Culture of the Children of God

The Children of God was more than religion—it was a way of life, an alternative society, a distinct communal culture. At its core was the belief that “all who believed were together and had all things common” as described in the book of Acts in the Bible. For COG members, this was not just an interesting idea or only relative to the early followers of Christ. It was a conviction that “all things common” was a model for disciples of all time of how Jesus wanted His followers to live.

COG communes were self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating—independent of other denominations and churches, as well as mainstream society. Starting with a spiritual revolution, the movement evolved into an alternative society that embraced elements of the counterculture while developing its own distinct doctrines, outreach, and lifestyle.

The COG sought to break away from the systems of the world in order to cultivate and demonstrate the fire and passion of following God and His will for the day. The movement affirmed a separation from established society—dropping out—so that members could live as Jesus’ disciples did, without money to their name or a set place to lay their heads, but happy, because the truth of Jesus’ love and salvation had set them free.

The Children of God rejected materialism and secular pursuits in favor of serving God and living eternal values. They lived entirely “by faith,” trusting in God for His supply, with the belief and determination that if they committed their lives to God and “seeking first His Kingdom,” He would commit to providing for them and their children. Members were required to “forsake all” to join, which meant sharing one’s personal possessions with the community where one joined, to be distributed to all according to the need, in conformance with the example set in the book of Acts. (See Acts 4:32, 34–35 .)

The Children of God’s separation from secular society and focus on shared religious values empowered it to create its own culture, replete with original music, art, and publications. Its original music was integral to its witness and outreach to the searching youth of the world. From radical rock-style songs denouncing the hypocrisy of the establishment to heart-touching folk ballads of God’s love, original music was an outstanding trademark of the COG since the California Light Club days of the Teens for Christ.

COG members’ early adherence to home schooling and the Montessori approach of early education led to the development of early learning publications and a conviction to home school long before home schooling developed as a popular movement in the United States.