By Carl Stagner
Three pastors walk into a restaurant. They sit down, enjoy lunch together, and chat about life and ministry. Then they start imagining. What if? What would happen if a handful of Church of God ministers came together to create a devotional resource on one of the Movement’s founding emphases, such as holiness? What if younger and older pastors, as well as missionaries and seminary professors, from different backgrounds, all contributed to the final product? What if, then, this resource were offered to the Church of God at no cost? No joke, no kidding! This meeting of longtime ministry colleagues John Mattern, Jonathan Frymire, and David Aukerman turned out to be the catalyst for the creation of a devotional on the topic of holiness, designed for use between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
Dreaming turned into reality when the three pastors decided they’d give it a try. They started making contacts with possible contributors, and though they’d originally come up with ten names, that list soon blossomed to twenty. Fifteen of these worked together in small groups to collaboratively write the devotionals, four professors contributed content for the introductions to each section of the devotional, and one pastor offered his design skill. No one was paid a dime, but everyone voluntarily offered their time and talent to get the job done. David Aukerman and John Mattern established an outline, but each group of writers did the rest, determining the best approach to address one aspect of holiness in several bite-sized chunks: holiness as a characteristic of God’s nature, biblical examples of holiness in action, the call for Christians to live holy lives, and the final week of Jesus’ life.
“We don’t have any agenda other than here is holiness as we understand it,” John, pastor of St. Johns Church of God in St. Johns, Michigan, explains. “We wanted to create Church of God-focused material that would positively impact the movement, and we really liked the idea of bringing back that theological foundation of holiness. This is a win-win for everybody—here is a resource made by Church of God people for Church of God people, birthed out of a desire for practical content. We don’t want recognition, we just want to resource the movement.”
Throughout what is ecumenically known as Lent, the season between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, the individual devotionals will be posted on a blog created by several of these Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry graduates called Belong. The devotionals will also be shared on the Church of God Ministries page on Facebook. Readers will find these devotionals go beyond traditional devotional material, offering practical insight on moving holiness from concept to practice. The entire devotional can also be downloaded and printed for personal and/or congregational use at http://belongonline.org/holiness-a-lenten-devotional/.
Writers include David Aukerman, Ryan Carrell, Amanda Daniel, Jared Fields, Jeff Frymire, Jonathan Frymire, Thomas Horrocks, John Mattern, Bobby Mihsill, Jenny Mihsill, Carron Odokara, Joy Sherman, Shannon New Spangler, Abby Torgeson, and Cassie Trentaz. Introductions were written by educators MaryAnn Hawkins (seminary dean), Greg Robertson, Merle Strege. Written material from the late Gilbert Stafford also compose one of the introductions. Joe Watkins served as art designer.
Download this free resource at http://belongonline.org/holiness-a-lenten-devotional/. Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.