Tag Archives: partnership

Seeing God’s Vision, Joining God’s Mission: A Florida Church’s Radical Community Life

Pastor Shawn engages in conversation at a community event.

By Carl Stagner

“Church in the Palms” is spelled out in large letters on the side of the building at 3812 Jog Road in Greenacres, Florida. This does not mean the congregation that goes by the name feels any sense of ownership of the place. For them, the property is God’s to accomplish what he wants done on it. Is it really any wonder then that the ministry hub houses a variety of nonprofits, including ten other churches with worship services taking place in English, Spanish, and Creole? In the past few years alone, Pastor Shawn Allen has led the church to embrace a strategic vision that would inspire as many Christians as possible in Palm Beach County to see God’s vision, connect with God’s people, and join God’s mission. The radical, yet conceptually simple approach to what the pastor calls “missional unity” is already bearing tremendous fruit in and for the community. Continue reading

All-Volunteer Parachurch Ministry Meets Needs, Gives Life in Arkansas

Lines of people waiting to be blessed by Healing Waters.

By Carl Stagner

Consider what just happened the weekend before Thanksgiving. Three hundred thirty meals were served and over two hundred bags of food were given away. For free. No catch. Even more exciting—thirty-eight individuals accepted Christ. But this wasn’t a special holiday outreach. Revival services weren’t planned, and no traveling evangelist had been brought in to deliver an impassioned sermon. Obviously, this wasn’t Easter, yet numerous non-churchgoers were within earshot of the gospel. Far from an unusual occurrence at Healing Waters Outreach Center in Shannon Hills, Arkansas, these kinds of Holy Spirit-happenings take place on a weekly basis! The parachurch ministry supported by the Church of God in Arkansas now has a connection through one of its founding members to the Urban Missions team of Church of God Ministries. Robert Holt gives us a glimpse into the life-giving, far-reaching impact of Healing Waters, and why so many—at least 125 people—choose to volunteer their time every week for the work. Continue reading

Transformation Begins Outside the Walls in West Texas

Community block party at the new church facility.

By Carl Stagner

Deep in the heart of west Texas, surrounded by semiarid plains and prized oil country, you’ll find the small city of Odessa. Though it may not garner much media attention, a remarkable story of transformation is developing out of the city’s young Church of God congregation known as New Dawn Fellowship. Focusing more on discipling new believers and not simply packing the pews, the church has celebrated relatively slow, but healthy growth. The congregation, 90 percent previously unchurched, has rejoiced at more than 30 salvations, more than 30 baptisms, and multiple rededications in just three years. On August 5, after outgrowing its previous facility, the community-oriented church enjoyed a grand opening worship service in their new home, welcoming 154 people through their doors. Continue reading

History in the Making: Arizona Church Unearths Time Capsule

Digging up the time capsule.

By Carl Stagner

At 5536 N. 6th Street in Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll find sacred grounds. On these grounds, souls have been won to Christ. Believers have been baptized. Lives have been transformed. Memories—of both challenge and triumph—have been made. Of course, it’s not the address, the parking lot, or the building that make it so special; it’s the Lord, whose providential hand has preserved that space for his glorious work for three decades. And it’s the believers themselves, who had worshiped at another location even longer—since the 1940s. Though the name over the door has changed over the years, the Lord over all has remained the same. In view of The Gathering Place Church of God positioning itself for expansion, congregants from generations past-to-present recently reunited to unearth a time capsule, whose contents not only bring back cherished memories, but speak of an unchanging, eternally faithful God. Continue reading

Spanish-Speaking Church Planted in Florida on Easter Sunday

Pastor Isaias Marquez speaks at the launch service on Easter.

By Carl Stagner

Now, more than ever, the Sunshine State is primed for the gospel. The normal flow of migration to Florida from Spanish-speaking countries presents a tremendous opportunity for Hispanic church planters. But, in the wake of last year’s hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico, Spanish-speaking people have left the territory for Florida in droves. Isaias and Laura Marquez, pastors of a congregation in Lake Wales, are always on the lookout for possible church plants. Observing the lack of Hispanic churches in the Winter Haven area, they reached out to First Church of God to consider hosting a new work. On Easter Sunday, Iglesia de Dios in Winter Haven was born, offering the hope of Christ to Spanish-speaking residents while extending the reach of First Church beyond what they could have ever imagined. Continue reading

Spotlight on Schools: Oklahoma Churches Band Together for Students, Teachers

By Carl Stagner

For the past few months, the eyes of the country—and much of the world—have been on schools. Tragic shootings, student walkouts, student walkups, and teacher strikes are among the issues that have sparked more than a few arguments in the breakroom, the dining room, and on social media. But while the media, politicians, and pundits have debated the issues, believers have been busy being the body of Christ. As the national spotlight shines on schools, churches in Nowata, Oklahoma, have been shining the light of Christ in schools. Continue reading

Partnership Vital to Ministry for The Church at Bradenton

Kid’s ministry is extremely important to the The Church at Bradenton.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Ancil Abney says their church is all about “storming the gates of hell and making a difference for eternity.” For some, such a bold statement might be dismissed as a tagline without substance or a catchphrase without strategy. But for The Church at Bradenton, it’s not just theory; it’s practice. Something as dangerous as storming the gates of hell should not be attempted alone, though, and this Florida church knows it. That’s why they’ve strategically assembled a stellar staff, partnered with the city, and offered space and grace to other churches committed to advancing the kingdom. Especially as Easter 2018 approaches, they’re making it clearer than ever that Jesus is the subject. 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

Detroit-Area Churches Practice Unity, Partner for Community

Detroit-area Church of God leaders gathered together.

By Carl Stagner

Unity, one of the Movement’s foundational doctrines, has, for too long, been preached but not practiced. The move from theory to practice, from conceptual to functional, is desperately needed, and is possible when Jesus is the subject. Church of God congregations in the Michigan cities of Detroit and Flint, for example, understand this. That’s why they’ve come together to worship the Lord and to partner for the betterment of the cities. When the people of God are united, not only is the community better off, but so is the church. In southeastern Michigan, a historic fall gathering demonstrated this blessed reality. Continue reading

Methodist, CHOG Congregations in Oregon Prove Jesus is the Subject

Origins community block party at their new building.

By Carl Stagner

Ontario, Oregon, is a community of roughly 14,000 people, but like many small towns, many different small congregations gather in separate buildings on Sunday, often on the same street, sometimes singing the same music, and certainly worshiping the same God. Yet the mission has been given to all followers of Christ to make disciples, and the prayer of Christ is that we would be one. In contrast to the norm, two congregations in Ontario recently took a step in the right direction. As a result, both groups were more blessed than before, and one was overwhelmed by an incredible act of generosity and kingdom-mindedness. By such a not-so-random act of kindness, they proved that Jesus is indeed the subject. Continue reading

From the Archives: Meditating on Mission—Christ Bridges Cultures

By Thomas McCracken

Mission. It’s the local Women of the Church of God sending school and health kits to Uganda; it’s men, women, and children helping construct a building in Mexico; it’s young adults involved in sanitation projects in Haiti; it’s a young man teaching computer in a Christian university in Hong Kong; and it’s children in a local Sunday school providing Bibles for Native American children in the United States. And it’s much more. Continue reading

Partnership Plots New Course for Georgia Fellowship

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Photo: Handel Smith, Joyce Smith, Jason McClendon, Jeff Robinson.

By Carl Stagner

Kingdom-focused ministries demonstrate a keen ability to look beyond their own plights, plans, and programs. They see God working out his big-picture plan on a much grander scale. Competition isn’t on their radar, and when another church or assembly needs a hand, they don’t hesitate to help. Sparse growth, little involvement with each other, and diminishing hope had characterized the Georgia Fellowship of the Church of God in recent years, but kingdom-focused ministries weren’t far away. Eager to see God on the move once again in the Peach State, Church of God Ministries, Florida Ministries, and Illinois Ministries have reached out with love, generosity, and a challenge to embrace a bold turnaround. Continue reading

Churches Share Youth Pastor, Maximize Kingdom Impact

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Photo: Pastor Matt Derby and family.

By Carl Stagner

For two years, the two Church of God congregations of Ithaca, Michigan, have shared a youth pastor. The radical arrangement simply makes it possible for one to have a youth pastor, while the other church now has resources it didn’t have before. Ithaca Church of God and Edgewood Church of God have discovered that competition crumbles when it’s all about the common mission. That mission isn’t to outdo one another, see who can fill more pews, or beat each other to the buffet! While churches in America have been known to act like they’re on different teams, the truth is we’re on the same team when we seek God’s kingdom first. Not only do Ithaca and Edgewood share a youth pastor and various activities through the year, but they also team up with churches of a variety of denominations to meet the community’s needs. Perhaps that’s why the recent joint fundraiser for the local food pantry brought in record crowds and dollars. Continue reading

Combined Efforts Lead Egypt Church Out from Under Rickety Rooftop

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Photo: The El Dara congregation crowded into their old building.

By Carl Stagner

Things are changing for the better in Egypt. Recent legislation has relaxed laws that formerly constricted the ability of churches to build or renovate. The only legal religions in Egypt—Islam, Judaism, and Christianity—maintain a unique coexistence, even as only 10 percent of the country profess Christ. Intending to promote peace among all three, the government made a practice of assessing the majority population in the area surrounding a building project of a religious entity—would such a building bring conflict or disrupt the peace in any way? Now that regulative barriers have been removed, the Church of God in Egypt is hopeful that much-needed renovation can take place with several church facilities, and that multiplication can take place with future church planting. Continue reading

Church of God in Canada, Germany Partner to Help Refugees

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Photo: Cultural differences fade when Christ is in view.

By Audrey Weiger

“You fear that which you do not know.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

The Three Worlds team in Europe and the Middle East entered into a partnership to help German Church of God congregations ministering to refugees. They brainstormed ways to make this partnership happen and decided to connect Glamorgan Church of God in Calgary, Canada, to the Bad Segeberg Church of God in Bad Segeberg, Germany.

Standing there nervously at the airport, not sure what to expect, I waited. Texts were flying back and forth—it felt a bit like I was meeting a blind date. But really I was waiting on the ministry group to arrive from Calgary, Canada. Continue reading