North Cleveland Church of God: Great show or church?

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 That is their claim to fame but is it really about Pentecostal ministry or just a show of Pentecostalism that is outdated?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.


  • Stephen Rizzo
    September 16, 2015 - 3:55 am

    Just curious, and I’m sincere in my question, exactly how is your article helpful to the Body of Christ?

    I might even agree with you. Not saying one way or the other. But even if I were to agree with you fully, I’d still want to know how you intended this to help.

    Just curious…..

    Thanks

    1Vote Up0Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      September 16, 2015 - 4:08 am

      Ecclesiology matters, bro

      0Vote Up1Vote Down
  • Stephen Rizzo
    September 16, 2015 - 3:55 am

    Just curious, and I’m sincere in my question, exactly how is your article helpful to the Body of Christ?

    I might even agree with you. Not saying one way or the other. But even if I were to agree with you fully, I’d still want to know how you intended this to help.

    Just curious…..

    Thanks

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      September 16, 2015 - 4:08 am

      Ecclesiology matters, bro

      1Vote Up0Vote Down
  • David Hammontree
    September 16, 2015 - 4:12 am

    Revival comes from God The Holy Spirit through repentance, prayer, praise, worship!! Revival comes to the hearts of believers! Only God knows the heart of man! Seems to me that you are confusing revival with evangelism and missions! If these men you have mentioned in your article say that revival has come to them, how can you refute that? No man knows the heart of men…..only God!!!! The North Cleveland CoG is beautiful but modest compared to our Lords highest standard!! Most of these men that you mentioned are friends of mine and are men of God! Instead of critizing them and their efforts to bring revival into their city why not pray for them! 2Chronicles 7:14

    1Vote Up1Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      September 16, 2015 - 10:30 pm

      Revival comes from man’s response to God, not God’s response to man. He is always wanting to pour out on His people. Revival is a return to biblical Christianity.

      1Vote Up0Vote Down
  • David Hammontree
    September 16, 2015 - 4:12 am

    Revival comes from God The Holy Spirit through repentance, prayer, praise, worship!! Revival comes to the hearts of believers! Only God knows the heart of man! Seems to me that you are confusing revival with evangelism and missions! If these men you have mentioned in your article say that revival has come to them, how can you refute that? No man knows the heart of men…..only God!!!! The North Cleveland CoG is beautiful but modest compared to our Lords highest standard!! Most of these men that you mentioned are friends of mine and are men of God! Instead of critizing them and their efforts to bring revival into their city why not pray for them! 2Chronicles 7:14

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      September 16, 2015 - 10:30 pm

      Revival comes from man’s response to God, not God’s response to man. He is always wanting to pour out on His people. Revival is a return to biblical Christianity.

      0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • Charles Page
    September 17, 2015 - 2:46 am

    Cleveland is the retirement place for COG people and they are seeking to serve but to be served and so they gravitate to three or four local churches preferable NC. They love to rub shoulders with the notoriety of the denomination. The retired preachers are seeking speaking engagements at these services to supplement their retirement income.

    0Vote Up2Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      September 20, 2015 - 6:58 am

      and this is biblical where?

      0Vote Up1Vote Down
      • Joel Kilgore
        May 23, 2018 - 11:38 pm

        Sorry folks, Revival comes from the outpouring of God’s spirit. Revival is reviving the faith in your life, not a mere 7 day camp meeting. If we seek a revival, and we can of course, then we seek to challenge our present path and replace it with a closer walk with God. Seeking a revival does not guarantee revival. Mankind does not dictate when revival actually occurs. Revival is an act of God’s Spirit, it is a call to God on a large scale. To think that Revival is something that we can control or schedule is ludicrous. We can no more control a revival than we can control wind. We can always pray for revival, dedicate ourselves to pleasing God, and honor God in all things we do. This though, is Christianity,.

        0Vote Up1Vote Down
        • Azusa Report
          May 23, 2018 - 11:53 pm

          I agree the week long meeting calling it revival is nonsense. However, I am not sure revival is Calvistic is you think. God is ALWAYS desiring to pour out if we are willing to let him. To think God is saying, “Yea, I dont want people saved, healed and delivered this week” is what some say when they put revival off in it is all God.

          0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • Charles Page
    September 17, 2015 - 2:46 am

    Cleveland is the retirement place for COG people and they are seeking to serve but to be served and so they gravitate to three or four local churches preferable NC. They love to rub shoulders with the notoriety of the denomination. The retired preachers are seeking speaking engagements at these services to supplement their retirement income.

    0Vote Up2Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      September 20, 2015 - 6:58 am

      and this is biblical where?

      0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • Dewayne
    July 25, 2016 - 7:55 pm

    I go there…..please do not judge Nccog or the staff or people until you have spent time on the front lines and in the trenches with them. Really you are not bringing anything uplifting to the body at all by criticism.

    1Vote Up0Vote Down
  • Dewayne
    July 25, 2016 - 7:55 pm

    I go there…..please do not judge Nccog or the staff or people until you have spent time on the front lines and in the trenches with them. Really you are not bringing anything uplifting to the body at all by criticism.

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • James
    November 25, 2016 - 3:17 am

    I can say with certainty NCCOG is not as described above. The author who raises valid questions for considering any church demonstrates his objective of sowing discord from the beginning. I came to North 18 years ago not by choice but inspite of my preference. I chose not to attend North because of falsehoods as this gentleman described. Anyone who claims ecclesiology matters as a reason for sowing discord after admitting he only came on a couple of occasions is a man who will believe a lie and be dammed. You see ecclesiology insinuates the study of, not educated opinions from a source of jealousy, misunderstanding or lack of discernment. My hope is this author would repent because according to the scripture (not a “show church” doctrine) Proverbs 6 says there are six things God hates and this gentleman has committed at least 4 of them. Come on let’s put aside petty differences which are not salvific and quit tearing down a body of believers who are on a weekly basis in the harvest field, seeing men & women delivered from addictions, witnessing miraculous works, sending out missionaries, raising righteous sons & daughters…on and on. That’s called fruit.

    1Vote Up1Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      November 26, 2016 - 5:12 pm

      You think I am going to hell for not liking Showbiz Christianity? Seriously.

      1Vote Up0Vote Down
  • James
    November 25, 2016 - 3:17 am

    I can say with certainty NCCOG is not as described above. The author who raises valid questions for considering any church demonstrates his objective of sowing discord from the beginning. I came to North 18 years ago not by choice but inspite of my preference. I chose not to attend North because of falsehoods as this gentleman described. Anyone who claims ecclesiology matters as a reason for sowing discord after admitting he only came on a couple of occasions is a man who will believe a lie and be dammed. You see ecclesiology insinuates the study of, not educated opinions from a source of jealousy, misunderstanding or lack of discernment. My hope is this author would repent because according to the scripture (not a “show church” doctrine) Proverbs 6 says there are six things God hates and this gentleman has committed at least 4 of them. Come on let’s put aside petty differences which are not salvific and quit tearing down a body of believers who are on a weekly basis in the harvest field, seeing men & women delivered from addictions, witnessing miraculous works, sending out missionaries, raising righteous sons & daughters…on and on. That’s called fruit.

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
    • Peter Vandever
      November 26, 2016 - 5:12 pm

      You think I am going to hell for not liking Showbiz Christianity? Seriously.

      0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • […] use to be. While some could make the case (and I would agree with them) that that era was full of showbiz church life; we need people that still are passionate about hell is real and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is […]

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • […] use to be. While some could make the case (and I would agree with them) that that era was full of showbiz church life; we need people that still are passionate about hell is real and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is […]

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • […] to churches and minister. They would grace some well known places like the Brooklyn Tabernacle, North Cleveland Church of God, and World Harvest Church pastored by Rod […]

    0Vote Up0Vote Down
  • Morne Lotter
    July 20, 2018 - 1:23 pm

    Bro Peter Vandever I’m sorry if you had a bad experience in this wonderful Congregation. I cannot speak for that, but I can speak for myself, my family and many friends. During our stay in the USA during 2016, we attended NCCOG for about 7-8 Months. We experienced a loving, kind and heartfelt church. Even Pastor Williams, a man of excellence, preached the Word of God reverently, respectfully and compassionately. Maybe the Church shouldn’t criticize its own body seeing that we as the church are the body. I mean, you do not tell your foot you don’t need it…etc.
    A ‘show church-? Whats that about. Not my experience. I guess perception is reality. I sensed the Holy Spirit in all the services we attended during the course of all of those months.
    Concerning the EVANGELISM remark you made: I may add that my wife and I attended Sunday School in the Discipleship class on Wednesdays. The NCCOG are very concerned about Evangelism and Missions.

    From where I stand the NCCOG is one of the most respected CoG’s in the world with its sound doctrine and love on people. If I may choose again which church myself and my family (4 kids) would join if staying in the USA it will be NCCOG.
    My observation and feeling don’t compare to yours.

    Thanks for sharing bro Peter.
    Take care

    0Vote Up0Vote Down

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: