ONE Gives Students Glimpse of Heaven, Desire to Change the World Together

By Carl Stagner

Some had likely never worshiped in Spanish before. Others had probably never experienced firsthand the high-octane energy of urban gospel. History suggests that few had likely ever been in a setting where three cultures converged in the name of Christ. But that’s exactly what happened at the first-ever ONE event, which took place at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 21 and 22. The result was a glimpse of heaven and a renewed desire to change the world together. Continue reading

Mississippi Church Adapts to Cultural Shift to Reach Community

Photo: Pastor Trey locks hands and hearts with basketball ministry youth.

By Carl Stagner

The culture of your community has shifted over the past five, ten, perhaps twenty years. The shift may have been gradual, but somehow you feel blindsided. Your church probably has three choices: adapt with the culture, relocate to another culture, or continue a futile fight against it. Adapting to the culture doesn’t mean changing the message or compromising principles; only the methods change when Jesus is the subject. Crossroads of Life Church of God in Byram, Mississippi, had to make a decision as they watched their community’s culture shift dramatically, largely over the past decade alone. But they’ve chosen to stay put, and they’re certainly glad they did. Continue reading

Radio Ministry Celebrates 70 Years Broadcasting Hope

Photo: CBH recording studio on the camp meeting grounds in Anderson.

By Mykaela Alvey

In 1947, an Anderson College student named Richard Lee Meischke, who had an interest in radio, conceived the idea of a nationally distributed radio broadcast about the Church of God. This idea, followed up by conversations with a talented preacher at Anderson’s Park Place Church of God, Dr. Dale Oldham, and the Board of Church Extension and Home Missions, led to the launch what would be known as Christian Brotherhood Hour in January of 1947. Using the sanctuary of Park Place Church, they began producing programs, with Dr. Oldham acting as host and speaker. Their slogan would be, “A united Church for a divided world.” Continue reading

Creativity, Generosity, Boldness Characterize Easter Celebrations

Photo: Lord’s Supper drama at First Church, Inverness, Florida.

By Carl Stagner

As a pinnacle in the church year, some might get the feeling that it’s all downhill from Easter. But perhaps Pastor Paul Strozier of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, said it best last year in an article he wrote: “The baskets have returned to the attic, the plastic eggs are being recycled, somewhere in the house there is at least one purple Peep left unconsumed—at least until the toddler finds it…But can we really let the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ wait a whole year to be acknowledged and celebrated again? Easter never ends for the follower of Jesus Christ…Imagine how it might change our homes, our families, and our communities if we lived every day with resurrection power, hope, and joy.” For Church of God congregations across the country, Easter has only just begun! Here’s a look at how churches observed Easter week. Continue reading

Subject to Jesus: Louisiana Pastor Reflects on ‘Jesus is the Subject’

By Stephen Nelson

Jesus is the subject. Yes, a recurring theme on my blog, in my social media feed, in my sermons, and in my conversations. This is because this has become the constant theme of my life. It’s Easter weekend, and our senses are more in-tune with Jesus. It brings to mind questions about empires, crucifixion, and the resurrection. And also, are Jesus and the Easter Bunny friends? And, why do bunnies lay multi-colored eggs once a year? Continue reading

Church of God Gears Up for Easter

Photo: Cornwall Church’s Skagit Valley “Tulip Team” members.

By Carl Stagner

Jesus is the subject, no doubt about it. The life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—from birth, to death, to resurrection—is one we exalt from Sunday to Sunday, Christmas to Easter, and throughout the year. It’s no wonder that Church of God congregations across the country and around the world are pulling out all the stops for a week of worship, reflection, outreach, community service, and celebration. Throughout the movement, churches are preparing for community Easter egg hunts and festivals, Communion, Good Friday gatherings, Sunrise services, breakfasts and brunches, stations of the cross, special music and drama—and of course, footwashing. Continue reading

Convention 2017 Worship Pastor a Product of Church, Family Heritage

Photo: George Skramstad (left) on the violin.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God heritage is in his bones. Music flows in his veins. George R. Skramstad is third-generation Church of God and the product of a family steeped in classical, folk, and church music. He started playing piano at the age of three, and at the age of eleven he picked up the violin. Over the course of his ministry, he’s served several congregations, and led worship for many churches through seasons of incredible growth, including North Hills in Phoenix, Arizona; Crossings in Oklahoma City; and Central Community in Wichita, Kansas—the host church of CHOG Convention 2017. Today he serves as music and worship arts pastor at Central Community. In a recent interview with Church of God Ministries, Pastor George Skramstad shared some insights gleaned from his church, music, and family experiences, and offered a preview of how these influences will translate into his worship leadership at Church of God Convention 2017. Continue reading

Freedom Sunday. Freedom Summit. Freedom Fight!

By Carl Stagner

We’re engaged in a battle of historic proportions. The Church of God has once again gone to the front lines of a war against sexual exploitation and human trafficking initially waged more than a hundred years ago. With the launch of Trafficklight in 2014 came a renewed fervor for seeing what Jesus sees, living out Jesus’ example in our neighborhoods, and allowing our hearts to be broken for what breaks his. Together we’ve raised awareness, funded life-changing projects, and touched the lives of trafficking victims through several ministries already in the trenches. Freedom Sunday 2017 offered a preview of what’s to come as we turn our attention to the supply side of human trafficking. Continue reading

From the Archives: An Easter Gift for Jesus

By Richard L. Willowby

Happy Easter! Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord of the church. Jesus is the center of the universe. Jesus is raised from the dead. The church’s greatest thanksgiving pours out for the sacrifice of Jesus on the bloody hill of Golgotha. The church’s greatest celebration yet leaps to meet Jesus’ resurrection. The church’s greatest hope will be fulfilled in the consummation of the victory when Jesus gathers the church unto himself and to God for eternity.

In the meantime… Continue reading

Florida Ministry Exemplifies ‘the Innkeeper’ in Good Samaritan Story

By Carl Stagner

Jesus told it first. Countless preachers and teachers have expounded on it since. The Parable of the Good Samaritan has captured the attention and the hearts of men and women around the world with its profound, yet simple message of love expressed in action. As church leaders renew the call to boldly move outside the walls of the church, more and more believers are identifying with the character of the Samaritan. But every Good Samaritan needs a good innkeeper! Lake Wales Care Center in Lake Wales, Florida, not only provides a place to stay (and numerous other services) for people in need, but also bridges the gap between the heart to serve and the means to do it effectively. Continue reading

MACU Hosts Luncheon Celebrating Legendary Race Relations Victory

Photo: Dick Soergel and Russell Perry today.

By Whitney Knight

As a part of Mid-America Christian University’s monthly E-Club lunch series for athletics supporters, local football legends Dick Soergel and Russell Perry held a Q&A session on March 29 at MACU’s campus in south Oklahoma City. In 1955, Soergel and Perry broke racial barriers when they quarterbacked opposing high school teams—Capitol Hill and Douglass—in the state’s first integrated football game. Continue reading

Missouri Church Takes Bold Step to Eliminate Debt

Photo: First Church mortgage going up in flames.

By Carl Stagner

Two thousand years ago, Jesus paid the debt we could not pay. His victory over death became our victory, setting us free to experience new life and share it with others. Until freedom reigns, debt has a way of holding us back, enslaving us to our past. First Church of God in Jefferson City, Missouri, found themselves in this very predicament. While thankful for the grace that covers their spiritual debt, the debt that stared them down, barring the way forward, was financial. This debt kept them from experiencing God’s best and embracing the future he’d planned for them. Then, early last year, the capital city congregation fixed their eyes on Christ and boldly stepped out of the boat. Continue reading

Trafficking Victims Find Hope, Healing at Reclaim 2017 Host-City Haven

Photo: Mentoring based on God’s Word at Hope Ranch.

By Carl Stagner

In February 2015, we first shared the story of how Hope Ranch for Women in Wichita, Kansas, came to be. A little over two years later, their story of reclaiming what hell has stolen from the lives of victims of exploitation continues to unfold. With its origins in one of several strong Church of God congregations in Wichita—Christ Church—Hope Ranch will be celebrated at Church of God Convention 2017 for its highly effective ministry. Those who attend the Freedom Summit on Friday, June 23, will also have the chance to tour their life-giving campus. Before you go, get to know a bit about the ministry which has forever changed the course of sex trafficking survivors. Continue reading

New Video feat. Jim Lyon Urges Pastors, Delegates to Attend General Assembly

More than three decades passed before the new movement known as the Church of God established the General Assembly. The engine of the movement then was the Gospel Trumpet Company. As the movement grew, competing agendas and dysfunctional operations became too much for even the catalytic Gospel Trumpet to handle. In 1917, it had become apparent to Church of God pastors that some recalibration of the movement was needed to keep it going and simultaneously breathe new life into its sails. Since 1917, the General Assembly has been the voice for the movement—not Church of God Ministries, not the various agencies and schools, not the general director. The voice of the General Assembly is the strongest, however, when its shepherds and lay delegates participate. In a new video released by Church of God Ministries, Jim Lyon, general director, urges pastors and lay delegates to make this historic year—one hundred since the GA’s inception—a priority.

View or download the video on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/209904704.

Seeing What Jesus Sees: Alabama Church Hosts Prom for Special Needs Guests

Photo: Special needs guest arrives at the prom.

By Carl Stagner

“I never thought I would be helping my daughter get ready for a prom,” one parent said. This daughter is among a group of people often overlooked or forgotten. But Jesus has never overlooked or forgotten them. He sees them. He sees their need. He sees their intrinsic worth. The Church of God congregation in Falkville, Alabama—known as Fairview: The Grace Place—has put on heaven’s glasses. They’re seeing what Jesus sees—people made in the image of their Maker, and worth all the love in the world. That’s why they recently hosted a prom for seventy people with special needs, complete with hair and makeup care, shoe shining, crown or tiara, delicious food, a limousine, and red-carpet treatment. Continue reading