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.
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
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
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
- 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,”
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
- 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
- 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 doctrines...boo-hoo. They sold all the campuses...boo-hoo. Tkach told us to stop abusing members....boo-hoo."
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.