Tag Archives: Jim Lyon

Drunkenness: A Sobering Reality in Church and Society

By Carl Stagner

A November 16, 2018, article published in USA Today spells out the latest statistics on the rise of alcohol-triggered deaths in the United States, especially over the last decade. While the media has shone the spotlight on the horrific and very real epidemic of opioid abuse, the article suggests the alarming truth that alcohol kills far more people each year through liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis, and suicide—not to mention traffic accidents. Meanwhile, the conversation about alcohol has started again in the Church of God, as the general director of Church of God Ministries issued a column on the subject in the October issue of Move! in the wake of the hotly debated Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. David Sebastian, dean emeritus of Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry, has talked about the subject for years in the classroom, at conferences, and at camp meetings. As he’s observed, drunkenness is a sobering reality in church and society. That’s also the title of his new book, which challenges Christians to re-examine the issue of alcohol use and abuse. Continue reading

New “Jesus is the Subject” Resources for the Local Church

By Carl Stagner

In the years since Jim Lyon’s 2013 speech before the General Assembly, the phrase “Jesus is the subject” has proven to be far more than a tagline; it’s now part of the language that unites the Church of God as a movement. It’s a statement that encapsulates and energizes the Christ-centered focus that’s helping churches from coast to coast take giant steps to advance the kingdom. At the same time, the church visitor brochures Meet Us at the Cross and Who is the Church of God? are in high demand, though their content is becoming more and more outdated. Especially as congregations are sensing new wind in the sails of the Movement, a desire to inform the first-time guests and person-in-the-pew about the Church of God has only increased. On the heels of the popular “Jesus is the subject” word search puzzle books, Warner Press has responded to the need by producing a booklet that churches can buy in bulk for informational displays, guest gift bags, and discipleship classes. Continue reading

Former School of Theology Dean: Never Give Up!

Dr. David L. Sebastian, former dean of the AU School of Theology and Christian Ministry, has published his ministry memoirs in a book titled Just Never Give Up. Sebastian answered God’s call to ministry while he was an auto mechanic in Middletown, Ohio, so the book is appropriately subtitled, “An Unlikely Person Following God into Unlikely Places.” Continue reading

Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Arlo Newell

Arlo Newell

By Carl Stagner

The late pastor and CBH speaker Dale Oldham published a book in 1973 titled Giants Along My Path. Many in the Church of God have since used the terminology to describe, as Oldham did, those who have profoundly shaped, influenced, and inspired their lives and ministries. On Monday, October 1, 2018, the Church of God movement learned that Dr. Arlo Newell had passed away. While heaven gained a hero, we lost one of our giants. A comprehensive list of his accomplishments would certainly fill volumes; a summary of his contributions to the Movement he loved would be inadequate. Yet in the lingering shadow of such a giant, it would be nearly impossible not to offer a few reflections now on the life and legacy of Arlo Newell. Continue reading

Fairfax, Safety Harbor Regionals Last but Not Least!

Worship at the Fairfax Regional 2018.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God pastors and laypeople who descended on Fairfax, Virginia, and Safety Harbor, Florida, in September were the last to experience the impact of the Church of God Regional Conventions this year. By no means, however, were they disappointed. They were, in fact, the first to hear featured speaker Kevin Earley and regional guest speaker Brad Lomenick. The tested strategies and insights of host pastor Rod Stafford were only available in Virginia, and the deeply personal dare to dream came only from host pastor Terry Rolen in Florida. Jo Anne Lyon and Jim Lyon spoke at all five Regionals, but instead of tired, overdone messages, they brought refined words, fresh with content, anecdotes, exhortations, and inspiration. After the third 2018 Regional, the events took a three-month hiatus. But based on the new life breathed into the Movement this September, it was a busy summer for the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Safety Harbor Regional Day 2: Daring to Dream Again

Wednesday evening worship at the Safety Harbor Regional.

By Carl Stagner

Do you dream of a local church that is healthy and growing? Do you dream of unity across racial lines? Do you dream of those “greater works” that Jesus talked about, or victory in a particular spiritual battle? Wednesday, Day Two of the Church of God Regional Convention in Safety Harbor, Florida, was a day of rekindling the fire, reclaiming the passion, and resurrecting dreams once lost in a world prone to busyness, burnout, and a blurring of what matters most. Continue reading

Fairfax First Day a Joyful Celebration of Life

Tuesday evening led by a team from Celebration Church at Columbia.

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, an addition to the Fairfax Community Church facility was completed. The new wing, solely devoted to youth and children’s ministry, nearly doubled the size of the building. Gathering for worship and teaching sessions inside the new addition on the first day of the Church of God Regional in Fairfax, Virginia, afforded convention-goers a unique opportunity. While the five electives held on Tuesday afternoon demonstrated a rich depth of ministry insight on the part of the stellar host church staff, activity throughout the day under the church’s new roof served as a constant reminder of the life-giving DNA of Fairfax Community Church. The ideal setting for the kickoff of the fourth 2018 Regional Convention set the stage very well for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit through an interactive dialogue with Ben Hardman and Ben Sternke, moments of worship led by praise teams from Fairfax and Celebration Church at Columbia (Maryland), and an especially potent message from the general director. Continue reading

Columbus Convention Calls Church to Courageous, Contagious Christianity

Altars in use at the Church of God Regional in Columbus.

By Carl Stagner

Salt does no good inside the shaker. A candle is useless unless it’s lit. Though Jesus called the church both salt and light, many in the Church of God have observed that we’ve not lived up to that description, often shirking back, afraid of the darkness. At the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, pastors and lay leaders were present, but the especially powerful presence of the Holy Spirit was what really got people talking. The worship, the fellowship, the electives, and the spoken messages seemed finely tuned, clarifying the charge to the Church of God to boldly reclaim what hell has stolen. At a time when life is so widely taken for granted, when signs of true life are hard to find, and when lives are at stake for people around the world, the Church of God Regional Conventions this year are championing life at all stages, all ages, among all races, and under all circumstances. Perhaps like no convention before it, the Regional Convention in Columbus called the Church of God to courageous, contagious Christianity. Continue reading

Columbus Convention Opening Day “Spirit-filled,” “Tremendous,” “Great!”

The fellowship at First Church on Tuesday was sweet.

By Carl Stagner

The first day of the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, is now history, and the second day is now underway. Nearly five hundred people have enjoyed the numerous teaching sessions, electives, and meetings, as well as the incredible hospitality of First Church of God. Under the leadership of the praise team at First Church, convention-goers have experienced the presence of God in powerful ways—and neither the event, nor the Spirit’s active role, is over yet. As Day Two of the Regional Convention continues, many are still reflecting on the blessings of Day One. Continue reading

Church of God Gathers for Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio

By Carl Stagner

With outside temperatures high and the A/C cranked high in the sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, this year’s third Church of God Regional Convention is up and running. Anticipation has also been high for this gathering, in particular, as it takes place in the Midwest (only a few hours from Anderson), and during the traditional “Camp Meeting” week. But the location and time of year aside, a quick glance at the schedule for those gathered for #LifeColumbus indicates two days of life-giving, life-transforming experiences ahead. Continue reading

All About Jesus in Alaska: Palmer Pastor Celebrates Unity, Mission

Nora and J. R. Stepp in scenic Alaska.

By Carl Stagner

One year has passed since J. R. Stepp became the first black pastor of a predominantly white congregation in Palmer, Alaska. But to Palmer Church of God and Pastor J. R., it’s really no big deal. While they certainly acknowledge the effective witness of multicultural ministry, they’re most concerned about the advancement of the kingdom. Simply put, they’re too busy preaching the gospel in word and action to spend time thinking about their unique situation. As the Spirit convicts and compels the Church of God movement to reconciliation and greater unity, Palmer Church of God offers a glimpse of what it looks like when Jesus is truly the subject. Continue reading

Church of God Côte d’Ivoire: Speaking French, Broadcasting Hope

John Walters (far left) and Jim Lyon (far right) with Radio Continental Convention attendees.

By John Walters

Côte d’Ivoire, formerly known as the Ivory Coast, is a French-speaking nation of over 23 million people. Nestled among 25 other French-speaking countries of West Africa, nearly 50 percent of its population is 25 years of age or younger. Although contributing factors to this discrepancy in demographic include HIV, AIDS, and war, this huge younger class is maturing and bringing a vibrancy and energy into the social fabric of Côte d’Ivoire that has great potential for the future. Continue reading

Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy Find Renewal in the Rockies

The Church of God group represented at the conference.

By Carron Odokara

The Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy (WHWC) organization held its biennial conference in April at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Amid the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, over 300 women and men gathered to worship, learn, and be revived. The conference welcomed the Church of God (Anderson), Brethren in Christ, the Free Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, and other groups. These faith groups came together under the banner of Jesus Christ to celebrate the biblical foundations of gender equality being fully lived out across the church as women and men lead together, following their holy callings. Continue reading

Phoenix, Oklahoma City Regional Conventions Commission All

Friendships, both old and new, are a Regional Convention highlight.

By Carl Stagner

Two of the five Church of God Regional Conventions 2018 are now history, but their impact is still being felt from Alaska to Alabama. Some may have flown to Arizona to escape winter’s clutch on spring, but they stayed to drink from an oasis in the desert. Others may have descended upon Oklahoma City for the fine barbecue, but they stayed because their cravings were satisfied in the life-giving teaching and fellowship. Still others attended, many as first-time guests of a Church of God convention, because this year’s variety of regional locations afforded them accessibility. Challenged to reclaim what hell has stolen, but inspired to fully embrace the Life, attendees of the first two Regional Conventions ultimately climbed in cars or boarded airplanes to return home, ready and resourced to change the world in Jesus’ name. Continue reading

Coming Home, Sending Out: OKC Regional Reflections, Day 1

Commissioning prayer for Sarah Hunnicutt.

By Carl Stagner

Bob Brooke, pastor of visitation at Shartel Church of God in Oklahoma City, perhaps put it best: “[Yesterday was the] beginning of two glorious days at Crossings Community Church for the Regional Convention of the Church of God.” A review of Tuesday at the second 2018 Regional Convention reveals a day marked by inhaling and exhaling life—of coming home and sending out. It was a reunion of a portion of the Church of God family, but it was also a rally to mobilize believers for ministry and mission. Considering the moments of inspirational worship led by Josh Edington and the Crossings worship band, the soul-nourishing seminar with Ben Hardman, and the beautiful commissioning of a new missionary for Global Strategy—only a part of the blessings that define the opening day of #LifeOKC—it’s no wonder one would label such an experience glorious. Continue reading