Culinary Craftsmanship and Christ: A Columbus Caterer’s Calling

Michael Mayfield and team at First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Those who attended the Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, in June came for connection and conversation, for worship and the Word. Others came for resources, and for reunion with friends and family. Few came expecting to tickle their taste buds, but for those who experienced the culinary craftsmanship of the catering at First Church of God, that’s exactly what they did. While the deserts and dishes at convention meals and receptions were a delicious delight, the sweet spirit of Michael Mayfield and his team is what left convention-goers most impressed. Continue reading

D.C.-Area Church to Host Fourth Regional Amid Incredible International Impact

Fairfax Community Church baptism celebration.

By Carl Stagner

On September 18 and 19, Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia, will host the fourth Church of God Regional Convention of the year. Though they look forward to this opportunity to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their campus, their day-to-day ministry will not come to a halt. At any given moment, life-giving ministry is made possible somewhere in the world because of this congregation. Their work with refugees at home and abroad, the twenty churches they’ve planted or restarted across the globe, and their bold neighborhood-by-neighborhood reclamation in and around the nation’s capital, are only three of numerous areas of incredible impact. Convention-goers will be inspired to see and hear more of Fairfax’s story in person with their stellar staff, but a recent interview with Pastor Rod Stafford offers the entire Movement a glimpse of just how they give life to their city, state, country, and world. Continue reading

New Initiative Invests in Young Pastors, Church Planters Across Europe

First meeting of Europe X in Budapest, Hungary.

By Carl Stagner

Ministry in Europe and the Middle East looks very little like ministry in other parts of the world. While churches in parts of the world preach and teach the message of Jesus in cultures already somewhat receptive to Christianity, the experience of pastors and church leaders in countries like France and Spain can be drastically different, difficult, and confounding. As a result, limited support structures have existed in recent generations to encourage and equip young men and women called into ministry. To come alongside these developing leaders, the Church of God in twelve countries came together to launch the Three World Leadership Network (3WLN). Since then, Church of God missionaries and young leaders have made strides toward revitalization of the church through partnership, awareness, networking, and encouragement. Earlier this year, they took the next step to invest specifically in young pastors and church planters passionate about multiplication in the midst of a challenging post-Christendom reality. Continue reading

A Year of Living with Less: Ohio Pastor’s Family Accepts Radical Challenge

The Deeter family.

By Carl Stagner

No more trinkets or toys. No more new clothes or that pair of shoes you’ve just got to have. No more DVDs, home décor, or kitchen appliances—even if they’re on sale! Absolutely no more trips to the department store or the mall simply to browse the selection—that would be too tempting. Josh Deeter, pastor of First Church of God in Tallmadge, Ohio, and his wife Emily, accepted the challenge early this year to make 2018 their “year of living with less.” The goal: to stop buying things for an entire year. Don’t worry—they’re still buying deodorant, tooth paste, food to eat, and necessary items that break. Half-way through the year, they’ve learned a lot about themselves, how much God has truly blessed them, and that living with less can mean living for so much more. Continue reading

Fairfax Host Pastor Furthers Family’s Influential Legacy

Rod Stafford preaching at Fairfax.

By Carl Stagner

Growing up in the shadow of his older brother isn’t an accurate description at all. Seventeen years separated the two of them, but very little else did. Sibling rivalry wasn’t an issue, neither was the need for either brother to be in the Church of God limelight. In fact, Gilbert Stafford was more of a second father figure for Rod, the senior pastor of Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia. Rod Stafford considered Gil a role model, though he never planned to follow in his family’s ministerial footsteps. As the Church of God Regional Convention at his home church nears (September 18–19), Pastor Rod Stafford opens up about life, family, and calling. Continue reading

Bored Meetings No More! Moss Authors Book to Save Churches Lost in Logistics

By Carl Stagner

Bob Moss has again added lead pastor to the hats he wears in the Church of God, shepherding the flock at Hope Community Church in Niles, Michigan, while he continues his work as executive liaison for Project Imagine. But he’s also spent six years total in state and national Church of God offices and thirty-five in pastoral ministry. Over those years, it’s safe to say he’s experienced (endured?) more than a few board meetings. Indeed, he’s witnessed firsthand churches get lost in logistics, bogged down under the constant pressure of the next decision that must be made—or tabled for another day. In his new book Lost in Logistics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Board and Get Your Ministry Moving, Bob offers tested tools to help churches stop gridlock and jumpstart ministry. Board meetings don’t have to be bored meetings! Continue reading

Massey Legacy Lives On through Newly Published Book

By Carl Stagner

On Sunday, June 24, Dr. James Earl Massey’s life on this earth came to an end. But his incredible legacy has only just begun to affect the lives of students, pastors, and parishioners. One of the many ways his legacy lives on is through his latest book, Views from the Mountain. Published within days of his passing, the compilation of select writings from the brilliant mind of Massey was co-edited by Barry Callen and Curtiss DeYoung. As the back cover of the book states, “Rarely does one voice speak with equal wisdom on fields as diverse and demanding as Bible interpretation, Christian education, inspired preaching, seminary education, and ministries of reconciliation.” Indeed, Dr. Massey did all that and so much more, for the Church of God movement and beyond. Now the Church of God—no, all of Christendom—has the opportunity to glean wisdom from the pages of what Dr. Massey called the “last great goal” of his life. Continue reading

Kentucky Church Sews Quilts of Comfort, Reaps Harvest for Community

Quilting at Meade Station Church of God.

By Betty Thacker

Meade Station Church of God has a quilting ministry that began in 2009. This ministry consists of a group of women who make lap quilts for hospice patients that are in the hospice center in Ashland, Kentucky. We also give quilts to people in the church that are sick. Over the past nine years, we have given away hundreds of quilts. Last year alone, we gave away approximately two hundred quilts. Continue reading

AU’s President Pistole Provides Vision for School’s Second Century

Anderson University President John Pistole

By Kylie Osborne

Distinctive. Compelling. Relevant. When President John Pistole stepped onto campus as head of Anderson University in 2015, those three values were his compass for what he would strive for the university to be. “In everything we do, how can we be a distinctive, compelling, and relevant institution?” In his first three years with AU, Pistole and his staff have found a multitude of answers. Continue reading

From the Archives: No Substitute for Christ

By George Selleck

The most important business or task that anyone will ever undertake is that of building the life that he is going to live. The most important feature of that life is whether it is going to count, and, if it is, for whom. Continue reading

Rooster Brings Louisiana Church, Community Together

Gabriel, the rooster, just outside the church window.

By Carl Stagner

You’ve heard of the angel named Gabriel. But you probably haven’t heard of Gabriel, the rooster. Since November, the fine feathered friend of Pleasant Ridge Church of God has become quite the phenom across the small city of Hammond, Louisiana. Like a guardian angel, “Gabe” stands watch Sunday after Sunday at the front entrance to the church, seemingly crowing Amens at just the right moment during Pastor Sarah Morgan’s sermons. Adored by adults and children alike, the rooster has not only captured the hearts of the congregation, but also the attention of neighbors and passersby. Continue reading

Reclaiming Hope: Arizona Church Turns Old Jail into Children’s Ministry Wing

Down to the studs at Community of Hope!

By Carl Stagner

Rusty Akers couldn’t have known what the journey would entail, but no doubt he knew it would be the journey of a lifetime. Planting a church in the heart of one of the fastest-growing cities in the country had its strong points, but it wasn’t going to be easy. The hard work of holding services in an elementary school, the years of community involvement, and the faithful communication of the gospel has more than paid off in eternal rewards—souls won to Christ, believers baptized, lives transformed, and a community better for it. But more than one purchase of property since 2005 and a community far more transient than expected, resulting in frequent turnover of residents and congregational makeup, has proved grueling. Nonetheless, the opportunity seized recently by Community of Hope, a life-giving Church of God congregation in Maricopa, Arizona, is one with implications for both now and the future. By the end of the summer, they will have completely renovated a former jail, transforming it into the church’s new children’s ministry wing. Continue reading

Students Exemplify Unity Amid Diversity at ONE Event

ONE Event 2018 scenes (credit: Handel Smith).

June 20 and 21, 2018, marked another historic event for youth ministry in the Church of God. The ONE Event was designed to celebrate unity among students, and was sponsored by a leadership team that included representation from the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano), IYC, and NIYC. Continue reading

Child Sponsorship: The Best Story That Never Happened

Kirk Bookout with Children of Promise kids.

By Kirk Bookout

What is the best story for Children of Promise? There are stories about children that cause me to laugh with joy, stand in awe, and that bring tears (a big admission for me). Press me to tell you the very best story we have at Children of Promise, and my answer depends on the day. New stories are a constant joy. But it could be said that the best story we have is the story we can never tell. We cannot tell those stories because they never happened. Continue reading

Japan Congregation Embraces Opportunities to Give Life

Children enjoying a meal provided by the church.

By Bernie and Akiko Barton

April is a time of new beginnings in Japan, with a new school year and the start of a new fiscal year. At Futsukaichi Eiko Christ Church, a new community outreach ministry began this April—Flowers of the Field Meal Service. With more families needing dual incomes these days, kids often don’t have family meal times. Throughout Japan there is a push for meal services to help provide kids with stable, nutritional meals. Our church has started the only meal service in our immediate community. We provide a low-cost, nutritious meal, two Friday evenings a month. The response has been surprising, with almost twenty coming each time so far. Please pray for our pastor’s wife, Kazuko Numa, as she leads this ministry and for church volunteer staff as we relate to our neighbors who join us for supper. Continue reading