Sunday, July 15, 2018

Living Church of God: Teens Bored With Its Message



One of the things several of the Church of God's started doing soon after they left the mother church was to develop "Winter Family Weekends."  This is always centred around Christmas season when kids are out of school and families can travel. The problem was these weekends are always held in resorts decked out with Christmas cheer, from decorations, to food, and to family and community togetherness.

The sad part is that the teens of these Churches of God's see all of this and compare it to the boring atmosphere that the church delivers to them.

Living Church of God's youth has been particularly bored by the endless messages that have no meaning to them and/or counteracts what they see going on in the lives of their friends and families in their community.

They are subjected to endless sermons about sex, sex and more sex.  You don't bombard hormonal youth with endless messages about what you CANNOT do. That ends up being fertile ground for sending youth out to explore and experiment.

At a recent Winter Weekend, the ministry had an open discussion with the youth of the church. The ministry encouraged the teens present to make their opinions known about how they feel about the church.  Several of the teens came right out and told the ministers that the telecast was BORING and that the webcasts were just miniature versions of the same boring telecasts.  You can imagine how well that went down with the ministers present!

The youth of LCG are encouraged to disconnect with their communities and to stay away from the EVIL influences of the world that they are endlessly harangued about, so imagine what it feels like to be  also disconnected from your own church that claims to be God's one true church.

It is no wonder that so many of the youth in LCG and other COG's leave the church when they head off to college or to live their own lives.

What would you do as a youth if you had to listen to Gerald Weston who is considered one of the most boring speakers in LCG? When even adults are bored by him, what do you expect the youth to be feeling? How do you expect adults to coddle up to Weston when even he himself says he is boring?

Many parents in LCG quietly question how he can claim to know so much about raising children when he has none. Living Church of God members do find it a bit odd that he, of all people in LCG, would be the guy dictating everything about the summer camps and anything involving LCG youth?

But, this is LCG after all. These youth expressed their opinions over two years ago and still, NOTHING has been done. The youth are still bored and the youth are still leaving.

When has the ministry EVER TRULY listened to their members?




26 comments:

Byker Bob said...

If I had to guess, I’d say the teens are just a mirror of the adults. The adults are bored, still just sitting around waiting for the tribulation, 45 years after it was supposed to have happened. The only thing is, the adults can’t be honest and tell the ministers they are bored, because they are baptized and aren’t supposed to feel that way, or to have any other kind of bad attitude. As goes Jerry, a bored person can only be a boring speaker. What else could he be?

If Jesus had actually returned in 1975, Armstrongism would be seen in retrospect as having been very exciting to have been part of. We’d all be indebted to HWA, and to our local ministers. But, it was all a lie, and should have broken up sometime in early 1976.

Kids, you’re just going to have to find something more interesting than your church to fill the void. As someone I once knew always said, “Have fun, but don’t sin!”

BB

Anonymous said...

Really, kids are bored in the COG's? There are actually kids left in the COG's?
Maybe the few that are left are bored because there are no kids their age to befriend.

Anonymous said...

Those of the first Great Awakening resulted in the Plain People, Quakers and Anabaptists, stuck, more or less, in the 1700's, the Mormons are stuck in the 1800's, and COGs are stuck in the early 20th century, somewhere between the Depression and the 1950's. We all knew that Jesus was going to return and usher in 1000 years of the holiness of 1950's Americana — if everyone in America had been 7th day sabbath keepers, of course.

Every "reawakening" finds the resulting sectarians entrenched in the customs of the period during which the reawakening occurred, and harkening back to a yesteryear when the prevailing culture was just like heaven is going to be. Except it wasn't, of course. If it had been, then wherein was the need for the reawakening? So it's curious that the culture which a sect originally thought so corrupt, so "worldly" and so evil that they had no choice but to react to it by isolating themselves from it, within a few years tends to view that same time period with such intensely rosy-colored glasses, as if restoring or preserving that once-hated culture was suddenly the purpose of their existence.

This phenomenon of getting stuck and being unable to change owes at least some of its mojo to the underlying religion itself. Christianity is coming up on 2000 years old, and more or less, for that entire time, the purpose of churches has been, ostensibly at least, to hold back change, using a book that, more or less, doesn't change. And that, my friends, is a baked-in recipe for boredom.

Feeling the need to hold back change necessitates being out-of-step with the prevailing culture in the present. And that presents a dichotomous choice for young people. Either they can fit in with their peers and embrace the cultural norms of their generation, or they can choose to hang out with boring grandpa instead. The church may go out of its way to demonize the attractive choice, but let's face it, the relatively short WFW and "youth" camps don't really go very far to dress up what's boring-as-hell for the rest of the year (and ratcheting up the indoctrination as much as possible at those venues might be counterproductive).

And let's face it, the church's indoctrination materials, even as indoctrination materials leave a lot to be desired. In all these years, the church has developed about 52 weeks of curriculum. About 1 year's worth of boring lectures. Then they start repeating themselves. It's kind of like high school, but with a tiny fraction of the material, and you never get to graduate. How would you feel if you had to keep repeating your high school curriculum for the rest of your life? And that would be less monotonous than repeating church for the rest of your life.

At what point do you look at the church, how stultifying it is, how bigoted it is, how hypocritical the whole enterprise is, how corrupt it's leaders have always been, and how it literally has nothing to offer but very obviously empty fairy-tale promises, and not conclude AT LEAST that this church can't be the right one? That if there is a god, that this can NOT be where he's working?

Anonymous said...

The youth of LCG are encouraged to disconnect with their communities and to stay away from the EVIL influences of the world that they are endlessly harangued about, so imagine what it feels like to be also disconnected from your own church that claims to be God's one true church.

Living University deepened many young people's disgust with LCG. A few kids would come back from Charlotte with reports of just how screwed-up LCG HQ is, and how filled it is with politicking and lying and self-serving empire-building. Other kids would come back as little robots who had been changed for the worse by their LCG HQ training. Kids are experts at detecting hypocrisy, so they quickly realize that LCG at its highest levels is a brood of vipers, and the good kids want no part in that.

Anonymous said...

Teens bored in the LCG . . . is that much different from most churches in the U.S.? Imagine sitting through an unchanging Roman Catholic service week after week. For many, the only incentives for attending are guilt and fear. If churches taught that attendance at such rituals as confession and Mass was no longer necessary for salvation, the participation numbers would plummet. I recall when the WCG said that tithing was no longer commanded. The income dropped like a stone.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, Rod Meredith fired Weston as head of LCG's youth programs because the kids found him to be such a jerk that he was driving LCG's young people away from the church. Now that Weston is in charge of the people in charge of the youth programs, watch for an increasing exodus of young people from the boring oppressiveness of LCG.

DennisCDiehl said...

I would imagine that anything that is about to happen soon, shortly, 3-5, 10 at the most, 20 for sure gets boring after 84 years and counting.

There is NO abiding message about life as lived now. Without prophecy all the churches of God have NOTHING to offer that inspires, gets you through the real life you have and teaches real life skills in a spiritual framework. Preparing for the "Holy Days" or avoiding the "Pagan Holidays" is not much of a thrill and all very predictable when the Holy Days or Holidays arrive to be dealt with as they have been over and over, same old same old as in the past.

Ministers, at least the ones I knew, read little outside the box or upgraded their perspectives on anything meaningful. They drew on sermon material we'd all heard a hundred times before. When I became fascinated with the Birth Stories, you know Matthew and Luke, of Jesus and presented them as contradictory but why? , meaningful but not literal and a product of two authors who obviously had not read each others story it got me in nothing but trouble. I actually ended up being asked by my Roman Catholic Priest friend if I would present the material to HIS congregation, which I did. So I'm over at the Catholic Church with a hundred people, having a great time teaching what every Catholic Priest knows about the Birth Stories of Jesus while my own church congregation is sitting home, though I invited them and later turned me in. (Chuck, the Priest even paid me $400 to do the classes over three weeks.) Dan Rogers ended up telling me I was "Obsessed with the Birth Narratives (Did you ever hear a sermon on them in WCG? NO, that was the Christmas Story so got avoided from my experience) and eventually told my congregation not to listen to me.

I presented the very same material in a sermon when visiting home in Rochester, NY and it was like talking to a brick wall.

The Churches of God have no real, deep or abiding and inspiring message. It's short term encouragement to hang in spread out over way too long.

The Jewish Christian WCG explosion, into the Pauline Gentile version, with all associated splinters right up through Grace Community and out the other side is simply the repeat history of the early church that found the soon-ness and behold I come quickly going way too long and a new view had to be taken to the horror of most attracted to it to begin with.

God may not be the author of confusion, but God is indeed the author of confusion and Jesus was the Trickster who worked a miracle which could have been avoided had He inspired the correct version of the truth from the beginning.

I thought the vast majority of FOT sermons were obligatory boredom that cost way too much to sit through as well. That's when I got to hear my peers speak and I got nuttin'

Anonymous said...

BB said , “Have fun, but don’t sin!”

And for bored teens and adults: if any anger and wrath is involved with that boredom, then what?

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:" Eph 4:26

John

Anonymous said...

It's not just the kids who are bored with LCG.

LCG 2017 AUDIT

LCG income tanked in 2017, while Rod Meredith was still alive. If tithes and offerings dropped nearly 10 percent from 2016 to 2017, while Meredith was alive for half of the year, how much more must they be dropping in 2018 under the uninspiring leadership of Jerry "Putin" Weston?

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
Teens bored in the LCG . . . is that much different from most churches in the U.S.? Imagine sitting through an unchanging Roman Catholic service week after week. For many, the only incentives for attending are guilt and fear. If churches taught that attendance at such rituals as confession and Mass was no longer necessary for salvation, the participation numbers would plummet.

I disagree about your view of the Roman Catholic service etc. The Catholic Church has mastered the art of awe and ritual. Homilies are indeed boring and canned as they speak the same ones on the same Sunday in every congregation. My son and his family is Catholic and one set of my grandkids attends Catholic Schools which provide amazing community, activities and a pretty darn good education. I'd prefer them there than in a South Carolina Public school. It's not like the days when Sister Mary went around smacking your hand with a switch.

I sat through a Mass (boring) in a packed church visiting my son. I spent the time studying the stained glass, the incredible sense of awe in the layout of the physical church. It was several hundred years old. Every stained glass window portrayed the life of Jesus in sequence and, to me, I found more than enough evidence of Jesus the Sun in it all. That physical building, the ceremony, ritual and art were more than enough to inspire attendance. It also was in the community and one did not have to drive 100 miles of course to a Masonic Temple or defunct grocery storefront.

My other son and family attends what he knows his dad considers a "happy/slappy megachurch" But they have wonderful community as well. More going on for the kids than one can ever do all of. Chris did put his hand on my leg and tell me to not get up to finish the sermon when the megapastor got off on how amazing God was to create Jupiter to vacuum up all the earth destroying asteroids and protect his creation. I commented to my son at that moment, "Well, except for the four or five mass extinction events Jupiter mucked up on." :)

While in the big picture, I'd prefer the kids not fall victim of mythologies and such, those revelations can come when the kids grow up and head out on their considering their own experiences with Church and reality.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:22 AM said: "...And let's face it, the church's indoctrination materials, even as indoctrination materials leave a lot to be desired. In all these years, the church has developed about 52 weeks of curriculum. About 1 year's worth of boring lectures. Then they start repeating themselves. It's kind of like high school, but with a tiny fraction of the material, and you never get to graduate. How would you feel if you had to keep repeating your high school curriculum for the rest of your life? And that would be less monotonous than repeating church for the rest of your life.

At what point do you look at the church, how stultifying it is, how bigoted it is, how hypocritical the whole enterprise is, how corrupt it's leaders have always been, and how it literally has nothing to offer but very obviously empty fairy-tale promises, and not conclude AT LEAST that this church can't be the right one? That if there is a god, that this can NOT be where he's working?..."

The questions in that last paragraph are well worth contemplating b/c virtually all of the xcog splinters claim to be part of "the churches of God," or some "greater church of god," which are phrases made-up so as to justify each one's existence. And to think that HWA hammered away about proofs for a "one true Church" and not "innumerable" churches of god all believing different things.

God must be working with those of one Church, some small flock, somewhere, even if not evident, or God and His Son are liars, and no different than the father of lies.

Meanwhile, time passage does seem to be allowing the scattered "churches of god" to continue to expose themselves by their fruits and by their works.

If nothing else, it appears that the following is proving to be true:

John 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

Could it be that Jesus knew of a day, future from when He walked this earth, when God's flock would be scattered by some "wolf" with a bunch of uncaring hirelings, like a bunch of wimps, also in a scattered condition and seemingly helpless and powerless against that wolf?

Time will tell...

John

Anonymous said...

Teenagers need to be engaged, active and so do adults. The program of; sit there, keep your mouth shut, accept everything I say without question is one of the worst things a teacher can do. Kids learn through doing. What these organizations are teaching is for their victims to be drones. Mindless drones. You must believe everything they say, no questioning or critical thinking allowed.

Maybe if Eve had questioned what she was being told (applied some critical thinking), and had gone to MORE THAN ONE source for answers (safety in a multitude of counselors), she, and by association Adam, wouldn't have screwed EVERYTHING up.

Anonymous said...

"Time will tell" I really dislike that smug annoying phrase used to give a false "could be" to more speculation

Connie Schmidt said...

If the COGs have any sense at all, they are going to get drums, guitars , tambourines and some upbeat, uptempo music into their congregations immediately.

ALL YE- CRY OUT IN UNIDON...DEATH TO THE PURPLE HYMNAL!

Byker Bob said...

Have the ACOgs ever fully acknowledged that there is a teen culture? And, by this, I don’t mean constantly lambasting everything about it, or identifying it as being something that shouldn’t exist but is part of a fallen world. Regardless as to how church members or ministers feel about this, American children from age 13-18 grow up in an environment in which teenagers are acknowledged as a subset, not as appendages to or miniaturized versions of their parents. There is an entire culture surrounding youth, a demographic, and it’s been this way since about 1955. The teen years are a time when young people learn to relate to one another, and to develop leadership skills. If one’s church leaves this untreated, it becomes a vacuum which the kids will go elsewhere to fill. Bored means unengaged.

Mind you, I personally feel that the ACOgs should continue to be boring to teenagers, because it will minimize the damages done, and hopefully the kids will escape, but I’m merely pointing out one more thing that Armstrongism has gotten wrong. At least Jewish kids have their bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs for which to prepare, so truly, it is not a requirement of sabbatarianism that it should be boring.

In organizing activities, this is not something a very controlling minister or deacon should always do. Some of the older kids, with trust and minimal guidance, should be the ones involved in making some of the key choices. It keeps them engaged. And it’s not just the ministers’ pets who should be the organizers. You want an inclusive environment in which all have vested interest in the activity. No need to micromanage in the typical ACOg fashion. If mistakes are made, there is counsel. Adult chaperones should be capable of relating to the kids, not warden or guard types.

We must remember that for the most part, (excepting alcohol consumption), ACOg members are people who have forgotten how to have fun. What kid won’t get bored when surrounded by such people?

BB

Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis,

Don't know if you know about the Atheist and Christian bookclub, but if you hadn't heard of it then I thought you might find this website and video interesting

http://atheistchristianbookclub.com/
https://youtu.be/SVYPgVZH7mo

Take Care

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:42 AM Are you saying *you* know everything? Do *you* have it all figured out and know the "TRUTH"?

There is a lot of accurate observation in what John said @ 6:58 AM.

To borrow John's accurate phrase, time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I raised a child in LCG. I have apologized for subjecting him to their insanity all those years. I remember him confessing to me when he was about 9 years old that he didn't even need to go to church because RCMs sermons were the same every week. He said he could give the sermon himself.

Tired. Boring. Gloom and doom. Totally lacking inspiration. That's LCG.

Byker Bob said...

Thinking about this more, most of the time, if young people know they’re trusted, they’re not going to stray too far. LCg kids are not going to play “Apeshit” by Beyonce and Jay Z at one of their social events any more than we would have played “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Stones. There will always be the more responsible types who pump the brakes if some of the others get too radical.

Anonymous said...

Let's get real.

Today's teens are light years ahead of the ACOG's in many, many areas.

They are a well informed, device-laden, information-ready, active generation. Their schools are interactive, their music and interests are digital. Even the ones born in COG's thanks to their schools and their smart devices. They hear anything, they can look it up in literally seconds to find either the refutation or acknowledgement of the statement. They are not bored with what is offered. (Call it "the World", if you wish.) They ARE bored with the COG's.

Let's look at what MAINSTREAM CONTEMPORARY Christianity offers teenagers that COG's do not, and will not.

1. A Dedicated Youth Pastor specifically hired and trained to meet the spiritual needs of teenagers.

2. A Dedicated Youth Service specifically designed to engage and teach the issues and concerns of teenagers.

3. Wholesome Christian Music by a special Teen Praise Team where teens can worship God with music and song.

4. Mission Trips to impoverished places to help teens learn how to help others and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Here is what the COG's offer the teens during Sabbath Services.

1.

What kind of sermons do the teens have to experience during Sabbath Services?

1. Sermons about everything they cannot do.
2. Sermons about adult material they are not ready for, nor should have to hear.
3. Sermons about some historical thingamajig in a place called whatchamacallit.
4. Sermons given by a person who has no idea how to give a sermon.
5. Sermons about marriage or child rearing they have no reason to stay awake for.
6. Corrective sermons that a kid should not have to hear.
7. Sermons about demons, satan, and the paranormal that are approached in a far too adult and descriptive manner.
8. Special music, that to the teens, is not special.
9. A great time to catch a nod off while making sure not to realllly fall asleep.
10. Endless recitations of scripture without engaging content. Just write it down on the notepad and close your eyes again.

This has been a COG Culture for as long as the COG's have been around, from Radio to Worldwide to the scattered churches. The problem is - the Youth and Teens have changed. The Church structure and ministers have not.

They are NOT meeting the needs of the youth. The Mainstream Churches have far more superior programs because they have invested time, money, and skill to the cause. The COG's thought that a big sports program, summer camps, and youth trips would be enough to keep them in while making them listen to their main sabbath services. These days - it's much different.

I'm pretty sure it's just as boring as being in detention at school - or sitting at a library for two hours. I wonder just how many teens sneak their cell phones out during services without the pastor knowing about it.

IF THEY WANTED to, they could develop a cohesive program that could at least be a start to make the youth feel welcomed and fed. But they do not. So the teens leave, and then the COG's wonder where they all went to.

Anonymous said...

Anon12:37PM wrote:

"Anon 8:42 AM Are you saying *you* know everything? Do *you* have it all figured out and know the "TRUTH"? There is a lot of accurate observation in what John said @ 6:58 AM. To borrow John's accurate phrase, time will tell."

Time will tell. I agree. What's more, I'm going to hold you to that. Time will tell.

Without respect to anything John may or may not have said, who here knows everything? Who can differentiate between all falsehood and otherwise? Who by making one comment, or another, even a challenging one, who would even be insinuating such an absurd proposal? What a ridiculous thing to accuse someone of trying to obliquely hint at in the most ambiguous of terms.

But it is possible to nail a few things down with a high degree of certainty. There's a few falsehoods and a few truths we can differentiate between.

One of these truths is that Christianity is a classical Hellenistic pagan mystery cult. It has all the elements, and is exactly what we should expect if some Hellenizing, iconoclastic Jews in the 1st century decided to make a cult figure out of their "messiah," or perhaps, out of one of the guys they hoped was going to be a messiah, to set them free from Roman oppression. They set the whole thing up. They got their own "mystery" (how to get your "salvation" sorted out) and borrowed baptism by water for an initiation rite, which was typical. Aren't you glad they didn't borrow baptism by fire?

And, at least according to the texts which this mystery religion generated during the 1st century, the cult figure prophesied he would return within their lifetimes, within a generation, to deliver them from Roman oppression. He didn't just do it once, he repeated it three times, using three different ways to say it:

Matthew 10:23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 16:28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

Matthew 24:34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

Luke 21:32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.

And yet, it didn't come to pass. Assuredly, I say this to you, if there was an historical Jesus, and he did prophesy this three times, no less, then it is a matter of historical record that it did not come to pass.

And how does the bible say to handle that?

Deuteronomy 18:21-22 And if you say in your heart, "How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

Maybe we can't figure everything out...but here is one thing we can figure out. Certainly, without doubt, Jesus spoke presumptuously, and he was a false prophet, and this ancient Hellenistic pagan mystery cult is a false religion.

This is not speculation. Time has told! In fact, it's been telling us for 77, going on 78 generations now. And we should not be afraid of him. I am not afraid of him.

Nobody knows everything. But there's a few things we can figure out. And this would be one of them.

Anonymous said...

Just teens bored? In my estimation from those I've spoke with; the only ones who are not bored, are the old old timers. I mean 65 plus. They still love to hear authority hammered.

Anonymous said...

The 65 plussers I would imagine would be happier in one of the other rooms listening to old Cassette Tapes of HWA. And they'd probably want to drag their teens in to listen with them too.

Anonymous said...

I was a teenager in worldwide church of god in the 80's. Saturdays were the most boring thing imaginable. I dreaded it. Don't laugh too loudly with your friends. Don't do anything that might mess up your good clothes. Don't look at the video games in the hall (the "church" was a held in a roller skating rink). Stare at an empty stage for 2 hours because a nasally-voiced old man you've never seen in your life is lecturing off of a tape cassette. Bring your musical instrument to church but don't dare use it to play anything that isn't in the hymnal. A "security" guy who would literally hide behind things and jump out shouting "Aha!" if he caught a boy and girl talking alone in a side hallway. By the time I finally turned 18 and and escaped this goofy cult I had no idea at all how to deal with different situations, ideas or lifestyles than I was used to. It made my first couple of years of adulthood a lot more awkward than they needed to be, and I made a lot of mistakes trying to make up for the lost time but I was lucky enough to get it figured it out in time to eventually get a normal life on track. I guess what I'm saying is that the COG method of micromanaging and programming the life of teens turns out people who are completely unprepared for the real world, if you've never been given even the chance to mess up as a kid you're really going to be in a world of hurt having no idea how to handle the first time you mess up as an adult.

Anonymous said...

Swingin’ man! 65 plussers with teenagers?

Byker Bob said...

Any of your friends become bikers?
;-)

BB