North Cleveland Church of God is the oldest continuing Pentecostal church in America. That is their claim to fame but is it really about Pentecostal ministry or just a show of Pentecostalism that is outdated?
It has been years since I was there. In fact, I think the last time I was in attendance was for the Benny Hinn meeting to buy TL Lowery a ministry building. (that is now for sale) I have been gone from Cleveland, Tennessee since. I have no real desire for what I saw in Cleveland and that includes North Cleveland Church of God.
It is far more show than anointing. The ways that members speak of the church alone should raise red flags. Jesus is not going to return to North Cleveland when He comes with 10,000 of his saints. They make a big deal of building and looking like a “big ministry.” In the end, none of that will mean anything post-rapture.
Fresh fire at North Cleveland Church of God
I was a campmeeting that they called Fresh Fire. It was a week of meetings and every night, Mitchell Maloney would proclaim that revival is about to break out. I am not sure what he called revival but I have been part of the Brownsville Revival and the Angetina revival with Carlos Annacondia. My standard for revival is pretty high to be honest. All I saw in Cleveland was alot of church meetings.
What I did find was the Pentecostal show was about to start at 7pm every night. We had main actors like Tommy Bates, Perry Stone and even the Crabb Family appearing. I am sure they are anointed but to me, it seems more like putting on a show. The Holy Spirit does not mean people majoring in theater to move. I have seen the fire of God fall with Randy Clark just standing there. No drama needed.
I like Tommy Bates because he represents a heritage in classic Pentecostal that could see follow the cloud by day and fire by night. He still thinks we are in the 1930’s. I like him to see what Pentecost was like back then. Most the old ladies love him and most of the youth are bored. However, I believe that Tommy brings a unique anointing to the Bride of Christ that we need. Most of Old Pentecost was biblical. Most of it.
Perry Stone is a great guy but he is a fear mongering evangelist that built his ministry on questionable teaching of mixing Jewish culture and biblical texts. Again, like him but too many, North Cleveland Church of God included, sees him as a cash cow. They think bringing in big ministries will get more Pentecostals to leave another church and join NCCOG.
I believe that North Cleveland is making a serious mistake. They cater mostly to the older members of the churches that was there when TL Lowery was the pastor. This is a dangerous trend because in a decade; they are all dead. Where will the church be then? A healthy church is always focused on the young adults. They are the ones that will grow the church long term.
Pastoring in Cleveland must be hard
I have a friend that is a pastor in Springfield of a growing Assembly of God church. He is challenged all the time. He does anything too radical and everyone from the District Superintendent to the General Council could be questioning everything he does. Pastoring a church in the same town as the demonination’s headquarter can be a real challenge. Add to the mix, pastoring the movement’s “baby,” the mother church. The stress could be overwhelming.
Another harsh reality of doing ministry in Cleveland is news travels very fast in this small Tennessee town. It is about half Church of God members on top of that. If you do something that people don’t like, the whole town knows about it by morning.
Add to the fact that the pastor, Mitchell Maloney, is a member of the Executive Board of the Church of God so the expectation for him to conform to the standard set is even greater. There is a cultural norm in the Church of God that must be kept at all cost.
At the core of this, many Churches of God (Cleveland Tn) still believe that revival is an event every summer for 3-7 nights. To them, revival is an event; not a lifestyle. They still plan revival. You can’t plan a revival anymore than you can plan a tornado.
Why is North Cleveland Church of God growing?
It is mainly growing because of people moving from other Church of God ministries around the country to Cleveland. I did not see much of a gospel presentation at the services I attended and I can not recall much in the way of evangelism. The focus was always on the believer and ministry to the saints.
Some of these people are really firebrands for the Lord but many of them are just as dead in religion as drug addicts are dead in their addiction of choice. They use church as their drug of choice to be addicted to. It is not about Jesus, it is about getting a religious fix. They are going to hell with their choir robe on, a bible in one hand and the church bulletin in the other.
I have an evangelist friend of mine speak at a church like NCCOG and give a strong revival message on true salvation. The altar were full…. of people coming to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They had lived the Pentecostal church culture for decades but never really been born again or filled with the Holy Spirit.
I am sure if a real revival broke out at the church and it came to hosting revival or saving their image in the community; revival would be what is put on the altar. It is sad. Really sad if you ask me.