Tag Archives: community

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

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

Illinois Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Sees Record Growth

The community knows!

By Megan DeBruyn

From 17 to 100 in just a few short years, the congregation at First Church of God in Marseilles, Illinois, continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. According to Pastor Brian Hefner, the increase in both attendance and congregational participation was entirely the work of the Lord. “Words can hardly describe what has happened here, but I know this: if we can do it, so can you,” Hefner says. “If you are willing to step aside and let God actually take the reins, it can happen.” Continue reading

Church Steps Out in Faith for the Children, Teens of Atwater, California

Some of the youth group of First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Take a look at 2100 Fruitland Ave, Atwater, California, on Google Maps. What you’ll find is that First Church of God is literally a stone’s throw away from Atwater High School. The front-row seat the California congregation has to roughly 1,800 students and their families is certainly incredible, but the church hasn’t sat down to enjoy the scenery. They’ve seized a number of opportunities God has presented them to minister to these teens and their families. What’s more, through their preschool established in 1964, they minister to children who one day accept their diplomas right across the street. Recently the church stepped out in faith to expand the preschool facility, as teachers reap the benefits of a Fruitland Christian School early education, and as parents on a waiting list eagerly knock on the door. Continue reading

Oklahoma Church Constructs Park for the Community

By Noel Marquis

When First Church of God in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, decided to invest in new playground equipment, they received much more than they asked for. William Wimmer, who has served as pastor of the church since 2013, was surprised when a longtime member of the congregation approached the board of trustees with plans for a park, complete with sidewalks, trees, a horseshoe pit, basketball court, soft turf, and sheltered pavilions. Continue reading

Missouri Church Holds VBS for Kids with Special Needs

VBS 2017 at South Side Church of God.

By Lydia Sergeant

South Side Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri, held a fantastic Vacation Bible School late in the summer. This was their second year to host a Bible school that not only included children from their own church, but also families of children with special needs. Continue reading

The Michigan Church Now Known as the Do Something! Church

First Church volunteers sporting their Do Something! T-shirts (from the book with the same title by Miles McPherson).

By Megan DeBruyn

It wasn’t just the bright T-shirts matching the even brighter smiles worn by First Church of God volunteers that inspired their new nickname. The southwest Michigan church was unofficially dubbed the “Do Something! Church” by the surrounding local community after launching a work day in the summer of 2009 that encouraged members of the congregation to get out and serve. Armed with work gloves, paint brushes, and cleaning supplies, the mob of roughly 800 First Church of God volunteers took to the streets on a Sunday morning in early June and began to serve the most basic needs of their community. 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

Pastor, Staff Chart New Course for Alabama Congregation

Children and youth at a South River Park VBS.

By Carl Stagner

Don’t assume a declining church is destined to die. God is in the reclamation business, after all. South River Park Church of God in Fairhope, Alabama, was experiencing decline, but God had a plan. Four years later, the congregation that dipped into the thirties is now averaging over one hundred. Approximately thirty individuals have been baptized, and the church is making an observable impact on the community. What was their secret to such a turnaround? A word that excites some, and terrifies others: change. Continue reading

Comfort Zones Stretched, A Harbor for Women Gained

Photo: A creative welcome to Dove Harbor.

By Karen Roberts

“Have You Ever…” is a game I play with a class I teach. It begins innocently enough, with an easy question, and then it moves into more challenging ones. Let’s try it. Have you ever…gone sledding? Have you ever…had to sleep in your car? Have you ever…knowingly talked with a homeless person? Those who answered yes are ready for more. Have you ever…volunteered somewhere out of your comfort zone? Have you ever…donated material items or money to a food pantry? Have you ever…shared a meal with someone living in a shelter? Continue reading

From the Archives: God’s Workmanship

By Nina C. Smith

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10 KJV). How much this means to every believer of the Lord Jesus—to fully realize that this comes personal to each of us. We are his workmanship. Through an active, humble, childlike life, the world beholds in each of us the workmanship of the Almighty God. In and through his dear children, people are to see the truth, power, faith, and glory of God, through our creation in Christ Jesus. Continue reading

Gathering Connects, Trains Young Leaders Across Europe, Middle East

Photo: Multinational prayer at the gathering.

By Carl Stagner

Across much of Europe and the Middle East, evangelical Christians compose only 0.25 to 4 percent of the population. While young Christians in North American have been given the opportunity to experience worship and fellowship with thousands of other believers—such as IYC—many Christians across European and Middle Eastern countries have never been in the same room with more than a dozen young adults who share their faith. The presence, support, and comradery of other believers is often a breath of fresh air among those for whom isolation is the norm. The second gathering of the Three Worlds Leadership Network commenced in beautiful Switzerland in early May this year, bringing with it that much-needed breath of fresh air. Continue reading

Scrubbing Away Mom’s Stress: Churches Reach Out with MOPS

Photo: MOPS ministry at Madison Park Church of God.

By Karen Roberts

An older woman approached the MOPS display table in the foyer of a local Church of God. “So, are you selling cleaning products?” she asked. Her question is common. The answer is surprising. No, it’s not a floor product company. Yes, it’s a group for moms with small children that meets in local host churches to teach and encourage women—literally all around the world. Many Church of God congregations are discovering the power of the ministry to reach new families in their community. Continue reading

Oregon Church Journeys with Jesus through Service, Partnership

Photo: The church working with Habitat for Humanity.

By Carl Stagner

“Eighth and River Street is what God has given us, so that is where we are.” Matt Ingalls reflects on the ministry of the church he has served as senior pastor for almost seven years. He’s grateful for the chance to serve where God has planted them. Sure, there may be ritzier, more glamorous ministry venues. But this is their “little slice of God’s universe,” as Pastor Matt has explained. The needs are great, and the work isn’t easy. But this church is on a journey with Jesus. For them, Jesus is the subject. Like Jesus, River Street Church of God in Newberg, Oregon, has made the people around them—not ideology, programs, or traditions—the priority. Continue reading

Mississippi Church Adapts to Cultural Shift to Reach Community

Photo: Pastor Trey locks hands and hearts with basketball ministry youth.

By Carl Stagner

The culture of your community has shifted over the past five, ten, perhaps twenty years. The shift may have been gradual, but somehow you feel blindsided. Your church probably has three choices: adapt with the culture, relocate to another culture, or continue a futile fight against it. Adapting to the culture doesn’t mean changing the message or compromising principles; only the methods change when Jesus is the subject. Crossroads of Life Church of God in Byram, Mississippi, had to make a decision as they watched their community’s culture shift dramatically, largely over the past decade alone. But they’ve chosen to stay put, and they’re certainly glad they did. Continue reading