At the Georgia State Convention for the Church of God of Prophecy (COGOP) which concluded last Sunday, a speaker made the statement that we need to "grow the Church of God of Prophecy". My immediate response to that statement is that we need to witness to people and grow the Kingdom of God, not focus on the church membership. If we do our part in witnessing to people, numbers and church growth will take care of themselves.
The sad part about this is that COGOP is not going to grow until there is unity. Right now, it is clear that division still exists in the organization. Leaders choose to ignore the problem but it is painfully evident. Since COGOP split in 1990 with the group called "the concerned" left and formed "The Church of God" (don't forget to put the word "THE" in front of that!) there is still an unofficial split remaining in COGOP. On one side there are those, who want to return the church to the strict, legalistic teachings of the past. This group frowns upon the wedding bands being worn and singing music "off the wall" instead of singing from the Blue Books among other things. The other side of the division includes the group who is pulling to the liberal side and allowing everything into the church. No doubt, we are a church divided. We are in denial.
There will be no true growth in this church unless this changes. The lofty numbers of increased membership overseas is deceptive. COGOP is not growing - the church is growing. A source that was involved in missions reported that the "growth" overseas is really dependent upon who is providing the funding. If COGOP goes to a country, that church waves the COGOP banner. If another denomination visits that same church, they pick up that church banner.
Instead of merging, I envision that COGOP will die and members will disperse. Not that I am a pessimist but if you don't grow, then you die.
For those that want to return to the past to - what we call - the "old way", why don't they join THE Church of God. For those that are more liberal, they should return to the original Church of God. (Yes, I know it's confusing but don't forget about the word "THE" in front of the 1990 organization.) Seems like that would clear up a lot of the problems. One pastor who is part of the "old way" movement cried and told me that he believes that "the church is STILL the church". That sounds confusing but allow me to interpret it for you. This means that he feels that the COGOP denomination is STILL the exclusive church. It's that one true church mentality.
So what's left for COGOP? I think the remainder are those like myself who appreciate the heritage but willing to follow God into where He is leading. Instead of staying in bondage to legalism or going to the extreme of liberalism, I think it is time for a balanced group of people who truly seek the rightly divided Word of God. Why stay in bondage when there is a promised land?
In this past convention, I have noticed this division like never before. Some of the "old way" group were more vocal during the sermons of those preaching more liberally. Especially when one speaker supported the idea on a billboard that gays and lesbians are valued members of the community. The response of the "old way" group was embarrassing. Then when another speaker made references to the old ways of holiness, the liberals just shook their heads and remained silent.
The Bible clearly states that "...if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mark 3:25
We are that divided house. While Satan is busy sowing his seeds of division and discord, souls are not being reached. Instead of winning the lost, we are losing the found as well as the future generations.