Tag Archives: outreach

Idaho Church Opens Doors, Heart to Local Law Enforcement

An array of refreshments await local law enforcement officers.

By Carl Stagner

One popular community outreach is the distribution of gift bags to local first responders. Long hours and hard labor that is both physically and mentally strenuous often leave members of police, fire, and other emergency services in need of a dose of encouragement; many Church of God congregations have opted to fill that need, and continue to do so at regular intervals through the year. It’s just another way they’ve determined to give life to their community. But not many have gone so far as Cloverdale Church of God in Boise, Idaho. They’ve not only opened their heart to local law enforcement, they’ve given them room and key. 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

Texas Church Targets Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence, Education Issues

Pastor Darius Miller at food giveaway.

By Carl Stagner

One church’s ministry to their community might not be the best for your community. You can’t address the needs of your neighbors until you know your neighbors. Motivated by a genuine love for people—not just a goal to see more bodies fill the pews—Shadydale Church of God in Houston, Texas, conducted a survey of their area. The survey, designed to determine how they could best take care of their neighbors, revealed that drug abuse, domestic violence, and educational issues were of greatest concern. In 2006, to maximize the long-term impact on the community on what mattered most, the church established what’s known as the Shadydale Community Development Corporation. More than a decade later, Pastor Darius Miller is at the helm, leading the church and community to take back what hell has stolen. Continue reading

California Christmas Event Reaches 8,000 with Gospel

Christmas scene with the angel and shepherds.

By Carl Stagner

For the past eighteen years, Crossroads Church of God in Yuba City, California, has been hosting a Christmastime event that moves visitors beyond the manger. The “Miracle of Christmas” drive-through experience on the church parking lot truly takes the classic live nativity to a whole new level. Designed for car-fulls of people at a time to witness major incidents of Jesus’ life on earth from birth to death, to resurrection and ascension, the event reaches more than 8,000 people with the gospel in the span of just three evenings. Though the 350 volunteers may never know the total impact of their efforts, individuals often surrender their lives to Christ on the spot, and numerous families simply looking for a holiday activity make Crossroads their church home. Continue reading

Ontario Outreach Builds Ramp to the Gospel through Disabilities Ministry

Reaching out to the disabled through fellowship and food.

By Noel Marquis

Pastors Bob and Cecile Barnhart of the Church of God at London in London, Ontario, are making a major difference in the lives of disabled people in their community. Though the Abilities Outreach ministry was officially launched in September, Pastors Bob and Cecile were inspired to reach out to the disabled before they began serving at the Church of God at London in 1999. The passion was sparked when Cecile began working at the Oxford County Branch of the Canadian Health Association. Continue reading

Christmas Across the Church of God

Crossroads Church (Yuba City, CA) drive-through nativity (& more!).

By Carl Stagner

The Christmas season is upon us; a quick glance at the social media of a handful of Church of God congregations suggests we are a Movement that knows how to celebrate! Certainly, the birth of Jesus gives us many reasons to celebrate, and that celebration has taken the form of hanging of the greens services, advent readings and candlelighting, choral cantatas, Christmas pageants, caroling, dinners (also known as potlucks, pitch-ins, and carry-ins!), and much, much more. Because the gift of Jesus is meant to be shared with as many people as possible, Church of God congregations have come up with a variety of creative means to share the reason for the season. A number of churches have already reported lives won to Christ, too! The following are just a few of the ways Church of God congregations are celebrating. Continue reading

The Gift Goes On: California Church Captures the Essence of Christmas

Pastor Eric knows by name many who attend Jackets for Jesus.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes we’re compelled to offer the spare change from the car console, though our default response might be to look the other way. Homeless people are a part of our towns and cities, yet even the Christian community too often turns a blind eye. Everybody’s encountered a homeless person at some point in life, but few choose to respond. Fear isn’t always the cause; it’s often simple lack of know-how. How do God’s people effectively minister to those who don’t have a place to lay their heads at night? Pastor Eric Denton and Central Community Christian Fellowship, a Church of God congregation in Riverside, California, wholeheartedly embraces Jesus’ command to love “the least of these.” Perhaps that’s why they’re willing to hang out on the streets of downtown Los Angeles every Sunday night. Continue reading

Kentucky Congregation Puts Community First this Christmas

First Church group distributes a “blessing bag.”

By Megan DeBruyn

As the days grow chillier and the Advent season unfolds before us, many churches launch a special sermon series or begin lighting a symbolic candle each week. But First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, is hitting the streets. Why? Because they believe in being the church rather than simply coming to church. Continue reading

Leadership and Longevity: An Alabama Pastor’s Personal Experience

Pastor Milan with friend Domique Billups, special needs ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Statistics don’t tell an altogether encouraging story when it comes to the average stay of a pastor. Some recent surveys suggest the average is on the rise, but the present picture of pastoral tenure in the United States and Canada could certainly improve. Milan Dekich accepted the senior pastorate at Fairview Church of God in Falkville, Alabama, when the size of the church was about twenty-five. Thirty-seven years later, he preaches to a gathering of 450 strong, and has helped plant two churches and assisted in the revitalization of a third. Just because the congregation is doing well today doesn’t mean the struggle hasn’t been real. In fact, it has, and there were times Milan might have preferred to throw in the towel. But a commitment to God’s plan kept him there, and today he’s blessed to share a few of the experiences he’s had, as well as a few of the lessons he’s learned along the way. Continue reading

Illinois Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Sees Record Growth

The community knows!

By Megan DeBruyn

From 17 to 100 in just a few short years, the congregation at First Church of God in Marseilles, Illinois, continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. According to Pastor Brian Hefner, the increase in both attendance and congregational participation was entirely the work of the Lord. “Words can hardly describe what has happened here, but I know this: if we can do it, so can you,” Hefner says. “If you are willing to step aside and let God actually take the reins, it can happen.” Continue reading

Church Steps Out in Faith for the Children, Teens of Atwater, California

Some of the youth group of First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Take a look at 2100 Fruitland Ave, Atwater, California, on Google Maps. What you’ll find is that First Church of God is literally a stone’s throw away from Atwater High School. The front-row seat the California congregation has to roughly 1,800 students and their families is certainly incredible, but the church hasn’t sat down to enjoy the scenery. They’ve seized a number of opportunities God has presented them to minister to these teens and their families. What’s more, through their preschool established in 1964, they minister to children who one day accept their diplomas right across the street. Recently the church stepped out in faith to expand the preschool facility, as teachers reap the benefits of a Fruitland Christian School early education, and as parents on a waiting list eagerly knock on the door. 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

Pastor of All People: Ministries Council Secretary Called to Lead Amid Diversity

Pastor Vincent Miller and family.

By Carl Stagner

“Everybody has a different fingerprint. I just think this is my fingerprint.” At Church of God Convention 2017 in Wichita, Kansas, many were first introduced to Vincent Miller, who accepted the role of secretary for the Ministries Council earlier this year. But he isn’t new to the Movement at all. Vincent’s ministry in the Church of God has spanned several states, as has his fingerprint, as he puts it. What is his fingerprint? To pastor ethnically and culturally diverse congregations. Because Jesus is the subject, Vincent knows that diversity does not have to equal division. Because Jesus is the subject, not skin color or language, unity amid diversity can be a powerful witness to the amazing love of God. Now entering his second year as pastor of First Church of God in Tampa, Florida, Pastor Vincent Miller is more eager than ever to give witness to the love of God available in Jesus Christ. Continue reading

How to Be a Veteran-Friendly Church

By Carl Stagner

Meeting needs is just something churches do. You don’t have to go far to find a kid-friendly church or a church with options for married couples or senior citizens. It’s common that you’ll find a college-friendly church located near a college campus. For the recovering alcoholic, there’s Celebrate Recovery. For the divorcee, there’s DivorceCare. Support groups exist among churches for numerous other challenges people face. But for those dealing with the trauma of war, help can be hard to find. And yet, veterans sit in our pews from week to week, often silently navigating the horrors of combat dating back only a few months—or several decades. Retired Church of God pastor Colonel Fred Dowden is on a mission to help churches become veteran-friendly. As you’ll discover, being a veteran-friendly church is far more than acknowledging the “veterans in our midst” and singing “God Bless America.” Continue reading

Oklahoma Church Constructs Park for the Community

By Noel Marquis

When First Church of God in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, decided to invest in new playground equipment, they received much more than they asked for. William Wimmer, who has served as pastor of the church since 2013, was surprised when a longtime member of the congregation approached the board of trustees with plans for a park, complete with sidewalks, trees, a horseshoe pit, basketball court, soft turf, and sheltered pavilions. Continue reading