Tag Archives: innovation

Oklahoma Church’s Latest Campus Thrives Behind Bars

By Carl Stagner

Oklahoma City’s Crossings Community Church has taken prison ministry to another level. For the influential capital city congregation, it’s not just about visitation, prayer, and preaching the gospel to the incarcerated. Earlier this year, Crossings celebrated the first anniversary of its satellite campus location altogether housed within the confines of Joseph Harp Correctional Center. The medium-security prison for men down the road in Lexington, Oklahoma, is not considered a mission site, a location for service projects, or even a local partner in ministry. Crossings Joseph Harp is a full-fledged campus of Crossings Community Church, and the effect of this unique arrangement on inmates and volunteers from the outside has been nothing short of life-changing. Continue reading

Unexpected Journeys Lead Pastor to Niche in Teaching, Blogging

Scott Beha

By Carl Stagner

Southridge Church is a thriving Church of God congregation nestled in South Charleston, West Virginia. On Easter Sunday, they rejoiced to welcome over 700 for worship, an all-time high. Already this year, the church has celebrated the baptism of 20 believers. Eighteen months ago, small-group participation had declined to about 60; since then, the number of participants has topped 200. Outreach into a women’s recovery center has brought more than 150 additional guests, many of whom have since been saved and baptized. A strong partnership with an elementary school has helped the church make major strides in the advancement of the kingdom, even as the school permitted the church to host an Easter egg hunt for students during the school day! Lead executive pastor Michael Coker and lead teaching pastor Scott Beha are thrilled to be a part of Southridge during such an exciting time in the church’s history. But Scott wouldn’t have been there to experience it firsthand, except for a series of unexpected journeys that also helped him find a God-ordained niche in teaching and blogging. Continue reading

Daughters of the King: Missouri Church Leads Effort to Reach Girls for Christ

High-energy worship experience at Jesus Girls 2019.

By Carl Stagner

Four years ago, the children’s pastor at First Church of God in East Prairie, Missouri, was in the middle of a conversation with a group of moms about issues their daughters were facing. It seemed that a common problem among the church girls was the presentation of an image at church on Sundays that didn’t match the one they lived out during the week. Dawn Walters recounts how she and this group of moms envisioned an evening experience designed especially for girls where the gospel would be presented clearly, where such topics would be addressed from a biblical perspective, and where the girls would make wonderful memories. Considering prevalent bullying, stressful relationship dynamics, social media craziness, and more, it was clear something needed to be done, particularly before those trying teenage years, to instill in the hearts of girls the love, acceptance, and security found in Jesus alone. Continue reading

Midnight Meditations: Gethsemane Experience Draws Church to Watch and Pray

Maiden Lane congregants gather to “watch and pray.”

By Carl Stagner

Unless you work third-shift or suffer insomnia, chances are you were asleep at midnight on Good Friday this year. Not Pastor Mark Martin and a good crowd of people from Maiden Lane Church of God, in Springfield, Ohio, though! With the aid of the Holy Spirit—and perhaps an extra cup of coffee—they could be found gathered at church, embarking on a unique adventure like never before. Inspired and challenged by Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:36–46 to “watch and pray,” even for just an hour, they took a spiritual journey back to the Garden of Gethsemane to reflect on the gravity of that historical moment, and ultimately prepare the way for a victorious Easter celebration. Continue reading

Michigan Pastor Reaching Across Generations: “I Wanna Be On Their Phones”

Pastor Tom Whitesel

By Lane Webb

Tom Whitesel, pastor of Ithaca Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan, has become aware, and has adapted, to a change in the way community is expressed. Whitesel, the founder of the 24Today podcast, spoke on the matter during an interview, where he stated that he believes times are changing and, along with this, values are changing. This values shift reflects the decrease in church attendance. Whitesel clarified that his church’s core values are “Loving God, Loving Each Other, and Loving Community,” and, through this, he believes he can reach farther than most church’s in today’s age, the Digital Age. Continue reading

Arkansas Church Reclaims Dance as Expression of Worship

First Church worship dance ministry in action!

By Carl Stagner

Though dance appears twenty or so times in the Bible, and usually in the context of worship, it’s encountered some resistance in the church over the years. Certainly dance, like other artistic expressions, can be used in ways that bring dishonor to the Lord. But like so many Church of God congregations today, First Church of God in Paragould, Arkansas, has found a way to reclaim what hell has stolen. They’ve redeemed dance, and use it regularly to worship the Lord and communicate the message of Christ. Continue reading

The Future of Tech: Warner Pacific Launches SourceU

Ben Sand, Dr. Andrea Cook, Luke Goble

Warner Pacific University is excited to announce the launch of sourceU, a school of innovation and technology that will empower students with the right skills, education, and support to become leaders in tomorrow’s tech industry. In partnership with Portland, Oregon’s top code school, Epicodus, and the innovative team of cybersecurity professionals and educators at Riperia, sourceU combines the industry-focused skills that a code school brings with the supporting resources and expertise of a well-rounded Christian education from Warner Pacific University. Continue reading

Spanish-, English-Speaking Congregations Unite at Altar

Pastor Karen Kier speaks at Altar’s name-change celebration.

By Carl Stagner

Over time, a model of planting Spanish-speaking churches has emerged. Often English-speaking congregations are drawn to the prospect of partnering with a Spanish-speaking church as a missional means to touch a demographic otherwise beyond their reach. In doing so, the Spanish-speaking church uses the building owned by the English-speaking church to conduct worship services. When the Spanish-speaking church gains traction and becomes self-sustaining, they may then choose to purchase their own facility. At that point, the relationship between the two churches can somewhat cease to exist, though it may never have truly materialized in the first place. Tampa, Florida’s English-speaking Oak Grove Church of God and the Spanish-speaking Arbol de Vida have decided to do things differently. Reflecting their heart’s desire to be one church with two cultures, they’ve united at (the) Altar. Continue reading

Florida Pastor Offers Fathers, Husbands Tools for Life

Joshua and family celebrating the ministry of Man Wisdoms.

By Carl Stagner

Meet Joshua Zarzana. The young pastor from the Northwest has recently moved to the Southeast, accepting the lead pastor role at Spirit Lake Community Church of God in Winter Haven, Florida. But just because his ministry setting and title have changed doesn’t mean one of his greatest passions has dried up. In fact, Joshua’s heart for men’s ministry remains strong and seems only to be growing. And it shows, as his ongoing platform to reach men can now be accessed anywhere WiFi or data is available! Through regular video posts, Joshua’s “Man Wisdoms” outreach offers nuggets of wisdom tailored especially to the particular needs of men at home, work, church, society and more. With Father’s Day in view, the need for godly husbands and dads is perhaps arguably greater than ever, and Joshua Zarzana has chosen not to sit on the sidelines. He’s cheering his fellow man on to the goal set before them through Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Just Outside Yosemite National Park, Church Seeks to Restore the Wonder

Pastor Bruce Newton speaks about Restore the Wonder.

By Carl Stagner

Fourteen miles south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park at the base of the beautiful Sierra Nevada in central California, you’ll find a Church of God congregation ready and raring to restore the wonder. Not the restoration of a national park or other scenic location—Sierra Pines Church in Oakhurst, California, has set out to restore the wonder of an awesome God. In their community and society beyond, they’ve come to observe a lack of wonder, certainly among non-Christians, but even among born-again believers. Through extensive local and international outreach, apologetics, and innovation that has caught the attention of some of the folks at Disney, Sierra Pines Church isn’t content to be anywhere but at the leading edge of the kingdom. Continue reading

Messy Marvels: Kentucky Children’s Ministry Reaches Adults, Too

Pastor Earl Litman engaging the children at Cynthiana.

By Noel Marquis

Walk into Cynthiana First Church of God in Cynthiana, Kentucky, on the third Sunday of the month and you might be surprised to witness something a bit different than a typical sermon. In fact, you may be watching a group of energetic kids cheering for God’s love, or water being poured over a youth pastor’s head onstage. Continue reading

TED-style Talks Inform, Inspire at State Ministries Meeting

John_Pistole_at_IndianaMinistries_meeting_Oct2015_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

It stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Though TED talks began about thirty years ago, they’ve really taken off recently in an online video and social media world. Limited to just under twenty minutes each, TED talks attract listeners who don’t have time—or the attention-span—for an hour-long lecture. Pithy, witty, persuasive, and often accented by personal vignettes, official TED talks now cover an endless array of topics. In an effort to make this year’s annual meeting of Indiana Ministries of the Church of God especially relevant and compelling, state leaders selected a variety of speakers to briefly cover a variety of topics through TED-style talks. As a result, Indiana ministers left the early October conference more informed and inspired than ever to carry out the Great Commission. Continue reading