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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

May 10, 2010

Is UCG doing enough to survive?

[with comments]     Filed under CoG Potpourri

The May 2010 issue of "United News" reminded me of an Elders Forum post I had written a few years ago.

The May issue again shows more obituaries/tributes than births.

Elders Forum post of February 24, 2004

Is UCG is on a path that will see its membership, and correspondingly its ability to preach the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God, diminish in the coming years? Most likely to a considerable degree?

Consider these facts.

The median age of the ministers employed by / paid from the UCG Home Office is 55. The U.S. national average is around 37.

UCG’s membership is ageing as well. All one has to do is analyze the ratio of deaths announced to births in our "United News." Over a number of months it averages something like 2.5 to 1 (or more). A negative ratio also exists for 20+ year wedding anniversaries to new wedding announcements.

The number of baptisms of people with no previous COG experience is insufficient to maintain membership. Crossovers from other COG organizations will eventually cease and have probably already decreased substantially.

My experience is certainly not all inclusive, but most UCG congregations I have visited are ageing.

The number of youth attending UCG camps in the USA in the period 2000-2003 has decreased by 7 percent.

With an ageing membership, income will begin to decline, in a few years dramatically.

What can be done to reverse this trend?

Jesus’ harvest analogies are easily understood. In essence, they teach us that nothing grows where no seed is sown.

Is UCG currently sowing enough seed?

More than once here on EF, a reallocation of funds to the preaching of the gospel has been suggested.

Some might argue that the cultural environment in Western countries has changed and is less receptive to religion/God. With Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of Christ" sold out in many movie houses in the USA before it even started running, I wonder if that is entirely true.

Even if it were, did Noah or the prophets scale back their efforts, since they apparently did not have a good cultural environment to work in?

I commend President Roy Holladay and Media Operations manager Peter Eddingten for their repeated requests to have more funds allocated to sowing seed.

Now I’ve said it, so go ahead, shoot the messenger. :-)

We can revisit this in a few years to see who was right. :-)

Comment from John D. Carmack:

Perhaps we should relook at how we evangelize. Centralized evangelism can only reach certain target audiences. Members need to get out, show their good works and be unafraid of stating why they have the hope they do.

Comment from Ian Boyne:

You are bang on target! It is my hope that UCG, as the largest section of the body of Christ today, will fully embrace your perspective on the unequivocal priority of preaching the Gospel vis-a-vis brick-and-mortar buildings. It is a pity that someone of your progressive thinking was pressured from the Council of Elders. But I am sure others there share your perspective. I want to see UCG surmount its internal problems and divisions because there are a number of people who are waiting for their chance to be a part of the firstfruits—and for UCG to give them that opportunity. I am a minister in the Church of God, International (I think you are aware of my work in Jamaica) but recognize that due to sheer size and reach, the UCG is strategically positioned to have a significant impact in fulfilling the Great Commission. May that potential be not squandered!

Answer from Paul Kieffer:

Ian, for several years now I have followed your efforts to preach the gospel, and I appreciate what you are doing in your part of the world. Thank you for your comments.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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