Convention 2017: Women Lead the Way on Thursday

Photo: Thursday night worship led by choir and orchestra (photo courtesy Chris Hall).

By Carl Stagner

Just in case anyone had forgotten, Thursday at Church of God Convention 2017 was a reminder to everyone that an anointed woman of God cannot be discounted. On June 22, the Church of God Convention featured not one, not two, but three different women leaders who have had an extensive impact on the church and culture around us. Ann Smith, Anita Renfroe, and Danielle Strickland offered messages oozing with wisdom, wit, and, in Anita Renfroe’s case, sheer hilarity, too. It was the women—not the men—who led the way on Thursday. Continue reading

Convention Wednesday: A Walk-On-Water Kind of Day

Photo: Worship on Wednesday with Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin (photo courtesy Ashley Cunnington).

By Carl Stagner

Day Two of CHOG Convention 2017 is now one for the history books. It wasn’t just an ordinary day at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. This was a time of awakening to a new day which continues to unfold before our eyes. Focused on Jesus as the subject, churches across the movement are discovering a flag everyone can wave. The General Assembly, convention worship services, and extra events spread across the day each pointed to the centrality of Christ. So did the challenge Nick Vujicic issued for listeners to step out of the boat. Continue reading

CHOG Convention 2017: Day One Delivers Power-Packed Punch

Photo: The Gaither Vocal Band on Tuesday night.

By Carl Stagner

From the prayer session at 8:00 in the morning to the last note of “It is Finished” in the evening, opening day at Church of God Convention 2017 saw the power of God on display among his people—power in the five incredible voices of the Gaither Vocal Band; power in the dynamic preaching of Paul Sheppard; power in the Spirit that moved among the people. Continue reading

Welcome to Wichita: Church of God Convention Kicks Off in Kansas

By Carl Stagner

Today we get to see what all the buzz has been about. Today we get to experience a gathering of people boldly committed to Christ, determined to take back what hell has stolen. Today we, the Church of God, make history as we gather as a movement for the first time ever in Wichita, Kansas. Starting today, for four days, we once again realize the collective potential of God’s power at work as we move together. This week we will be reaffirmed that, truly, we are better together. Before we get too far down the road, however, let’s take a look at what Tuesday, June 20, has to offer. Continue reading

Warner Press Acquires Hermitage Art

Warner Press continues its growth with the announcement of the recent agreement in principle to acquire a 100-percent interest in Hermitage Art, Inc., a Chicago-based organization. Warner Press, originally called the Gospel Trumpet Company, was founded in 1881. In 1963, the name changed to what it is now. Since its inception, Warner Press has been the publishing voice of the Church of God movement. This acquisition of Hermitage Art will provide Warner Press the opportunity to expand their current customer base through the addition of new products, categories, and customer channels. Continue reading

A Glimmer of Hope in the United Kingdom

By Carl Stagner

Hope is at a premium in the United Kingdom. Recent terrorist attacks have ignited fears among many, but desperate poverty has been widespread in parts of the country for years. The city of Birkenhead, 227 miles northwest of London, exemplifies a post-Christian culture where the traditional role of church in society seems to have disappeared. Though just across the river sits the affluent city of Liverpool, Birkenhead faces all the usual struggles of a city stigmatized by economic decline and rampant unemployment. In the midst of this dark environment, Egan Road Church of God has been a constant glimmer of hope for ninety years. Today, Global Strategy missionaries Zach and Audrey Langford lead the congregation, now positioned to reach the community—including, and especially, the younger generation. Continue reading

Missionary Couples’ Adventures Begin Before Botswana

Collage: Coppesses (left), Stocksdales (right)

By Megan DeBruyn

It wasn’t a message in the sky that led both Abby and Corey Stocksdale and Joy and Tim Coppess to understand that they were being called to overseas missions in Maun, Botswana. Slowly, however, and ever-so-gently, the Lord revealed his divine plans to each couple, and subsequently surrounded them with a community that lifted them up and championed them in pursuit of their calls. Continue reading

Tapan Borman: Making Jesus the Subject in Bangladesh

Photo: Tapan Borman speaking in Bangladesh.

By Carl Stagner

When only about 1 percent of your country’s population identifies as Christian, little else matters. Does the Muslim majority really care about the description over the doors of the church? Are the Hindus concerned with the church’s longstanding Christmas or Easter tradition? Do believers have time to spend arguing over the style of music—or dance? Tapan Borman says No. Jesus is the subject, the focus, the target. Making his name known is what matters, and any method by which they can accomplish that goal is on the table. Since receiving a call to ministry in 1992, the national leader of the Lalmonirhat Church of God group in Bangladesh has been in the change-the-world business. A closer look at the life and focus of Tapan Borman offers a snapshot of transformative ministry possible only when everything points back to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

When Teachers Become Learners: Barefoot and Humbled in Bangladesh

Photo: Cross-cultural footwashing in Bangladesh.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve ever been on a mission trip, you know it’s a mistake to think you’re going to another country only to teach and bless someone else. More often than not, you end up learning more than you could offer. Instead of leaving feeling impressed by all the good you did, you feel humbled by the good people you met. When a group from Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana; First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota; and Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, came together for a missions trip to Bangladesh this year, the teachers once again became the learners. Continue reading

Missions, Generosity in the DNA of Wyoming Congregation

Photo: One of many Highland Park mission teams.

By Carl Stagner

When missions and generosity are uttered in the same sentence, Highland Park Community Church in Casper, Wyoming, is one Church of God congregation that immediately comes to mind. These values are a part of the church’s DNA, as evidenced by over half a century of giving way above and beyond regular tithes and offerings. While the church’s missions budget of over $500,000 and financial support of more than thirty missions projects is impressive, it’s the heart of numerous individuals and groups within the congregation that astounds the most. The perspective of a few of these individuals sheds light on why the state’s largest church, of any denomination, chooses to invest so heavily in what God is doing around the world. Continue reading

Join Us in Wichita, Celebrate Movement’s International Reach

Photo: Missionary commissioning prayer in Philadelphia last year.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God is so much bigger than most of us can imagine. With nearly 900,000 believers around the world, attending nearly 8,000 churches in 89 different countries, the international reach of the Church of God is both broad and diverse. It can be hard to visualize the magnitude of that which God has allowed us to be a part, especially when our only consistent interface with the movement is from fifth pew back, piano side, once or twice a week. One of the best things about the Church of God Convention is the opportunity to see, hear, and participate in what God is doing outside our regular sphere of ministry. Church of God Convention 2017 will once again celebrate the international reach of our movement during worship gatherings and extra events. Continue reading

On a ‘Vision’ Trip to Africa

By Kyle Hayes

When we finalized the plans to join other Church of God leaders on a “vision” trip to visit Mike and Heather Webb last year, I was excited. But I was also completely unaware of how transformational the trip could be. Though my wife and I had traveled internationally, we had never been on the African continent. We were very much in over our heads. Continue reading

From the Archives: Meditating on Mission—Christ Bridges Cultures

By Thomas McCracken

Mission. It’s the local Women of the Church of God sending school and health kits to Uganda; it’s men, women, and children helping construct a building in Mexico; it’s young adults involved in sanitation projects in Haiti; it’s a young man teaching computer in a Christian university in Hong Kong; and it’s children in a local Sunday school providing Bibles for Native American children in the United States. And it’s much more. Continue reading

Gathering Connects, Trains Young Leaders Across Europe, Middle East

Photo: Multinational prayer at the gathering.

By Carl Stagner

Across much of Europe and the Middle East, evangelical Christians compose only 0.25 to 4 percent of the population. While young Christians in North American have been given the opportunity to experience worship and fellowship with thousands of other believers—such as IYC—many Christians across European and Middle Eastern countries have never been in the same room with more than a dozen young adults who share their faith. The presence, support, and comradery of other believers is often a breath of fresh air among those for whom isolation is the norm. The second gathering of the Three Worlds Leadership Network commenced in beautiful Switzerland in early May this year, bringing with it that much-needed breath of fresh air. Continue reading

Scrubbing Away Mom’s Stress: Churches Reach Out with MOPS

Photo: MOPS ministry at Madison Park Church of God.

By Karen Roberts

An older woman approached the MOPS display table in the foyer of a local Church of God. “So, are you selling cleaning products?” she asked. Her question is common. The answer is surprising. No, it’s not a floor product company. Yes, it’s a group for moms with small children that meets in local host churches to teach and encourage women—literally all around the world. Many Church of God congregations are discovering the power of the ministry to reach new families in their community. Continue reading