First of all, I am not Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). I have never been a member and I do not believe in their sanctification nonsense. (You are sanctified at conversion) With that said, I believe that Perry Stone is the man that should lead the Church of God into the future. I really do mean that too. Those Cleveland boys are stuck in the 1960’s.
When I think of the Church of God (Cleveland), I think of every form of legalism that gave the Pentecostal movement a bad name. Everything from dress codes to the movie ban to how women dress to a building being the “house of God.” Admitly, they have walked in out of alot of that bondage but let’s get honest, these old timers want it back. They still want that old time religion and sing “Send it on down.” (One of the most unbiblical hymnals of all time)
The movement needs to get with the rest of the Pentecostal movement that keeps their doctrine in tact for the most part but has ditched the legalism and the old sawdust. John Lindell is a great example of this. He came to Springfield and said the message is completely sacred but nothing in the method is sacred. He raised up the largest church in the State of Missouri right under the nose of the “experts” at the Assemblies of God headquarters as well. It is currently the 47th largest church in America keeping Pentecostal doctrine in tact but saying no to legalistic “holiness.”
Why Perry Stone should lead the Church of God?
Let’s face it, they need someone who can change them from the inside out and market them to the larger Pentecostal movement. No one can do that but Perry Stone. They did it before with T.L. Lowery but they need fresh vision and fresh blood. The Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) needs a kingdom thinker, not a “company man.” They also need someone with the visibility within the larger charismatic movement. I can’t think of any one with the Church of God that has that marketability besides Billy Wilson (President of Oral Roberts University) and Perry Stone.
The ability to raise up the movement to be a great force of Pentecostal power will take vision. I believe that Perry Stone is the one that could cast the vision for pastors to run with. Most pastors in the Church of God respect him and he has what we call the “gathering anointing.” He has the ability to get pastors to converge on one location for “times of refreshing” like only T.L. Lowery had in the movement.
Another major factor to consider is he lives in Cleveland, Tennessee and pastors there. He has people running the daily operations of the Omega Center International (his church). He is focused on preaching to churches around the country. Therefore, little would change as the General Overseer. His role would be to preach to church, mentor pastors and impart vision. All of which he does as a traveling evangelist.
Before you say “never,” ask Jack Hayford!
In 2004, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel elected very popular pastor and author, Jack Hayford to be the President of the movement. Why? It was because it would give them marketability overnight. After all, everyone knows Jack Hayford. He is the pastor of the Jesus People movement!
In those five years, he lifted the whole image of the Foursquare movement (with the help of Tommy Barnett’s son, Matthew) on the larger charismatic stage. Everyone knows Jack Hayford after all. He is the the pastor to pastors.
Conventions across America were packing out with pastors and the movement as a whole grew under his leadership. They knew what happened at his church, Church on the Way. Pastors were filling sanctuaries to get a fresh impartation for church growth. They were taking notes of how to grow their church like he did in the 1970’s in Van Nuys, California.
I believe that same type of vision and impartation could happen in the Church of God. It could completely change the movement and it could see a fresh church growth movement break out across America.
I would have a hard time believing that most areas do not need church plants with fresh blood and with a younger pastor. I would beg emptying out Pentecostal Theological Seminary and telling them to go start churches across America would end pretty positively. I can not see how that would be a bad thing for the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee).