails or doesn’t work to their expectation; distrust results. Another is suspicion of power the “who’s-really-in-charge?” cynicism. From cynicism to restored faith Several dynamics can begin to restore faith. Clear accountability is critical, the type where people know you are accountable to them, even if you are their leader. That feeling instills greater faith. Giving clear messages (not hazy sayings), creating organizational enthusiasm, living personal values that are consistent with organizational values, and fostering a sense of shared “ownership” (everyone feeling like they are an important part of things) are other very important factors. Some operate by the maxim, Mr. Snyder said, of, “Do what you say you will do.” This is the minimum standard but even that might not effectively build credibility. The better standard that does build credibility is, “Do what WE say WE will do. “Evaluating the tone of the messages in UCG publications His review of all the church communications brought to light several trends, Mr. Snyder observed. He advised the Council not to be too defensive or justifying in tone, nor to dwell much on past mistakes. Being defensive means you are not solution-oriented, and such tone saps peoples’ strength, he said. “You’re not supposed to be defensive, you are supposed to be [on the] offensive, the spearhead, showing the way to go by example.” Over time, the church’s key phrases (e.g., “spirit of Indianapolis,” “a Godly community”) have become diluted, are now irrelevant to the membership and have even been used as a club over others, he said.
Only if..............  When pigs fly....unfortunately.

Snyder then tells them to stop living in the past.  This has been a huge issue with all the COG's.  They all look back at the "glory days" of WCG with fondness and longing.  Not a single one of them will EVER be able to do that. Bitterness seems to still burn mightily in so many of these men and COG's. 
While we need to develop our own terminology, we should stay away from abstractions that anybody else in the world with any religious affiliation would also be comfortable using. To turn around these tendencies, he advised a three-part solution:
  • Decide on the key messages that need to be communicated. This decision is clarified by asking, “What issues are most important to the UCG?” and “How can these issues be better expressed?”
  • Be better aware of and consistently address two key issues: a lingering sense of betrayal and burnout
  • Develop a new mindset that is truly forward-looking and de-emphasizes recent history (“You’re not selling ancient history,” he said. “Have you had anyone baptized in the last year? What do they care about 1986? Are they more into first love or digging up things to find out how bad it was?”)
UCG and all the COG's can think of nothing BUT 1986 and its previous years.  Is it any wonder why UCG is not growing?  No one CARES about 1986!  Get over it already!!!!

Snyder encourages UCG to acknowledge CONFLICT in the church.  That's has been one bitter pill to swallow and they are still trying to do it!  UCG has always presented its self as the most unified COG to ever exist. while its structure crumbles down around them.
Suggestions for improving communication After analyzing one example of communication to the church (the April 2, 1998 member letter), Mr. Snyder offered several observations for making improvements. First, he confirmed that it is usually constructive to acknowledge conflict. Such acknowledgment promotes open honesty, shows that the leadership is sensitive, listening and willing to act and is congruent with the stated UCG objective of defending the faith. Conflict, he pointed out, is not always bad and within a certain context it can indicate a healthy condition. For example, total lack of conflict indicates mind-control and/or a de-energized, non-thinking group.
Snyder's last comment rings so true about most of the larger COG's today.  They present the image that they are conflict free and the most unified COG's to exist in 1,900 years.  They can only do this because their members have been "de-energized" and turned into non-thinking robots.

Snyder tells them in order to visionary they need to "look forward."
Second, develop a new view of success, he advised. “Look forward, not backward.” Historically, the Radio Church of God that formed out of the Church of God, 7th Day, was “a true splinter that made it” because it became a visionary organization. Next, identify your one key message and make sure it is embraced and cherished at all levels.
Most of the COG's should have actually named themselves, The Boo-Hoo Church of God.  They live in the past glorifying dead leaders, dated literature and failed prophecies.  "Look at us, we are the only true remnant holding on to the truth and no one wants to join us, boo-hoo.  The WCG changed  They sold all the Tkach told us to stop abusing"

Snyder then closed with this:
Finally, leaders must “over-communicate” in times of crises. To implement these points, it is important to “start at zero,” he said. That means looking in fresh ways at communication and asking, “because we communicated one way in the past, is it still the best way?” Talk to the individual, build the relationships between people. Defining your own “brand” Being proactive in leading and communicating is critically important, Mr. Snyder stressed, because of this rule: If you don’t manage your reputation, someone else will! To draw a parallel, he said that in business terminology the United Church of God is a “brand.” In other words, people identify certain things with UCG, as they do with other church organizations. Your “brand” is important because it identifies you or your group by defining a promise or perception of consistently fulfilled promises. We should ask ourselves, either as an individual or as a group, “What is it that my service does that is different? Why is it good? What am I known for? Whatever you answer, if the answer doesn’t grab you, you’ve got a big problem.”
Snyder is right in that NOTHING UCG has done lately has "grabbed' any one or caught their attention.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on failed advertising public campaigns which have produced zilch. Incredibly BAD TV shows have not brought in members. Publishing booklets patterned on old WCG literature has also failed.

UCG had a chance 20 years ago to reinvent its self into something "good."  However it preferred the old ways and clung bitterly to the past.  It kept the same abusive ministers in charge, it kept the same abusive polices they claimed to have suffered under in WCG. All UCG could do was imitate its past and its been a massive failure.

It remains to be seen how visionary or forward thinking they will become, because so far that have no vision.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful advice — but impossible to implement.

Armstrongism, when known in its entirety, as now because sites like this and others, simply cannot offer any hope. The core teaching of Armstrong is this: Only the minutest few on the planet have any possibility of escaping the end-time evils soon to come, and Those Few must be members of this church (alone), must pay lots of money to stay within The Few, and must continually strive to be “more perfect.” If you fail, you will go right into the Lake of Fire. Good luck with all of that.

Authentic Christian Grace, where works do not and cannot yield salvation, is entirely absent. Christ’s dictum “My burden is light....” is just “one of those difficult scriptures.” Hope, in authentic Armstrongism, is distant, hard to achieve, tentative, poorly-defined, and for many or most, just by chance (“When, Pastor, am I clear and confident on getting to Petra?”).

The problems of the WCG splinters are not transparency or any of the other supposed issues delineated by Snyder. The story, the picture, and the presented hope(s) are all flawed. With the Internet and the sharing and revealing of the widest body of cogent COG information, the elegant doctrinal and organizational facades the Armstrongs erected in the last century are now tattered and held up by rusting baling wire, peeling duct tape, and dripping never-dry glue.

Armstrongism is a fraud, both Biblically and organizationally. Its defects can no longer be concealed by professional-looking publications and artful (yet, dishonest) broadcast verbiage. It’s demands upon the follower no longer seem imperative. The truths of the scriptures are ever more evident and contrary to the major, core teachings of Armstrongism. Moreover, the prophetic errors, personal sins, and personality defects of Armstrong preachers and administrators (as with both Herbert W Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong) become sooner or later evident today.

The ragged curtain has been drawn. The men behind it pulling the strings (last century) or working the computer keyboards (today) simply appear as phony as their contrived “send us lots of money” doctrines.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, when an uninitiated bystander comes in contact with a heretical, abusive, controversial, fringe cult, the average person's reaction is naturally going to be suspicion and controversy. And why wouldn't it be? These days, cults are generally viewed as unattractive.

So how do you "tell them about 'the church'" in ways that instead "generate interest"? How do attract people to the unattractive? It's very simple. You lie to them. You deceive them. There's no two ways about this.

Mike Snyder is a public relations specialist. And the term "public relations" was originally invented in 1919 as a euphemism for "propaganda." In other words, he's a spin doctor. This is what Snyder helped the Tkach's with, and it's what he's been hired by Vic to help UCG with.

I prefer another euphemism for it: "strategic lying." Snyder isn't just trying to show them how to put their best foot forward, he's trying to rewrite the past and edit out all the parts that make UCG look like the heretical, abusive, controversial, fringe cult that it has been ever since before they "floated the lifeboats" in 1995.

Vic Kubik is hoping Snyder can tell UCG's mucky-mucks how to stop describing their church just a little too accurately still, as that always seems to shock and horrify prospectives. In short, they're not telling big enough lies yet.

Instead, Vic is hoping Snyder can teach them how to concoct supersized lies about UCG. These lies must be so big that no average, normal person would ever guess the truth. So large that the unsuspecting bystander will be tempted to join this heretical, abusive, controversial, fringe cult, without any clue of what they're getting themselves into. Those are gonna have to be some real big whoppers! UCG really has to make a concerted effort to hide every smidgeon and morsel of truth that it can. When representatives "tell others about 'the church,'" they've got to be totally misleading, and totally convincing.

However, there's still a big problem. If you want to indoctrinate them, sooner or later the cat is going to get out of the bag. Even if all the "broken rungs" get "fixed," as soon as they figure out UCG mucky-mucks are telling whoppers, they're going to become slightly disenchanted, and leave. And then it's back to rung zero.

If Snyder could, he would erase their past, and rewrite their history from scratch. But in the age of the internet, thankfully that's no longer possible. No matter what Snyder does, truth, suspicion, controversy, shock, and finally, horror, will always be just a click away.

And the kookiest part about it is they're telling themselves they have to engage in all this totally immoral behavior so that they can teach new people about moral behavior. Which is just another lie. They just want more income!

Black Ops Mikey said...

Psalm 127:1 "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it".

It is stupid for any of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia to follow Snyder's advice, because the advice is for a corporation, not a genuine bona fide actual real church -- you know, like the Church of God Seventh Day.

And that is the problem.

United is just one of the Cult Church Corporates who have put the cult in culture.

It is not of God; at best, it is of Satan (but not sure Satan himself would be caught with such losers).

Dennis Luker actually set the tone as far back as 1995 for United, relating to us all who were in his congregation his concern about money and retirement. Victor Kubic has committed to follow his vision, so we can be sure that United is about the money -- salary and retirement. The rest is just collateral, and mostly damage.

If United were a real church (whatever that is) and God were behind it, and they preached the gospel of redemption through Jesus, one would think that the gates of hell would not prevail against it... but really, the way it actually is that the gates of hell have come off their hinges and have been hunting down the Armstrongist churches of God to fall on them and crush them. Heck, it's not even the gates of hell -- it's just random gates.

So they can fight it all they want, they can hire consultants (maybe ones that teach corporate ethics and morals would be advisable -- you know, like Stephen Covey), but in the end, entropy is going to get them because God just isn't interested in what they are offering. If He were, wouldn't you think they would succeed?

So take down the picture of that pervert you have in your foyer of the man who committed incest with his daughter the first ten years of his ministry, Herbert Armstrong, that dead false prophet, give up British Israelism as a failed key to prophecy (and a complete embarrassment), stop trying to sell crap from your cult cesspool gift shop.

You know, if you really want to go all Church Corporate, UCG, you should return to the materials I bought for you and gave you from Weyerhaeuser back when you were starting out, upon which you began to build your castle. Unfortunately, you have watered the materials down and misunderstood them because you never waited around for me to explain them to you -- particularly the Quality booklet reference on solving problems, which actually takes three days of seminar to actually begin to understand. You should also go back and review the ethics booklet I gave to your Chairman of the Board, Robert Dick. I would suppose that you've thrown it out by now, just as you've discarded ethics and morals along the way (going to court against the couple seeking relief for stalking was a real low point for you -- and thanks a lot for your accusing me of lying about the matter: You never admitted you were the liars).

You know better, United, and, even as bad as Meredith, Flurry and Pack are, you are worse because you do.

If you want success, just remember that it will begin with repentance -- and repentance which scraps all the rubbish upon which your foundation is built. Just remember, if you fix the problems and remove the error, there won't really be anything left.

Byker Bob said...

Virtually all of the members who did embrace Armstrongism prior to 1986 have been annointed with a double dose of "Snyder repellent". Back in the day, it was nearly a doctrine that you don't consult with outsiders for anything.

Still, he presented a cohesive program, and made some insightful points. The only problem is that none of his techniques will work with Armstrongism. The resulting product would be the religious equivalent of Victoria's Secret skunk fur capes and stoles, if indeed they offered such a product.


Anonymous said...

What was always lacking and still is and probably alway will is simple common sense. HWA didn't have it. The Tkache missed the boat on it and so do they all to this day.

Unfortunately, the Bible itself is the culprit that gives those without any common sense, like Flurry,Pack and Thiel, all the out of date quotes and concepts they need to keep all the mistakes of the past alive and well and going strong.

These men aren't Biblically literate enough to know just how much of a waste they are making of their lives and the lives of those who think they actually know what they are talking about.

I'd suggest they all consider:

“Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads or you shall learn nothing.”
― Thomas Henry Huxley

Byker Bob said...

One more thing.....

Actually, HWA assumed the role of futurist visionary for many church members. Snyder is right. That did motivate them. The basic problem is that HWA's "inspiring" visionary timeline expired in 1972-75, and every three to five years thereafter. People in the splinters who had already invested too much of their hopes and their lives into this futuristic vision have just been going through the motions ever since, pretending there have been a few minor delays, while rejecting what we now know from the mapping of the human genome.

UCG's problems run much deeper than the branding or marketing challenges.


old EXPCG hag said...

I just want the PCg to pay me my back child support. Then I don't care what they do or who they scam anymore. Those people are sickening...PAY UP GERALD R. Flurry!!

Black Ops Mikey said...

One of the biggest deterrents to acceptance of United (or any of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia) is the lack of church buildings.

Nothing says "cult" faster than a lack of a commitment to community and church buildings show that commitment. Meeting in rented halls and facilities sends a clear message that the church just doesn't care about the community. Spending money on headquarters and minister's salaries along with the Internet and TV (/ radio? -- you have to be kidding!) just doesn't impress people who are looking for social connection to other people in person.

It is also the case that people feel alienated from a church that has no local church buildings because congregants tend to identify with the facilities where they have various church functions.

Thankfully, the ACoGs just don't have enough money for local church buildings, so it will tend to die off from starvation.

NO2HWA said...

Black Ops

You are so correct in your observations. Having a building In a community shows the neighborhood that you are part of it and committed to the neighborhood. Armstrongism has never had churches because the fact is quit obvious that they do NOT care about the community. They don't get involved in community charities or assisting the homeless because they have always found those around them to be tainted by satan and part of a pagan world out to corrupt and destroy the true church. Their easy out is that God is going to fix it all later on so why worry now.

Byker Bob said...

I often wondered where HWA got his "no church building" doctrine! The other churches in the Adventist family of religions have them. Jehovah's Witnesses have their Kingdom Hall, and every major city has at least one Seventh Day Adventist church building.

Some of the mainstream Evangelical churches renovate shopping centers, like Calvary. But, we couldn't even do that.

One of the most embarrassing questions at school was always, "Hey, Bob! Where is your church?", as if the very name Radio Church of God wasn't some sort of tip-off. In those days, if you told a Catholic, a Jew, or a Protestant that you met in a hotel ballroom, or a theatre or union hall, they immediately got the right impression! They realized you were a weirdo! It just makes a church seem fly by night if they don't have a church building.


NO2HWA said...

HWA had a no church policy because he wanted all control of the money. He could not have built his three empires if he was paying for church buildings. He could not have have spent millions on an auditorium or furnished his home with millions of dollars worth of gold, silver and fine art. It had nothing to do about a gospel, but living a life of luxury.

Anonymous said...

If the UCG was really serious about more local control for their congregations they would allow them to purchase or build their own buildings.

On second thought most of the congregations of the UCG are too small to raise the money needed to build or purchase a building.

Anonymous said...

What is happening to churches in general? The U.S. population is aging, and fewer younger people are interested in any church at all. They may say that they are "spiritual" but not "religious." To make matters worse, can you think of any set of doctrines that could do more to repel anyone from joining a church than dietary restrictions, an "odd" day to attend church with many draconian restrictions on "Sabbath activities", avoiding holidays that are so cherished in our culture, and paying so much of your income to the church? Not only that, but having to sit at the feet of "pastors" who are so poorly educated and dictatorial, trying to control every aspect of your life? There is only a very small "market" for such a "church product". The pie is shrinking rapidly and dividing in the process. Every splinter group of the C of G is smaller than their predecessor. The Methodist church has been in decline for the past 40 years. If they can't hold onto people and recruit new members, the C of G has little chance of growing or even surviving in any meaningful way.

Anonymous said...

One suggestion that is glaringly lacking is the removal of the large portrait of Herbert Armstrong that hangs in a position of prominence at the UCG's headquarters.

The reason for this is, that even though some UCG'ers falsely claim that most members have forgotten about "Mr Armstrong" ("Herbert who?", they say), Armstrong worship is alive and well and a vital part of many of the UCG's paying members' psyches.

Plain and simple, if that portrait were to be removed, income would drop, and many members would consider moving to other armstrongist splinters which still worship Armstrong.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Now here is a church that keeps the Sabbath and the Holydays and has its own church building with fully qualified ministers and elders.

Unless or until the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia can create stable local congregations with church buildings and facilities instead of monolithic despot-run centralized tyrannical dictatorship (either autocratic or oligarchy) with peasant subjects, it is going to lack appeal among Christians (let alone agnostics) and slowly fail, sinking into entropy as the world changes around them.

[I don't attend there, but know the minister who was the Pierce County Jail Chaplain for 16 years through the Tacoma Rescue Mission.)

What the ACoG leaders are, are empty blow-hards full of themselves looking for boosting their ego and raking in the money. That is not a formula for success and it does not matter what your business model is because you just don't have a customer pool to draw on. The age of loyal religious nut job Oriental Style Potentates is gone.

One other thing: You scoundrels out there need to realize that after all that is said and done, people expect their ministers to care for them and even make sacrifices for them from time to time as needed: To aid the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the fatherless and widow, VISIT THOSE IN PRISON and generally minister to both physical and spiritual needs, particularly when members suffer trauma.

You aren't going to make points by insisting that people need to minister to YOU, in some bizarre role reversal (such as the one Herbert Armstrong initiated through incest to make his wife the child and his child his 'spouse').

You're going to give up your sickness and we heartily advise you all seriously repent -- even to abandoning even the thought of trying to be a 'minister'.

Useless incompetents.

Anonymous said...

Building church building is not an answer. How many nice churches are there in your communities? Are they full of people on Sunday? How much of the budget goes to paying for the building, its upkeep, and for paid staff? There is little left for mission, caring for those in need or having an impact on the community. Many churches are little more than social clubs for professing Christians. The NT church had an impact, but met in homes. But they were not isolated from the communities. They were not Christian ghettos.

Anonymous said...

You are right a building is not necessary, BUT UCG and other COGs are NOT invested in their communities. Most could care less. Most don't even take care of their own poor and unemployed.

Almost all COGs are nothing more than social clubs.. That's the only people they know.

Because the present day COG is an OT church and not New Covenant it has little if any impact. When it can't discuss Jesus Christ but knows all the OT characters it shows how out of touch it is with reality. It is incapable of discussing God without bringing up the law.

Armstrongism has ghettoized it's self from the world.

Anonymous said...

Building church building is not an answer. How many nice churches are there in your communities? Are they full of people on Sunday? How much of the budget goes to paying for the building, its upkeep, and for paid staff? There is little left for mission, caring for those in need or having an impact on the community. Many churches are little more than social clubs for professing Christians. The NT church had an impact, but met in homes. But they were not isolated from the communities. They were not Christian ghettos.

Newsflash -- ACOGs generally spend LESS on "mission, caring for those in need or having an impact on the community" than do the churches that have enough community support to have established their own building(s).

Yes, ACOGs still collect third tithe in many cases, but they spend a huge portion of it on what they call "Levites" -- the ACOG ministry -- despite the biblical truth that ministers of Jesus Christ are in the Melchizedek priesthood, NOT the Levitical priesthood.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Well, yes, building a church building is not THE answer, it's just one of many of a set of solutions to represent a healthy viable religion.

What's needed, of course, is a group of competent converted ministers who know Jesus and can assist people in their pursuit of redemption.

That cannot include ANY minister who has graduated from Ambassador College and has been corrupted by Armstrongism.

The whole cult is a loss and there's no way to fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

"Building church building is not an answer. How many nice churches are there in your communities? Are they full of people on Sunday? How much of the budget goes to paying for the building, its upkeep, and for paid staff? There is little left for mission, caring for those in need or having an impact on the community. Many churches are little more than social clubs for professing Christians."

Since when did Armstrongism ever have anything "left for mission, caring for those in need or having an impact on the community"? Huh? Since when?

Since when was Armstrongism anything "more than social clubs for professing Christians"? Emphasis on the "professing." Huh? Since when?

Ownership of church buildings might not be "the answer," for turning, in Vic Kubik's words, a "suspicious and controversial" cult into a "church" with even an iota of defensibility or respectability, but it might very well be a critical part of the answer. It might not be possible to do that without the ownership of such church buildings.

It's also critical to realize that none of these issues have any relationship to or bearing upon whether Armstrongism, or any other nominally christian "church" for that matter, can lead people to "savation" or the good graces of any "god." That, unfortunately, is an entirely different problem, one for which no human being on earth has any "answers" whatsoever. I must say that it's odd that I've never met a christian who was even interested in searching for answers to that problem. If you ignore problems, I guess they really do go away.

Anonymous said...

Comment was made that: “…The current state of affairs Mr. Snyder began by asking Council members to consider two quotes that portray a choice of perspectives. “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, `It might have been’” (Whittier), and “No person can lead other people except by showing them a future. A leader is a merchant of hope” (Napoleon). The first is one nobody wants to ever have to say; the second speaks to the role of church leaders in particular…”
Before Mr. Snyder made his comment about Whittier’s words (“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, `It might have been’”), those words were brought up in a roundabout way in a memo read to all attending elders, mates, deacons present at the last day of the 1995 Indianapolis Conference that created the United Ass. The words of that memo spoken by Vic Kubik to all present are as follows:
“… CAN IT EVER BE? That cohesive, Christ-led entity that we all want so dearly? Or does Indy seal our fate to factions and factions? The hopes are high, the stakes are critical. Indy will be either a dawning of a New World Tomorrow, or the proof of our folly.
PIE IN THE SKY is what the detractors say. Some of them are us, you know. Our “leaders” have already laid foundations and are even laying superstructure. The meek words of just a few weeks ago… “We’ve just started this in case it’s of any help, but we’ll gladly dissolve it” are seemingly replaced with corporate structure lauding the wisdom of “follow me.” Has “unity” already slipped to a cliché, a buzzword of egotists? I’ve seen that once people invest time, money and gain supporters they “have God’s blessing.” After all, they prayed about it.
Dissolution of their structure for a greater cause becomes too great a defeat. The show must go on.
WHAT IS INDY? It’s a chance for a ground up, New Testament organized body of believers.
WHAT WILL INDY BE? I know what you and I want it to be. But do you know what many see it as? Separate leaders of several pre-formed groups pushing their system at each other, followed by the winner selling it to the ministry. The ministry is invited to view the outcome and cast in their lot, depending on who “wins” and if they like the smell of it.
WHO LOOSES IF INDY FALTERS? The churches back home. The little flocks who are staking their faith in Indy. The loyal pastors who have forfeited everything to wait on Christ and to come learn his will for their next step. I hope He’s there. He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Just some concerns and fears…I don’t know what it WILL be, I know what it MIGHT be and what it CAN be. I’ll be there in support. Be careful who gets control. Make sure it’s God…”
United Ass. was formed out of an attitude of rebellion towards what God had done in the WCG. The men, those of the ministry left their wcg credentials behind, had no faith to wait and see how God would accomplish the predicted scattering of members of God’s Church into Philadelphians (nothing to do with Gerald Flurry) and Laodiceans…and went off in a huff to “do their own thing.”
The Memo above mentions many examples of what United “might be,” and so far it appears that the United Association has illustrated proof of their own folly…especially with their voting, amongst other things, of leaders in and out to head their Association. If God exists and He has been working out His salvation in the midst of this earth (Psalm 74:12), then He has to be doing it elsewhere. God does not author such confusion…just how "sad" will it have to get in United before all is said and done??????????


Anonymous said...

"The NT church had an impact, but met in homes. But they were not isolated from the communities. They were not Christian ghettos."

One of the myths of Armstrongism is that Herbert Armstrong "restored" the "1st-century apostolic christian church" As if modern, protestant christianity bore any resemblance to a "pure" 1st-century apostolic christian religion. Did such a religion ever exist?

This myth was built atop many other previous Greek and Roman myths, which in turn inspired catholic, and eventually protestant myths about what christianity was and should be. Does the first-century "christian" church bear any resemblance to the one imagined by modern christianity?

Just like the Logos was the first-century invention of philosophers, so was Jesus. Christianity was a Greek-speaking invention, which may have been inspired by some Judean fishermen who may have followed an itinerant preacher, but it couldn't have been invented by those sorts of people. The idea that a 1st-century "christian" church composed of congregations started by, written to (in Greek), and visited by a dozen literate Greek-speaking Judean fishermen-turned-"philosopher apostles" is sheer fantasy.

The actual 1st-century "christian" church was invented by diaspora Jewish mystics who were educated, not just in Greek, but also in the Greek skills of oratory, logic, argumentation, and philosophy-very rare skills at the time. NT writings were carefully crafted stories intended to convince, written by philosophers never by common fishermen or even former pharisees. It was a popular proliferation of "gospels," "epistles," "acts," and "apocalypses," which imagined a vision of a Jewish superhero (with 12 sidekicks) who would rescue the Jews from Roman oppression that fomented the 1st-century "christian" movement.

During the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, the christ myth and mysticism developed about this Jewish superhero. There are many surviving texts from the period that document the success of "orthodox" ideas and the banishment of "heretical" ones, until Constantine took control of the cult, and changed it from being an pro-Jewish, anti-Roman religion into a pro-Roman, anti-Jewish one. After that, development did not stop, but continued in a vastly different direction, most notably with the canonization of certain writings and the rejection of many others. This would begin the process of making a syncretized fusion of pagan and Jewish mysticsms into a religion bearing some familiar resemblances to modern "christians" (including Armstrongists). Later developments, especially the protestant reformation, served to bring "christianity" more in line with what "puritans" and a splinter of puritanism, the Adventists and Armstrongists, have assumed must have been the "pure" and uncontaminated, "original" christianity. But that there ever was, or could have been such a thing, is just another myth. If they could see what the 1st-century "christian" church was REALLY like, they would brand it as a heretical religion thoroughly contaminated by paganism.

Modern christians assume the fact their religion has a set of scriptures, that this has prevented christianity from drifting from its roots, but that's not true at all. If a typical 1st-century "christian" were transported in a time machine to modern America, leaving differences in language and dress aside, would he find an Armstrongist congregation to be a comfortable fit in terms of doctrine and theology? Certainly not. He would be reviled as a heretic by Armstrongists, protestants, and catholics alike.

Black Ops Mikey said...

God just isn't calling people into the UCG.

They should give that serious consideration.

DennisCDiehl said...

Anon said:

"One of the myths of Armstrongism is that Herbert Armstrong "restored" the "1st-century apostolic christian church" As if modern, protestant christianity bore any resemblance to a "pure" 1st-century apostolic christian religion. Did such a religion ever exist?"

Very nice summary comment on the actual "never was one true church of God that all spoke the same thing" realities.

COG ministry and thus members have no clue as to actual origins, politic and mythical features of their beliefs that costs them arms, legs, torsos and brains.

They can't even see that the chief players, Peter, James, John and Paul never saw eye to eye, never all spoke the same thing and probably never cared one bit for each other. Paul in Galations, makes it quite clear.

"But of those who seemed to be somewhat, whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me."

"For they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me."

"And when James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me..."

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed."
(Opinion: I think any Peter actually saw Paul was eating meat offered to idols which he agreed in Acts 15 not to do and which in Corinthians we know he made fun of believing "We know the idol is nothing..but in all men (Peter and James) is not that knowledge"

Any "True NT Church" would be a Jewish offshoot and have nothing to do with Paul's teachings. Any "True Gentile Church" will be having nothing to do with James and embrace Paul.

Any critical thinker might just reject both.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 5:25 PM

I saw a post virtually identical to the one you posted on James Malm's website. The comment remained visible for only a very short time before he stripped it off so nobody could view it. Do you have any idea why James Malm would not like such a post?

If I were to second-guess, I would guess that James Malm may not want people thinking about where his own credentials came from, or just exactly who he may be amongst the xcog world, or even if a part of God's Church for that matter, b/c many of his thoughts are pregnant with speculations and don't always square with the Bible's scriptures.

In fact, in one post by someone else, it was mentioned that the first day of Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day were the only holy convocations during that eight day period. Rather than agree with the person James Malm proceeded to explain why a holy convocation had to be held for all 8 days. Now, is that self-righteous or what? Is James Malm more righteous than God?

People still rejoice with one another for all 8 God commanded, but God commanded only 2 holy convocations, and if a Sabbath occurred during that time a third convocation, but certainly not 8 holy convocations! I cite this as just an example of James Malm's speculations and striving to somehow "outdo" God in how God wants His Holydays observed.....

God does not need James Malm's help...or any of his zeal in what self can/should do to strive to impress God. James has yet to come to a clear understanding of how God is going to accomplish the following scripture in the lives of human beings:

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..." 2 Corinthians 5:19

Why can't James Malm understand that? Mind you, James had done an excellent job pointing out the sins of the United Association, but James can't understand 2 Cor 5:19 b/c he is too busy imposing God's law on all human beings...when God is doing no such thing.

Think about it. Why should God impose His law on mankind when He allowed that most subtil beast of the field to enter the Garden of Eden for His own purpose(s) so humanity would eventually come to hate evil?

Part of the end of the matter is contained in those words of 2 Cor 5:19. I will conclude this with four verses for James Malm's consideration:

1 Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

And it does not matter how much zeal one has for God! Flesh observing 8 holy convocations when God only asked for 2 (3 if a weekly Sabbath exists between the 1st and 8th Day) will NEVER impress God or fool God into thinking one has MORE ZEAL, James!

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," 2 Timothy 1:9

There is no doubt that James Malm believes that one with great zeal will somehow earn their way around some "great tribulation" and into God's Kingdome, but...

2 Timothy 1:9 "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, NOT according to our WORKS, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before (Remember 2 Cor 5:19?) the world began,"

"NOT by WORKS of righteousness (Or SELF-righteousness I might add!) which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" Titus 3:5

Black Ops Mikey said...

Since they don't have Herbert Armstrong's Golden Calf, Ambassador College, they should offer healing.

Healing's always a big draw (until people find out it doesn't work, but hey! short term money grubbing will yield incredible results!).

It worked for Oral Roberts -- it could work for you!

Oh, right.

That was another era.

Things like that don't make money these days.


The only thing left would be to build mega churches with all sorts of facilities replete with swimming pools, basketball courts, senior centers, skating rinks and all sorts of other fun things. You'd need 20 minute plastic precanned services for all weekend long with vans to whisk the congregants from the parking lot to the go$pel mu$ic and services inside: Picture it as sort of Disney people mover, like at Disneyworld.

Make sure you have a well-stocked coffee shop, cafeteria and gift shop to sell CDs, DVDs and even BluRay with books galore with appealing pictures throughout. You'll need your most attractive vital young men and women personning the franchises: Remember, this must be a triumph of image over substance.

Not unlike Herbert Armstrong's Golden Calf, Ambassador College, but with a modern façade.

Richard said...

The James Malm "look-alike" post was there this morning. So who posted this stuff first?

UCG has been approving some local church buildings - and apparently is interested in more. Wichita and Cleveland moved into their own buildings this year.

Black Ops Mikey said...

A consultant is a person you hire to tell you the time;

They use your own watch;

They tell you the wrong time;

They charge you a bunch of money;

Then they steal your watch and take it with you when you leave.

Couldn't the UCG just done some basic research online and saved the membership a bunch of money and kept the darned watch?

And what time is it really?

It's later than you think.

Byker Bob said...

It is ironic that a church group would hire a consultant to help mute or eliminate behavioral patterns that are caused or induced by their doctrines.


Anonymous said...

Actually, corporations have a long history of hiring consultants to explain to egotistical managers how their pathological behaviors are bankrupting their corporations, which, predictably, these managers don't want to hear about. It would be much more efficient to just light $25,000 on fire.

This is gonna be true in spades anytime a COG corporation hires a consultant.