Category Archives: All Church of God

Unexpected Journeys Lead Pastor to Niche in Teaching, Blogging

Scott Beha

By Carl Stagner

Southridge Church is a thriving Church of God congregation nestled in South Charleston, West Virginia. On Easter Sunday, they rejoiced to welcome over 700 for worship, an all-time high. Already this year, the church has celebrated the baptism of 20 believers. Eighteen months ago, small-group participation had declined to about 60; since then, the number of participants has topped 200. Outreach into a women’s recovery center has brought more than 150 additional guests, many of whom have since been saved and baptized. A strong partnership with an elementary school has helped the church make major strides in the advancement of the kingdom, even as the school permitted the church to host an Easter egg hunt for students during the school day! Lead executive pastor Michael Coker and lead teaching pastor Scott Beha are thrilled to be a part of Southridge during such an exciting time in the church’s history. But Scott wouldn’t have been there to experience it firsthand, except for a series of unexpected journeys that also helped him find a God-ordained niche in teaching and blogging. Continue reading

Daughters of the King: Missouri Church Leads Effort to Reach Girls for Christ

High-energy worship experience at Jesus Girls 2019.

By Carl Stagner

Four years ago, the children’s pastor at First Church of God in East Prairie, Missouri, was in the middle of a conversation with a group of moms about issues their daughters were facing. It seemed that a common problem among the church girls was the presentation of an image at church on Sundays that didn’t match the one they lived out during the week. Dawn Walters recounts how she and this group of moms envisioned an evening experience designed especially for girls where the gospel would be presented clearly, where such topics would be addressed from a biblical perspective, and where the girls would make wonderful memories. Considering prevalent bullying, stressful relationship dynamics, social media craziness, and more, it was clear something needed to be done, particularly before those trying teenage years, to instill in the hearts of girls the love, acceptance, and security found in Jesus alone. Continue reading

Multiplication in the Midwest Changing the Conversation on Church Planting

Tom Planck leading a CHOG conference at Exponential 2019.

By Carl Stagner

We’re simply not keeping up. Statistics show 4,000 churches are planted each year in the United States and 3,700 churches close. That leaves a gain of only three hundred churches. The overall population continues to rise, while the number of churches to reach people with the gospel lags behind. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s time to change the conversation on church planting. That’s precisely what Tom Planck and Healthy Growing Churches are doing. The Church of God pastor and church planter is now actively pouring into the hearts of churches and regions to reverse a trend through basic math—multiplication. The numbers are starting to turn in their favor, as multiplication in the Midwest has captured fresh interest and mobilized existing churches like never before. Continue reading

Bolivia: A New Joel

Sunday school in Bolivia.

By Paul and Kattia Jones

Once upon a time, in a small Church of God in Bolivia, South America, there was a four-year-old boy named Joel. He was restless. He participated in very little during Sunday school, and he did not pay much attention to his teacher Irene, either. In addition, he showed his fist to any child who kept looking at him. This type of behavior drew the attention of missionary Kattia Jones, who decided to speak with the teacher. The conversation led to another topic that the missionary suspected was the main reason why Joel behaved that way. Continue reading

Midnight Meditations: Gethsemane Experience Draws Church to Watch and Pray

Maiden Lane congregants gather to “watch and pray.”

By Carl Stagner

Unless you work third-shift or suffer insomnia, chances are you were asleep at midnight on Good Friday this year. Not Pastor Mark Martin and a good crowd of people from Maiden Lane Church of God, in Springfield, Ohio, though! With the aid of the Holy Spirit—and perhaps an extra cup of coffee—they could be found gathered at church, embarking on a unique adventure like never before. Inspired and challenged by Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:36–46 to “watch and pray,” even for just an hour, they took a spiritual journey back to the Garden of Gethsemane to reflect on the gravity of that historical moment, and ultimately prepare the way for a victorious Easter celebration. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Speaker Fosters Refuge and Redemption in France

Samir Salibi with wife Joanna, sons Maxim and Liam.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God in Paris, France, is relatively new. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Church of God came to Paris, and not by way of the Church of God in the United States and Canada. The Church of God in Lebanon planted the Church of God in Paris. So when the refugee crisis of 2015 resulted in more than a million Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe, the Church of God in Paris was uniquely qualified to respond. Samir Salibi, leader of the Church of God ministry in Paris known as @home, was once an immigrant, himself, also from Lebanon. As you might imagine, the Church of God is especially looking forward to what God has placed on his heart for Convention 2019 & General Assembly. Continue reading

Facebook Seminary: Pakistan Pastors-in-Training Plug In with AU Professor

Students in Pakistan gather around a laptop…

By Carl Stagner

God is on the move through the Church of God in Pakistan, and it’s a breathtaking sight to behold. On Saturday evenings, seminary students in the Middle Eastern country assemble to hear Sarah Blake LaRose teach hermeneutics and exegesis. But Sarah is not in the same room—not exactly, anyway. Ten time zones away, it’s Saturday morning in Anderson, Indiana, where the AU professor has logged on to Facebook Messenger. There she lectures on the topic of Scripture interpretation, fielding questions and interacting with her pastors-in-training in Pakistan. Continue reading

Church Planting Made Easy?

Mark Bane (center) cares deeply about his TLC friends.

By Carl Stagner

If the title of this article doesn’t get your attention, perhaps Mark Bane’s life goal will: “to win as many people to Jesus as possible, then die!” Mark Bane has a lengthy résumé, with everything from youth pastor to “church planting master,” and perhaps that’s why he’s qualified to make such a bold assertion. Can church planting really be made easy? The director of evangelism and new church development for the USA/Canada region of the Church of the Nazarene will join us at Church of God Convention 2019 & General Assembly to explain. A provocative question like this begs for an answer, so, in a recent interview with Church of God Ministries, Mark Bane offers some hints. Continue reading

From the Archives: Synonyms of the Spirit

By Milburn Miller

In John 14:16 of the Amplified New Testament are several synonyms that help us understand the nature and work of the Holy Spirit: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) and He may remain with you forever.”

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. He can and will console in times of sorrow, distress, and failure. He brings a sense of peace in the midst of frustrating circumstances. What a comfort to know that the Holy Spirit dwells within us and is available for our every need! Continue reading

Canadian Church of God Ministries Seeks Executive Director

The Canadian Church of God Ministries (CCOGM) invites eligible candidates to apply for the role of executive director. It is a full-time salaried position.

Canadian Church of God Ministries

The CCOGM (chog.ca) is a collective of twenty-four churches in western Canada who are part of the Church of God movement, based out of Anderson, Indiana. This movement began in 1881, waving the banner of salvation in Christ alone, the unity of believers, and the holiness of God’s people. Continue reading

Michigan Pastor Reaching Across Generations: “I Wanna Be On Their Phones”

Pastor Tom Whitesel

By Lane Webb

Tom Whitesel, pastor of Ithaca Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan, has become aware, and has adapted, to a change in the way community is expressed. Whitesel, the founder of the 24Today podcast, spoke on the matter during an interview, where he stated that he believes times are changing and, along with this, values are changing. This values shift reflects the decrease in church attendance. Whitesel clarified that his church’s core values are “Loving God, Loving Each Other, and Loving Community,” and, through this, he believes he can reach farther than most church’s in today’s age, the Digital Age. Continue reading

Church of God Missionaries to Sri Lanka Heartbroken After Easter Attacks

By Carl Stagner

Celebration of the risen Christ ended early and abruptly on Sunday, April 21, in Sri Lanka, as the deadliest violence in a decade devastated the island country south of India. More than 300 people were killed and another 500 injured in a series of bombings that struck churches and hotels in the cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa. As investigations continue, the Church of God fervently prays for the injured, families of victims, first-responders, and churches affected both directly and indirectly. Steven and Peggy Beverly, missionaries for Global Strategy to Sri Lanka, were just beginning their home assignment at the time of the incident. Their updates on the situation reveal their broken hearts. They would prefer to be with the suffering people they’ve come to love than safe in the U.S. right now. Continue reading

Hispanic Church Coming Soon to West Side of Indianapolis

By Tom Planck and Israel Munguia

The story of the community surrounding Westlake Church of God on the west side of Indianapolis, Indiana, is familiar to many churches across the state. The culture has vastly changed over the past several years. A once mostly Caucasian community has now shifted to include a large population of African American and Hispanic people. Continue reading

Messy but Miraculous: Missouri Churches Merge to Maximize Kingdom Impact

Co-pastors Rick & Johnny conduct salt ceremony to signify the merger.

By Carl Stagner

Johnny Phifer was serving as the pastor of Walnut Lawn Church of God in Springfield, Missouri. Rick Herald was the pastor of LifeQuest Church, also in Springfield. Neither church was on life support or even in serious trouble. Still, each church did have its fair share of challenges; in particular, the average age of the Walnut Lawn congregation was progressively older, while LifeQuest faced a sizeable debt. But, while it’s true that the notion of a merger seemed to address these basic needs, these were not the primary motivators for a decision of such far-reaching implications. There had to be more. And there was. Continue reading

Outstanding Leaders, New Activities Highlight Women’s Convention 2019

By Carl Stagner

Every two years, women of the Church of God gather together in a select city to reconnect, worship together, and grow together. Hosted by Christian Women Connection, the event has welcomed women and men from across the country and beyond to destinations like Dallas, Seattle, Nashville, and Daytona Beach. This year’s Church of God Women’s Convention will be held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, October 10–13, and will feature some of the brightest and best women preachers, worship ministers, and conference leaders the Church of God has ever known. Combined with new service opportunities and new tracks for women in ministry and clergy wives, “Women Shaping the Future” is certain to be one of the most anticipated events of the year. Continue reading