By Serena Ellens
In a town small enough to spit across, a church was dying. Growing stale after years of spiritual drought and disconnectedness among the congregation, the church was tired and desperately needed a miracle to turn its dry bones into an army.
Little did this church know that a breath of life was exactly what God had in mind. Following a time of prayer and searching for new ideas that would stimulate growth, the Church of God in Ira, Texas, found answers in the form of a campaign. Thus, “Family Focus,” a ministry directed toward the reestablishment and development of the church family, was founded, with three main monthly objectives: Commit, Connect, and Care.
The first month, which focused on Commit, invited members to renew their
commitment to the Lord and to the church. According to Pastor Rocky Alexander, the lead pastor of the church, “Individuals signed personal commitment cards promising to commit to attend, pray for, and support the Family Focus campaign for the next three months, and to make their relationship with God a priority.”
This commitment then translated into the second month, Connect. Church members were encouraged to connect with each other in a variety of ways in order to foster deeper relationships within the church family, and at the conclusion of the month, more than 120 connections had been made in both the church and the community.
The final month of the “Family Focus” campaign was devoted to Care. This month was particularly exciting, with more than one hundred random acts of kindness bestowed on families in the community and the church. Additionally, more than 2,500 hours were devoted to the renovation of a local grocery store over the course of the month.
“As part of our caring we were looking for a project that would help our community and also pull our congregation together as a family,” Pastor Alexander said. “The local grocery store, Sterling Grocery and Hardware, is a very important part of the community, and the owner had recently passed away and his wife was continuing to keep it open, so we decided that this was [the project] God wanted us to do. We scraped and repainted windows and walls; we replaced doors and thresholds along with repairing locks. We also striped the parking area and painted the front poles and the side fence. The facelift not only improved the looks of the store, but it also gave the church a ‘faith lift.’”
The church also heard about Jim Lyon’s challenge at the Church of God Convention and decided to raise $1,000 to donate to CHOG TraffickLight. God’s blessings overflowed with the advent of this promise, and the church managed to raise double their original goal, giving them the opportunity to spend the overflow on local needs.
In addition to these incredible acts of kindness, the church initiated a new spiritual growth class called Ituha Ministries, which is a ministry that focuses on helping individuals grow strong in their faith through the study of God’s Word. Through the creation of this ministry, as well as the introduction of the Family Focus campaign, the church’s attendance has doubled, and several were also baptized.
God is breathing life into the Church of God in Ira, and this is only the beginning. As stated by Pastor Alexander, “From the moment we began Family Focus in 2012, we have seen the hand of God on our congregation. Not only has our Sunday morning attendance increased, but leaders within the congregation have emerged, and there is excitement about worshiping and serving God. The future of the church of Ira looks very bright, and we are excited to see what God is going to do tomorrow and in the future.”
Serena Ellens is a communication intern for Church of God Ministries from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is currently studying English at Anderson University. Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.