By Carl Stagner
In Isaiah 43:19, the Lord’s message is heard loud and clear: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (NLT). What was true for Judah and Jerusalem still rings true for the Church of God today. The same Creator who brought new life to the Israelites generations ago is still making all things new. Church of God Convention 2014 signaled the onset of a new day, and the creation of new life, for the 134-year-old movement.
“Jesus is the subject” was the drumbeat. “Be bold” was the motif. Across four anointed days at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, the Holy Spirit orchestrated a brand new symphony that echoed the dynamic strains of the earliest days of our movement. Called to action, compelled to love, and commissioned to serve, the Church of God once again embraced Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost, to bring life more abundant, to serve, and to destroy the works of the Devil.
Two major initiatives were presented at CHOG Convention 2014, each designed to change the world and reclaim what Hell has stolen. CHOG TraffickLight was formed to intentionally respond to the global epidemic of sex trafficking. Framed by the riveting story of the
Shelter—a 100-year-old Church of God orphanage in Cuttack, India—the vision to rescue women and children from the sex trade at home and abroad prompted an unplanned offering on Wednesday. Leaders were encouraged to accept a “1,000 X $1,000” challenge to fund sex trafficking ministries over the next year. Others were led by the Spirit to learn more about starting a ministry to fight sex trafficking in their hometown.
In an effort to fuel innovation in ministry, the Change the World initiative was launched. The Innovation Trustees, a grant-making team of leaders from across the country, recognize that some of the best ideas in the movement are just waiting to take flight. These ideas need support. They need funds. Innovators are welcome to submit a proposal by September 15. Awarded proposals will be announced in January 2015.
Jim Lyon, Michael Thigpen, Diana Swoope, Marty Grubbs, Anne Graham Lotz, Dave Stone, and Reggie McNeal powerfully presented provocative messages of inspiration and motivation. Sidewalk Prophets, Alanna Story, Sandi Patty, and Ashmont Hill led worshipers in high-energy, high-impact songs of praise. Woven into every session were testimonies of God’s hand at work through the Church of God in North America and around the world. Jim Lyon introduced his new executive team of Bob Moss, Handel Smith, and Ben Shular. In a departure from the traditional format, the Church of God commissioned one missionary family in each service.
The 128th Church of God Convention was the first to be held outside of Anderson, Indiana, in more than a hundred years; the 96th General Assembly was also the first to be held in Oklahoma City. Resolutions were passed concerning the “ministerial/facility protection against forced officiating/hosting of same-sex marriages” and the opposition of human trafficking. Motions were passed regarding the “1,000 X $1,000” aforementioned anti-sex-trafficking initiative, the formation of a convention committee to make plans concerning the 2015 convention, and the examination of General Assembly and related organizational roles. A resolution also passed to allow the use of “other than paper ballots” for General Assembly voting. The proposed budged was also accepted.
During and after the convention, social media response was remarkable, and reflective of overall sentiment. “Could it be…a new, fresh Spirit wind blowing through the church? Sure feels like it,” tweeted Terry Rolen, lead pastor of Bayside Community Church in Safety Harbor, Florida. Twitter user Jessica C. commented, “I’m amazed at the #CHOG movement and the direction we are headed.” Aaron Perry, associate pastor of First Church of God in Kokomo, Indiana, tweeted, “#BeBold2014 is making me once more proud and encouraged to be Church of God.”
Missed the convention? Sermons will be available soon; follow www.chognews.org for more information. For the general director’s report to the General Assembly, agency reports, budget details, and more information on the General Assembly 2014, visit www.jesusisthesubject.org/2014-general-assembly.