I wrote the following treatise somewhere around 1980 or perhaps early
1981.  I don't know whether or not I ever showed it to anyone else.  It
contains a few of the catch phrases and buzz-words typical of the time.
I don't recall whether or not this was supposed to be a serious proposal
or whether I wrote it as a cathartic.  I still spouted much of the party
line.  Apparently, I never held an expectation that these changes would
be realized, since I packed  my bags and left after Labor Day in 1981.

In a nutshell, I left because I could not imagine honestly living
whatever it was that I thought I was supposed to become.  With hypocrisy
being the best future I could see there, I decided to try to find a life
that I could live with integrity.  If I was to be lost, I would be
honestly lost.  The Lord has been very patient and kind to me.  I have
caused him grief and added to his pain.  But he has been faithful.

I was not aware of the deeper sickness that was festering even then.
The 80s apparently saw the group plunge even deeper.  I thank God that I
got out when I did.  My heart goes out to those who stayed and suffered
the more.


The circa 1980 text follows...

Looking forward to the next ten years and beyond, it's obvious that our
present system for the handling of our money, as individuals and as a
fellowship, is in need of total revision.  At present, our system is
like an overly-protective mother, hanging onto her children, unwilling
that they should leave her, fearing for her old age, intent on keeping
them as her servants.  As I'm growing older with this system, that was
born of a necessity that no longer exists, it galls me more and more
than I'm not responsible over the usage of the fruit of my own labors.
I don't have at all the sense of giving (God loves a cheerful giver.),
rather that it is all duty, religious routine.  This system as it is
discourages initiative.

We began this system out of necessity when we gathered in New York in
1976, when we had very little money and high unemployment.  This system
has served its purpose and out-lived its usefulness.  I think that we
have been hanging onto this system because of the extreme safety for
both the individual and the fellowship.  In making changes and loosening
the reins, there will doubtless be some taking advantage.  But, "let
each one do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under
compulsion..."  As a matter of fact, this taking advantage is already
occurring in many ways, in many cases needlessly, but as if pushed into
it by the ineffectiveness of the present system.  As it is, if an
individual has the initiative to do something, such as going into his
own business, he must simply ignore the mass of red tape, and go ahead
and do it.  Getting funding from the fellowship is illegal.  Saving
money is difficult.  The only way to accomplish something is to break
the old rules.  Since many of us are aging to the point where living
under this system is nothing but indulgence, it's high time for a

The first thing to do is establish the different bases for being a part
of the Church of Bible Understanding, that is, who or what is a member
of the fellowship.  The Board of Directors has already come up with
something along these lines, but it is vague.  There is such a variety
of situations presented to us to deal with that this system will have to
be extremely flexible.  Finally, conscience will be the major guideline,
which is exactly as it should be.  It is understood that this means the
conscience of a Christian, not one was seeking his own glory.  Our
system as it is encourages the thing of "being mothered" by the church.
I think this partly contributes to the younger ones getting "the
sickness" so quickly.  They go from living in the world were they had to
fend for themselves to an ultra-sheltered situation were they quickly
learn to "let someone else do it."  The most hopeful part of our
fellowship now is the lamb house system.  The lambs can move in, and,
for the sake of their training, be relieved of many of the normal duties
of life temporarily.  But when they move out in households, either to
new centers or already established ones, the responsibilities they left
should come right back on them, lest they be spoiled by such "easy
living."  Part of looking ahead is to consider that the end result for
most of us will be to marry and raise a family, where we must be already
prepared to "manage their households well."  Living in "515," any "515,"
wherever it is, is only fantasy, providing no worthwhile training that I
can see.  On the other hand, there isn't so much difference between
managing the money in a small fellowship and managing the money for a
family.  I suggest that the "515" option be closed, period.  This type
of lifestyle is benefiting nobody.

Way back when, before the school, if someone was having problems in one
fellowship, they could move to another.  There was no "515."

One option that I suggest that would apply to most of the fellowship now
is that each individual who "lives in" should, out of his personal
earnings, whatever they are, pay his own living expenses; food, rent,
utilities, medical (within limits, so as not to impose hardship.  "If
you have the world's goods and you see your brother in need and do not
help him, how does God's love abide in you?").  Above that there would
be an agreed-upon contribution for the church's works.  Whatever it is
left is at the disposal of the individual, however he desires, whether
it be used for clothing, transportation, tape recorders, cameras, or
given freely to be used in our works.  It must be left to the conscience
of the individual as this is one area of training where we are badly
lacking and much in need.  Everyone then who is a contributing member of
the church will be able to help determine how our fellowship funds are
put to use.  I expect that this simple change would yield immense
benefits.  It would all but end of the grumbling about not having enough
money for needed things.  Each one would clearly see himself as bearing
his own load.  Special requests and all the round and round surrounding
them would cease to exist.  Of course, in cases of hardship, we as a
fellowship would help a brother who couldn't meet his expenses.  If
someone thought that the fellowship was requiring too much, they could
always live independently.  Each one should make up his mind and live as
he chooses.  The stigma of "you've gotta live-in or else you're weird"
has got to go.  The real fellowship will emerge as those who are devoted
to the special calling that we have received and are contributing freely
to it, both physically and spiritually.  Whoever is "contributing" under
compulsion is only "sour grapes" anyway.  "Compulsory contribution" is
more like "exacting tribute" than Christian fellowship.

Especially for the older ones, "515" situations are just rottenness.
They are difficult to escape.  I suggest that we devise a program to
encourage leaving "515."  There is already, so to speak, the penalty
paid in the spirit for living in "515", but that hasn't been enough to
cause an exodus.  I don't suggest that we make "515" life purposely
worse or harder, but rather, arranging that life in the fellowships is
clearly better and freer.  That would impose a relative penalty for
living in the "515's."  Living in center fellowships should be even
physically more attractive, "if by any means we may save some from the
miry bog."  Also, we could make it easier for brethren to get out of
515.  If a few want to get a house together, the excess of their
earnings could be laid aside toward their expenses in obtaining the
house and getting started.  However, this would become available only
when they actually moved out.  Otherwise, the money would be "forfeited"
to the general fund.  Also in this vein, I suggest that any overtime,
bonuses, side jobs, tax returns, gifts, etc., be 100% left to the
individual.  Why make it harder for a brother to get money together for
something special?  The fellowship fund isn't hurting.  And this would
encourage initiative to actually achieve something.

Another whole area is that of church employees.  I say that they must be
salaried according to the duties they perform, and that their earnings
must be at their disposal just the same as anyone else.  As it is,
church employees border on slave labor.  Our church operations are, in
my sight, very inefficient and unprofessional.  There should be, here
more than anywhere, the attitude of doing things right, the first time,
instead of our usual slop.  This applies both to our church offices and
the "church" businesses.  It should be a sink or swim proposition.  Our
operations, such as the van business and the garage should operate
purely on their own, making it or breaking it.  If the individual
doesn't perform, he is fired.  Simple.  Effective.  Real.  This would
prove that the operation is profitable.  Rather than the extreme
bureaucracy that killed the carpet business with all overstuffed heads
and positions, these businesses would be forced to trim off the fat or
else go under.  For example, the van salesmen should work like any other
salesmen, on strict commission.  Then he as an individual must either
pull his weight in his illustrious position, or find work elsewhere.  No
hand-outs!  No brother or sister working in the world has the luxury of
such a padded position.  They either put up or are put out.  It's unfair
to them to allow indulgence by church employees.  Part of making the van
business prove itself is removing from it the glamour, the whole status
trip.  This is presently being used to lure brothers into volunteering
labor.  Allowing free labor doesn't show the truth of the business'
being able to support itself.  Every real business must hire and pay for
every bit of labor.  Either the van business should pay for the extra
help, or not have it.  There is no such thing as "earning" your way into
a business in the world by giving free work.  It's only a slick way of
maneuvering for looking good.

In our businesses, there is a mixing of wool and linen, leading to a lot
of round and round and unprofessionalism.  We try to have a fellowship
and a business in the same place at the same time.  It is possible for
Christians to work together for Jesus' glory without putting on a
religious performance of rigor of devotion.  Business is business.

"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar' s."  Personally, I
detest the way we handle ourselves with regard to the government.  I
think our tax evasion and " shimmying around the law" puts a sleazy
taint on our fellowship, hurting the conscience of the church.  How do I
explain to a lamb that we do things knowing that they are totally
illegal?!  We are well able to afford doing everything totally above
board.  I would rather take the loss until things can be arranged
legally.  "Taxes to whom taxes are due, tribute to whom tribute is

Another area that needs changing is the way that we make equipment
investments.  We are cheap.  And that comes back on us and causes much
more expense in the long run.  The classic example is that of the mail
trucks we had in the old carpet business.  We wasted $1,000's and
$1,000's!  We bought trash and tried to keep it together with chewing
gum and rubber bands.  It didn't work.  The point is that the same
principles are still governing our investments, i.e., "Get the cheapest
thing that will do it" rather than, "Get the thing that will do the job
right and dependably."  We should not hesitate to invest in top-quality
equipment and see that those who are going to use it are properly
trained to handle it.  All this is simply good business sense.  There is
no successful operation that operates with COBU principles.  I see this
syndrome most clearly with regard to our van business and garage.  There
is just plain refusal to purchase proper, quality equipment.  This is
only a fantasy way of cutting costs!  It results in greatly reduced
efficiency, thereby increasing the real cost, not to mention all the
frustration, anxiety and the demoralizing effect of it all.  In
operating my own business, I don't hedge on equipment.  I buy
top-quality, dependable tools and equipment that I know will perform
when I need them.  It pays.

The early brothers said "Love God and do as you please."  This is where
we must finally be.  That we should maintain our works by supporting
them with money that is exacted as tribute does not please God.  All our
righteousness would be counted as filthy rags.  We are able to do things
right now.  Virtually anything that is done in the light can be
honorable.  Each one should decide how he wants to live, and do it.
Most desire the fellowship situation, having both the benefits of living
together and greater freedom and responsibility.  We could agree on a
certain level of contribution.  I suggest a fixed sum that will be
sufficient to maintain the salaries of church employees, offices,
buildings, vehicles, aircraft, Haiti, etc. as it were, "the tithe",
i.e., what is expected.  Anything over would be a "votive offering" or "
freewill offering," just because we want to give it.  When the master of
the servants delivered to them 4, 2, and 1 talents, he didn't require
anything of them back.  Those who were wise invested to their master's
profit.  We as a fellowship and as individuals are badly lacking in
accomplishment, due in part to having nothing to work with.  The slave
has no capital (talents) to work with.  The "heavy taxation" of our
present system must go.

I suggest a 2-step revision toward the final form of our system.  First,
as I've already described, each chooses where and how he wants to live,
agreeing to a set contribution as a minimum.  This would be in effect
for a set time, probably one to two years.  In that time, whoever
(particularly of the older ones) is going to establish himself in his
own business, or whatever, will have ample time to do it.  Step 2, then,
is to dissolve the entire concept of a compulsory contribution, thereby,
giving everyone total freedom to give as he is able and desirous.
Whether or not one is part of the fellowship will be evident by his
spirit and his heart, rather than by what mammon is delivered.  As many
marry and have the financial responsibility of a family, only the most
successful will be able to make significant contributions of money, yet,
older brothers and sisters working for the good of the younger will more
than compensate.  On the other hand, no one should be allowed the
delusion that giving money will make them part of the real fellowship,
that a constant weekly contribution will justify them before God.  Let's
live according to the Bible.

The idea of requirement rings of slavery, or forced labor.  The real
requirement in this area is our knowledge of our Father' s will and the
Holy Spirit working through conscience.  "For why should my liberty be
determined by another man's scruples?  If I partake with thankfulness,
why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?  So, whether
you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God to."  1
Corinthians 10:29-31.

To make these changes will be a great shock to us as individuals.  As it
is now, much of my life is spent in a struggling with our cult system
and all the forces playing in it.  A lot of what determines how I spend
money is what others think and the explicit and implied rules of our
living together.  We have extremely unreal principles at work right now.
The whole attitude now is that no individual will act responsibly with
his talents, so don't let him have them.  Doubtless, there will be loss,
mistakes, and waste in the transition, but there will be also much
learning, increase in responsible action, more real living and action,
freedom, greater personal integrity, pride in our fellowship, and a
sense of maturing and conforming more closely to God's will for our
lives.  I expect personal productivity to increase greatly when our
restrictive regulations are removed.  This results in the long-term
increase in actual contributions.  Of course, there is the increased
opportunity for indulgence, but so what.  We have to face the world
someday.  And we can always keep 515 for anyone who prefers forced
labor.  Mommy is always saying, " But I don't want you to get hurt out
there," which equals "515 Forever."

One point of advantage of revision that I missed is that the COBU
bureaucracy could be trimmed considerably.  With the responsibility of
each one's finances on himself instead of Uncle Harry, it would greatly
lighten the workload of the church offices.

Also, I expect that the number of live-ins would climb dramatically.
Many younger brothers and sisters shy away from moving in under the
present system because it is so unreal and oppressive.  Then they feel
guilty and avoid fellowship altogether and end up backsliding from
Jesus.  Our unreal life affects far more than just us.  It hinders the
work that God has given us

Do not a muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.