Field Church Guidelines
«Return to Church Directory | Printer Friendly
Established February 10, 1998
THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHURCH OF GOD GUIDELINES for FIELD CHURCHES
If you want to become a church, you should ask yourself this basic question: What is
the Intercontinental Church of God? The answer to this question is not complex. Host
groups seeking to be chartered and already chartered churches do need to understand the
answer to this question. This understanding helps church groups focus their efforts on the
reason for their calling. Garner Ted Armstrong wrote in his booklet Everything You've Always Wanted to Know
About the CGI and Weren't Afraid to Ask (page 3):
"I recognized that I was only beginning a new legal entity; that the true Church
of God is a spiritual organism; that the called-out ones' who constitute the church
cannot possibly be constituted by a single corporation."
There is a great difference between the spiritual organism and the physical
"I recognized that I was not 'starting a new church,' but merely incorporating a
group of people who were already members of God's church into a legal entity in order to
continue doing God's workthe work of the church."
back to top
The Church of God, then, is composed of spirit-filled Christians who constitute the
body of Christ. They are the many branches connected to the Vine who is Christ. The true
church is a spiritual organism which knows no corporate boundaries. Some have mistakenly
thought of the many different church organizations as the branches. This is simply not
true. Individual Christians are the branches. Do not confuse the spiritual with the
physical. When you were baptized, it was "into the name of the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, into the family of God" not into any church organization.
On the other hand, the Intercontinental Church of God, is a physical corporation
chartered under the laws of the state of Texas whose purpose is to direct the efforts of some
of the spiritual organism through its organizational strengths to accomplish a Work.
Members of the spiritual organism have voluntarily joined together into a physical
organization to do common work.
The basic answer to the above question, then, is: "Christians united by the Holy
Spirit who voluntarily are also united into an organization to perform a common
Work." Just as the Holy Spirit directs each Christian in his individual daily
life, so the ICG organization gives direction to its members to perform a common work.
Simply stated, the relationship between the ICG corporation and its churches is to
focus their efforts through firm direction. It is the intention of the ICG and its
ministry to provide a strong sense of direction so that our efforts can be better focused
and coordinated to perform the work God has given us to finish. Thus, these guidelines
will provide a structured environment for host groups and chartered churches. Please
understand, the ICG will never define the conduct of individual Christians, other than
through the preaching of God's Word by its ministry, or unless the individual Christian's
actions adversely affect the good of the collective church. Each Christian must decide for
himself how he is going to conduct his own life. But, when it comes to common efforts of
the church, the ICG will provide firm direction. These guidelines are intended to provide
that direction so that the Work of the Church has focus and, therefore, greater
The ICG's emphasis will always be on the purpose of your calling. It is not just to
become a Christian-although that is part of the purpose-but to do a Work. The ICG's
goal is to encourage the development of WORK-oriented churches, not church oriented
Why is it that some feel that loyalty to Christ is a good thing, yet loyalty to
an organization is a bad thing? Part of this thinking is based on bad experiences
individuals have had in the past when dealing with organizations. We reason that Christ
has never let us down but church organizations and their leaders have. The ICG is not
asking for your "undying" loyalty, but if it is doing the Work, and its leaders
and ministry are remaining steadfast to God and His Word, then we would ask for a
"guarded" loyalty. To do otherwise, would be tantamount to throwing out the baby
with the bath water. Please remember, no organization of men is perfect nor can ever be.
We must always judge it according to its fruits. If the fruits are bad, then you should
rightly look elsewhere for an organization that is producing good fruits and is doing a
However, if its fruits are good, and you have become a chartered church of the
ICG, then you are obligated to follow these guidelines (chartering means you have
voluntarily accepted these guidelines) and to unitedly show your support and loyalty to
the efforts of the church which is the Work of the Church.
back to top
To be chartered by the Intercontinental Church of God, should be viewed as a value, an
asset. The following list includes benefits of being chartered: 1) Tax benefits for all
donations made to the church, both to the home office and locally. 2) Referrals of those
interested in joining in worship with local congregations. 3) Ministerial oversight. 4) An
official partner of the work of the Intercontinental Church of God. 5) Becomes the focus
of the credentialed ministry to make every effort to meet with these congregations
regularly. 6) A published list from Tyler of a roster of ICG's chartered churches.
Becoming a Chartered Church
back to top
The following information describes the requirements and the procedures for
establishing a local area church under the direction of the Intercontinental Church of God.
One of the ingredients necessary for a church is members. We should understand
that a church is literally an "assembly" of God's people. However, the Bible is
silent on a specific number necessary for starting a church. The Board of Directors of the
Intercontinental Church of God, has directed
that we will only grant a local church charter when there are at least twelve adults in
regular attendance. This requirement, however, does not keep us from working with smaller
groups to potentially bring them to the level of being chartered.
Furthermore, the information that follows will contain definition of terms,
expectations and requirements for fellowship groups, chartered churches, and other
pertinent information for our field churches. It is our hope that all who read these words
will be prayerfully attentive to their meaning and intent.
Essential Activities of a Local Church
back to top
Those wishing to progress toward becoming a local chartered congregation of the Intercontinental Church of God, should know what are
the essential activities of a local church.
Basically, there are four:
As to the form of church services or worship, we do not find this outlined in the Bible
in such a way as to give us a permanent method of worship. In fact, Paul made significant
modifications in routine assemblies (I Corinthians 14). No one questions Pauls
authority to restrict the number of speakers-apparently unrestricted before (I Corinthians
14:29)-or to prohibit the use of tongues unless an interpreter was present (I Corinthians
14:26-28). The Intercontinental Church of God,
reserves the right to establish the form of our worship and address or modify the
different needs at different times and places. Such decisions are reached after
consultation with both members and ministers. The Board of Directors takes seriously its
responsibilities regarding the sacerdotal duties required of it.
- Worship: This involves prayer, songs of praise, and in
general, honoring God with our presence.
- Edification: In the simplest terms, preaching
and teaching, either live or on tape; or it can also involve the advice and encouragement
received from conversations with the brethren.
- Fellowship: Simply being together.
Fellowship involves mutual exhortation, encouragement, consolation, and sometimes
- Service: This includes assisting the needy, visiting, encouraging, and
helping the sick as well as all other forms of Christian service. These can, of course, be
done individually, but can be effectively coordinated by the local church.
back to top
Invariably, the question will arise: "How should I treat other churches and other
organizations?" Again, we caution you not to confuse the spiritual organism
and the physical organization. The two are not synonymous. Nor is the answer
the same for the individual Christian and the collective church.
The Board of Directors has addressed this subject in some detail, exploring many pros
and cons of this important subject based on the twin principles of: What does the Bible
say? and What have been the fruits? As stated previously, individuals are free to do
as they please (but are cautioned to look for fruits). But the attitude the collective
church should have is an entirely different matter. Of course, we always hope that the
individual attitude and the collective one coincide. Our conclusion was that we must
recommend against official recognition of interchurch relations beyond that which
individuals can freely partake of. The reasons that colored our concerns and caused us on
the Board to reach the conclusion that we should discourage interchurch activities
are as follows: (1) Doctrinal differences, (2) Unclear motives beyond simple worship and
fellowship, (3) We lose our identity, (4) Christ did not encourage it, (5) Leads to
compromise, and (6) Conflict of interest. Some of the scriptural reasons we discourage
such activity can be found in Amos 3:3, II Timothy 2:14, Matthew 12:25, and the cogent
arguments presented by the apostle John in his second and third epistles.
back to top
For those families who are scattered and on their own, we offer a service we call
"the extended church." To those who are enrolled in this service, we send a
weekly taped sermon which includes all the important announcements made here in Tyler.
This service has proved to be extremely important for keeping all of our scattered
brethren "of like mind." We also offer counseling by letter and telephone to any
of those who are in the extended church. We find that if they are able to attend regional
holy day services, and to attend the Feast of Tabernacles at one of the approved
locations, our extended church families manage quite nicely. If two or more families are
able to meet together for fellowship and listen to, or view videotapes together, so much
the better. However, no attempt should be made to organize a group into a church or to
rent meeting facilities without ministerial direction. There are several ministers at the
home office who are designated to take your letters and calls and to offer assistance
where needed. Just identify yourself as a member of the extended church when you call or
write, and your letter or call will be directed accordingly.
Do not allow anyone in your little group to appoint himself a teacher or preacher (see
"The Speaking Credential"). Talk to us before allowing this to happen. There is
no greater source of confusion and disharmony than disputes over leadership-particularly
We are reluctant to give out the names of our extended church families to other people
even to other extended church families. Unfortunately it's not possible for us to know and
vouch for everyone-hence our caution. Extended church families will, of course, find each
other very quickly when they attend regional holy day services.
If you want to become a part of the extended church, just write headquarters and ask to
be enrolled. This service is offered without any charge, but there is one condition
attached-under no circumstances may members of the extended church claim to represent the
ICG. This is a service offered by the church to individuals and families, and conveys no
official recognition as a church.
back to top
A group who would like to begin meeting together can request a minister be appointed
for that group. Under ministerial guidance, a meeting place can be arranged and regular
services scheduled. The group may then petition the Board of Directors, in writing, for
recognition as a fellowship group and for the appointment of the minister as pastor. In
the absence of a specific written appointment by the Board of Directors, local ministers
are not permitted to assume pastoral responsibility for a local church. In some
circumstances, a minister at headquarters may assume those responsibilities at the
direction of the Board.
Fellowship groups function as a church, and are in most respects conducted as the
church. They simply are too small for the formal structure and requirements of a chartered
church. Fellowship groups will be more formal than family groups, and less formal than a
chartered church. Brethren in fellowship groups should be prepared to make certain
transitions over time. While it may be acceptable to eat and drink while listening to a
tape or watching a video, it is not appropriate for church services. While the ministry
does not want to dictate behavior, it is our duty to remind everyone that they are coming
to appear before God, and that certain higher standards of conduct and behavior must be
maintained in any local church.
back to top
The Board of Directors have granted permission to issue a charter to field churches
under certain conditions:
- The group must be composed of at least twelve (12) adult members living in a
reasonable proximity to one another and in regular attendance.
- A minister holding ICG credentials must meet with the group at least once a month.
- At the discretion of the minister-of-record, he may form a local church council to
assist him with the physical responsibilities for the care of the church. He may either
choose or let the congregation choose five to seven members to form the council. Both men
and women can constitute the council but must meet the qualifications discussed later in
this Guidelines for Field Churches. The minister-of-record has final approval over
the slate of candidates. If an election is held, the minister-of-record should supervise
the election. The minister-of-record will always retain the right to excuse a council
member from his duties on the council with due cause, such as gross unchristian actions,
or causing division and dissension in the church. If the council members are chosen by
election, then a reelection should take place each year. At the pastor's discretion, a
church may continue without a council-the councils general functions being carried out by
the entire church. This is recommended for small churches.
It should be clearly understood that a local church council does not ever
"run" the church, but oversees the physical duties and responsibilities
of caring for a church under the direction of the pastor or minister-of-record. The local
council is a support arm to the pastor or minister-of-record. The specific duties of the
local council are further outlined under the section titled "Local Church
- The members should have met together regularly in harmony for at least three
- A charter application must be submitted which accepts the Constitution and Bylaws
of the Intercontinental Church of God, as well
as the fundamental and essential teachings of the church. No local bylaws are required or
- An up-to-date church roll should be submitted with names, addresses and phone
numbers of all in attendance.
- A chartered church may not be separately incorporated (except with written
permission from the Board of Directors. That permission may be granted in order to meet
specific local needs or problems).
- A quarterly financial report must be presented to the
brethren with a copy to the Secretary of the Board of Directors. Failure to submit such
reports will result in de-listing a chartered church. Full charter status may be restored
by bringing reports up to date.
Six months after the original charter application, the local minister should submit to
the Board of Directors confirmation that the church has borne fruit, demonstrated an
attitude of unity, brotherly love, and care for one another; and is fully qualified to
care for "little ones" whom God will add to the church. When this confirmation
is received, the Board of Directors will, at their discretion, issue a charter for the
Should a church lose its minister for any reason, the local council members shall
notify the general Secretary of the Board of Directors immediately.
Local Church Funds
back to top
It should be understood by chartered churches and those wishing to be chartered that
all local funds and physical assets are held in fiduciary trust and come under the
extended responsibility of the Intercontinental Church of God, Tyler, Texas, and its
A chartered church may establish a local fund and open a bank account in the name of
The Intercontinental Church of God. Normally we recommend that local
church funds do not exceed three thousand dollars or three times the budgeted needs for
one month. Should there be a special need at a local church to exceed this amount in the
local fund, then, written permission must be obtained from the Board of Directors.
Extensive past experiences have demonstrated that problems relating to the accruing and
management of local church funds are many. Therefore, we discourage local building funds
without written consent from the Board of Directors. In addition, we acknowledge that
local accounts should be used for love funds, flowers, holy day special meeting
facilities, emergencies, and such things. When asked, Tyler pays for hall rentals.
The local account exists solely to meet the needs of the local congregation. Do
not donate funds to local accounts which are then (in whole or part) to be sent to
headquarters or elsewhere. If you wish personally to donate to the work of the Intercontinental Church of God, send your donation directly to
headquarters at P.O. Box 1117, Tyler, TX 75710. Holy day offerings are offerings to the Intercontinental Church of God, and should not be retained or deposited
locally. If you wish to donate for local needs, please donate directly to your local
church fund apart from the holy day offerings. Holy day offering envelopes should remain
sealed and be mailed (registered mail) in a package addressed to H.D.O., c/o Intercontinental Church of God,
17444 Hwy 155 So.,
Flint, TX 75762.
The Intercontinental Church of God is a
nonprofit corporation subject to the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. Both the
pastor and the local council are responsible for seeing to it that the treasurer keeps
accurate and complete records as required by law. The treasurer must keep a record of each
contribution including the name of the donor (anonymous if appropriate), the date and
amount of each donation. Receipts should be issued, and balanced against bank deposits. He
or she must also keep a record of each expenditure including date, amount, purpose and who
authorized the expenditure. These records must be available to authorized examiners of the
church upon reasonable notice, and a quarterly summary of income and expenses submitted to
the entire church, with a copy to headquarters. Members are advised not to contribute to a
local fund where such reports are not forthcoming in a timely manner.
Members are also advised not to let your local funds grow beyond the needs of your
congregation. This can seriously interfere with the needs of the church at large and
with our ability to carry out the commission given to us by Jesus Christ.
The Board of Directors is unanimous in its position regarding local church accounts.
Failure to properly report on these local accounts can lead to revocation of charter. We
want to pool our resources to be effective in our evangelical efforts, not diffuse them by
individual local efforts. Even though we can effectively demonstrate that headquarters is
more effective in conducting the universal work of the church-it is a concept that not
everyone will accept.
Local Church Councils
back to top
The objective of having a local church council is to involve the lay membership in the
decision making process of the local church.
The council is not elected to manage, govern, or otherwise "run" the church.
Rather they are servants of the church in areas covered by their duties, and counselors to
the pastor of the church.
At the pastor's direction, a local church council may be created preparatory to an
application for charter. The brethren will elect, under the pastor's supervision, from
five to seven members to serve as a local church council. Until a church has reached
substantial size, there is no need for a local council. In the meantime, the pastor will
work with the church, getting everyone involved in the decisions affecting the group, and
teaching them the responsibilities involved in self-governance.
When a pastor feels a local group needs a council, he should prepare a slate of
eligible members and should review for everyone the qualifications of council members.
Anyone not wishing to serve should notify the pastor ahead of time so he or she is
not included on the slate. The pastor may also omit from the list of council candidates
anyone he feels should not serve, but he must explain his reasons privately in advance to
those concerned. (While ministerial ethics may prevent a minister from explaining his
actions publicly, he may be called on to explain to the Board of Directors.)
The minister and two witnesses will tabulate the ballots and announce the results. New
council members shall assume their responsibilities immediately. Since the minister must
depend heavily on the council, be may at his discretion nominate one of the council
members to serve as chairman, and another to serve as treasurer. The local council should
ratify those nominations unless there are very strong reasons to the contrary.
Qualifications of Council Members
back to top
Council members should be mature, long-standing, baptized members with a good
reputation in the community and a record of service to Gods people. They should be
in regular church attendance. They should be sober, hospitable, and a good example in the
conduct of their lives. After the foregoing, it is essential that the local council
members be strong supporters of the Intercontinental Church
of God, its goals and its programs. A council member whose preferences run to a church
that is more or less independent, or who is critical of ICG, its structure, its ministry,
or its policies is bound to be a divisive force on the council, no matter how good a
person he or she is otherwise.
No more than one member of an immediate family may serve on a local council, and no
more than two members of an extended family.
Those wishing to serve as local council members are required to attend an official Intercontinental Church of God, Feast of Tabernacles
every year. The only exception would be due to extenuating circumstances. Neither council
members nor ministers should be staying home to provide services for people who do not
attend the feast. The proliferation of "stay at home" festivals will defeat a
major purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles-the promotion of unity.
Duties of Council Members
back to top
The duties of council members lay in the area of physical duties though
performed by spirit-filled individuals. Spiritual responsibilities, such as choosing
credentialed speakers, baptism, and anointing, remain the duties of the pastor, or
minister-of-record, unless he specifically grants or appoints a council member to hold a
local baptism or to deliver an anointed cloth, for example.
Council members should work under the guidance of the local pastor and cooperate fully
- To ratify as chairman the member nominated by the minister.
- To arrange for a meeting place for the group with all necessary equipment and
- To ratify as treasurer the member nominated by the minister. The treasurer will
have the duty of creating a local church fund to meet local church expenses.
- To call a quarterly business meeting of the local church at which a complete
financial report will be submitted verbally and in writing with a copy being sent to the
Secretary of the Board of Directors.
- To submit a quarterly report on attendance and church activities to the Secretary
of the Board of Directors.
- To coordinate the efforts of the local church in assisting those in need.
- To encourage festival attendance in officially sanctioned locations on the part of
all members and to assist members in attending where appropriate, organizing shared
transportation, shared accommodations, etc.
- To attend the Feast of Tabernacles at an official ICG location.
- To consult the minister and one another on all decisions pertaining to the church.
- To abstain from interference in the affairs of any other local church.
- To cooperate fully with the ministry as they carry out their duties, including
planning regional holy day services and national festival locations.
- To submit an up-to-date church roll each quarter with the names, addresses, and
phone numbers to headquarters.
back to top
In the Intercontinental Church of God,
deacons may be recommended by the brethren and ordained by the ministry following the
pattern in Acts 6:3. The deacons will serve the local church under direction of the
ministry. Since deacons are recommended and ordained locally, the deacon will not
automatically carry his office with him to a new church area. No Council approval is
required for deacons, but ministers should register all deacons with the Board of
Directors by sending a "letter of ordination" to the Secretary of the Board of
Directors. A list of all certified deacons may be obtained from Board of Directors.
Duties of Ministers
back to top
- To properly take care of their own families (I Timothy 5:8). Most ministers in the Intercontinental Church of God, are not salaried and
must pursue their own jobs or careers. The brethren therefore should exercise discretion
in making demands on their minister's time which may interfere with his job or his family.
- To oversee the church. Jesus Christ invested the ministry with the responsibility
to provide leadership to His church. While a pastor is not a "lord over Gods
heritage," he does hold an office in the church and should be respected for his
work's sake. It is fully recognized that this office is open to abuse, and for this
reason the local pastor is held strictly accountable to the Board of Directors.
- To feed the flock-not necessarily to do it all himself, but to see to it that it is
done. In the Intercontinental Church of God, the Sabbath service
program is the responsibility of the ministry. Sermonettes by mature men in the
congregation are encouraged for training purposes, but they should only speak on
invitation of the minister. (See "The Speaking Credential" below.) The use of
audiovisual material provided by the Intercontinental
Church of God, is recommended and encouraged.
- As his time permits, to make himself available to members for ministerial duties
such as counseling, baptism, weddings, funerals, and prayer.
(5) Following the example of Paul, to resolutely maintain his financial independence
from the local congregation he may oversee them objectively, teach and correct
- To submit his own quarterly report to the Secretary of the Board of Directors,
summarizing the quarter's activities and the condition of the church.
- To arrange cooperative services on holy days, pulling area churches together
- To encourage attendance of all members at the Feast of Tabernacles at officially
sanctioned locations and to attend the feast himself. (Do not ask your minister to remain
home to conduct services during the feast. He needs the contact with his colleagues in the
ministry and the inspiration he himself will receive from festival attendance.)
Note: It is the responsibility of headquarters to establish officially sanctioned
locations for the Feast of Tabernacles. Headquarters solicits input from all members and
ministers to assist in festival planning. Under no circumstances should local churches
take it upon themselves to unilaterally arrange a festival site.
- To conduct himself at all times according to the highest ethical standards of the
- To train local men and to share ministerial duties with them when appropriate.
- To recommend qualified men for ordination to the ministry.
- In the spirit of the admonition to "be subject one to another," to hold
himself accountable to the ministry at large and the Board of Directors in particular, but
at all times maintaining his ultimate accountability to Jesus Christ.
- If the local council has been chosen through election, the minister may call and
supervise an election of new council members each year after the Feast of Tabernacles.
This should be done as soon as possible, and in all cases before the end of the calendar
year. A minister may consider, instead of all council members being replaced each year, a
replacement of two or three members each year to be appropriate. In this way there will be
an overlapping of service by council members and opportunity to serve without the
disruption of training a new council each year.
The Speaking Credential
back to top
"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers ... whose vain mouths
must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not..."
Since its inception, the Intercontinental Church
of God ministry has been careful to watch over the pulpits of its fellowship groups and
chartered churches. It seems there are always those who appropriate to themselves the
"right to speak," often denigrating the dignity reserved for our worship
services. For this reason, as well as for the sake of continuity, the Board of Directors
feels that only men holding a speaking credential be allowed to speak before congregations
of the Intercontinental Church of God, (unless
a minister is present). To this end, the following guideline is offered for direction.
A speaking credential may be recommended and granted to qualified men only by
credentialed ministers of the Intercontinental Church
of God. Headquarters will automatically issue the credential upon the ministerial
recommendation unless there is some overriding consideration. The credential will expire
annually on the date of issue unless there is an application for renewal initiated by the
person credentialed or the recommending minister. We will not initiate the renewal from
here. A list will be available to all ministers of those holding the speaking credential.
Anyone having any comments regarding those on the list should first make them known to the
recommending minister, and afterward to the Board of Directors, if necessary. The Board
reserves the right to withdraw this credential at any time at its discretion.
A mere aptitude for speaking and knowledge of the Bible, while of paramount importance,
are not enough to receive this credential. Any man given a credential to speak to the ICG
should go a long way toward meeting the qualifications for ministers and deacons as
set forth in I Timothy 3. In addition to this, they should also meet the qualifications
for a council member as stated elsewhere in these guidelines.
It is not our desire to place roadblocks in your way, but to protect those little
groups around the country who sometimes are victimized by would-be preachers. We are also
concerned about liability and responsibility. In this litigious society, it is wise to
exercise great care in placing men before the congregation. This is not to mention our
liability before God, which is far more serious (I Timothy 5:22).
Recommendation for the credential should be in the form of a letter with a completed
background information form of the man in question (unless we already have one). A man
will be considered credentialed from the day the minister mails the letter, so there
should be no unnecessary delays. The necessary corollary to this is that the minister must
be prepared to accept full responsibility for those men he recommends for credentials.
Men elected to or appointed by the local pastor to be members of the local council do
not automatically have speaking credentials nor can they choose their own speakers. This
stipulation puts more responsibility on the ministry to get to know local members and
choose good speakers.
We hope that this will introduce a little more structure without getting bogged down in
Worship in Music
back to top
Few subjects elicit more emotional response than that of music in worship. Since we are
all individuals, having our unique experiences, we bring to our corporate worship
experiences from different musical disciplines. Some have experienced a more formal and
classical music experience, while others have exposure with a more informal and common
musical preference. This reality can lead to conflict that need not occur. If we follow a
few simple principles we can minimize the differences we bring to our corporate worship.
Since music is an important part of our worship format, let us consider these guidelines.
We should all feel free to pursue our musical preferences as individuals in our private
worship. But let us conclude to abide by a more moderate approach to our worship together.
Whether one's preference leans in the direction of energetic gospel music, or the more
high-toned classical "sacred" music, each taste can be satisfied without
imposing our preferences in our collective time together in worship.
It is the responsibility of headquarters to provide a musical tool to enhance the
unifying principle of worship through music. Through the years we have provided hymnals,
accompaniment tapes, and examples of special music from the worship services conducted in
the Tyler area. It is our intent that these examples and tools provide insight Into the
moderate approach to corporate worship.
Anyone seeking to be a worship leader, or provide special music to the congregation,
should work within the established pattern. All individuals desiring to perform the
service of providing music in worship must be subject to ministerial oversight. Should a
minister recognize his lack of musical expertise, he has available to him the counsel of
headquarters, Board of Directors, and his fellow ministers as resources to settle
questions that may arise.
Our worship in music should be dignified, thoughtful, edifying to the listener, and
glorifying to our Creator. Having said that, it requires some discipline on all our parts
not to limit nor enlarge our circle beyond reasonable bounds. It is impossible to create
an appropriate list of performance music or how to interpret it. We must rely on good will
and the subjugation of our personal preferences in this area of potential conflict.
Where no accompanist exists within our groups, accompaniment tapes may be sought from
headquarters to enhance our hymn singing. Individuals desiring to provide solo
performances may consider accompaniment tapes where appropriate.
Local groups may consider hiring an outside accompanist if one is available. This would
be an acceptable local cost to be paid out of local funds. However, it is preferable to
encourage talented individuals in our midst to be participants in worship through music.
All of our groups, whether chartered or fellowship groups, should rely on the
experience and overview of the Board of Directors and headquarters in the matter of
worship in music. We will be more than happy to help guide you through sticky
circumstances that may arise from individual preference. Let us go forth unified in our
commitment to scintillating music in our worship.
Differences of Opinion
back to top
Members of a local congregation are unlikely to agree on all questions that come their
way. Working together requires some give and take on all our parts.
However, even with the best intentions, there sometimes are disagreements we seem
unable to resolve. Fortunately, being a part of an international church gives us some
tools to sort out our problems. When differences of opinion arise over the interpretation
of a church policy, and all concerned have been unable to resolve the matter locally, let
all agree to write to headquarters for clarification, interpretation, and, if necessary a
ruling that will enable us to go ahead together. Most of our differences are not fatal if
we will work together in good faith to solve them.
Both in the Old Testament and in the New, a ministry is established to resolve matters
of controversy. Even if your controversy is with a minister, the rest of the ministry is
still here to help sort out the problem. Dont let hurt feelings, misunderstandings,
differences of opinion, or stubborn pride divide the church for which Christ died. Follow
the biblical admonition to go to your brother alone. Then take a witness. Then, if you
must, you may take it to the Board of Directors by writing to the Secretary of the Board.
But whatever you do, don't cause one of these little ones God is calling to be offended by
squabbles in the local church.
back to top
Neither the granting of a charter nor the recognition of a fellowship group should be
construed as an exclusive right to a territory. To grant such rights would be contrary to
the principles of liberty and freedom of association upon which the ICG was founded. It is
entirely possible that there will be more than one chartered church or fellowship group in
In answer to the obvious question about referrals, the ICG will treat each referral as
an individual and will always do what we deem is in the individuals best interest.
back to top
Those who are familiar with the origins of the ICG and the CGI, will remember that this
church was born in pain. There were some 554 of us who attended the first CGI Feast of
Tabernacles in 1978, and virtually all of us who attended had suffered through
disfellowshipment from another religious organization. This disfellowshipment had resulted
in being shunned by friends of many years, and in some cases, even by family. Some had
been disfellowshiped for asking embarrassing questions of their pastor, and others had
been disfellowshiped for talking to people who had been disfellowshiped. The hurt this
causes is hard to understand unless you have been there. In order to fully understand the
policy of the ICG on disfellowshiping, and the theology behind it, we recommend reading
the article entitled "Excommunication, What Does the Bible Teach?"
It is the firm policy of the ICG that while a minister may, for cause, bar a person
from local church attendance, no minister may unilaterally bar anyone from the fellowship
of the church at large, nor may he demand that a person be shunned. On the rare occasion
when it is necessary for a pastor to disfellowship or to bar them from services, a full
report of this action must be submitted in writing to the Board of Directors. The person
who has been disfellowshipped has the right of appeal to the Council and should be given a
copy of the charges that have been made against him. Meanwhile, he may attend another
congregation of the ICG or the annual Feast of Tabernacles at the sufferance of ministers
elsewhere. A pastor who disfellowships a person may inform other pastors of his actions
and the reasons for them, but it is at the sole discretion of each pastor as to whether
the person may attend.
back to top
We recognize that this manual cannot cover all possible variants of needs and
activities of a local church but we feel that it represents a minimum standard of
consistency for field churches. Exceptions to the policies set forth in this manual may be
permitted, but only if a letter is submitted to the Board explaining the exception and the
reasons for it. It may be that a revision in the church guidelines is called for, but in
any case, the exception will be noted. It is our desire to maintain maximum freedom for
the local churches, but some degree of cohesion is required if we are to do our job and
meet the legal requirements of the governments where we live.
We also recognize that there may be local congregations which, for one reason or
another, do not want to come under the guidance of the ICG, its board, or its Board of
Directors. They may be in general doctrinal agreement, but may object to these guidelines
in whole or in part. We feel it is best for those congregations that they establish
themselves as an independent local church. We will still consider them individually as our
brothers and will serve them as we do all men, but will bear no responsibility for them as
These guidelines are published by the Board of Directors in the hope of clarifying the
policies of the ICG. They are offered in good will and with an open mind to the needs of