Tag Archives: church health

Canadian Church Invests in Kids, Seeks Community’s Welfare

Pastor Kevin (far right) hosts the dedication of the children/youth area.

By Carl Stagner

Compared to some of the major metropolitan destinations across Canada, the isolated city of Swift Current, Saskatchewan—population 18,000—may seem insignificant. But there’s really nothing insignificant about the community, home to Eastside Church of God, a thriving congregation actively making Swift Current a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Under the visionary leadership of Pastor Kevin Snyder, and without compromising their Jesus-centered message, the church has dealt a serious blow to the forces of darkness as they’ve reclaimed territory—including actual property—from the clutches of hell. Continue reading

Unstuck and Unleashed: Small Indiana Church Thinks Big

As First Church grows, they don’t forget to have fun together!

In the summer of 2016, First Church of God in Marion, Indiana, found themselves without a pastor. With only forty folks on average in attendance on Sunday mornings, they weren’t sure how to move forward. Determined not to give up on the mission they believed God was calling them to in their community, they sought a bi-vocational minister who could lead them in a restart. By September, they found just the pastor God had intended for them. Continue reading

How a Growing Nontraditional Traditional Church Plant Began in Arkansas

Packed house for worship at Faith Fellowship.

By Carl Stagner

They have no formal training in church planting, but they’ve planted a church. Their worship and ministry style is neither flashy nor trendy, yet they’ve attracted a crowd. There was no market research conducted before their launch service, yet they’re already making disciples. Kevin and Danielle Edgar recently returned to a community they knew and loved, and simply began preaching the Word of God, singing a few gospel songs and hymns, and building friendships. Faith Fellowship Church of God is a growing, nontraditional, traditional church plant in Paragould, Arkansas. They may be doing things differently, but they’re certainly getting things done, and the results are both God-glorifying and hell-shaking. Continue reading

Leadership and Longevity: An Alabama Pastor’s Personal Experience

Pastor Milan with friend Domique Billups, special needs ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Statistics don’t tell an altogether encouraging story when it comes to the average stay of a pastor. Some recent surveys suggest the average is on the rise, but the present picture of pastoral tenure in the United States and Canada could certainly improve. Milan Dekich accepted the senior pastorate at Fairview Church of God in Falkville, Alabama, when the size of the church was about twenty-five. Thirty-seven years later, he preaches to a gathering of 450 strong, and has helped plant two churches and assisted in the revitalization of a third. Just because the congregation is doing well today doesn’t mean the struggle hasn’t been real. In fact, it has, and there were times Milan might have preferred to throw in the towel. But a commitment to God’s plan kept him there, and today he’s blessed to share a few of the experiences he’s had, as well as a few of the lessons he’s learned along the way. Continue reading

Cowboy-Turned-Preacher Spurs Church to Reclaim Health, Hope

Pastor Terry Ames

By Carl Stagner

His horse was one of his closest companions. From the hat on his head to the spurs on his boots, he fit the profile. He and his buddies would go from one town to the next to rob banks and end up in a shootout. But it was all an act—at least the robbing banks and shootouts part! From time to time, his acting job would include a minor role in historical movies and western television shows. He really did own a horse, however, and they were inseparable. He did also come from a small farm and enjoys wearing cowboy hats. The acting career is behind him now, though. Terry Ames has matters of eternal consequence to attend to. For the past couple of years, he’s carried out the task of turning around a declining Kentucky congregation which, at its lowest point, survived an attempted takeover. Continue reading

Barney Warren, David Biggers, You, and Me

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Photo: David Biggers (far right) greets a member of the community.

By Carl Stagner

Barney Warren, Adam Miller, Eugene Newberry, Hollis Pistole, and David Biggers. David who? In a lineup of prominent ministers of the Church of God, the name David Biggers may seem out of place. But that is not the case at all. Transforming Life Church of God of Baltimore, Maryland, has a rich history of outstanding leaders, a history which continues to unfold. Before Pastor David entered the scene, the congregation had dwindled down to about thirty, mostly white believers in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Four years later, the church sees an average weekly attendance of about three hundred. Continue reading

Georgia Church Lives Out its New Name ‘Legacy’

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Photo: Worship at Legacy Church-Canton.

By Carl Stagner

Town Center Community Church in Marietta, Georgia, has been an influential church in its community for many years, but its new name reflects God’s vision for the congregation today. Not only are they intentionally targeting the family unit as the primary conduit of faith to the next generation, they’re also making investments beyond their own neighborhood to reach even more people for Christ. The seeds Legacy Church-Marietta is planting twenty-six miles to the north of their original location have already begun to blossom and bear fruit. Legacy Church-Canton now exists as a satellite location which, after just one-and-a-half years, has exploded in growth from 66 to 140 in attendance. Continue reading

Convention 2017 Host Church a Hub for the Community

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Photo: Worship service in the expansive Central Community Church.

By Carl Stagner

“I have never been more excited than I am now about how God is moving the Church of God into a bright future!” Sounds like something the general director of Church of God Ministries might say. Or a member of the Ministries Council. Maybe even someone applying for a leadership position in the General Assembly. But these words come from the pastor of one of our most influential churches in the movement: Bob Beckler, of Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. The Wichita congregation will host what is shaping up to be a must-attend Church of God Convention in June 2017. Before you go, get to know this 110-year-old church whose vitality and drive for ministry is nothing short of contagious. Continue reading

So Much to Celebrate: WV Church Nears 300 First-Time Decisions, Looks to Future

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Photo: This year’s community Easter celebration.

By Carl Stagner

You’re now a big church. You’ve poured your heart and soul into the people and the place, the church and the community. The service projects, carnivals, car shows, car washes, neighborhood walk-throughs, mission trips, Easter egg hunts, and “harvest festivals” are too many too count. It might be easy to kick back and relax, to feel like you’ve “arrived.” But nothing could be farther from the truth for Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia. Nine years have passed since Melissa Pratt became the senior pastor, and though attendance has jumped almost 500 percent and the number of first-time decisions for Christ is approaching 300, she’s not stopping to stare at the scenery. Don’t misunderstand—Teays Valley knows how to celebrate what the Lord has done like few other churches do. But until all of Putnam County experiences the transforming power of Jesus Christ, it’s full steam ahead. Continue reading

Illinois Church Prioritizes the Lost, Celebrates Revival

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Photo: First Church of God (Hoopeston, IL)

By Emily Ploetz

One of the most recognizable signs of life is growth. Growth indicates inner strength, stability, and maturity. As a parent wishes for his or her child to grow up big and strong, we as Christians should long for our churches to be growing, healthy ministries. Though this longing for growth may be fervent, growth in a church is often easier said than done. In 2011, Church of God Ministries celebrated the tremendous growth of Hoopeston First Church of God in Hoopeston, Illinois. In the past five years, 250 baptisms have taken place! As astounding as this is, Pastor Micah Mobley says they’re not done yet. Continue reading

Church of God in Barbados on Cusp of Turnaround

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Photo: Paul Dreger, honored to help baptize believers in Barbados.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God enjoys a rich heritage of ministry in the island country of Barbados. Over time, however, new growth has waned and demographics have shifted to the middle-age and senior adults. But in recent years, signs of new life have begun to emerge. This winter, forty percent of the entire constituency of the Church of God in Barbados attended the closing service of their annual believer’s convention. Knowing they simply could not remain on their current trajectory, pastors and leaders made several important decisions at the conclusion of the convention. The two thousand that make up the eighteen Barbardos congregations are beginning to discover the need for systemic change in their methodologies and ministerial approaches, but most of all, in their relationships. Continue reading

Releasing Southeast: Indiana Church Learns to Delegate Responsibility

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By Heidi Tarin

Today, I spoke with Ryan Carrell, founding pastor of the Southeast Project, a church on the southeast side of Indianapolis, Indiana. I tried for two weeks to connect with Ryan to hear about their recent three-year anniversary. As a church planter in a portable church, he has many irons in the fire. When I finally caught him, he so honestly shared some of what was keeping him busy—he was releasing Southeast. Continue reading