Tag Archives: church planting

Transformation Begins Outside the Walls in West Texas

Community block party at the new church facility.

By Carl Stagner

Deep in the heart of west Texas, surrounded by semiarid plains and prized oil country, you’ll find the small city of Odessa. Though it may not garner much media attention, a remarkable story of transformation is developing out of the city’s young Church of God congregation known as New Dawn Fellowship. Focusing more on discipling new believers and not simply packing the pews, the church has celebrated relatively slow, but healthy growth. The congregation, 90 percent previously unchurched, has rejoiced at more than 30 salvations, more than 30 baptisms, and multiple rededications in just three years. On August 5, after outgrowing its previous facility, the community-oriented church enjoyed a grand opening worship service in their new home, welcoming 154 people through their doors. Continue reading

The Clerical Collar-Wearing Pastor Who Planted a Church at Age 77

Pastor Dick Ogle

By Carl Stagner

Dick Ogle’s preferred daily dress is clerical attire—characteristic among some denominations, but certainly not common in the Church of God. Funerals are one of his primary methods of outreach—unusual, but surprisingly potent. Perhaps the most unconventional thing about this eighty-eight-year-old pastor is that he came out of retirement at age seventy-seven to plant a church in Hoisington, Kansas. Today, First Street Church of God is a healthy, growing, multi-ethnic congregation that proclaims the gospel with boldness, and sings straight out of the hymnal. Continue reading

Spanish-Speaking Church Planted in Florida on Easter Sunday

Pastor Isaias Marquez speaks at the launch service on Easter.

By Carl Stagner

Now, more than ever, the Sunshine State is primed for the gospel. The normal flow of migration to Florida from Spanish-speaking countries presents a tremendous opportunity for Hispanic church planters. But, in the wake of last year’s hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico, Spanish-speaking people have left the territory for Florida in droves. Isaias and Laura Marquez, pastors of a congregation in Lake Wales, are always on the lookout for possible church plants. Observing the lack of Hispanic churches in the Winter Haven area, they reached out to First Church of God to consider hosting a new work. On Easter Sunday, Iglesia de Dios in Winter Haven was born, offering the hope of Christ to Spanish-speaking residents while extending the reach of First Church beyond what they could have ever imagined. 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

Chicago-Area Church Plant Gains Momentum

By Charlie Arms

In 2014, after consultation with Indiana Ministries, our family moved from sunny Florida and took on the responsibility of planting a church in northwest Indiana. Locals refer to this area of Indiana as “the Region,” primarily because we are part of Indiana, yet in many ways more closely connected through business and lifestyle with Chicago. Continue reading

Unfinished Business: God Orchestrates New Beginnings through WV Plant

Inside the sanctuary of New Beginnings.

By Carl Stagner

Sunday, September 17, will be celebrated by several church networks as National Church Planting Day. Just in time for such an observance is the news that West Virginia’s first Church of God plant in thirty years is another step closer to its January 2018 launch. West Virginia is excited to boldly get back into the multiplication business! Their focus is on Kenova, where three-fourths of the community is considered “de-churched.” Though the doors to the Church of God at 1616 Polar Street were once closed, they find themselves open again, with nothing but new beginnings in store. Continue reading

Wrestling with the Call: An Alabama Pastor’s Ministerial Journey

Loren Sutton

By Carl Stagner

“I’d never taught a Sunday school class. I was sure I couldn’t even talk in front of people. I was not going to be a preacher.” Clearly, God had other plans in mind for Loren Sutton. The eighty-two-year-old pastor of Airview Church of God in Opelika, Alabama, has not only served the Lord in ministry the majority of his life, he also just can’t seem to retire—no matter how hard he tries! Loren knows firsthand what it means to wrestle with the divine call. Continue reading

Southern CA Church Restarts as Oasis in the Desert

The church’s worship team went from a pianist only, to a full band!

By Carl Stagner

Drought was setting at the church which had once been home to several high-caliber leaders, such as Herschel Rice and Dean Schield. Numbers had dwindled to thirty on a good Sunday, and a clear vision for the future didn’t exist. New direction was needed to make Oak Park Community Church of Claremont, California (formerly First Church, Pomona) the beacon of hope it once was. Under the pastoral leadership of Jeff Combs, could the congregation again become a wellspring of Living Water? Signs of life in the desert suggest an Oasis is on the horizon. Continue reading

Church of God in Latin America Experiences Robust Growth

Photo: Bolivia national camp meeting, Easter 2017.

By David Miller

A report on the “220 Challenge”—Desafío 220 in Spanish—presented to the 2017 Inter-American Conference (IAC), a representative assembly of the nineteen countries in the region, suggests that the Latin American church has grown by nearly one-fifth since 2011. 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

Church Merger a Stark Contrast to Divided Culture

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Photo: Brad Ruggles (left) and Matt Gaylor (right) celebrate unity!

By Carl Stagner

“People can find all kinds of reasons to be divided today. But we found one to be united.” Matt Gaylor, engagement pastor of the new Nspire Church in Westfield, Indiana, couldn’t be more excited about what God is up to in the growing city just north of Indianapolis. As the pastor who helped restart and reclaim New Life Church of God as CitySpring Church in the early part of this decade, Matt had every reason to continue down the successful path he was on. But God had other plans. These plans wouldn’t involve him leaving CitySpring, but they would involve change. And they would prove to be a powerful witness for Christ. Continue reading

No Ordinary Church Plant: The Table, St. Peters, Missouri

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Photo: Worship at The Table.

By Heidi Tarin

When Jon Simmonds felt the call to plant a church, he didn’t know what he was getting into. He didn’t necessarily follow the set play book for planters and his church, The Table, in St. Peters, Missouri, is not your average church plant. Jon had been in ministry for over a decade and was serving as a youth pastor when he felt led to plant a church. He gathered a team and they began meeting as a small group in January 2015. Just a few months later, the Table’s story starts to deviate from normal. Continue reading

From Prison to the Pulpit of a Growing Multicultural Church

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Photo: Aurora First Church of God

By Carl Stagner

For a number of years, it appeared hell had laid claim to Manny Rivera’s life. But this man, created in the image of God, was reclaimed by Jesus Christ in 2006. Since then, God has increased the spiritual responsibility of this ex-con and former alcoholic. In addition to broken addictions and miraculous healings, the church he now pastors in Aurora, Illinois, has seen more than thirty people saved since Manny stepped up to the pulpit about a year-and-a-half ago. God is using this Church of God pastor in some incredible ways—ways that would have never come to pass had the bullet meant for his life actually taken it. Continue reading

Colorado Welcomes New Church to the Movement

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Photo: Baptism on Launch Sunday!

By Carl Stagner

The vision and mission of the Church of God is on the move! Excitement is spreading for what God is doing among us. One recent example takes us to Denver, Colorado, where a church plant has just joined the Church of God in Colorado. After forming a new partnership with the Church of God Colorado Conference, and after months of hard work and years of planning, Cross Culture Church just celebrated its official launch. A crowd of 376 gathered to celebrate the launch, five people were saved, and one followed Jesus’ example in baptism. Continue reading

Spanish-Speaking Church Launched in Reno, Nevada

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By Pat James

There’s a new church in town! First Church of God in Reno, Nevada, had been in existence for nearly seventy-five years. As the demographics in the area of the church at 1201 Yori Avenue began to change, the church could no longer meet the needs of the community. With the help of the Church of God Association of Northern California that also includes parts of Nevada, Eloy and Lupita Velazquez were commissioned to begin a Spanish-speaking Church of God at this location. The couple had been on the staff at Antelope Road Church of God in Citrus Heights, California. Pastor Rhodes Pringle of Antelope Road had observed their ministry and felt that they would be perfect for the new work, now called “The Rock of Reno.” Continue reading