What is the Church of God all about?
We don’t think of it often, but our church is a part of an entire Church of God movement, founded for very specific and important reasons. Based in Anderson, Indiana, “COG” has a rich history. To help get you up to speed, here’s a brief background on the Church of God Movement. These are the roots that animate our actions and lead to growth, all guided by the Lord Himself.
The Church of God started in 1881 as a movement emphasizing the unity of God’s people and holy living. Its founders were frustrated with rapidly expanding church bureaucracy, dizzying denominations, and formal creeds. They wanted to reestablish the Holy Spirit as overseer and the Bible as the sole statement of beliefs. In short, their goal was to restore unity and holiness to the church. They were not interested in starting another denomination but instead promote primary allegiance to Jesus Christ in order to rise above denominational divides.
(This particular movement is unrelated to the “Church of God” bodies in Tennessee and the Carolinas in the late nineteenth century that were known for their emphasis on speaking in tongues.)
Our Church of God movement draws heavily on Wesleyan theology and Pietism. While each Church of God is independent, some generally accepted teachings include:
- the divine inspiration of Scripture
- forgiveness of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of the believer
- the experience of holiness
- the personal return of Christ
- the Kingdom of God as established here and now
- the resurrection of the dead
- a final judgment when there will be a reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked
While many churches choose to perform baptism by immersion, wash feet, and others, none of these practices are mandatory conditions of Christian experience or fellowship.
There is no formal membership. There never has been, and there never will be. Why? Individuals are assumed to be members on the basis of personal conversion and conduct that supports that conversion experience. This is consistent with the church’s understanding of how Christian unity is to be achieved – a unity based on spiritual experience rather than creedal agreement. In other words, rather than testing you against the Biblically questionable and easily changeable standards of men, we leave the question of whether or not you are a member of God’s church to God Himself.
Every congregation is autonomous. Ministers meet in voluntary state, regional, and national assemblies. (We are proudly and blessedly affiliated with our state ministry body, but it serves an advisory function only.)
In 1891, the first missionaries from the Church of God movement arrived in Mexico. Since then, it has grown into a multinational community of faith. COG is strongest in number in the Midwest, along the Pacific Coast, and in western Pennsylvania. Average weekend attendance in the U.S. totals approximately a quarter of a million souls spread among 2,200 congregations in the United States and Canada. Worldwide, the movement is working in 89 countries and territories, representing approximately 7,500 churches and more than 1.1 million global believers.
Information from the Church of God of North America was used for this overview.