By Carl Stagner
“I have never been more excited than I am now about how God is moving the Church of God into a bright future!” Sounds like something the general director of Church of God Ministries might say. Or a member of the Ministries Council. Maybe even someone applying for a leadership position in the General Assembly. But these words come from the pastor of one of our most influential churches in the movement: Bob Beckler, of Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. The Wichita congregation will host what is shaping up to be a must-attend Church of God Convention in June 2017. Before you go, get to know this 110-year-old church whose vitality and drive for ministry is nothing short of contagious.
These are motivated saints. And they have good reason to be. While many churches find themselves in the declining stage of their life cycle a century later, the Spirit is continually pouring new life into Central Community. “We are a church on the move,” Pastor Bob explains. “We feel very clearly that God has visited us and has said it’s time to move forward. Over the last eight or nine months, based on the book of Habakkuk, we’ve been in what we call the “Right the Vision” campaign—like the watchman on the wall, clearly communicating what God is doing. We’ve formed multiple teams, we’ve come up with a new vision and mission statement. We’re planning what we’re going to do with the forty acres we have. God is moving and it’s powerful.”
When asked what has contributed to the church’s health and vitality, Bob explains that Central Community Church has long been a leader in its community. It’s not just a fixture in the community; it’s a hub of activity for the community. He also insists that Central Community has long been a force for good in the Church of God movement and around the world. “Even though there may have been some ‘classroom’ seasons that God has taken us through, there has always been this fact that God is using this place to lead our community and world to reconcile with those who do not know Jesus. Right now, more than 30 percent of the congregation has been here less than two years, and forty percent less than four years. We have begun the ministry of reconciliation, and that has led to unbelievable restoration. People keep coming to see what God is doing in a church that is actively being restored.”
The name of their church is so fitting for what they do. As a central gathering place, they now host extravagant Christmas and Easter productions attended by thousands of locals. Pastor George Skramstad is back at the church where he led so many years in worship, and now he’s helping to revitalize the grand-scale choral, worship arts aspects of what they do.
As a hub for the community, they’re keeping the facilities in tip-top shape. But before the new coat of paint, the congregation wrote more than 1,300 scriptures on the walls to symbolize the power of God in what they’re doing there. But these believers don’t just stay on the church property. Through an effort known as The Dollar Club, each month they’re taking funds raised out to the needy to pay for gas or electric bills, offering financial assistance to families of prisoners, surprising police officers with gifts, and much more. The church video records the acts of kindness and shows the entire congregation what their dollars can do. This only motivates the church to give more, and the cycle of being Jesus to the community continues. “Know Christ and Make Him Known”—from providing family-friendly activities at the church, to local and international missions, everything Central Community Church does stems from that new Jesus-centered mission statement.
Pastor Bob and Central Community Church can’t wait to see brothers and sisters in Christ from across the country and around the world gather in Wichita next June. As they roll out the welcome mat, they also recommend a few eateries: Freddy’s, an old-fashioned hamburger establishment, as well as a variety of great barbecue places in Old Town Wichita, and the classic chains McAllister’s and Chick-Fil-A—both of which regularly partner with the church. Pastor Bob also reminds everyone that if you like Pizza Hut, you might like to know that it originated in Wichita! As for things to do, Pastor Bob recommends Old Town Wichita, the Riverwalk, the zoo, and the incredible Museum of World Treasures—founded by a friend to so many in the movement, Jon Kardatzke.
Church of God Convention 2017 is next June 20–23. For registration and more information, visit www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.