Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
We have heard from scattered ones in the USA, Canada, Africa, and the South Pacific. As most of you know, this has been a packed eight days here in California.
On Sunday, I spoke over the telephone with the first person who decided to commit to the Continuing Church of God whom I previously did not know personally. After speaking with him and then hearing from the first woman to commit whom I did not know personally, I decided a high priority would be to figure out how to serve our few scattered brethren.
On December 29, 2012, we held for the first service of the Continuing Church of God. It consisted of having brief sermon followed by a question and answer session as a third of the congregants had never attended any Church of God service and had questions. But going forward a more traditional format for services was the plan.
The idea that developed was to possibly begin videotaping the Sabbath services we hold in Arroyo Grande, California. So, I did some searching for music and hymnals related to those used in the old Worldwide Church of God from 1974 onwards, so that was handled (at least in theory).
On Tuesday, we produced and filmed three prophetically-oriented videos for our new Bible News Prophecy channel on YouTube (Bible News Prophecy). Eventually, we plan to go live with a related website called BibleNewsProphecy.com. And so, one of those each week will probably be used as a sermonette in most (if not all) services for now.
I also worked on some sermon ideas, and came up with three, with the first one being given today. It was titled Continue what?
On Thursday, we mailed to the Secretary of State the Articles of Incorporation for the Continuing Church of God Overseer and successors, a corporation sole.
On Thursday and Friday I spent some time with a graphic artist concerning ideas related to the cover of the songbook that we will likely produce within a month or so.
On Friday, we went live with our official website, which is www.ccog.org. And it still needs a lot of items, but at least it now exists.
Also on Friday, I did a telephone interview with Dixon Cartwright, editor of The Journal: News of the Churches of God. This, depending on how he reports it, will let some around the world who do not have internet access that the Continuing Church of God now exists.
And of course, COGwriter.com has continued as have my previous prophetic YouTubes and we have reached approximately 30,000 different people on the internet since beginning the Continuing Church of God late on 12/28/12. This is more than other COG groups near or smaller than our size (and apparently more than most who are bigger).
Our plan was to try to upload church services within a couple of days of videoing them. Unlike some other groups, we really will spend almost no time doing any editing, but as we have no hired staff, this seems to be the best way to handle weekly services. So, please realize that God does not always call leaders who are the most polished speakers (Exodus 4:10-11).
However, once we actually tried to tape the music, YouTube, and sermon, we ran into a variety of technical problems with cameras etc. So the new plan will be to ask the services be handled as follows (realizing that there may need to be modifications:
- 2-3 hymns (we are using the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG)
- Opening prayer by an appropriate male (Dan Mattson, grandson of the Herbert W. Armstrong opened here in Arroyo Grande today).
- Sermonette (short 8-15 minute subject) or Bible New Prophecy YouTube (which is what we watched today).
- Announcements and one hymn.
- Sermon (which for most will be a recorded one)
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer by an appropriate male.
It is likely that I may have to do today’s sermon over again and simply have that placed online as opposed to the entire service as originally hoped for.
Eventually, we will need to put together a Passover service and give additional consideration to how to handle Holy Day services.
Brethren, in terms of numbers, we are much less than a Gideon’s army (Judges 7:7), but while the real Church of God is small (Romans 11:5), and the Philadelphia remnant itself is smaller during this Laodicean age, all should realize that the Bible indicates that none should despise “the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).
Because God’s work will be done, yet it will:
6 Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
Thus, as God pours out more of His Spirit in the 21st century (Joel 2:29-31), a small number of people will apparently be used to finish His work (cf. John 4:34).
As Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Brethren, please pray the God will grant all of us, including me, wisdom (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; James 1:5), that He will provide more laborers for the harvest (Matthew 9:37), that we in the Continuing Church of God will go through the doors that He opens (Revelation 3:7-9), that we will love one another (John 13:34-35), and be the type of witnesses He wants us to be (Matthew 5:15; 24:14).
Thank you for your support and encouragement as we strive to do what God would have us do.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God