Tag Archives: Christmas

CHOG Congregations Preparing Now for Christmas with New Resources

By Carl Stagner

The first Church of God movement-wide unity experience known as Christ’s Birthday Observance took place in 1949. Seven decades later, the Church of God initiative organized by Christian Women Connection is still equipping congregations across North America and beyond, mobilizing the collective support of the movement for the advancement of the kingdom globally, and moving our hearts and minds to the manger. This time of year, Church of God pastors, music ministers, choirs, worship teams, and local CWC ministries are already busy preparing for the most wonderful time of the year. As Christ’s Birthday Observance 2019 materials hit church mailboxes late in the summer, Christmas planners have found practical tools and inspiration in a variety of new resources centered on the theme, “Good News! Experiencing the Genuine Jesus.” Continue reading

Christmas Outreach on a Small Budget

By Tammy Tilley

Everybody tunes in to Christmas. On December 25, stores close, work shuts down, and everyone stops what they normally would be doing to celebrate.

What, exactly, they’re celebrating is a different story. As culture grows more post-Christian, no longer can we assume families know the story of Christ coming to earth as a baby; if they do know the story, they may see it only as a legend or myth.

What do we do to redeem the season in our communities? How do we point our neighbors, schools, and family members back to Jesus in any sort of resonant, meaningful way? Continue reading

Mile-High Mission: Colorado Church Communicates Christ Amid Confusion

Cloverdale Church being the hands and feet of Christ.

By Carl Stagner

Like the day which saw an altar inscribed with the words, “To the unknown god” (Acts 17:23), there is today much confusion about the one true God. While an increasingly diverse religious landscape takes shape across North America, areas more visibly closed to the traditional Christian church demand our attention—not because cultural Christianity is on the decline, but because some methods of ministry may no longer be effective. The contrast may be greater for those who grew up in, but no longer live in, parts of the country where a traditional form of Christianity is still reflected in the culture. When Mike Hooven left Indianapolis, Indiana, to pastor a church in the greater Denver, Colorado, area, he encountered a culture characterized by widespread “religion” and “spirituality,” but with less widespread signs of Jesus. Continue reading

Carols of a Reformation

By Carl Stagner

Editor’s note—This article from December 2010 was one of the first feature stories Church of God Ministries’ staff writer Carl Stagner ever wrote for the CHOGnews. This year, we bring it back for your Christmastime delight. Enjoy!

The Church of God is known for its singing. Early pioneers of the reformation movement expressed their joy in the Lord through the writing and singing of songs, such as “I’m Redeemed,” “A Child of God,” and “I Will Praise Him, Hallelujah!” Many of the heritage songs of the Church of God are still being sung today. But did you know that these heritage composers wrote Christmas carols? Continue reading

From the Archives: The Annual Christmas Rush

By Gary L. Kendall

Christmastime always brings a mixture of emotions for me. I love to celebrate the Lord’s birth and it is a thrill to see so many catch God’s spirit of giving. People seem to smile more, laugh more easily, and enjoy life more in general during this season. But life always takes on a hectic side, too, with packed parking lots, people standing impatiently in checkout lines, and advertisers rudely taking advantage of our generosity. Unfortunately, this frantic flurry often overshadows that little town of Bethlehem lying so still and peaceful, nestled back in the hills. Continue reading

Renewed into the New Year: NIYC Gives Believers Wintertime Boost

Worship at the NIYC.

By Carl Stagner

In the Church of God, the summer months are known for conventions and camp meetings. A variety of retreats and conferences often take place in the spring and the fall. But as the chill of winter sets in across much of the country, few spiritual retreats and getaways are available. In the wake of the commonly exhausting Christmas season, in view of the blues caused by all the grays outside, and in response to cabin fever, perhaps winter is when retreat is most vital! Thankfully, the Church of God has an answer—the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). Between Christmas and the end of the year, believers spanning generations and racial lines come together for an annual experience of worship, community, and renewal as the New Year dawns. Continue reading

Christ’s Birthday Observance 2018: Great Joy for All

By Shelly Short

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” —Luke 2:10 NIV

Advent is a time for adoring Jesus, waiting, watching, and having hopeful expectations. We remember the first coming of Jesus, we celebrate his presence among us, and we pray for his glorious return. One of the ways Christian Women Connection helps you keep Jesus at the center of the Christmas season is by offering a meditation journal and prayer guide. Dive into his living Word each day and come away with something to feed your joy. We live in tumultuous times filled with uncertainties. As we celebrate Christ’s birthday, remember he is our source of living water and can quench all our thirst. Continue reading

CWC Today: Standing in the Gap for All Women (and Men, Too!)

CWC’s Arnetta Bailey and Global Strategy’s Colleen Stevenson.

By Carl Stagner

Women were among the earliest pioneers of the Church of God movement, and some of our most outstanding preachers have been, and continue to be, women. In spite of such a rich history dating back to the beginning, not to mention the wealth of biblical support, women—both pastors and laypeople—have not always been given the same opportunities as men. But since 1932, women of the Church of God have rallied together to stand in the gap, not only providing necessary care to countless missionaries, but also being a voice for Christian women everywhere. Though the name of the affiliated agency of the Church of God is different now than it was then, Christian Women Connection’s timeless mission has remained the same, returning to its roots even more in recent years. Still, many men and women are unaware of the incredible depth of vital ministry made possible by CWC today. A recent interview with CWC executive director Arnetta McNeese Bailey takes us behind the manger scenes and beyond the sewing circles to discover there’s far more to CWC than you may know. Continue reading

California Christmas Event Reaches 8,000 with Gospel

Christmas scene with the angel and shepherds.

By Carl Stagner

For the past eighteen years, Crossroads Church of God in Yuba City, California, has been hosting a Christmastime event that moves visitors beyond the manger. The “Miracle of Christmas” drive-through experience on the church parking lot truly takes the classic live nativity to a whole new level. Designed for car-fulls of people at a time to witness major incidents of Jesus’ life on earth from birth to death, to resurrection and ascension, the event reaches more than 8,000 people with the gospel in the span of just three evenings. Though the 350 volunteers may never know the total impact of their efforts, individuals often surrender their lives to Christ on the spot, and numerous families simply looking for a holiday activity make Crossroads their church home. Continue reading

Christmas Across the Church of God

Crossroads Church (Yuba City, CA) drive-through nativity (& more!).

By Carl Stagner

The Christmas season is upon us; a quick glance at the social media of a handful of Church of God congregations suggests we are a Movement that knows how to celebrate! Certainly, the birth of Jesus gives us many reasons to celebrate, and that celebration has taken the form of hanging of the greens services, advent readings and candlelighting, choral cantatas, Christmas pageants, caroling, dinners (also known as potlucks, pitch-ins, and carry-ins!), and much, much more. Because the gift of Jesus is meant to be shared with as many people as possible, Church of God congregations have come up with a variety of creative means to share the reason for the season. A number of churches have already reported lives won to Christ, too! The following are just a few of the ways Church of God congregations are celebrating. Continue reading

The Gift Goes On: California Church Captures the Essence of Christmas

Pastor Eric knows by name many who attend Jackets for Jesus.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes we’re compelled to offer the spare change from the car console, though our default response might be to look the other way. Homeless people are a part of our towns and cities, yet even the Christian community too often turns a blind eye. Everybody’s encountered a homeless person at some point in life, but few choose to respond. Fear isn’t always the cause; it’s often simple lack of know-how. How do God’s people effectively minister to those who don’t have a place to lay their heads at night? Pastor Eric Denton and Central Community Christian Fellowship, a Church of God congregation in Riverside, California, wholeheartedly embraces Jesus’ command to love “the least of these.” Perhaps that’s why they’re willing to hang out on the streets of downtown Los Angeles every Sunday night. Continue reading

From the Archives: Christmas—A Divine Mission Statement

By Arlo Newell

Christians too often view the Christmas celebration as excessive commercialism. Deluged by advertising and pressured by promotion, we find it extremely difficult to discover the true meaning of the season.

It was while crying over this commercialization of the Christmas season that I was convicted to look for the good and the positive rather than to criticize. I began by giving thanks for the beauty of the season. I began by giving thanks for the beauty of the season. Lights become more meaningful in the dark, depressive days of December. The contrast makes them more distinct and the cold, crisp winter air allows the sound of silver bells to be heard more clearly. And who can fail to experience the joy of children as they anticipate this most magical of all holidays; laughter fills the air as they live in a world of expectancy. Even in the ringing of the Salvation Army bell and the iron kettle help to accentuate the carols sung by choral groups along the street. Continue reading

Kentucky Congregation Puts Community First this Christmas

First Church group distributes a “blessing bag.”

By Megan DeBruyn

As the days grow chillier and the Advent season unfolds before us, many churches launch a special sermon series or begin lighting a symbolic candle each week. But First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, is hitting the streets. Why? Because they believe in being the church rather than simply coming to church. Continue reading

AU Presents 53rd Annual Candles and Carols

A festive & full house at Reardon Auditorium for Candles & Carols.

The Anderson University School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will present the 53rd annual “Candles and Carols” Christmas concert on Friday, December 1, 2017, at 7:30 PM in Reardon Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Continue reading

Christ’s Birthday Observance Readies the Church of God for Christmas

By Shelly Short

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” The Advent season lasts for four Sundays. This year’s Advent begins on Sunday, December 3, and, as always, ends on Sunday, December 24. The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an anticipation of his second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their Savior to come again. Please join Christian Women Connection for the 2017 Christ’s Birthday Observance as we celebrate the birth of Christ collectively and say, “Come Lord Jesus.” Continue reading