Tag Archives: expansion

The Small-Town Texas Church with a Big Heart

Burkeville Church of God exercising down-home hospitality.

By Carl Stagner

Blink and you might miss Burkeville. The Texas town boasts a four-way stop, a bank, a few businesses, and a school. If you ever find yourself passing through, keep your eyes open—you don’t want to miss Burkeville Church of God. There you’ll find some of the most down-to-earth, welcoming people you could ever meet. They’ll treat you with hospitality fueled by their love for the Lord, the family of God, and those not yet adopted into the family. The oldest Church of God in Texas is certainly not the biggest, but they’ve got a heart that exceeds the size of the state. Recent upgrades and a deep desire to reach the youth and teens in their community warrant a closer look at the Christ-centered congregation. Continue reading

God Breathes New Life into Host Church Ahead of Florida Regional

When renovation was underway in the sanctuary.

By Carl Stagner

It’s been noisy, a bit dusty, and very busy in the halls, offices, classrooms, and sanctuary at Bayside Community Church. The Safety Harbor congregation is experiencing a season of expansion and growth, not due to, but rather evidenced by, the upgrades happening throughout their facility. Not exhibiting an “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” mentality, the congregation is intentionally seeking debt reduction and giving a portion to missions, all the while improving the appearance and functionality of the space God’s entrusted to them. So, while they’re certainly making final preparations to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their home (September 25–26), the enhanced worship and meeting environment is a byproduct of the new life God is breathing in their midst. Continue reading

Reclaiming Hope: Arizona Church Turns Old Jail into Children’s Ministry Wing

Down to the studs at Community of Hope!

By Carl Stagner

Rusty Akers couldn’t have known what the journey would entail, but no doubt he knew it would be the journey of a lifetime. Planting a church in the heart of one of the fastest-growing cities in the country had its strong points, but it wasn’t going to be easy. The hard work of holding services in an elementary school, the years of community involvement, and the faithful communication of the gospel has more than paid off in eternal rewards—souls won to Christ, believers baptized, lives transformed, and a community better for it. But more than one purchase of property since 2005 and a community far more transient than expected, resulting in frequent turnover of residents and congregational makeup, has proved grueling. Nonetheless, the opportunity seized recently by Community of Hope, a life-giving Church of God congregation in Maricopa, Arizona, is one with implications for both now and the future. By the end of the summer, they will have completely renovated a former jail, transforming it into the church’s new children’s ministry wing. Continue reading

Building Up to IYC2018: Indiana Church Breathes Life into Students, Community

Renovation at the new NSpire Church location.

By Carl Stagner

The Latin word spīrāre inspired the name of the Church of God in Westfield, Indiana, now known as NSpire Church. In the Hebrew and Greek, its meaning is understood as having to do with breath, life, wind, and the Spirit. Building up to IYC2018 (July 2–5), the church is preparing to work with IYC students by hosting an Indianapolis-area Impact Day project. As the church transitions out of a season of building and expanding, their partnership with the International Youth Convention is but an extension of who they already are. Leading into a new season of outreach, NSpire Church is breathing life into their community and will soon breathe life into the lives of teenagers attending IYC. Continue reading

Triumph After Tragedy: A Developing Story in DuBois, Pennsylvania

Tri County Church celebrates one of many baptisms.

By Carl Stagner

January 23, 2016. A day Tri County Church of God in DuBois, Pennsylvania, will never forget. A day that could have dismantled much of the good that had been accomplished since the dawn of the congregation in 1995. Dave Bish, founding pastor, died suddenly and unexpectedly that day while out on a trail run. Devastation swept across the community, but hell would not prevail. Instead of a downward spiral, the church rallied together in an outpouring of love like they’d never seen before. God had a clear mission for Tri County Church, and neither the remaining leadership nor the new lead pastor would be deterred. As they relate the timeless story of Jesus Christ to the stories of those near and far from God, Tri County Church is inviting everyone into their own developing story in DuBois. Continue reading

Partnership Vital to Ministry for The Church at Bradenton

Kid’s ministry is extremely important to the The Church at Bradenton.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Ancil Abney says their church is all about “storming the gates of hell and making a difference for eternity.” For some, such a bold statement might be dismissed as a tagline without substance or a catchphrase without strategy. But for The Church at Bradenton, it’s not just theory; it’s practice. Something as dangerous as storming the gates of hell should not be attempted alone, though, and this Florida church knows it. That’s why they’ve strategically assembled a stellar staff, partnered with the city, and offered space and grace to other churches committed to advancing the kingdom. Especially as Easter 2018 approaches, they’re making it clearer than ever that Jesus is the subject. Continue reading

A Good Problem to Have: Richland, WA Church Outgrows Current Facility

Construction in the lobby.

By Carl Stagner

In May 2013, we shared the story of a Church of God congregation in Richland, Washington, that tripled its attendance in just four years. The church understood then, as it does now, that God gives growth to his church, but there are a number of things local fellowships can do to attract the interest of the community, while supporting numbers with intentional discipleship and follow-up. For some, the question nearly five years ago might have been, Could such growth—both numerical and spiritual—be sustained? Apparently so. We’ve followed up with Columbia Community Church—locally known as C3—and have discovered they recently encountered a big problem. Their current facility—particularly their lobby and restrooms—are too small for their weekend crowds. 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

Missouri Church Takes Bold Step to Eliminate Debt

Photo: First Church mortgage going up in flames.

By Carl Stagner

Two thousand years ago, Jesus paid the debt we could not pay. His victory over death became our victory, setting us free to experience new life and share it with others. Until freedom reigns, debt has a way of holding us back, enslaving us to our past. First Church of God in Jefferson City, Missouri, found themselves in this very predicament. While thankful for the grace that covers their spiritual debt, the debt that stared them down, barring the way forward, was financial. This debt kept them from experiencing God’s best and embracing the future he’d planned for them. Then, early last year, the capital city congregation fixed their eyes on Christ and boldly stepped out of the boat. 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

More Than a Building: Arizona Church Celebrates Expansion

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Groundbreaking! All photos courtesy Green Light Photography.

By Carl Stagner

Lost in the middle of the desert, you’d be hard-pressed to find water. But at the edge of the Sonoran Desert in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona, you’ll find an oasis of hope where the Living Water is in full supply. For years, desert-dwellers have made their way to this oasis, quenching their spiritual thirst on the unconditional love Jesus, and telling others where they can find water. The road to a healthy, growing church has been dusty at times, but God has blessed every mile. Now McDowell Mountain Community Church faces a new kind of problem—a good kind of problem. They need more space! Continue reading

Movement-wide Generosity Brings More Help, More Hope to the Shelter

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By Carl Stagner

Thank you, Church of God. Your generous support of CHOG TraffickLight is not only rescuing women and children from the horrors of human trafficking, but is also preventing trafficking from happening in the first place. You’ve heard the stories of how the Shelter in Cuttack, India, has nurtured, protected, and discipled girls with otherwise uncertain futures. No one will ever know for sure where each girl would be today had they not found refuge and unconditional love at the Shelter, but one thing is certain: these girls did not end up as victims of human trafficking. Thanks to your support, the Shelter is now celebrating major improvements designed to enhance security, bless the girls with better living conditions and, as capacity increases, welcome more girls. Continue reading

Anonymous Gift Floors Colorado Congregation

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By Carl Stagner

For as long as they can remember, their church put up with cracking, crumbling concrete. Like many churches, the fellowship hall was located in the basement, and hosted many a church potluck and reception. In 1957, the current church building was constructed, and almost since the beginning, parishioners had to tread carefully among the visible results of shifting and settling. Springfield Church of God in Springfield, Colorado, desperately needed a new basement floor, but like many churches, simply didn’t have the available funds for the job. But when a sizeable donation came in from an anonymous source, the church knew it was time to use their God-given facility for more than potlucks and traditional church functions. Continue reading

Church of God in Jamaica Dedicates Olson Memorial Chapel

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By Carl Stagner

In April 2014, Jim Lyon joined the Church of God in Jamaica to celebrate one hundred years of ministry. During the Jamaican General Assembly, a ground-breaking took place on the site of the Olson Memorial Chapel—named after the family that came from the United States in 1907 with the message of the Church of God. On the last Sunday in July, the Church of God in Jamaica celebrated once again as construction on the church was completed in an amazing six months. Though the journey was not easy, Adinhair Jones, executive chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica, saw evidence of God at work the entire way. Continue reading