Monday, July 16, 2018

LCG: The Culture of Insiders and Outsiders

From an LCG source:
I think there is definitely an insiders vs. outsiders kind of culture. 
For those on the inside—families with money, who make big donations, and people who are in or related through marriage to the "insider" families—I'm sure life is great. They've got tons of family at all the LCG events, and their personal shortcomings are more tolerated. 
Outsiders have a very different experience. You go around thinking you should be feeling this whole "brethren in Christ" thing, but it never really works. It's easy for the insiders because they ARE family. But the rest of us are just there to make up the numbers. 

In a sense, you can't complain, because that's how all human institutions work. Except, this one CLAIMS to be different. The only real difference is there's a heavy dose of self-righteousness on top of everything else.


Anonymous said...

This culture insiders vs outsiders is throughout ALL Church of God groups.

Anonymous said...

The leadership in LCG is quite good at getting across to most of the membership that they are OUTSIDE the circle of the elite who give more money. They get by with all kinds of stuff that we pee-ons would never be able.

Byker Bob said...

That type of culture is more like bacteria culture! Sounds like LCg is just one big petri dish.


Angela Storey said...

It was like that in wwcg and ucg. Easy to be left out.

Anonymous said...


When ANY COG group gets serious about obeying God for real and not this play acting (I'm Above the Law 'cause I'm . .so and so...)then this baloney goes away....

Anonymous said...

Comment made said: "...The only real difference is there's a heavy dose of self-righteousness on top of everything else..."

I was reminded of something: on 16 April 2005, just over 13 years ago I heard Part 3 of a sermon series titled "Who Overcomes What?" where the same self-righteous attitude was exhibited:

"...Have you ever run into the one person within the church congregation, who is far above everyone else? You know, all the people’s names are in your mind right now when I said this. We all remember through the years, and hopefully, none of us were that way. And if we are, and if we were, or are still, let’s ask that God root that out of us.
But there’s always one that thinks they’re the better. Could be a woman, could be a man.
But, oh, they’re so much holier than everyone else. Oh, they so much want to correct everyone else. They’re so far above us. They just sit and they judge constantly. Everyone around them, except the one that they should judge. When they go look in a mirror, that’s the one they should judge. And all of us judge the person in the mirror and go “Hello. Oh, thank you Father for being here.” And that person should keep their mouth shut. They’re the ones who complain about everyone else, but they’re the ones who offend everyone, by the garbage that comes out of their mouth.
Now hopefully, we don’t have anyone in God’s Church at this time, and if we do, hopefully they’re just passing through, or, God rectifies that in them.
Can you pick up that first stone and throw it if you have no sin? Well, sometimes these people – I remember back in the old church there, oo, there was a bunch of them! There was a bunch of – and you know what? Some twenty years later, they still are that way in their respective organizations that they are – they’re still doing it. They still think they can walk on water…They sank down. Peter couldn’t walk on water. It was by the power of God he did that. And when he took his mind off of the power of God, when he may have started to think like any of us would have thought at that time.
Think of yourself, now getting out of the boat and starting to walk on water. You’ve never seen that done. Probably never will, unless God causes some miracle.
And now you’re outside. You get up there, “Yeoh! Boy, this is so exciting!”
But you’re walking along, see, it doesn’t take more that 5 or 10 steps in the human mind, because we’re so nutty. You start walking around, and then he went, he was looking right at Christ then and boy, wha’, he just doesn’t know what he is doing but now he’s starting to pay attention.
He looks around and he sees Christ there, and now he’s there. Kind of like the same thing, huh?
“Hey, I’m as good as Christ!”
Now not necessarily that went through his mind. I’m not imputing motives or sin or anything on Peter, but this is the way the human mind works, and it would work the same.
All of a sudden, you’re out there and suddenly you think you’re doing it. And as soon as that happens, guess what happens?
There was this watery-stairs that he started to walk on, and he started walking, and he started sinking. And he couldn’t bring himself back up, could he? He had no power to bring himself up and get on top. Oo, he certainly looked to Christ real quick then! Then he knew where the power was coming – oo-oo-oo, like a little escalator, he came right on back up, and walked over there.
God does it. He gets all the credit. We get no glory. See, Peter started to take a little glory there. Somehow in the thinking, got off of God, got off of Christ, and started to come back to self. Do you think God is going to let you walk on the water with self? I don’t think so!
I don’t think so! Do you think he was going to let him walk over there to Christ and put his arm around Christ and say, “Hey, look what I just did. O-oh, that was – I’ve seen you do it but I did it too.”
No, no. All the Apostles, and they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet, they thought just the way we think.
Alright, God gives you power…”

Near_Earth_Object said...

The Insider-Outsider concept is a popular view of one of the most important phenomena of denominational Armstrongism. But simple separation of people into Insider and Outsider categories is not as nuanced as this phenomenon really is in operation.

This phenomenon is the Armstrongist Caste System. It consists of multiple layers and where you are located among the many categories is dependent on multiple factors. It is the chief characteristic of pragmatic Armstrongism in the present but it is also espoused by its advocates as the description of God's eternal future government.

The Caste System is what an Ambassador College Education is about. AC provided a minimalist liberal arts education and was mostly focused on Armstrongist belief which could be gotten from a collection of little booklets and a correspondence course. While a little soggy sop was thrown to academics, the principal focus of AC was on training in the pragmatics of the Armstrongist Caste System. It was about knowing who was important and who was not - who should be respected and who should be oppressed.

It is hardly a wonder that this "education" is implemented in church congregations. Every congregation has a caste system. Most of the time, a low caste person (the typical lay member) will not be aware of his caste status. But the system strikes quickly if that person moves out of line. Sometimes this is only asking the minister a challenging theological question - beyond the faux questions with easy and vetted answers.

I recall Joe Tkach, Jr. back in the late Nineties visiting the large WCG congregation I attended. I wanted to ask him a question about Calvinism. I found Calvinism highly objectionable - really weird stuff. So I had a short discussion with him after services near the front of the congregtion. The pastor's wife was standing nearby during this time staring daggers at me. The body language told me that she did not believe I had a right to even be talking to Tkach - that was for ordained people. I ignored her and said what I wanted to say. But there was the palpable presence of the Caste System. This is a tiny example but illustrates the issue.

Most people in Armstrongist congregations are persona non grata. They are just resources for the self-important leaders. Colloquially, this can be called the Insider-Outsider issue but it is more complex than that, has a theological position in Armstrongism, defines the operation of the Kingdom of God for them, defines how Armstrongists interrelate (instead of the idea of love) and sorts people by their perceived value has human beings. It is the backbone of applied Armstrongism.

Anonymous said...

6.28 AM
The sermon you posted is the usual church nonsense of:
1 anti self-love.
2 the bully 'don't think you're better than me.'
3 bury your pounds in the ground cause God will do everything for you (He won't).

Not being forced to listen to such bully morality is why being a stay at home Christian is advantageous.

Anonymous said...

This is the way it was in WCG. Exactly. No exceptions. It is a clear picture of the way things were.

I spent my teen years in Y.O.U. in the Worldwide Church of God.

There were the teenagers of the big contributors and the "important" people. The money makers, the pastor and assistant pastors kids, the "cool" kids, and of course, the athletes. They had their groups completely set.

Then there were the rest of us. The shy, the loners, and the children of the poor and quite frankly, the weird and wacky. I was one of those.

Putting it nicely, you knew your place. I'll call the former group group "A" and the latter group that I was in group "C".

There was no way you could get into group "A". They'd mock you, make fun of you. The girls would make it totally clear they were not willing to dance with you at any Y.O.U. dance function. I still see the "grimace" on one girl's face that time I asked her to dance with me to this day. It was the day my self-worth and self-confidence really took a nosedive. I remember the time they made fun of how I dressed because I was wearing suits 20 years out of date because my parents could not afford new suits because of the tithing policies, in part. I remember the looks they'd give me from their cliques when I walked in, or how they'd walk away when I approached. During events when they HAD to interact, it was cool and forced. A relative of mine of the same age, under peer pressure, even ignored me completely because I was in group "B". They were the insiders. I was an outsider. We were in the same group, and the same church. And I knew it. And the parents sanctioned or supported this behavior. Some may be quick to judge that it was somehow my fault, because I was poor or trying to hard to make friends, or home-schooled, and the church was my only source of interaction. Maybe, but that's not the point. The point is the clear insider-outsider behavior and the impact it had on people like me.

This makes sense when you think of what became of the "Insiders" in the WCG back in the day. Who became the pastors? Who got sent to Ambassador College? Who were the ones that had such incredible experiences and memories in the church? Who ARE the ones today who sit in high places casting judgement and condemnation at their whim? I submit they are the very ones who were in "Group A" 20 to 40 years ago - who's attitudes and behaviors never changed a bit from the way they were back then. The very ones who were arrogant, condescending bullies who made fun of the weak and the poor I submit are the very ones who occupy the pastor's chairs or the leader's chairs today. They are also the very ones who think we're crazy or it's our fault when we share our experiences because they can not relate.

It's this insider vs outsider clique culture which explains so much of the behavior of the COG's, from the top to the bottom.

Anonymous said...

I attend LCG and do not see any "insider" or "outsider" mentality taking place anywhere. Methinks the "source" is disgruntled for other reasons.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:21PM, there are some relatively healthy LCG congregations where a tight-knit group of people came out of WCG together and have retained a camaraderie such that the whole former WCG congregation is the "insider" group and it is the new attendees, with no WCG background, who have some trouble fitting in because they don't have a "former association."

Charlotte is, however, pretty much what the other posters have described. There are cliques and claques. There are double-standards galore. It is true that Weston isn't as transparently money-conscious as Rod Meredith was, but there is still an environment of favoritism toward wealthier members and a widespread assumption that if you are poor you are somehow sinning so as not to have earned God's favor.

Anonymous said...

1:21 is obviously an insider if they can't see the difference. Some congregations are better than others but there definitely is insider vs outsidwr mentality in LCG. I tried for 10 years to be accepted. It killed me a little more every single week until I finally saw that it wasn't worth it to practically beg people to like me.

Byker Bob said...

This discussion is an interesting mirror for us all. Some see it, some don’t, and it all unfolded as subsets in our own little group which was sold to us as being the only enlightened ones on the planet.

What is interesting to me is that the concensus would seem to be that “inclusion” would have gone a long way in optimizing our own little church, and therefore, our daily lives and experiences. People looking down on people is most unpleasant for those who are looked down upon. How could such evil invade our own private little sanctuary group?

I’m amazed that people do not like this when it is inflicted on self, yet the lesson goes totally above the heads of a few when we consider the concepts of pluralistic society, multi-culturalism, and the politeness elements of political correctness. Nobody likes to be excluded, to be considered second class, to be mistreated. We all know that through personal experience. Yet, some of the bad stuff which was learned as part of Armstrongism (like insiders-outsiders) persists in ex-members’ lives decades after they leave. How could former victims of mistreatment be against laws against it?

Unfortunately, this is also another example of the law not being able to produce love. Secular laws intended to equalize how people are treated so that there is fairness for all are lauded and observed by the people who already had it in their hearts to be kind to fellow man. The law does not instill love into the minds of those who blindly hate. Only a change of heart could accomplish that.