How To Talk to a Church Member
I cannot provide expert advice, but I can speak as someone who once believed absolutely in the doctrines and teachings of the Worldwide Church of God. As with everything on this blog, please speak to someone who is qualified to advise you. I offer these suggestions on how you can maintain contact with CoG-PKG members while still being “unconverted” in their eyes.
The most important thing to remember is do not talk about the church.
As Worldwiders, we were exhorted not to be evangelists to our cause; after all, if the unconverted were going to be set apart from the world, they would have to be called to the truth by “God’s will”, not man’s. We did not thump bibles, we evaded questions as to our religious denomination, and if we were pressed to the point of being forced to provide an answer, we were instructed to tell the worldly that we were members “of a non-denominational Judeo-Christian sect”.
The preaching, we were told, was left to God’s “end-time” apostle (WCG and splinter members have been waiting for the end-time to come since the 1930s). The splinter churches have all followed this model down to dotting the very last “i” and crossing every single “t”.
I feel that it is absolutely crucial, given the information that is being leaked to the Net, that people with friends or family members in the Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God must not break off contact with church members. It is crucial that you continue to have regular contact with them, especially now, with Weinland’s apocalyptic predictions for April 2008 drawing ever closer.
How can you do that, you wonder, when you see the church member’s dogged belief in their eyes?
Talk about “safe” topics. Avoid politics, and do not discuss current news or world affairs.
Speak of the present only (the weather is nice today, you are going grocery-shopping today, there is a concert scheduled in the stadium today), do not speak of the future time or beyond the present tense.
Avoid discussing “pitfall” dates: Keep CoG-PKG’s calendar in mind. Do not discuss topics or issues or events around, on, or near these dates listed. Do not ask the church member to participate in a non-church-related event on any of these dates.
Do not discuss religion. This includes not discussing the CoG-PKG religion, as well as your own (if you belong to a particular denomination). Any religious discussion is guaranteed to shut the church member’s ears (and mind) almost immediately.
Do not discuss food, or eat in front of the church member. If the church member is fasting, and has told you so, eating in front of them will be viewed as either a temptation from you (which will make you in their eyes an instrument of deception), or a trial from God, which may lead them to disassociate. The CoG-PKG believes that a full fast is twenty-four hours: From sunset to sunset they are to take nothing by mouth, confirmed by a member here.
The second reason you will not want to eat, nor discuss food with the church member, is because of the dietary laws. Worldwide Church of God members held to the Jewish dietary laws, and there were further restrictions, varying amongst the congregations, on white sugar, processed foods, and others. I am uncertain what further restrictions CoG-PKG ministers have added to the list from Deut. 14, but this is the basic text they will be starting from.
Speak of relatives, friends, or colleagues which you may still have in common. It is important for the church member to know, even if it is only subconsciously, that there are people outside of the church, to whom they still have a connection. This could prove useful, in the event of a suicide pact or plan by the church’s leadership.
Do not be confrontational. If the church member brings up “unsafe” topics (i.e., discussing Weinland’s prophecies or their plans for April, or for the rest of 2008), do not attempt to override them, or prevent them from speaking. Listen. Only listen.
Let them say what they will, and only if you feel it is appropriate, ask non-judgemental questions about their beliefs. E.g., the member says “Ron says the mid-April event will be something of religious import.” then you can ask “What do you think of that?” If the member says “I plan to be in Jerusalem in September,” you can then ask “How are you preparing for that?”
There are ways to speak to a Church of God member without alienating them totally. The key is to proceed gently, and back away immediately, from any issues that appear to be “hot button” topics.
I hope these tips have been helpful, and as always, I implore you to speak to a qualified professional about getting your friend or family member out of this dangerous apocalyptic splinter of the Worldwide Church of God before April 17th.