Tag Archives: growth

Louisiana Church Planter: “The Struggle is Real”

Stephen Nelson at Awaken’s Easter Egg Dash and cupcake giveaway.

By Carl Stagner

Church planting is not for the faint of heart. Attendance ups and downs are normal. Emotional peaks and valleys come standard. Starts and stops are rocky, and twists and turns are plentiful. It’s a roller coaster of an experience and, as Stephen Nelson of Awaken Church, in Natchitoches, Louisiana, explains, “The struggle is real…but God is faithful!” With candor and confidence, Stephen opens up a window to the challenging but life-changing world of church planting as he’s experienced it over the past few years. Continue reading

New Jersey Church Faithful in the Face of Adversity

Volunteers from Highland Park assist local community for veterans.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes, on the scale of size and influence, smaller churches can feel insignificant. The truth is that the impact of the smaller churches among us cannot be overstated. The Church of God in Gloucester City, New Jersey, for example, has a rich history of impact for the kingdom. Highland Park Church of God also has benefited from pastoral longevity; as senior pastor Bill Dilks prepares for retirement later this year after twenty years, associate pastor Debra Conner surveys the faithfulness of Highland Park, encouraging the congregation to press on in ministry during this time of transition. Through community partnership, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the New Jersey church believes God will do many more amazing things in their midst. But they’re not waiting for some elusive big breakthrough to live out their purpose—Highland Park carries on the work of the gospel, even in the face of adversity. Continue reading

Oklahoma Church Bursting at Seams Sees 2020 Vision Clearly

By Carl Stagner

When there’s not enough room for everyone in the Sunday school rooms and sanctuary, you’ve got a problem. But it’s a good problem to have when your church’s growth is also spiritual and healthy. The 107-year history of First Church of God in Pryor, Oklahoma, is one of vision, revision, stepping out on faith, and stepping out on faith again. Sure, there have been challenges and the congregation has faced its fair share of mountains. But God has proven himself true time and time again, revealing himself especially clear in recent years. Today, First Church of God is bursting at the seams as it celebrates steady growth from 248 to 409 over the last decade, and 27 souls won to Christ last year alone. This year, they’re seeing God’s vision clearly for all he will complete by the close of 2020. Continue reading

Excellence in Ecuador: Seminary Intensive Trains Growing Number of Leaders

Ecuador Seminary Intensive 2018

By Timothy and Angelita Downing

We tried something different, and…it was a success! Each year, the Church of God seminary in Ecuador offers a week long intensive to help train leaders in the Ecuadorian church. This year, we expanded the reach of the seminary by offering more class options, moving to a more spacious location, and including more Ecuadorian leadership. Last year, we had a total of twenty-five participants, with one international student. This year, we had seventy-six participants, with several international students! Continue reading

Côte d’Ivoire: A Church is Being Built!

Team working together to tie a post.

By Bobby and Jenny Mihsill

On a Sunday morning in the village of Sinfra, about an hour and fifteen minutes from where we live in Yamoussoukro, people sit shoulder-to-shoulder on backless wooden benches at the local Church of God. The church has been meeting in the living room area of the house that was built for the pastor, although they outgrew the space some time ago. 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

In the Midst of Revival: Crosspointe Kilgore-Longview, Texas

Baptism at Crosspointe Church is a common occurence.

By Carl Stagner

When you’re baptizing someone nearly every week and the walls must come down to make more room in your sanctuary, you’ve got to wonder if revival is breaking out. At the two campuses of Crosspointe Fellowship Church of God in the Texas communities of Kilgore and Longview, God has clearly been on the move in many mighty ways. Led by Pastor Efrain Cirilo, Crosspointe has seen their worship center and children’s classrooms run out of space. In the past couple of years, total attendance has more than doubled to an average of 400 on Sundays. And, it was just last year that they added the second campus at Longview. While no magic formula exists for revival, the church did enact a handful of specific strategies to become a growing, healthy church. 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

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

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

Church of God Grows Stronger Amid Persecution in South India

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Photo: Newly constructed church in South India.

By Johnson George

Though Hindu fundamentalism and religious persecution are on the rise over much of India, the Church of God in India rejoices over spiritual and numerical growth. Even while one Church of God leader works on constitutional adjustments to guarantee certain religious freedoms, the persecution persists. But the kingdom of God cannot be shaken, and its advancement has not waned, especially in South India. We praise the Lord for the following report from Johnson George.

Persecution
There is a new government agenda is to reconvert the converted Christians to Hinduism. Their slogan is, “Come back home.” The government is giving financial support to those who go back to the Hindu religion, some of whom are threatened and forced to go back to Hinduism. In South India, most of the believers are converted from the Hindu religion. Pastors have very limited freedom to propagate the gospel, and many pastors and believers were severely attacked by the Hindu people. Please continue to pray for South India. In spite of the persecution, the Church of God is growing stronger. Continue reading

Two Ohio Churches Celebrate Great Growth

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Photo: Connection Point Church of God

By Esther Cottrell

Connection Point Church

Three years ago, Ohio Ministries was invited to work with First Church of God in Sidney, Ohio, to help the church address the need for turnaround. This began a journey toward a new future. Pastor Alan Leach began feeling the stirring of the Holy Spirit to leave his growing church and take on the challenge of pastoring a turnaround church. He prepared himself through prayer, study, attending the Ohio Ministries Turnaround Church Boot Camp, and hiring a coach. So when Pastor Alan Leach and the Connection Point Church (formerly Sidney First Church) joined forces last Easter, they began with a commitment to do whatever it took to turn the church around and be a “Great Commission Church.” After an intensive period of prayer, training, and planning, the church is now on a journey to becoming that new church. In the last eight months, Pastor Alan reports that attendance has nearly doubled. On Christmas Sunday, they had an attendance of 250. Their “Christmas Eve Eve” service saw 256 persons celebrate the birth of our Lord. And the first Sunday of this year drew 234 persons—nineteen were kids, fifth grade and younger. They are encouraged! Continue reading

New York Church Outgrows Storefront, Dedicates New Sanctuary

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Photo: The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the dedication of the new sanctuary for the Church of God of East New York.

By Carl Stagner

The view from the corner of Sutter Avenue and Warwick is markedly different today than it was in 1965. Since 1965, the Church of God of East New York has exercised bold love in their neighborhood for the cause of Christ. They call this kind of ministry B.L.O.C.K., which stands for Boldly Loving Our Community with Kindness. After decades of exemplifying bold love, God has blessed this storefront church with a brand new sanctuary. Today, passersby can’t help but notice the new construction which, for them, represents renewed vitality and hope for a community that others have simply written off as a lost cause. Continue reading

On Baptisms, Outreach, and Revival: An Interview with Pastors of a Thriving Church

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By Carl Stagner

In an interview with Church of God Ministries (CGM), the pastoral staff at County Line Church of God in Auburn, Indiana, recently celebrated 126 baptisms and a move of the Holy Spirit beyond what they could have ever imagined. In this exchange, senior pastor Stuart Kruse, children’s pastor Mary Ellen Rayle, congregational care pastor Steve Schlatter, outreach pastor Nathan Tatman, and high school ministry pastor Dane Kruse relived the amazing experience of Baptism Sunday, and offered experienced insights on baptisms, outreach, and revival. Continue reading