Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is Yet Another Church Emerging Out Of The Church Of God In Christ?

As the 103rd Annual Holy Convocation of the Saints of the Church Of God In Christ has ended, we must ask ourselves is another church emerging from the church that we have known? The question may offend some and be dismissed out of hand, but we must take a look and be willing to confront issues asking important and pertinent questions.

Traditionally, the Church Of God in Christ was a church known as a "common mans" church. In other words, the church and church leadership was for the everyday person who was saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost. Early on, our style of worship wasn't desired. We were criticized and called "holy rollers" and "holier than thou" among other things. Now even the Methodists and Missionary Baptists incorporate many COGIC inspired practices within their services, including shouting and dancing, which the Saints were known for back in the day. Among the Saints, there were no requirements or "proof" necessary for service, other than anointing, to secure a solid place within the church. The foundation of truth was the most valuable part of the fellowship. There were many talented and gifted people, but because of the social climate, that talent was primarily centered within the church, for the church and by the church.  From the Church Of God In Christ other reformations would later be developed such as the Assemblies Of God, The Apostolic Church, The Pentecostal Assemblies Of The World (PAW), The United Pentecostal Church (UPC), The Glorious Body Church Of God In Christ, The Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church Of God In Christ International and a host of other churches.

Bishop C.H. Mason (9/8/1866- 11/17/1961)
founder Church Of God In Christ Inc.
Mem. TN.

Early on, one did not necessarily need be a professional singer or entertainer. The preacher did not need a degree as long as he was anointed and knew the scriptures. One certainly did not need a television ministry, a certain amount of money, or some other qualification in order to be validated by the Saints. The "roots" of this church were embedded in anointing, bible belief and the impartation of the Spirit through Holy Ghost manifestation  sanctification and sincerity.  Prayer warriors were the one called to conduct revivals, and they were not grasping the microphone to be seen. they allowed their works to speak for them.

From its humble beginnings in 1897 as a holiness church under the leadership of C.H. Mason, J.A. Jeter, and C.P. Jones, to its reorganization as a pentecostal/holiness church in 1907 until recent times, the roots of the church were hailed as valuable to helping individuals understand the nature of God, the church and the uniqueness of the Saint in this world. The Saint was proud to display a difference of being light in a world of sin and darkness. In fact calling one another "Saints" sprung out of the Church Of God In Christ as the Baptist church didn't call their members by that term and the Catholic church held that designation for those who were dead or who had departed from this life.

There were other differences in the organization itself. For instance, the timing and the place of annual Holy Convocation, the churches primary annual gathering of its adherents, was established around the agricultural practices of farming communities in the south who, around November, would be finished with harvesting their fields, preparing for the winter, and looking forward to a new year. By this time money would have been made and the leaders would have time to spend praising the Lord for an extended period of time. The meeting would always be held in Memphis, TN. as Memphis since 1907, was the headquarters and primary location of the church.  At that time they, the church, by way of it's primary body, the General Assembly, would undertake important issues and chart the course of the church as to what it would practice, establishing or altering rules  and certain regulations and generally carrying on the business of the church. 

Is There A New COGIC Emerging?
Bishop O.T. Jones Sr.
2nd Senior Bishop 
One would think this is a silly question but we must not forget that the rise of The Church Of God In Christ International, a totally separate organization that claims the same founder (Bishop C.H. Mason) and successor leadership (Bishop O.T. Jones Sr.) was an offshoot of the Church Of God In Christ, Mem. Tn., claims. The COGIC International began in Chicago, Illinois, and if it were not for the voice of the Presiding Bishop C.H.Mason on tape, would have eclipsed what we know today as the Grand Ole Church Of God In Christ Inc. of Mem.Tn. This new church was, in part, because of a dispute over leadership and what the church would value doctrinally. The older Bishop O.T. Jones did not value  or esteem the doctrine of the Holy Ghost as highly as Bishop C.H. Mason and there was a conflict over the biblical necessity of tongues. Of course there was also dispute over procedure and certain rules regarding whether the church constitution allowed for a Presidium of Bishops to lead or whether the power was vested in a sole authority or Presiding Bishop similar to the late Bishop C.H. Mason, and exactly how much authority that leader actually had. In a strange sort of way, similar questions may be arising today.

Non-Delegate Lockout Of The General Assembly

Bishop Chandler D. Owens
5th Presiding Bishop
Not only have former Presiding Bishops (Chandler Owens) held that the Presiding Bishop held authority similar to that of the "Pope", but the current core of Bishops seem to be slowly wielding power away from the people, even if it's little by little. Example: In 2010 the General Assembly was closed to anyone who was not a delegate. According to General Secretary, Bishop Lyles, this was due to space limitations, however there was no provision made for non-delegates, or other members of the church, to observe proceedings. One may think this means little, but nothing is further from the truth. Only the delegates to the General Assembly have the power to set forth votes on certain issues, and actually set church policy. Non-delegates or witnesses, can be and are also members of the church, but in this case, those non-delegate members have been lowered to the status of non-members and outside observers, fully dependent upon second hand accounts of events within the church that they support both financially and through attendance.

Bishop J. C. Gilkey
Kansas Southwest COGIC

As one can see the General Assembly is one of the most important parts of the church and is the only place where there is participation from the "common member". In that session one will hear about certain practices that the leaders are proposing and could possibly be a part of the church's direction. Delegates could question the actions of the Bishops or the official position of the national church in these meetings. One such action that may be questioned could be why Bishop J.C. Gilkey of Kansas has sued a church in his jurisdiction and obtained a judgement against it for tithes and offerings? At the death of the founding Pastor, all the church wanted to do was go to another jurisdiction in the same Grand Ole COGIC...Instead Bishop Gilkey, took out the other part of the church Constitution, (The Green and White manual ~ the additions to the Black manual) and decided that it was better to sue the church than to allow the people to serve God and the church as to how they saw fit. In fact 100% of the membership was in agreement with the proposed change. What makes matters worse is that this was done under the guidance of the current General Board of Bishops, who are authorities on most actions such as this by member churches. We should ask, are the actions of Bishop Gilkey a fair practice of the church? Is this how leaders allow the lest among us to be treated within their church? If we are locked out of the General Assembly these questions can neither be asked nor answered.

At the convocation, the members of the church were asked for $20 each to support the church. If 10% of the over 6 million members responds, this creates $12 Million from the membership of the church by itself. Ultimately, this could be called "Taxation Without Representation". Has anyone told our leadership that there was a war fought over this same type of issue? Has anyone mentioned that the membership is not simply a "cash cow" to fulfill the programs of the leaders while those same members are left exposed?

Clarification

Some individuals think that because the church is Episcopal in nature that it is controlled by the Bishops and Presidium of the church. That is not wholly correct. The General board Of Bishops are the "Ex-Officio Directors Of The Corporation" The General Board including the Presiding Bishop is elected and set in place by the General Assembly. When the General Assembly is not in session the General Board under the direction of the Presiding Bishop makes decisions on behalf of the church. Those decisions can be "overruled, amended, repealed, or modified by the General Assembly" [COGIC Manual 1973 reprint 1991; Section A. #1: The General Board, Its Organization, Powers And Duties pg. 4]

The General Assembly on the other hand is
"the supreme legislative and judicial authority of the Church Of God In Christ. It is the only tribunal which has the power to express doctrines and creeds of the church, and its decisions shall be bidding on all members of the Church Of God In Christ." [COGIC Manual 1973 reprint 1991; Section B. The General Assembly pg. 8]
Since we see that the General Assembly is an important body within the church, then we should ask, who are the members of the General Assembly? Anyone? With limited exception, that answer is no. I'll explain.

In order to qualify as a member of the General Assembly, one has to be:

a- Members of the General Board (Presidium of Elected Bishops)
b- Jurisdictional Bishops
c-Jurisdictional Supervisors of Women's Work
d- Pastors of local churches and Ordained Elders
e- two (2) District Missionaries and one (1) lay delegate from each Jurisdictional Assembly; and
f- Such foreign delegates as may be determined by the General Assembly in session
          [Section B: The General Assembly Sub. 1: Pg. 9]

Under Section B Sub. 2 'Election And Certification Of Delegates' Sub Section (a), the only automatic delegates are individuals from categories a, b, and c as listed above. All other individuals must be "elected by the Assemblies of their respective Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions" (pg.9)  and issued a "certificate of election" which is registered by the General Secretary of the church. He then issues "certificates of registration" for that year only. Being a delegate is not perpetual.

The Change Of Dates Of The Holy Convocation In 2011

Bishop Charles E. Blake
7th Presiding Bishop
Under the direction of current Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, the new Church Of God In Christ has not only announced that it will remain in St. Louis through 2013 but it has also announced a new date for the Holy Convocation in 2011. The new date is Oct. 31st through Nov. 9th 2011. That would not be unusual if it were not for the fact that the old date, beginning the first Tuesday AFTER the first Sunday in November was officially adopted as Holy Week by the church in its General Assembly session in 4/1980. Remember, the General Assembly is supposed to be the primary body performing certain duties of the church and establishing certain policy. In fact here is the language of the resolution from the former official rule of the church:
RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THAT THE WEEK EMBRACING TUESDAY AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY IN NOVEMBER THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY BE DECLARED HOLY WEEK TO ALLOW ATTENDANCE OF THE SAINTS AT THE HOLY CONVOCATION IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE.

WHEREAS, the Church of God in Christ has traditionally celebrated its annual Holy Convocation beginning Tuesday after the first Sunday in November for the succeeding ten days; and

WHEREAS, the Church of God in Christ is recognized as one of the largest Pentecostal bodies of the
major religious denominations in the world; and

WHEREAS, the constituency or the Church of God in Christ is composed of all classes and professions of
life; and

WHEREAS, our membership attends the Convocation annually from all over the world in order to serve
God in the tradition of our Church, now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That the week embracing Tuesday after the first Sunday in November through the following Sunday will be, and is hereby, declared Holy Week to encourage and permit the Saints everywhere to attend the Holy Convocation at our National Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee."
[Pgs. 75 and 76 Green and White Manual Proposed Amendment Passed 4/80]
The question is did the General Assembly authorize this change of date? It could possibly be that they did by adopting an alternate resolution as an addition to the Green and White manual in the 2010 session of the General Assembly, but if so, non-delegates were locked out and don't know other than what they are told by those who were delegates and allowed to attend the session. So the communication goes like this..."give an offering, support the church, but you can't come in, because there's no room in the inn." 

Popularization Of The Church Of God In Christ

COGIC yet moves in many of its established traditions, but recently, it has begun to expand and enlarge its boarders. In fact, greater and more enhanced community presence through Presiding Bishop Blake and West Angeles inspired Urban Initiatives has now taken front and center for all churches.  As a member of the church, the expansion of the church is not the problem. I think most fully agree that the church should do and excel in community ministry. But at what cost? Is the identity of the church being compromised in order to do community ministry? For instance, one of the highlights of the convocation was the address to the Convocation by President Barack Obama:

While we can look at the President's record of being a major inclusionist, even establishing gay-friendly policies to impose upon the church and all that will seek certain types federally sponsored grants and funding, being pro-choice, (as in the baby's life is less important than an adults choice to kill it) and with a health-care reform policy (which offers some improvements) and tax policy that together, are not only anti-business, but are also consistently proving to be harmful to the savings, income and wealth creation  of millions of Americans, you would think that the church would be cautious in receiving certain accolades and allowing the emotion of a political attachment to mingle or intertwine with our spirituality. However, as one can tell, none of those things cause concern for most of us, as confirmed by the loud applause that the video from President Obama received. The question is, do we need political attention to validate this church or authenticate the direction, history and relevance of the church? If we do we are in trouble because politicians come and go. On the other hand, I guess it's just nice to be acknowledged.

Advent Of COGIC Mega-Ministry

Never before have the stars shined so brightly in the church. Not only are those who have arrived within the art and entertainment industry clamouring for the COGIC stage, one of the most notable transformations of the new COGIC, we observe the desire to promote large financially successful congregations, attract stage and cinema personalities and otherwise mingle with the "in crowd". Maybe this is due to the fact that our Presiding Bishop has a 25,000 member church, (West Angeles Cathedral) or could it be for some other reason? To be clear, Growth isn't the problem. Increased influence isn't the problem. The point where growth or increased influence causes other things to become irrelevant is the problem. Does the seeming new philosophy of the church affirm that all ministries are valuable, or does the size of the church, aesthetics and the degrees or accolades of the church and pastor, now indicate a certain superior standard of relevance within the new COGIC? Is the storefront as valuable as the mega ministry and which church will the "stars" and recording artists choose to go when ministering to the public? Then, at what cost will this be done?

At the 2010 Convocation, the virtues of community ministry were hailed. Two of those virtues included, gaining more members and consequently increasing tithe and offering revenues. Although that relationship may exist for some, I know that community ministry is done because God said that it should be done. Community ministry is taxing, expensive and should be done in spite of cost/return on investment ratios. The hungry are fed because it is right, not because it is profitable, neither because it attracts membership. Prisoners are visited because it is right, not because it opens political doors or increases attendance. 

The old church wasn't confused on this issue. The lack of political involvement yielded a realness that was unmeasured. So the question is can the new COGIC balance the old dedication and service with a new progressive spirituality and call to come up in the world? 

Failure To Address Victims Issues

The Church Of God In Christ has done well in addressing issues whenever the church may be, but has failed and refused to address the issues of the individuals who are left hurting by charlatan ministers and ministries who have sexually abused and molested members. ReportCOGICabuse.com has kept a tab on the issues without doing undercover investigations and the numbers are startling and cannot be denied. Although the trail of ministers is great what of the victims? Why are they left out? Maybe it is not convenient. Maybe there is a fear that it will cost too much. I asked and still have not yet received and answer.

Whatever the reason, the church only need to adjust itself to undo the damage that it has allowed. There is a new program that addresses pastors and leaders making it more difficult to abuse and molest followers. There is increased education upon the membership in what to do and how to avoid these pitfalls, but what of the victims? 

The Word Of Prophecy

Recently, I received a word regarding the Church Of God In Christ, from an experienced and seasoned member within it. I will not disclose their identity but by their permission I am able to share this much with you. This is what they said:
"Look for COGIC, to go through drastic changes, in the upcoming months and the next 2 years. Look for hidden agendas to be exposed and God literally “snatching down” left and right. It is destined and it must happen or the very elected will miss God. A lot of the saints, especially our older saints are looking bewildered and wondering what is going on or what will happen next to this church? When you see persons like Jessie Delano Ellis hanging around especially near the presiding Bishop and on the platform, it is not to be taken lightly . Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr had a lot of problems with Bishop Ellis, and now he is too close to the Presiding Bishop and it is not for nothing?? There is an agenda. You are going to see more young men (the ages of 49-55) make their claim, fight for their claim for the office of the Bishopric. It is going to be a battle for positions, like you have never seen before. People, are going to do whatever it takes for a “position” and that is why judgment will and has come."

Conclusion

A person that was witnessing the consecration of Bishop's online, rendered the following comment (that somehow got through):

"according to the scripture, the bishop is suppose to have one wife. I just saw a bishop being ordained as a bishop and he has a living wife, and married another. Help me with this"
Although I don't know who the person was that they were referencing, not only did a twice married Bishop receive their consecration but one also also from California, died the Saturday night before they were to be consecrated Sunday morning. Another individual had a stroke at the end of his message on Saturday night and was hospitalized. He too was a "shining star" of the church until a rift in his first marriage.

When we think of what the church is and what it used to be, we realize that we have a long way to go to recapture the glory of God. Some will read this and think this is hating on the church. However we are constrained to tell the truth, for only the truth will help us and God will only honor what is done in truth and thruthfully. 

38 comments:

  1. This is one of the best comprehensive looks at COGIC's first stage flirting with perdition Im aware of. And you have produced an excellent analysis that is quite chilling if not prophetic in its declaration. Its fitly titled because this is a new church emerging which I believe will become just another ecumenical religious organization with a penchant for pentecostal histronics, fashion, music and political connections. Other than that it may be indistinguishable from the United Church of Christ.

    The rich history of the church seems to have little bearing on the contemporary decisions of this new church leadership except when it is in a ceremonial or statistical context. That's why I think we are seeing the stark rise of land, property and sexual abuses with little to no recourse of justice for the victims. The Gilkey case is an example of the bizarre dereliction of duty and injustices leaders of the COGIC has given their approval to...and participate in. The fact that COGIC routinely violates its own rules is shocking. The wholesale disenfranchisement of its rank and file membership is equally shocking.

    I have very mixed feelings about the future of the church I love so much. But in my heart I cant shake a sinking feeling that the judgment of God is looming. I dont know what that will be or how long it will last but those with sober minds know that the church cannot continue on its present course with no intervention from God. It may very well fall into a form of apostasy while maintaining its prominence. I believe like the Jews it may become blinded to the truth and as a consequence fall victim to its own excesses.

    In my fantasy I would hope they would read your article and urgently call all hands on deck to turn the ship before it hits a mountain of steel. But that is a fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As always there are those who believe that there are cetain incorrect details presented in this article. All they have to do is provide the correct details and support them with where and when their details were delivered and by whom.

    In fact that would be good so that way we can all be edified.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pastor Burnette, regarding your comments: "Does the seeming new philosophy of the church affirm that all ministries are valuable, or does the size of the church, aesthetics and the degrees or accolades of the church and pastor, now indicate a certain superior standard of relevance within the new COGIC? Is the storefront as valuable as the mega ministry and which church will the "stars" and recording artists choose to go when ministering to the public?" Have you seen evidence of this attitude, or are you just asking the question? Just wondering if this occurred during the convocation, for instance.

    ReplyDelete
  4. COncernedSaint,

    I am asking the question but I can see signs of it also. now, I don't want to lay the blame of this at the feet of the current administration, so I'll be clear on that.

    I believe Friday night, the gospel stars and entertainers couldn't hardly wait to get to the musical and perform. They wanted to have a full blown concert before the preached word and the concert that would follow. As I noted they gave the mic to Pastor/Bishop Marvin Winans, whom they called "Brother" Winans, and he sung one line..."I feel like goin' on" and gave up the mic and they seemed disappointed.

    Now, with urban initiatives as the direction of the mainline ministry, where are those same singers in the urban setting? Where is the resource of ministry directed? Not to the low level street ministry, it is being directed to the church large enough and able to sustain a crowd, offering etc. That's not an exclusive COGIC issue, but it is a long way from whence we came...

    Prayer revivals was what changed the communities in which the church existed. However that's not popular and none of these singers, no matter how anointed we think they are, are showing up for that.

    Now, the reason all of this connects to the current issue is because no one is directing anyone within this modern church to that greater standard.

    Some may hold my views to be antiquated, but when the church stops being a church and becomes only a money making, asset producing vehicle, looking for bodies to increase revenues with a goal of societal prominence...we have a problem.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is there a reason why you didnt name who it was who died?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gcmwatch,

    Partially because they went mumm when it was time for the ceremony and skirted past it. The person who informed me of it, couldn't remember the man's name, but I can get it.

    They did the same thing with Campbell. Most folk online were asking about his status. They simply said, "it can happen to anyone and he's getting some long deserved rest"...then later "just pray for him" never once anouncing that a serious event had taken place.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Excellent commentary Pastor Burnett. I too am wondering who passed, there was one Bishop in a Cali jurisdiction passed in Sept., but unable to find out who or if a designate had been selected and in place for ordination at Convocation time. To be honest, my primary shock in the initial reading wasn't the death of a bishop designate or Campbell's stroke, parts I glossed over after reading the church switched the dates of the next convocation. I had managed to secure a really great rate and am hustling to find comparable accommodations. Something told me weeks before convocation, I kept looking at that week for some reason...
    I was in the lobby during most of the Saturday evening service (and Sunday for that matter), primarily because I didn't want to be a part of the aerobics that would be Pastor Campbell's message. I got a beautiful testimony from a mother whom God has blessed despite physical trials. When she came and sat with me she vocalized the sentiments in my head, calling all the touching of neighbors and running to 3 people is "of the Devil, straight out of the pits of Hell..." As the crowd exiting picked up, a woman came by, asked saints to pray for the "bishop" who was just up speaking collapsed. I thought she was referring to Lyles or someone else closing up service, but then she said Campbell and I thought "oh, no-no" but didn't correct her, it was just time to pray. But in reading your post about other occurrences and looking at the big picture, this isn't just coincidence. A bishop came visiting his 2nd wife jurisdiction talking about he is husband to one wife. Now, they've been married almost 20yrs but he was in the wrong place to tell that lie, or half truth, he has one wife -at a time... People want to argue Bishop Mason remarried, but his first wife who he had loved was stone cold dead when he remarried. He didn't allow saints to remarry and work in ministry, I've read history, when they realized folks were still shacking and living common law they had to get straight or go on.
    I'm trying to keep my comment brief, but I observed and noticed so much that weekend that kind of tickled and disheartened me, Convocation is really the best time to see what is happening to the church if you're not an official traveling all the time. I recall Sunday evening Blake passing by with his entourage of adjutants, and people curious about the small stature white man (Chitwood) at the tail end of the group. Hello, black people, that is the money. Communion was a hit it & quit it affair, I mean I saw the cameras but I thought that was just the webcast, but as Blake started administering the sacrament then dismissing before everyone could even be served I thought what is the rush??
    For all the pastors bucking Bishops/administration it amazes me how in the dark the average lay person is to the way things are and are going, until their church is slid from under them. But then I've gotten a hard, fast education over the last 3yrs and I am young. Bless the Lord; He will not have me in the dark. I come from a jurisdiction and church where my late Bishop/Pastor held firm to the doctrine and teaching of Mason whom he was close to, and taught us well, but even within the congregation not everyone received/appreciated it, let alone the jurisdiction. After a while all they saw was he's been bishop longer than most of us have been alive and I got next. The new bishop consecrated last year, age 50, gives some lip service, but then his actions have to be closely watched, trying to give him a chance because you know he's under pressure from old heads, but YOU wanted it. And how they want it, as you mention, the brothers are clawing up the ranks - I got introduced to the ambitious after Patterson's funeral.
    I need to close this up and get to my Thanksgiving celebrations, but keep telling the truth and giving people the information they need to rationalize, consider, and PRAY about regarding THE CHURCH, and our church.

    ReplyDelete
  8. LaPreghiera,

    THANK YOU and God bless. That was well worth the read. I was also amazed at how the rank and file member doesn't know the rule of the church and some have no idea that any rule exists...

    One such is the non-acknowledgement (officially) of Woman pastors. COGIC does not officially recognize women pastors even though they allow women pastors (certainly will take their money) People were asking where Maria Gardner was online and I couldn't account for that at all...They put out a notice a couple of years ago and told the women to NOT pay a pastoral annual report or assessment as the constitution does not officially recognize them.

    Now, a female Chaplin can be recognized with pastoral credentials but that's a special process. Again noone (virtually) knows about this process.

    So here we are again...will we be honest in establishing a rule or true biblical regulation regarding the issue or will we continue to call women pastors, but on paper (which is the only thing real) deny honoring women in pastoral capacities?

    That's another issue that the General Assembly could address, has tried to address but each time they are derailed by certain leaders. It makes one wonder.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Blessings to you Pastor Burnett and I pray you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

    I have a question to ask concerning COGIC or basically, the order of denominations period.

    Is this truly biblical. And please, I am not being sarcastic, but I really want to know from your perspective if God meant for His church to be run in such form or fashion. I know that the bible states there should be Elders-Bishops/Deacons appointed over His churches, but to me, it seems like these are nothing more than business corporations (at least it's what they seem to have become).

    I was part of a COGIC church for almost 10 years and after awhile, I just couldn't take any more of the "man-made traditions" that were makeing the word of God of no effect in "my" life. I learned alot while being a member there, and actually, I believe the Pastor there just received a promotion to the office of the Bishop (he's was one of Bishop Blake's assistants in the past and very close to him).
    But after a while, you come to find out that it's not about your integral walk with the Lord, but who you "walk" with in the natural to be recognized as truly "anointed" moved up the "spiritual chain." I had enough after 10 years. I felt like a heavy burden was removed from my spirit man after I left that church. I truly understood what it meants when the word says, "he whom the Son sets free is free indeed."

    Pastor Burnett, I can understand one's loyalty to an organization, however, when such an institution has turned from the very basic elements of God and is evolving into a secular corporation with the title of "Jesus" slapped on it (I say that with all respect) I have to wonder why one would want to stay a part of it.

    Are we not free to worship God in Spirit and in Truth without the ties of a denomination, but rather, united by faith, in God with the bible being the only manual needed rather than additional church creeds and pomp and circumstance.

    Your witness and articles have always been a blessing to me Pastor, and this article in particular just left this burning question in my spirit.

    I truly do not mean any disrepect as I HIGHLY respect you as a man of God and a true lover of souls and the people of God.

    As always, thank you for all that you do in the body of Christ and the God given assignment on your life. I see you as a voice crying out in the wilderness of COGIC today to return to holiness! :-)

    Godlysoldier

    ReplyDelete
  10. Godlysoldier,

    Thanks for the inquiry and the profound questions and situation that you pose. There are many things I could say regarding what you're asking but let me be as concise as possible.

    1- Any group of believers that come together, share committed values, share the goals of reaching the lost, put themselves together for any particular purpose or mission, is an organized group with a hierarchical structure no matter what the name is on the door. If they call themselves, "1st Church of The INDEPENDENT, ONLY, SOUL SINGULAR Bretheren" They are an organization and they must conduct business according to the laws of the land in which they exist. in order to avoid utter chaos, they must have regulations rooted in the bible but beyond what the bible teaches. If not all you have is chaos and ultimately an ineffective ministry and outreach.

    Secondly, there is no such thing as a nondenominational group or organization when it comes to Christianity. In my opinion, saying such is a lie hanging over the door. In order to be nondenominational, people would have to virtually believe in or stand for nothing. As soon as a shared belief arises, and people become committed over certain aspects of scripture including the whole of scripture, this creates a denomination. The Independent church simply does not believe in the necessity of the organizational church. So their "denomination" is created around that. Now, is that a biblical belief?

    In the church, some may like what is emphasized some may not, this keeps the lines drawn. Is that a good thing? It could be. It could also be negative under the wrong circumstances. Some things are eliminated at the door as a result of shared belief and clear identity. So there is no way to serve within Christianity and not be a part of a denomination even if that organization or group of believers claim to be nondenominational...

    Third, and I think this is the focus of your question...How can I or anyone remain a part of COGIC when it has certain problems and some organizational dysfunction.

    Now, none of those things are reasons to leave anything that provides freedom of worship and upholds the message of holiness. Unlike the Muslims, I don't have to imitate Bishop Blake, nor listen to him everyday. He is not the Pope and what I do or we do does not languish on his word, neither the words of any administrators.

    Let's go back to that nondenominational organization and church...Do we believe that it will never have issues with succession, liberality, commonality etc?

    I am proudly a COGIC Pastor that teaches the whole bible, believes in speaking in other tongues openly and not just in my private prayer time and life and do all that I do with the utmost joy and committed service whether Bishop Blake or anyone cares or is a part of it or not.

    see 2

    ReplyDelete
  11. 2

    Godlysoldier,

    There are thousands like me and occasionally they do chime in to let me know that they too are standing where they are. There are some older folk who have served this church since Mason's time and know what this should be like. If all those like me, with the commitment left, then who will correct the ship when it's time?

    So there are some equally as profound reasons why I stay. Now that opens another conundrum, are there any that withhold goodness toward me simply because I am a part of an organization that they in their spiritual mind have blacklisted? Does anyone see me as SUPT COGIC Harvey Burnett, or are they looking for the Christ in me and being edified by my life and teachings?

    COGIC hasn't done anything wrong to anyone when it's done right. People that have done wrong do wrong and while there may be some that are doing wrong within COGIC, God has promised to reveal the wicked to the saints. So I'm not surprised I see some of the things I do, I only pray that when and IF it becomes my time, I'll be ready to do differently.

    Now, I hope you take no offense to my response as I have taken no offense to your question. I believe you are a beautiful person as others that I have met through carrying the word on the internet.

    I WISH I get get all of y'all in the same church location...we'd turn this thing upside-down! 4-real.

    Thanks and keep the commentary coming regarding this. We need some others to come out of the background and shadow of men and carry on the work and mission of Christ without the fear of men.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Pastor Burnett, you said:
    "I WISH I get get all of y'all in the same church location...we'd turn this thing upside-down! 4-real." That's for sure!

    Thank you for taking the time to address my little inquisitive spirit. ;-}

    And of course I take no offense with your reply. I relish the wisdom and transparency you always bring forth with your bloggers/commenters, which you of course showed in your reply to my question.

    My prayer for you is that you will continue to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (as all of God's true soldiers are in these last days), and as I said before, continue to be a voice crying out in the COGIC organization for a radical return to holiness. Because whether we be denom or "non" denom, without holiness, no one will see the Lord.


    Have a blessed evening Pastor and it sure would be nice if you were in Texas! ;-)

    Godlysoldier.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear Godlysoldier,

    I was reading your comments on denominations, I would like to share that I too do not adhere to it. Now saying that I go to a pentecostal church, but I do not adhere to pentecostal traditional doctrine as such would not call myself a pentecostal. Take the word "catholic" which means universality of the church, but it was the romans who slapped "roman" to it.

    During the protestant reformation, it was not Martin Luther's intention the church break up, but to do as God said in the bk of Isaiah, "can we set down and reason w/one another." Well of cource that didn't materialize, Martin Luther had to go into exile and the church broke up into many factions. I kind of look at it like divorce, which we both know God is not for divorce, but he allowed it because what, "our hearts are hard", so I believe it is, and once again my opinion is, so it is w/denominations, but God can still get the glory out of them.

    For in the end w/all these denominations we have in christendom, it can't be avoided, someone is saying I know more and serve Christ better than you so it is w/Islam that to has many factions. But as you stated w/utter christlikeness in the end whether you are non-denom or denominational what matters is are you walking w/Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you Anon for your kind and very informative insightful comment.

    I first got saved in a "non" denom church so to say...then experienced a COGIC church. Both were powerful in that they taught the word of God but the "added" stuff from the COGIC just put somewhat of an additional burden on my spirit man. Now as I'm growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior, I see that it's not really about what true Christian "non" denom or denom you associate with, as long as you are believing in and calling upon the Name that is above every name.

    I liken it to when Paul was telling the church folks that were trying to compare himself vs Apollos as to whom was the greatest to be associated with. Paul said, "one plants, one waters, but its God that gives the increase." We just need to make sure as Paul instructed, that we are not exalting or crediting any church with what only the power of God can do thru mere human vessels. I thank God for all of the vessels He has used in the past, present and future to help me grow in Christ, however all praise and Glory I give to my wonderful Creator and the glorious plan He devised before the foundations of the earth to redeem my life thru the precious blood of the Lamb!

    Yes, there will be sects and factions of Christianity until Jesus' glorious return, however, let us now allow them to take our eyes off of the real message and meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ...going into all the world, preaching and teaching the Good News and making disciples of nations. Bless you!

    Godlysoldier

    ReplyDelete
  15. Godlysoldier,

    You said:"but the "added" stuff from the COGIC just put somewhat of an additional burden on my spirit man."

    Please describe some of that "added stuff" to me. I don't know what that might be right off and I've been in the church nearly 30 years.

    I just need a clarification as to the type of things you are referring to.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Pastor Burnett,

    Forgive me for generalizing COGIC with "my personal" experience with the COGIC church I attended for 10 years. My reference to the COGIC is simply related to the one COGIC church I attended.

    The "added stuff" I was referring to is as follows (again based on my personal experience):

    Women have to wear dresses. You could wear pants, but if an "Official" COGIC was expected to be in service or speaking, if you want to work the altar, you best have on a dress, but other times it was ok to wear pants.

    Women's Day, pomp & circumstance event that you were "expected" to go all out, buy a new "official-color-for-that-year's-theme dress and the whole nine. Which left someof the not so financially sound women feeling left out or not a part of the first Lady's "in group"

    Double tithe month

    Reports and dues to pay for a license to confirm you are an ordained minister/evang. etc.

    The arrogant spirit that only COGIC folks were holy and saved.

    Having to write a proposal just to hand out NT bibles while street witnessing and wanting to feed the poor and homeless, in which each member of the evangelism team were using their own personal resources, not asking for the churches resources. Also, not wanting to fellowship or partner with other Christian churches in the area when it came to outreach programs, again asking the church for no resources.

    The anti-biblical ceremony in which they honored saints that had passed on at national women's meetings with chairs and black material draped over them. The whole thing was just dark and creepy (although I heard from COGIC friends that they stopped doing that).

    Lastly, but not least, the overall experience that your reputation within COGIC, how you "went along with the program" was more important with your integrity and personal walk with the Lord.

    Again, this is my personal COGIC experience with one COGIC church for 10 years.

    As always Pastor...thanks for your time. Godlysoldier.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Lastly, but not least, the overall experience that your reputation within COGIC, how you "went along with the program" was more important with your integrity and personal walk with the Lord."

    CORRECTION: I meant to say how you went along with the program was more important "THAN" your integrity and personal walk with the Lord." Sorry at work and typing too fast. :-)

    Godlysoldier

    ReplyDelete
  18. Friend Godlysoldier,

    Thank you for your sincere response to my comment and by the way I am your friend Tony Davis I comment also on Pastor Foster's GCM Watch. The remarks you made concerning your experience within a COGIC I call denominational traditions/doctrines. Why do I call it that, well alot of man made institutions have crept into the church, some of them harmful some of them not.

    But some of the most harmful are the spiritual ones' where we over emphasize on certains doctrines and gifts and under emphasize on what the Lord would call the more "weightier matters." And because of this once again many churches have broken up and many brethren have been spiritually wounded. I remember when you remarked about Paul's comments to the church of Corinth, when they were playing favorites between himself, Apollos and Peter he rebuked there inmaturity in telling them how carnal they were, for instead of being caught up in the Word of God being ministeered, they were caught up in the individuals' thats why he said later to those who were glad that he was inprisoned saying in laymans terms, "I know your glad I'm locked up, but thats alright, preach the gospel" if thats not maturity then what is.

    I must say I'm not condemning denominations, because I'm part of a major one, as I said, but I simply speak about the harmful aspects of such, that we all know, if were honest are true. To truly love something or someone, you must see it or them the way it is, not for what you want to see it as, for to do that opens up the avenue of justifying and making excuses for the errors that are more than apparent for where man is involved great power can also create great error. And when that happens we walk in "purposeful" ignorance and blindness which our Lord and his Word speak much about. Your friend.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Godlysoldier,

    Thanks for your response, but there are two observation to make regarding every circumstance that you named:

    1- Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, are any of these things COGIC policy.

    I mean there is no rule or directive in any manual saying that these things, the things that you mention, are either institutions of the church or have to be adhered to. So to hold that these things are "COGIC" inspired is simply not a good statement to make. Now you did say that was your experience in that church or group of churches so that's fair enough.

    Real quickly, so far as dress is concerned, my wife as a matter of personal conviction does not wear pants. I am proud that her conviction is such that she sets an example by example for the women of our church. In fact she single handedly dismisses the myth that pants are necessity for the modern woman. She does everything that she needs and wants to do with a skirt or dress.

    Before we were married she was the same way over some 25 years ago. This is COMMNEDABLE as it exemplifies a sacrificial attitude toward life, living and service toward God. Guess what? She wasn't raised in a COGIC church.

    In fact, recently, in her medical class, they went into clinicals. All the students were told of a certain uniform with no mention that there was an option to wear a dress or skirt. What did she do? Asked the professor if the dress code regulations would allow her to wear a skirt, and if the department had them available.

    The professor said yes, and the department said, skirts were available, and they had them in stock for her to choose.

    Now, why did she ask? It wasn't because of some non-existent COGIC regulation. It was because of her personal conviction and God had already made a way for her if that's how she wanted to continue to express her faith. That's both honorable and commendable and every Saint that follows that type of path I hail greatly.

    Now, I view those type of things as an expression from the believer to God and I value it, rather than assume it to be "stuffy" or complex. Those things increase my faith rather than hinder it. They pont to stability and steadfastness. Those are characteristics of spiritual growth.

    Not to say that you are hindered by such, but these type of things are often not valued as highly as they should be. They are relegated to organizational baggage when at heart, it's based on a personal commitment to God, and that commitment should be hailed.

    Now, I know what you're saying about the inconsistency. But that goes into another area of how people honor God and respect his house, non-denominational or not. Well that leads to #2

    2- All of the things that you name are not limited to a COGIC church and that's partially why I wanted you to expound.

    see 2

    ReplyDelete
  20. 2

    These type of things happen in non-denomination churches all day. Pedophilia, adultery, rape, molestation, improper dress or regulation over what should be done etc, yes, and even honoring something or someone in disproportion or in a quasi-"dark" manner.

    Look at the cover...Marcus Lamb he wasn't endorsing a denomination. His non-denominational network was his denomination and they were all about Jesus and reaching the lost...What happened?

    What is encountered many times is no less that church prejudice. The denominational/non-denominational church argument is based on just that...This is why I say that every church can be considered a denominational church. If you reject organizational churches frankly you become a denomination unto yourself. Unless, as I said they simply don't believe in anything...If that's the case, they can't be a biblically based or Christ centered church. Christ church had a certain set of beliefs that distinguished them from other sects and denominations even within those that called themselves Christians. Remember the gnostics? Cerenthus and Marcion I sure said and though that they were Christians. had thousands of followers also. Yet they were rejected by the Apostles such as Peter and John.

    Now, being in a Christ centered church doesn't mean opening one's self up to anything and anybody. That's bondage! That means that a person is tied to all kinds of teaching which may or may not be biblically sent and further left to decipher the message for themselves. That wasn't the church or a characteristic of the Church that Christ established.

    Now, let's go back to this non-denominational church again, what if half the church believes in speaking in tongues openly and publicly and the other half doesn't. What do you have?

    What do you do, make a day that tongues can be spoken and another day that they can't? I'll tell you what you have...you have confusion and the beginnings of division because if a person is truly living their biblical convictions they will not quench the spirit of the Lord. So who's right? What authority is the church under? What direction does one take?

    Now, is the the one that says, "we follow the bible" to be considered the arrogant one simply because he/she espouses a scriptural and biblically supportable view? I think not.

    They are under the authority of a MAN who has the conviction that God has placed upon him and the CHURCH. If individuals want to be a part of it they do what they have to do to come in line, but what if his conviction is wrong?

    The point is that a church or certain leaders can can hail and extol the values of NON-DENOMINATION all day, but even that church and leader has a position, he takes a stand and sets forth a certain liturgy and style of worship no matter if it is independent or not.

    see 3

    ReplyDelete
  21. 3

    Now, to be fair, I written a book and in it I have a section on this. I did this over 10 years ago, I am in the process of releasing it, so I've seen and heard this argument and given it much thought for a long time.

    In short, I appreciate your commentary, and you say that was your experience, but I can say that as a leader, in COGIC, I've never had a fear of certain teachings toward holiness nor have I imposed those type rules or regulations on people. I just think that although that was your experience which is valued, those things could as well been done by folks not tied to COGIC or any other denomination.

    So far as association and integrity of leadership, Most of these things are a matter of personal integrity, and once again have nothing to do with a denomination. I have known of pastors across the board who engage in ungodly practices and associate simply because those associations cater to what they desire.

    So in short, I'm glad you've shared your experience, but that's not a COGIC experience, that's an experience that you had which thank God didn't destroy you, but seems to have only made you more wise.

    Thank God.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Blessings to you Bro. Tony!

    You said:

    “I must say I'm not condemning denominations, because I'm part of a major one, as I said, but I simply speak about the harmful aspects of such, that we all know, if were honest, are true. To truly love something or someone, you must see it or them the way it is, not for what you want to see it as, for to do that opens up the avenue of justifying and making excuses for the errors that are more than apparent for where man is involved great power can also create great error. And when that happens we walk in "purposeful" ignorance and blindness which our Lord and his Word speak much about.”

    AMEN and AMEN! I couldn't have said it any better myself!

    Blessings Pastor Burnett!

    Yes, I do thank God that much God given wisdom was granted thru my experience with that COGIC church, which most of what I listed, I did not experience in any non-denom church I personally attended.

    That which you most expounded on from what I stated, women wearing dresses vs pants issue, that's simply a personal choice that a woman chooses to make. A dress doesn't make a women more holy, nobler (sp?) anointed, saved nor sanctified. Now I'm sure Mrs. Burnett is a lovely woman of God and I applaud her personal conviction to only wear dresses, as well as other women that chose this. However, I will not allow another person's personal conviction to hinder me from walking in the liberty of Christ nor condemn my personal conviction that I have the liberty to wear pant suits or dresses. Out of respect, I will don a dress so that I will not offend, but that's why I choose to worship in a church with a body of believers that are not ingrained with such matters, thus my observation of a denom vs a "non" denom, extra biblical traditions/doctrines as Bro. Tony states that do exist (of course not just in the COGIC denom).

    At the end of the day, there's one body that our Lord is coming back for, and it's not a "non" denom nor a denom church...it's a glorious church, a body of believers without spot nor wrinkle. Any other affiliation/organization is that at best, a personal choice to associate one's self with on top of being a true born again believer.

    Much respect to you Pastor Burnett!
    Thank God that you can proclaim your association to COGIC without putting aside the fundamentals of the Gospel. Had I attended a COGIC "church" as yours, I'm quite sure my experience and testimony would be different towards the COGIC "organization." :-)

    With all due respect Pastor,
    Have a blessed weekend!

    Godlysoldier.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Godlysoldier,

    Sister I'm glad we're having this conversation and we're having it for many who are either afraid or reluctant to chime in on the issue.

    Regarding my wife's conviction of wearing dresses you said:"However, I will not allow another person's personal conviction to hinder me from walking in the liberty of Christ nor condemn my personal conviction that I have the liberty to wear pant suits or dresses."

    Now, let's place that in perspective for a minute. This assumes that personal conviction is ONLY that...a personal preference with no biblical basis and that "liberty" associated with service is in a greater position than servitude toward Christ...First, her personal conviction is biblically based and not simply a convention of her mind.

    But more importantly, arguments along these lines don't hold up even in the natural world do they? I mean, become a police officer and, on duty, you do what? More than likely, wear the uniform or at a minimum wear your badge. Nevertheless you identify yourself clearly or are identified by those who need your services. Firemen same way...

    In fact, in my children's school, they come through the door without a uniform and non-compliant to the dress code, and guess what happens? Their education is disrupted for the day and so am I. (Thank God that never happens)

    What I'm saying is that our liberty as Americans in no way trumps our duty and responsibility in whatever form of service that we are in.

    What IF your liberty in Christ was subject to your service to him in a way that was beyond or even contrary to your personal conviction??? What would you do? Simply rely on liberty and say "I am an unrestricted agent"???

    Could you be an Abraham? Did he have "liberty"??? (Remember he wasn't filled with the Holy Ghost as we are today but yet was willing to sacrifice all)

    Now, this subject genders emotion, because immediately individuals see it as being saved vs. lesser saved and scripture vs. insertion of scripture and neither position is called for nor true.

    I mean there are a host of other issues in which a Saint has "liberty" but what happens when liberty infringes upon witness? Which is greater and of more importance?

    There are a lot of things that I don't do and places I don't go, not because I am not at liberty to, but because there's a greater objective to my life...example: I don't eat at Hooters, neither have I ever darkened the door. I am of age. I am an adult and this is America. HOWEVER is my "liberty" greater than my responsibility to minister?

    Noone in their right mind will say, "Pastor Burnett was a Hooters...he's a freak." But they will pause in their "thinking" and this could be a hindrance to someone else when they need prayer of God to intervene...Then what if it was said that I'm ALWAYS at Hooters after eating there one time..."Am I my brother's keeper"???

    My "liberty" says NO, but my committment says YES I am!

    see 2

    ReplyDelete
  24. 2

    Godlysoldier,

    Now what if PANTS were a part of that committment. What if the argument was scripturally based and led women to discover a new level of service that exemplifies Christ and exalts his name among the heathen in a more profound manner...People will listen to what a person says, but they will follow how a person walks. Isn't that the objective of a saved life?

    Christian liberty does not trump Christian responsibility...Are we talking about a sin...NO, but we are talking about taking the most effective and responsible position toward God for service.

    So for me, this is beyond the denomination issue and interpretation of a "church doctrine". It is beyond a matter of mere "personal conviction" if that conviction only flows from one's decisions or right of expression.

    This is about living a life pleasing to God, basing that life in a biblically centered manner in all areas of life and letting the chips fall where they may.

    Now, do I teach the women how to dress. What we do is lead by example. We establish a standard. How will they know unless a standard is established? Issues such as these should be addressed in a greater context of overall servitude or else people will think that the dress makes one saved, and we know that's not the case.

    But at the end of the day, those who have denied themselves out of responsibility and commitment and have that centered in their convictions MUST be hailed and praised for daring to make a difference in life and living. God has always honored convictions such as these.

    ReplyDelete
  25. In Paul's ltr to the Romans, he hints upon that there are some issue's that we will have to go off of our conscience (a believer should not have a seared conscience). He speaks also of the stronger brethren not imposing his liberty upon the weaker brethren and also not allowing the weaker brethren to impose his lack of upon the stronger brethren. If my wife was going to a church to ministeer that adhered to christian women wearing dresses, she would do so willingly, and why, so that she wouldn't offend the congregation does this disrupt her liberty, of course not, only enhances it, for she exhibited the liberty to submit. Christian liberty is based upon the ability to submit, to one another, not be in bondage to one another.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anon,

    Absolutely!

    However, unfortunately, that liberty is often used today as a way to distance one's self from servitude rather than a way to submit one's self to God and to men.

    Jesus said let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God...Mt. 5:16

    I mean we can all identify practices that may not be represented biblically by chapter and verse, but to say that those things are to be avoided because there is no chapter and verse to match is a far cry from what GOd is pleased with in his church, no matter the name over the door.

    Example...there is no biblical admonition not to use cocaine or Crystal Meth...But what is there a biblical prohibition against? Abuse of the body or temple. (1 Cor. 3:16-17)

    So to teach against cocaine and meth and self control in general, from this standpoint is not bondage nor is it church doctrine, it's called holiness. That is freedom to me. Freedom to know what to do and walk in the right path.

    Now, I was reading something not long ago about what the Saints were teaching regarding cigarettes over 40 to 50 years ago. At the time it was said, "Legalism, that's all them COGIC folk do is teach is bondage"...back then they were aware of the chemicals in cigarettes that made them dangerous. Modern research has shown them to be even more harmful. Were those old timers arguing over "liberty"? Were they debating a scripture? No, they were setting forth the teaching that holiness was to be enjoined by all men (Heb. 12:14), and that one that destroyed the body against the command of God wasn't walking in the light of Christ...and I agree.

    Now, to some that is bondage, but to those who love God it's freedom. Same as the gospel. To the Jew a stumblingblock, to us the power of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

    The problem is that some leaders don't want to rock this boat, because of fear of the almighty offering and tithe walking out the door. That's one reason why the modern church has become so powerless in our community and congregation.

    Some things are a matter of salvation, some are not. We should be careful to distinguish the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  27. ANON SAID:

    "Anonymous said...
    In Paul's ltr to the Romans, he hints upon that there are some issue's that we will have to go off of our conscience (a believer should not have a seared conscience). He speaks also of the stronger brethren not imposing his liberty upon the weaker brethren and also not allowing the weaker brethren to impose his lack of upon the stronger brethren. If my wife was going to a church to minister that adhered to christian women wearing dresses, she would do so willingly, and why, so that she wouldn't offend the congregation does this disrupt her liberty, of course not, only enhances it, for she exhibited the liberty to submit. Christian liberty is based upon the ability to submit, to one another, not be in bondage to one another."

    EXACTLY my point. As I said, I would don a dress as not to offend if I were attending such a church that believed women should only wear dresses, However, I see absolutely nowhere in the entire bible where it says a woman must wear a dress..."modest apparel" is what it says and not about the adorning or outward appearance, but what's inward, in the heart, with a gentle and meek spirit which is pleasing in the Lord's sight. I wear modest dresses and modest pantsuits as not wanting to cause a dear brother in the Lord to be offended or led to lust.
    And I too will not and do not use my liberty as an excuse to sin or visit places that my good would be spoken evil of. We are to shun the very appearance of evil, whether in a dress or pants. ;-)

    Now in my COGIC experience with women who only wore dresses, I personally encountered some of the meanest, most hateful, haughty spirits this side of heaven...devils in blue dresses so to say LOL!

    Pastor Burnett, I get the whole uniform thing you mentioned and I have absolutely no problem with that. If I'm going to be a cop, or course I'll wear the uniform...if I send my child to a school that requires uniform, of course I'll abide by that standard. If I chose to stay in a COGIC or any church that states women must wear dresses, I would, BUT I have the liberty to choose not to, and in no way feel that I'm less saved, holy sanctified or have no Godly convictions. I love the Lord with all of my heart, might, soul and strength, in pants or a dress.

    So again, it's still a matter of personal choice for an individual on how and what they choose to wear in their Christian walk. If your church sets the standard as dresses for women, then glory to God, that's the expected standard for the house. If I ever visit your church Pastor, I will be sure to come in dress because that's the "house standard" and I would not want to offend nor disrespect.

    However, I only pray that a women that may enter such a congregation in a modest pant suit would not be looked down upon nor noses snubbed at her and made to feel that she's not "saved" nor "holy in her Godly convictions." Such is my COGIC experience and thank God that I have the liberty to chose where I will worship my Lord and Savior in spirit and truth (which can be done in a dress or pants).

    And yes Pastor, just like you, for me it is a matter of living a God pleasing life based on His "biblical commandments"...praise God I DO that in pants and dresses!


    Again, hopefully this dialoge is enlightening someone.
    Blessings Sir!

    Godlysoldier

    ReplyDelete
  28. Pastor,

    Great analysis, I remember have a debate w/a beloved brother in Christ, about the smoking issue, he exclaimed that he was going to confront a sister, about her polluting the temple of the Holy Spirit. Now I didn't deny this, but however I reminded my friend, we all have some kind of vice and or stronghold were dealing w/truth be told. I reminded him, other than this issue, her service to Christ in other areas of her life is impeccable, now saying this, am I condoning the smoking, of course not or should I say "God forbid." I informed him, if she didn't cease this activity she'll be meeting her maker alot sooner, then what she was suppose to.

    We both know that there are many who have gone on to be w/the Lord, sooner than what they were suppose to, because of physical and emotional abuses and or being somewhere they weren't suppose to (the Holy Spirit instructing Paul not to go into Asia) but Paul heeded, can you imagine if he didn't at the time. I further told my friend, and he got alittle angry w/me that you are about 50-70pounds overweight, are you not polluting the temple of the Holy Spirit by exhibiting gluttony, and not exercising the proper diet. I remember the great revival during the time of Hezekiah and the northern tribes came to partake, but were not "ceremonial" clean and it disturbed the priesthood, well Hezekiah inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said to him allow them to partake, for they might not be ceremonial clean, but there hearts were right.

    Praise God we serve a Lord, who unlike us doesn't get caught up in the outer appearance, but gets caught up in examining the heart. Samuel was getting ready to annoint a man, based on what he looked like, and yes were talking about a seasoned and mature man of God, but had to be reminded of the difference in what is important to God and whats important to man. We both know at times they both co-exhist, but in the end it is the ways of God that are to prevail. Your ways are not my ways, your thoughts are not my thoughts, as heaven is higher than the earth, so are my ways and thoughts higher than yours.

    Or who should call unclean what I have called clean. Your friend.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Godlysoldier,

    Thank God for you and I agree...dressing up the outside is no good if the inside is not pure, clean and reverted from being mean!

    Now, I have a lot of individuals who come no place close to the dress code if there is one. We have some that have never been to a church. All they have is party clothes. Believe me, neither I nor anyone else in the church looks down on any of them. What we do is teach and bring them along. We try to find stores that see the appropriate clothing.

    Now, what I find is that many of them come to us (normally my wife) asking, how they can find the right clothing and outerwear. I find that when the heart changes people seek to find out what they can do, and how they can get in order IF the environment facilitates such.

    But I do know what you are saying. Some people don't know how to welcome people that are different.

    I had a friend of mine in Chicago who's friend had died. The funeral was at a COGIC church. My friend rushed off work to get there. When she got there the usher told her she couldn't go in because she had on pants. Now, that was too fantastic for me and I couldn't imagine this happening.

    I will teach how to serve, that is my duty, but to prohibit from expression and worship because of an issue like that is far beyond the duty of the pastor and the church.

    So Godlysoldier, what I hear you saying is that we need a balanced and healthy approach to all subjects such as this. And we need not to make this an area where the church is divided into the "have(s)" and "have nots". If there is a deficiency the church needs to be the one to bring the people along instead of casting them out.

    I wholeheartedly assert to that.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This can be a complex area of Christian existence. Certainly you can't rush to an unsaved person and say, "dress in this" and think that satisfies God in any way.

    However, as a person begin to grow they are more willing to not only be clean on the inside but be clean on the outside.

    People say, I want to be like Christ, well that "being like" was through his whole being, outside and inside.

    One thing I beg to differ with if ever so slightly. God does care about the outside. To this extent, that the outside represents him and his nature.

    Bring me a stripper that says, they love God, have a confession of faith and still yet dances, dresses like and do what they do. What we see is on the outside. Tell me that's not important? If not why preach at all? If those things don't matter then don't teach any Christian discipline or service. Don't take the grave clothes off of the people...

    But then Jesus commanded us to do so. Didn't he? He did not commit us to allow the people to continue in the shroud from which they had been raised. He said clean'em up! (John 11:44) Jesus could have done it himself, but he committed the church to do that.

    Now I know we have a bunch of different soteriological views, but I certainly believe if you're saved, that will be lived. Struggle one may, but what is on the inside will come out. No man can hide a candle and expect to help others see the light.

    This is the condition of the modern church and why it has become powerless. Great orators and theologians have gone before, but there is a lack of deliverance in the church more now than ever. More knowledge but far less power.

    Mason and them had power not because they could talk, but because they could live. This generation has not seen what that was about. Which one of you have seen 7,000 people come to faith in a month from a street prayer and revival? Who has prayed so until Ku-Klx-Klansmen threw off their robes and hats, kneeling at the feet of a black man asking him to pray for their salvation?

    Mother Dabney was one who prayed and fasted until a whole community changed and until prostitutes and drug addicts came and repented and got saved and lived the life. A church went from 5 members to thousands not by fast talk, modern theological knowledge, but by the power of the Lord.

    The world has it's own wisdom. They are looking for the church to be different than them and have a different basis for what we do and how we do it.

    I think we have to decide if we want to really live in that power, in that sacrifice, in that holiness. The modern church, denominational or not is only a shadow of that commitment.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Pastor, you said:
    "So Godlysoldier, what I hear you saying is that we need a balanced and healthy approach to all subjects such as this. And we need not to make this an area where the church is divided into the "have(s)" and "have nots". If there is a deficiency the church needs to be the one to bring the people along instead of casting them out."

    ABSOLUTELY...Because such were some of us...But now that we are washed and cleaned, let us never forget the filthy garments we were prior to being washed in the precious blood of the Lamb.

    And yes, when a change takes place on the inside of a person, it can't help but to manifest on the outside. I always said about Michael Jackson (don't mean to use a secular person but it's fitting) I always said about Michael, with all the the changes that were taking place on the outside,(various plastic surgeries) one couldn't help but wonder what was truly going on on the inside.

    And yes, God is concerned with the outside, or else He would not have stated in His word about "modest apparel" for women when it comes to dressing. (Someone should tell Mr. Long...sorry, just couldn't resist that)

    All in all, we're on the same "holy team" Pastor. :-) What slight differences we may have, it's just to keep each other sharp! LOL! (as if I could sharpen "you" anymore)

    As always, I thoroughly enjoy and benefit from your wisdom and teachings. I'm going to submit your name as a "write in" vote for the next presiding Bishop of COGIC! :-) Maybe then, thru the work of the Holy Spirit in you and other's that remain like you, COGIC can return to the power and glory of it's former self, which currently as you stated, most churches are just a shadow of that! Let us continue to usher back in the Glory as I to am tired of Ichabod churches!

    Have a good evening Pastor.

    Godlysoldier

    ReplyDelete
  32. Godlysoldier,

    You said "write in"...LOL!!!Sistah, I just about fell outta my seat on that one!!!

    I heard that though! I'm like you sistah, there are too many Ichabod and as a representative of the Grand Ole COGIC, I am unafraid to say within this organization.

    It may seem like I was giving you a hard time, but that was purposeful, because you were the only one who has the godly boldness to speak up and I'm glad you did.

    Those actions and things you referenced are done by people and I wonder, "where do they get this from"?

    Why is the desire of teh church to conform whether to "associations" or whatever so great that they don't care who they miss in the process?

    Now, frankly, whatever church it was missed you and your family and they missed a jewel. In leadership session the conversation we had on this blog is the conversation that should be had all over the country in many pastoral sessions. But what do we have? Too many conformists...afraid to do what you said, "sharpen iron" and in the process expand their own understanding...and by virtue of silence allow dead practices to continue.

    To me, godly dialogue is valuable as a leader. Where else can we get it from if not from one another? The world??? That won't work.

    God has called us to a higher standard sistah, unfortunately too many of my yokefellows forsake that standard for popularity and material gain.

    Look, I amy never had a church the size of tajmahal but at least we'll be fruitful, loving and displaying the character of Christ.

    Now, sistah, I get the statistical report from this blog. The counter on the front page is far wrong. People from around the world check this site out daily, well over 20 countries per day. These are the things they want to hear about. Thank you for your willingness to be open and lay it on the table.

    I know somebody is blessed as a result...I am!

    ReplyDelete
  33. So Pastor, you used me as a "blogging ginuea pig" huh? LOL!

    I don't mind, as I too have been blessed!

    What....you can't vote by "write in" for the presiding Bishop office...I thought we were in a democracy...LOL!

    Good night Pastor.
    Godlysoldier

    ReplyDelete
  34. First let me say I love Joyce Myers, she wears pants most of the time she ministers.It's not what is on you but in you that counts.

    ReplyDelete
  35. OK, then waht would you think of Joyce in a see through mini-skirt, blouse and high heels ministering? Since it "doesn't matter" then I suppose she could just about preach naked and still be approved by you, is that right? If not, why not? and on what basis do you arrive at your conclusions?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Pastor Harvey I didn't think you would go to the "EXTREME" concerning dress. Have you ever seen anybody preach "NAKED"? Lets not go there, God is concerned with the heart, the inner man. I'm C.O.G.I.C. FOR 10 YEARS and there is not one woman in our Jurisdiction who can expound on the WORD like Joyce Myers in pants. Pants have nothing to do with Salvation.

    ReplyDelete
  37. First I hope the experience of the sistah's in your jurisdiction improves because I haven't heard Joyce teach too much more than biblical psychological healing and self-improvement...but I digress...

    My comment was extreme but it got your attention and I hope made my point because you changed the statement from

    " It's not what is on you but in you that counts."

    to

    "Pants have nothing to do with Salvation."

    Now this is slightly different and more specific. I'm sorry if you feel I'm nit-picking, because I am. What we communicate is very important (I've learned that by experience) especially on the net.

    Now, since I think we both AGREE that clothes do matter, I think we also agree that "some things" that people are focused on God isn't.

    Now, I praise ALL women who continue in skirts, dresses, etc out of their conviction as you can tell from my previous commentary. I believe that is a sign of sacrificial living and dedication and those are biblical concepts that should be emulated.

    However I don't claim or hold those that have lesser convictions as struggling with their salvation or less anointed etc, because those things don't anoint you to begin with....HOWEVER, with that said, with birth comes growth. The question is, is there ANYTHING that God could say to you that would cause you to say, "I'm not doing that because it doesn't matter" "or because you don't feel it's important? If there is, you (whoever "you" are that is reading) must check yourself. Because anything less than a YES is unacceptable, although one can and is expected to grow into the call of God.

    Now you render another interesting argument...the balance between performance, presentation and anointing. A lot of people can "perform", but I would rather have one that I am confident with that has a level of committment than performance any day.

    The performance of an individual does not authenticate that individuals ministry. Example: Creflo Dollar, whom I'm sure is a good man, has built a significant ministry. He has done some wonderful things for the Kingdom, however he has done some damage also. In fact, his belief in Jesus becoming the son of God is down right heretical and his promotion of word of faith doctrine is does more damage than good and there are many that can vouch for that. Aside from all that he has and continues to prophesy falsely...In fact, I know of a person to whom he prophesied (under the anointing) the gender of their unborn child...the child was not born the gender that he prophesied...

    Now he performs well and does many things, but does his performance authenticate his ministry? Because he can draw a large crowd and speak well? Or does the evidence speak for itself that he is a false prophet that leads many within the church?

    Which one is it?

    Pants don't authenticate the anointing no more than a crowd does. I'd rather have one minister to me that lives in and under sacrifice because that's what I do too and I can identify with that. When that is done I am confident I'll be anointed in the process.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Well said about the pants, I love what you are doing on the web and I hope to meet you one day in person, my name is Kelvin and I attend Wells Cathedral C.O.G.I.C. I will be in attendance of the committal service for Bishop Owens as well as the Men's Meeting in Tampa, and AIM in Houston. May the Lord continue to bless you, Peace.

    ReplyDelete

Please send me an email if you try to post a comment and cannot do so. Dunamis1@netzero.com. Thanks.