Tag Archives: mentoring

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

Multiplication in the Midwest Changing the Conversation on Church Planting

Tom Planck leading a CHOG conference at Exponential 2019.

By Carl Stagner

We’re simply not keeping up. Statistics show 4,000 churches are planted each year in the United States and 3,700 churches close. That leaves a gain of only three hundred churches. The overall population continues to rise, while the number of churches to reach people with the gospel lags behind. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s time to change the conversation on church planting. That’s precisely what Tom Planck and Healthy Growing Churches are doing. The Church of God pastor and church planter is now actively pouring into the hearts of churches and regions to reverse a trend through basic math—multiplication. The numbers are starting to turn in their favor, as multiplication in the Midwest has captured fresh interest and mobilized existing churches like never before. Continue reading

Upside-Down Kingdom: Insights and Updates from England

Community meal at Birkenhead Church of God.

By Zach and Audrey Langford

Birkenhead Church of God, like many of the churches in Europe, is reaching an increasingly secular and post-Christian society. “Be Known, Be Loved, Be Community” has become the church’s motto as we seek to engage people. We have been consistently met with hesitation and skepticism as we introduce ourselves to neighbors. Preconceived notions and barriers make relationship-building slow. Continue reading

A Visit with the Church of God in Hungary

Joe Cookston (far left) prays at the commissioning of the plant.

By Carl Stagner

Joe Cookston has worn a variety of hats in the Church of God in his lifetime of ministry. Currently he’s most well-known across the Movement for his leadership of CARE—the Clergy Advocacy and Resource Effort. But he’s also served faithfully in a number of important areas, including the local church. One role may not be as familiar to many in the Movement, and that is the position he holds as nonresident board member for the Church of God Hungary. In August and September, Joe and his wife Merry visited Hungary, a place that has become quite familiar and beloved by the ministry duo. Joe and Merry have since returned from the encouraging experience, blessed to report on the opportunities God is opening up in the Eastern European nation. 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

Massey Legacy Lives On through Newly Published Book

By Carl Stagner

On Sunday, June 24, Dr. James Earl Massey’s life on this earth came to an end. But his incredible legacy has only just begun to affect the lives of students, pastors, and parishioners. One of the many ways his legacy lives on is through his latest book, Views from the Mountain. Published within days of his passing, the compilation of select writings from the brilliant mind of Massey was co-edited by Barry Callen and Curtiss DeYoung. As the back cover of the book states, “Rarely does one voice speak with equal wisdom on fields as diverse and demanding as Bible interpretation, Christian education, inspired preaching, seminary education, and ministries of reconciliation.” Indeed, Dr. Massey did all that and so much more, for the Church of God movement and beyond. Now the Church of God—no, all of Christendom—has the opportunity to glean wisdom from the pages of what Dr. Massey called the “last great goal” of his life. Continue reading

Fifty Years and Counting: Ohio Pastor’s Longevity at One Church Inspires

The congregation honoring Pastor Walls for his faithful service (Image courtesy Ferman Brown Photography).

By Carl Stagner

They came from near and far. Pastors, politicians, family, friends, and members of the community descended upon East Second Street First Church of God in Xenia, Ohio, for a very special and very unique occasion. On Sunday, March 18, notable Church of God figures addressed the over-capacity crowd, including—but not limited to—Ed Foggs, former executive secretary of the Church of God; Miki Merritt, presiding elder of the National Association; Demetrius Booker, associate state pastor of Ohio Ministries; Timothy Clarke, senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus; and Dennis Kidd, senior pastor of Front Street Church of God in Hamilton, Ohio. Morning and afternoon services, complete with preaching, presentations, and powerful moments of worship, celebrated the sixty-five-year ministry of Dr. J. Douglas and Lady Donna Walls: fifty faithful years at one church. Continue reading

From Alabama to Destination Unknown: Church Launches Leaders Around the World

Special service at Riverchase Community Church.

By Carl Stagner

Regional consultant for Latin America, Abby Torgeson. Missionary to Germany, Joshua Weiger. Missionaries to Japan, Christy and Terence Van Dam. Pastors to the Middle East, Ken and Keli Oldham. Matt Anderson, pastor of the thriving desert oasis in Scottsdale, Arizona, McDowell Mountain Community Church. Besides their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, each one of these has something unique in common: Riverchase Community Church. To one degree or another, these and numerous other Christ-centered leaders were formed and/or launched into ministry from this modest-sized Church of God congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Considering the church’s heart for missions and intentional discipleship strategies, it’s no wonder that they can’t hang on to their brightest and best. But, they wouldn’t want to. 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

Dale Gruver: Known for Worship, Called to Preach

Photo: Dale Gruver

By Carl Stagner

You know it when you see it—that deep love for Jesus, visibly overflowing from a heart that understands the gravity of what the Savior has done. It’s truly contagious, clearly communicating the reality of Christ to a world devoid of hope. Dale Gruver’s got it, and believes everyone can have it, too. Widely known for high-energy, joy-filled worship leading, Dale was called first and foremost to preach the gospel. After nearly a decade-and-a-half of providing worship leadership for the local church, camp meetings, and conferences, Dale accepted a senior pastorate in Alliance, Ohio, with similar enthusiasm. Though Dale’s full embrace of God’s call only came to pass a couple of years ago, extensive investment from mentors and his wide variety of ministry experiences prepared the man who rises to the pulpit at First Church of God. Continue reading

Trafficking Victims Find Hope, Healing at Reclaim 2017 Host-City Haven

Photo: Mentoring based on God’s Word at Hope Ranch.

By Carl Stagner

In February 2015, we first shared the story of how Hope Ranch for Women in Wichita, Kansas, came to be. A little over two years later, their story of reclaiming what hell has stolen from the lives of victims of exploitation continues to unfold. With its origins in one of several strong Church of God congregations in Wichita—Christ Church—Hope Ranch will be celebrated at Church of God Convention 2017 for its highly effective ministry. Those who attend the Freedom Summit on Friday, June 23, will also have the chance to tour their life-giving campus. Before you go, get to know a bit about the ministry which has forever changed the course of sex trafficking survivors. Continue reading