Tag Archives: IN

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

Tornadoes, Flooding Wreak Havoc Across Plains, Midwest

Dayton-area home damaged by tornado (photo courtesy Chris Hall).

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, as of May 31, 11:15 AM EDT: As floodwaters continue to devastate parts of Oklahoma, Church of God Ministries has authorized $5,000 in relief funds to be sent to aid relief efforts in coordination with Crossings Community Church (Oklahoma City) and First Church of God (Nowata, Oklahoma). Wendell Abbott, pastor in Nowata, reports that the need is great and most homeowners do not have flood insurance. The emergency manager for the county is also a part of the Nowata congregation and the church has become a staging facility for the Red Cross. In Muskogee, also inundated, Pastor Gary Underwood of Eastside Community Church is helping flood victims in a variety of ways, including gathering hay for farm animals. While the story continues to develop, we rejoice that great things are happening through the Church of God in Oklahoma in the name of Jesus! To continue to distribute disaster relief funds, we need your financial support: www.jesusisthesubject.org/disaster-relief.

UPDATE, as of May 30, 3:55 PM EDT: Kevin Clouse, of Oklahoma Church of God Ministries, has reported that no Church of God buildings have been damaged from recent storms and flooding. One pastor’s rented house sustained some roof damage, and some churches are hard to reach due to flooded roads. Of course, numerous homes and churches beyond the Movement have been damaged or destroyed, and we continue to lift in prayer those affected, including Church of God congregations engaging in relief efforts for their communities.


ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT: It’s been a rough few weeks from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania and states in between. While weather records reveal an average of 276 tornadoes nationwide during the month of May, as of May 29, more than 460 tornadoes had been reported. While much of the media has focused its attention on the dramatic destruction of structures due to recent tornadic activity, parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri remain underwater. Church of God congregations near and far from the affected regions have already mobilized work teams, supply drives, and represented Jesus in tangible ways, but there is so much more to be done. Church of God Disaster Relief continues to gather information and determine the scope of the affect of such severe weather on our churches and congregants. Continue reading

Layperson Launches, Leads Ministry for Families of Children with Disabilities

Victory Lane Camp is about building community in Jesus’ name.

By Carl Stagner

“No family should have to raise their children facing disabilities alone.” That’s the premise of Victory Lane Camp, a parachurch ministry in New Castle, Indiana, founded by Brett Fischer. Brett and his family, who have called South Memorial Drive Church of God their home church since 1999, have experienced life’s ups and downs while brothers and sisters in Christ came alongside. When Brett felt God call him to start a camp ministry that would reach the whole family of children with disabilities, the church was there to provide prayerful and financial support—support which continues to this day. Victory Lane Camp didn’t just drop out of thin air; a series of dots had to connect to bring to life one of the most life-giving parachurch ministries anywhere. Behind the life change, the baptisms, the marriages restored, and the children transformed is a God who has called and equipped Christ-centered laypeople for the task. Continue reading

Hispanic Church Coming Soon to West Side of Indianapolis

By Tom Planck and Israel Munguia

The story of the community surrounding Westlake Church of God on the west side of Indianapolis, Indiana, is familiar to many churches across the state. The culture has vastly changed over the past several years. A once mostly Caucasian community has now shifted to include a large population of African American and Hispanic people. Continue reading

At the Crossroads: Indiana Churches Initiate Plan to Multiply

The crowded entryway of County Line’s new campus church.

By Carl Stagner

Nate Tatman had no idea how pivotal that moment would be. He’d been in the office of Indiana Ministries when something caught his attention. The map of the state on the wall wasn’t anything new; he remembered seeing it before. But what he hadn’t noticed was the distribution of push pins on the map, which indicated counties that did not have a Church of God congregation. In particular, he noticed this time that there were thirty-seven counties in total with no Church of God congregation. And that’s when things began to get interesting. Continue reading

From the Archives: Now I Am Truly Free

By Phyllis Kardatzke Miller

When a person is confronted with the claims of Jesus on his life, he makes a choice—he either accepts or rejects. There is no gray area in between of “tabling for future reference.” After seeing there is one way (and a very narrow way it is!), the person who understands that God is calling him to repentance and consciously takes the truth “under advisement” is choosing not to believe, and seeking his own approach to God. Continue reading

Youth Pastors, Regions Unite to Prepare Students for Christ-Centered Leadership

Students worshiping the Lord at 3SLI.

By Carl Stagner

IYC and state youth conventions do a tremendous job inspiring students to come to Christ, to rededicate their lives to the Lord, and to accept the unique call God has placed on their lives. Most of the students leave these mountain-top experiences having experienced life change to one degree or another, but some also leave recognizing God has called them to lead. Just after the turn of the new century, several youth pastors from the Midwest came together to identify the best way to prepare such students for lifelong Christ-centered leadership. In 2003, 3SLI (then the Tri-State Student Leadership Institute, now Tri-Level) was launched to serve students in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. When West Virginia was added, the name 3SLI didn’t change—and neither did its resolve to come alongside emerging leaders. Continue reading

Church Pastored by CHOG Ministries’ Handel Smith Celebrates Urban Ministry Renewal

Handel Smith with Paul, sub-contractor for the church’s affordable homes ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God Ministries staff are known for their roles they play in the collective work of the Movement. But among those who report to “base camp” day after day are individuals who are very active in their local churches. Some are Sunday school teachers, board members, worship leaders, associate pastors, and senior pastors. Others are laypeople who volunteer and get involved in numerous initiatives and projects at the local church level. When Handel Smith accepted the call to fill an executive leadership position at Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, he accepted a massive portfolio—oversight of the Movement’s influence and impact in the United States and Canada. His ministry Monday through Saturday—and countless Sundays, too—is extensive and expansive. Though a faithful attender of one of the Anderson-area churches when at home, it soon became apparent that he’d received a special leadership assignment that would both bring God glory and give life to a life-giving soul. Continue reading

IYC2018 Puts Students On Track for Life

Zealand leading students in worship at IYC2018.

By Carl Stagner

For the first time since 1980, Indianapolis, Indiana, was home to the International Youth Convention of the Church of God. Reflecting the local racing culture, the 51st pinnacle of youth ministry experiences capitalized on its proximity to the iconic motor speedway, with four days designed to put students on track for the race of a lifetime. Inspiring worship, top-notch speakers, dozens of breakout sessions, a 5K to support the fight against trafficking, and a day devoted to community service combined to create moments of lasting life change. Those moments may have passed, but eternity—brighter than ever before—lies ahead. The life change continues as four thousand students and youth leaders, who embraced life at IYC2018, return home to give life to their families, schools, churches, and across their communities. 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

Victory in Jesus: Fort Wayne Ministry Gives Life to Women in Need

Victory House leadership celebrates a success story!

By Noel Marquis

Since its creation in 2010, Victory House has offered hope and extended the message of Christ’s love to over 150 women in need. Victory House, which is hosted by Destiny Life Center, a Church of God congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana, serves women in transition by offering them temporary housing and advancement opportunities. In addition, Victory House provides the chance to grow closer and delve deeper into God’s Word. Continue reading

Motorcycle Ministry and the Church of God

Bikers gearing up for a ride at Owingsville First Church.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God movement is known for making Jesus the subject—looking past ethnic and cultural differences for the Lord’s sake. Recognizing that the call to ministry doesn’t distinguish between male and female, and reaching our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one—regardless of color of skin, or name over the church doors, for example—the Church of God has placed a premium on unity, holiness, and the mission of reaching anyone and everyone with the gospel. It should be no surprise then, that over recent decades Church of God congregations across the country have developed motorcycle ministries that really make a difference. Often stereotyped and frequently feared by a four-wheeled society, the distinct culture and community of bikers has proved a field ready for harvest in the Church of God. Continue reading

Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Establish and Sustain Community Ministry

Volunteers from local churches help sustain the ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Another title of this article could have appropriately been, “Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Discover They Can Do More Together.” That’s because this is exactly what happened when Operation Love Ministries was formed in Anderson, Indiana. The collaboration and unity among churches representing multiple denominations and cultures make this yet another Jesus-is-the-subject story, and a potential model for other communities. Today, twenty-seven area churches prayerfully and financially support the parachurch organization, also giving governance to the work. As a result, these local churches have access to a tried-and-tested resource to more effectively help neighbors in need. 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

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