Friday, March 16, 2018

Gerald Weston: "It is difficult to “sell” to someone who finds your “storefront” distasteful. "



Gerald Weston has written in the latest Living Church of God News about the task ahead for the LCG in drawing in new members.  He has a product to "sell" but no one seems to be biting, except for disgrutnled COG members who church jump at regular intervals.

Weston makes a telling comment early in his article:
It is difficult to “sell” to someone who finds your “storefront” distasteful. Different stores and different approaches work for different people. We know we have the right message, but how we present it is important in a world where professing Christianity is an ever-shrinking population.
He is right that so many find the "storefront" of LCG so distasteful.  Abusive ministers and policies have kept scores of COG members away from LCG.  Rod Meredith's horrendous treatment of members when he was in the Worldwide Church of God led many to not join up with them when he apostatized and started Global Church of God. Members understood that there was no reason to jump ship to where they would still be treated like dirt by Meredith.

Weston continues:
So how do we attract people to walk through the door of our “store”? We must never forget that we have something unique. The real gospel of the Kingdom of God and the true Jesus Christ is radically different from anything found in professing Christianity. It is the only hope for this very troubled world. This is our message, but as with Paul and Stephen, we must capture people’s attention. God told Ezekiel to portray a siege against Jerusalem as a sign to the house of Israel (Ezekiel 4:1–3). Jeremiah wore a yoke of wood around his neck—something that would garner attention and make a point (Jeremiah 28:10–14). Read through the prophets and see the many ways God got the attention of rebellious nations.
Ecclesiastes advises us, “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).
We must continue to preach to those who are most likely to listen—professing Christians—but we must also gain the attention of a skeptical, secular world. Most will not “buy” God’s truth, but we must get them to look in the storefront window by offering common ground. An example of this is the Canadian-produced Viewpoint video, “Where Do the Celts Come From?” It is not overtly religious, but at the end advertises the booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy. As of this writing, it has more than 68,000 views, more than 20,000 during a two-and-a-half day stretch, without advertising during that time.
Who would guess that subject would bring people “into the store” to look? Whether they pick up the free literature inside is yet to be seen, but we turned their heads and got their attention for a few minutes, and maybe more!
I think the readers here can add many reasons as to why the Living Church of God will continue to have problems attracting people to their "storefront."  So let Weston know the reasons why....

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

What I think is very telling here is his comparison of LCG to a business. Because that's what these COG's are... businesses. Or, more accurately, corporate religion. And being unique is exactly the differential needed between a failing business and a successful business. To me, it seems to be clear that the intent of LCG's success isn't so much in the health of it's members so much, or the accuracy of their doctrines (you can't get much more unique - or infamously unique, shall I say - then Armstrongism. The intent is for LCG to be ran as a business, using it's uniqueness as a differentiator, and "sell" it's product to customers.

So, with LCG apparently so much admitting that they're a business (which they are) with an intangible storefront (which it is) that needs new members (which they do, how else can they increase their cash flow?), what is wrong with their approach? Why can't they attract people to their storefront?

1. They sell a defective product.
2. Their reviews are horrendous.
3. They have terrible customer service.
4. They have untrained management.
5. They treat their "employees" horribly.
6. They don't pay their employees, their employees pay them.
7. There are no refunds when the product is found to be defective.
8. Customers cannot tell them the faults of their product.
9. The performance incentives they offer are fake.
10. They demand a strong uniform policy, but do not pay for the uniforms.
11. They demand a corporate yearly conference.
12. Failure to attend corporate events and meetings will lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
13. "Employees" are required to save money out of their own paycheck to attend mandatory corporate meetings.
14. No paid sick time, No paid vacations, no paid anything.
15. All employees are "on call" when it comes to fasting.
16. Employees may be required to travel long distances for weekly mandatory meetings.
17. Employees are required to bring children to mandatory corporate meetings.
18. Said meetings have insufficient activities for children, whose parents are mandated to bring them.
19. Children, who are forced to suffer through corporate meetings, are then placed under disciplinary action for being children while at mandatory corporate meetings.

I'm sure others can add to or converse about this list - but you get the idea. Actually, comparing the LCG to a business is probably the most transparent and honest thing I've seen them do. For the eyes that see, it should put everything into perspective. In my view - It's a business, you're a number, they're the owners, they reap the benefits, you pay the price. Literally.

Anonymous said...

An example of this is the Canadian-produced Viewpoint video, “Where Do the Celts Come From?” It is not overtly religious, but at the end advertises the booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy. As of this writing, it has more than 68,000 views, more than 20,000 during a two-and-a-half day stretch, without advertising during that time.

Read the above carefully. Weston admits that more than 2/3 of the views of the video, nearly 48,000 of 68,000, came when the video was being advertised. Notice, though, that Weston does not mention how many people responded to the video. If I remember correctly, LCG used to brag about getting more than 8,000 responses to their TV programs. Since a 1 percent response is unusually good for a program like that, this means they were getting more than 1 million views of individual TV programs. These YouTube videos are a far less wide-reaching witness.

To get an idea of how the programs are appreciated, just look at the YouTube comments. These also give a hint as to whether the comments came from advertising or from organic reach. That "Celts" program now has more than 92K views, and it has 563 comments, an 0.6 percent response. Yet, unlike a TV response where someone asks for a booklet or DVD, many of these 563 comments are negative ones, mocking the stupidity of the speaker's arguments. Many of LCG's other YouTube videos have fewer than 10 comments.

From an organization with a $19 million annual income, it's really quite embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

As a disclaimer - in the above illustration. The "Employees" and Employees mentioned are the church attendees and members, not the actual employees. I'm sure you all get this, but - Just in the off case someone decides to dispute this analogy and get picky and petty about it. It's just an analogy, not to be taken literally. ;)

Anonymous said...

Very well said, 11:33am! First thing that came to my mind as well was: THE PRODUCT, that's what should want them to come in for!

Anonymous said...

Weston wrote:

We must never forget that we have something unique. The real gospel of the Kingdom of God and the true Jesus Christ is radically different from anything found in professing Christianity. It is the only hope for this very troubled world.

How is LCG unique in a world where there's also UCG and COGWA and a variety of other Armstrongist groups? Well, LCG is one of a few groups that has made notable changes that reject what HWA taught, so it's not a storefront you would choose if you want 1986-vintage Armstrongism. Yet LCG has kept some of the least attractive parts of vintage Armstrongism, with its haughty and abusive ministry, and its one-man government. Now that the Internet has spread word of HWA's letter to RCM, telling him that he had the will to lead the church but not the qualifications, people who respect HWA won't join LCG.

For a while, LCG was the only major group that spent the majority of its income on proclaiming the Gospel. Rod Meredith even said, early on, that this was what distinguished a Philadelphian group from a Laodicean group. Well, somewhere in the last few years, LCG started spending a majority of its money on feeding the flock, not preaching the Gospel.

LCG's business model has failed.

Connie Schmidt said...

Gerald Weston has problem in comparing his operation to a legitimate "storefront".

Especially since all it is doing is trolling the public to find "johns" to give up their money while getting "screwed".

Thus , it is best to use the analogy of "storefront prostitution" in the Netherlands, as a better example for the LCG modus
operandi.

Anonymous said...

"We must never forget that we have something unique. The real gospel of the Kingdom of God and the true Jesus Christ is radically different from anything found in professing Christianity. It is the only hope for this very troubled world. "

If they knew Jesus Christ, we wouldn't be here with books full of the atrocities that exist within those groups. It's like trying to sell a Corvette, or a Lamborghini, and opening the hood to find a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine under there to power it, when they told you it was a Pratt and Whitney jt-9d. And when you find out what a jt-9d is, you know it was never meant for a Corvette or a Lamborghini anyway. So now you're dissapointed because your product has been touted to be so expensive but what powers it is, to say the east, insufficient.

If this car analogy was real - you'd never go to that car dealership again. But, I guess, in the religion world, when you go in expecting a jt-9d and get a lawnmower engine, you take what you get. Try driving it all you want, what you have ended up with is a very expensive lawn mower that they claim is a sports car.

They say they know Jesus? Well, By their fruits you shall know them. They don't know what they're talking about. Seriously - they don't know. The funny part is, I believe they honestly and truly think they do! They point at the car with a lawn mower engine - Boy, that thing's amazing isnt it? That car works! Its the only car in its class! Wow! 0 to 60! Vroom!

Till you get in, seeing the delusion, wondering how in the heck, shaking your head, and you say "You haven't a clue what you're talking about."





Anonymous said...

If there was something unique about LCG then they might be able to sell their product, but they are not unique. They are just like every other COG out there. Other than having Meredith as their leader they have no uniqueness. They are just like RCG, PCG, UCG, COGWA and all of the other groups. 400 some storefronts to pick from.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Gerald Weston said, "It is difficult to “sell” to someone who finds your “storefront” distasteful."

MY COMMENT - It is difficult to "sell" to someone who finds your BRAND distasteful. Storefronts normally remove bad brands. Cost of holding bad inventory is prohibitive in the real world.

Richard

Anonymous said...

@ 2:32PM, you're not quite right. Most of the groups were founded as successors to HWA, not as rebellions against him. Most of the other groups were founded in rebellion against JWT Sr. or JWT Jr.

Of all the groups, CGI and LCG stand out as groups founded in rebellion against HWA. CGI was founded by Garner Ted Armstrong despite his father plainly speaking against it. LCG was founded by Rod Meredith despite HWA's written instruction to Rod that he wasn't qualified to lead the church.

Anonymous said...

If there was something unique about LCG then they might be able to sell their product, but they are not unique. They are just like every other COG out there.

Major point. Because with WCG, WCG WAS unique. HWA was unique. The Feast was unique. Even compared to SDA or JW's, the WCG had it's unique characteristics. The truth is, WCG was HWA, and HWA was WCG, and nobody else in COG world comes even close to HWA. No one has even close to the skill HWA had in what he did, regardless how you feel about that skill. And what made HWA's uniqueness work was a combination of events that happened at the right time for such a message.

Now? There's nothing unique. The conditions simply are not there. So all these COG leaders can try all they want. The conditions do not exist for significant growth of a COG under any circumstances.

For them to achieve growth, the environment has to change to be near or at the environment that existed in the time of HWA. But even if that was to happen - not one of those COG leaders is even remotely like HWA - not even that Wadsworth Dude who is, i think, a practiced imitator.

And the last and final straw that guarantees a lack of growth is the age of information that exists today. Even if the environment was to change. Even if we had a clone of HWA (gag), people can fact-check anything immediately.

About the only thing that could happen to make a COG as successful as WCG is a post-apocalyptic, no internet, non-connected, fear-ridden, traumatized, desperately searching society with no knowledge of COG's past that's desperately searching for answers - with someone as skilled as HWA was in his day. Assuredly - That is not this generation.

otis said...

I like, how he uses the word sell. Once you buy into that cesspool of lcg, like that bunny the payments keep on going. With no guaranty of that product.

Anonymous said...

What is so unique about lcg? No matter what cog you might attend, they are all the same, from the 3 songs, opening prayer, sermonette, news of the work, main message and final song and prayer. Almost like the old day's going to the movies. Cartoon, serial, then the main movie.
Then you have the leaders, who think they are better than us and take great delight
in letting us know. According to them we're idiots and since they are the elite, we are nothing. Can't even be trusted to study on our own.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:24 PM, one difference is the length of services. Services last for about 120 minutes if you attend PCG or LCG or split-offs from those groups, as PCG and LCG split off before WCG shortened its services to 90 minutes. Most other groups descended from UCG have 90 minute services, as UCG rejected WCG doctrine when it split away, but retained the shorter length of services.

James said...

All of the ACOG's have a ANTIQUATED sales pitch. Don't matter what they do, their organizations will fail. The solution? I'm not saying.

Anonymous said...

3:24 -

What, no more middle song or two? ;)

Byker Bob said...

Sorry, Jerry. You’ve got an unsolvable problem! Hope you have some other areas of your existence that you can feel good or fulfilled about.

BB

Anonymous said...

I personally told GW years ago, that the ministry were basically salesmen, selling God. He didn’t like the comparison at the time, which seemed interesting since HWA was a glorified marketer/salesman prior to ( and arguably after he started WCG).

I guess the concept must have become more palatable since then, now that he’s comparing what LCG has to offer, inside a “storefront”.

Anonymous said...

This unique talk is pure marketing. Forget about truth and reality, all that matters is perceptions. So they believe. It's marketing that saturated Herbs church with such claims as AC teaching students 'how to live.' Do ministers know how to live?? Ha ha ha.

It's marketing plus bait and switch (the thug ministers temporarily lay low for newcomers).

Anonymous said...

A video on where the Celts came from got 20,000 views in about two days. People care about their heritage. Too bad multi-culturalism is pissing it all away. British Israelism appeals to people because they care about their history. Too bad it's just the wrong history.


Anonymous said...

All churches ask/beg for money. The Armstrong cults are no different.

Byker Bob said...

Just imagine some poor hapless individual clicking on the Celt site expecting to learn something brilliant and illuminating about his heritage a la Louis Henry Gates, and being greeted instead by a National Enquirer version straight out of the British Israel archives of Armstrongism! What a buzz kill that must have been for 200,000 people!

BB

Anonymous said...

If I were a member of this organization, I would have to ask Mr. Weston why is our church's focus geared towards the ever shrinking population of professing Christianity who does not like our message. And why would you say that; "WE must continue to preach to those who are most likely to listen" (Professing Christianity) after you just told us that they don't like our message? And why, knowing as you say, "Most will not buy" would you still make the major emphasis of our message towards professing Christianity?

I would further ask; What Jesus Christ do you have to offer to professing Christianity? They have a better Jesus - who only requires them to believe on him for salvation. What does your Jesus Christ require them to do for salvation?

I would also ask; What kind of hope will you give professing Christianity? They don't need hope, they know they are already saved and are going to heaven!

Anyhow, Mr. Weston, thanks for clarifying Matt. 24:14 for me. I always knew it read; "And professing Christianity shall peak into our store front for a witness, and then shall the end come.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have a link to this wacky Celts video?

Anonymous said...

@ 3:37 AM, Anon 12:03 PM linked to the video in his post. It is here .

Anonymous said...

Gerald said:

"We must continue to preach to those who are most likely to listen—professing Christians—but we must also gain the attention of a skeptical, secular world."

9:25 said:

I would also ask; What kind of hope will you give professing Christianity? They don't need hope, they know they are already saved and are going to heaven!

Here's what the COG people don't understand.

"Professing" Christians already have hope. In fact, many churchgoers in "professing Christianity" understand the Gospel far better, and I mean FAR better, than any minister in the COG does. They are faithful, they are zealous, they understand the Messenger AND the Message. Because of this understanding, they aren't only going to reject Gerald's counterfeit gospel, they're not going to even give it a glance. It is only in COG world where "worldly" Christianity is interpreted as Satan's churches and is thought of as lost and hopeless. In reality, they are normal people who often have as life verses Jeremiah 29:11. Many are real, genuine, loving people who do good in their communities and in their world. And many genuinely care and want to make a difference. Gerald's message to them is not attractive because they see it as false, and as weak, bleak and uneducated claptrap from an organization trained by an established and proven false teacher. Gerald is not going to make a dent into "professing Christianity" - and they're only likely to listen for a moment at the headline, but once they hear the content, it'll be "see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya".

Now Part 2 - gaining the attention of a skeptical, secular world. Good luck. The skeptical, secular world is highly educated and connected. Maybe he knows that since he only wants to "gain their attention". Once the "world" researches any COG group on the internet- which they will quickly and thoroughly do - your chance of even getting .1% of them is out the window. No - I would guess 0.00001%.

The ONLY thing the COG's can do at this point is create an illusion of witnessing to maintain the very small core group of tithe-payers they already have. Weak, half-hearted token attempts are all they need to do to keep those peoples' money flowing into their pockets. If they REALLY wanted to make a witness, there are much more powerful options that would be a full attempt.

BTW. IF they get anyone from "the world" into one of their Armstrong services, they won't be back. The COG liturgy of DA songs, Sermonettes, Sermons, and some sort of "special" music is considered by the "world" as horribly boring and ridiculously amateur and outdated - but not as outdated as the message.







Anonymous said...

@ 9:26 AM, you wrote:

The ONLY thing the COG's can do at this point is create an illusion of witnessing to maintain the very small core group of tithe-payers they already have. Weak, half-hearted token attempts are all they need to do to keep those peoples' money flowing into their pockets. If they REALLY wanted to make a witness, there are much more powerful options that would be a full attempt.

Weston must be aware of this. If you look back 10 or 15 years, LCG had a very effective media outreach, and its TV program alone was reaching as many as 2 million viewers per week. Yet, for some reason, LCG chose to dismantle that TV effort so it is now reaching just a tiny fraction of its former audience. Why? If you look back just 2 years, LCG's magazine had a circulation of 539,000. The most recent issue reported a circulation of 257,000, less than half of the previous number. Why?

LCG's leadership is either incredibly incompetent, or it does not want to make a serious, full witness.

Anonymous said...

As a former LCG member I still have Facebook friends who work at LCG HQ.

One thing I have noticed is how many LCG HQ employees post on Facebook during working hours. If you have friends at LCG HQ, you can check this out for yourself. LCG members, your tithe dollars are being used to support lazy workers who would rather post on Facebook than do their jobs, or who have so little to do on their jobs that they have time to read and post on Facebook. Now, THAT is distasteful!

Byker Bob said...

Normally, in business, you devote the majority of your resources to the areas where you are getting the most positive results. One could easily read into these dwindling media attempts that the desired results were just not forthcoming. LCG would certainly not be the first of the ACOGs rendered clueless by our changing technology as to how to effectively get their message out. Just another aspect of the old time and date stamped routine.

BB

Anonymous said...

indeed, its about branding: the churches and televangalists what tend to be "successful" are those that preach the old protestant line; but if one purports to be preaching the actual Word of God, one also needs to practice the whole of that Word...

now, the cogers claim to be strict followers of the Word of God, but they tend to neglect the One Principle Doctrine in the Word that could literally have drawn members to the fold, and thas simply that what is found in Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 13, 1 Corinthians 6:4 (which dr. meredith subsequently balked at in a sermon after i posted reference to it on the comments section of their website several years ago), Galatians 5:14, James 1:27, Matthew 6:24, and especially the following Scripture:

"And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." 1 Corinthians 12:26

that Scripture is a metaphor for why the original wwcg collapsed, and why the cogs continue to languish to this day...

until they take the concept of love of the brethren, strenghtening the poor among them more seriously, they shouldnt expect to get the kind of growth they expect, especially considering the "unorthodoxy" of our Christian Sabbath keeping Doctrine, etc...

c f yochanan