Tag Archives: service projects

Jamaican Church of God Refocuses National Men’s Ministry

The CHOG men of Jamaica are more service-oriented than ever.

By Carl Stagner

Over time, ministries that were once powerful and effective can grow stale with little or no impact. Of course, this process is usually unintentional, but cultural shifts and other external factors deal unanticipated blows to what was once healthy and of eternal consequence. Thankfully, the God that brought life to such ministries in the first place can breathe new life into dry bones. Such is the case with the national men’s ministry of the Church of God in Jamaica. A new focus and new island-wide strategy have already demonstrated the timelessness of this divine work to reach and engage men at home, at work, in church, and in society. Continue reading

Churches Bless Schools, Families as Fall Semester Dawns

Back-to-school haircut at Bedford First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Teachers making final preparations for their classes, students dreading the end of summer, parents adjusting to new routines, and school buses on the streets again (drivers, be careful!)—it can only mean one thing: it’s that time of year again! School is back in session or will begin again soon across much of the country, signaling a community-wide shift from one season to the next. Sometimes that shift can be anything but smooth for families, just as it can be for teachers, administrators, and staff. We celebrate the Church of God congregations across the country that recognize the need and do what they can to meet the need. School supply drives, special prayer gatherings, and “back-to-school bashes” are just a few of the ways numerous congregations are coming alongside schools and families as the fall semester dawns. Continue reading

Dayton Churches Distribute Love in the Wake of Disaster

Salem Church disaster relief team removing debris from yard.

By Carl Stagner

Memorial Day weekend wasn’t all barbecues and sunshine across the Midwest. Especially from central Indiana to the Dayton, Ohio, area, festivities were cut short on May 27 due to an outbreak of tornadoes, the likes of which most residents had never seen. More than a dozen tornadoes touched down between the state line and the Interstate 75-Interstate 70 interchange, with winds up to 170 miles per hour in the worst twisters, one of which was a half-mile wide. To make matters worse, these storms came after dark and hit many low-income neighborhoods the hardest. Without hesitation, the Church of God sprang into action, offering assistance wherever it was needed. Even since the newness of the tragic events has worn off and the national spotlight on Dayton has dimmed, congregations like Salem and Hopeland continue to distribute helping hands, supplies, and love in the wake of disaster. Continue reading

From the Archives: The Church of the Living God

By Wayne M. Warner

Calvary knew neither candle nor cathedral. Roman overseas veterans crucified Jesus on crossbars between two filching thieves. This took place near the city dump of a community so cosmopolitan that Jesus’ title was lettered in three languages. Calvary provided a hangout for beatniks and social dropouts who ran the gamut of smut and filth. Thieves cursed. Soldiers gambled. Ladies avoided the place, but God was there. It was the place where Jesus died. Continue reading

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

Building Up to IYC2018: Indiana Church Breathes Life into Students, Community

Renovation at the new NSpire Church location.

By Carl Stagner

The Latin word spīrāre inspired the name of the Church of God in Westfield, Indiana, now known as NSpire Church. In the Hebrew and Greek, its meaning is understood as having to do with breath, life, wind, and the Spirit. Building up to IYC2018 (July 2–5), the church is preparing to work with IYC students by hosting an Indianapolis-area Impact Day project. As the church transitions out of a season of building and expanding, their partnership with the International Youth Convention is but an extension of who they already are. Leading into a new season of outreach, NSpire Church is breathing life into their community and will soon breathe life into the lives of teenagers attending IYC. Continue reading

Church Scraps Traditional Palm Sunday Programming for 33 Service Projects

Wildwood team serving at a local school.

By Carl Stagner

They’d never done Palm Sunday like this before. Instead of the usual Sunday morning programming, Wildwood Church of God in Ashland, Kentucky, dared to be different. The church has a history of serving their community but, until Palm Sunday 2018, hadn’t attempted something on such a grand scale. After gathering for a brief worship service, more than 700 people left the church building to go out and be the church in a wide variety of settings. Through 33 different service projects, they would demonstrate the love of Jesus in tangible and meaningful ways to their neighbors. In the end, however, it was clear that the congregation also experienced God’s love on a whole new level. Continue reading

Oklahoma Pastors Unleash Lay Leaders, Reach Many More

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Photo: Nowata laypeople ministering to kids through VBS.

By Carl Stagner

The forces of hell have stolen a lot from God’s church over the years. One is the notion that the work of the local church is the responsibility of the whole congregation, not just the pastor. Indeed, the job of ministry does not rest solely on the pastor’s shoulders! Over time, many churches have fallen prey to the lie that the pastor is charged with doing just about anything and everything for them—after all, he or she does get paid, right? Inevitably we’re left with a shepherd on the verge of burnout, and a congregation devoid of disciples. But one Oklahoma congregation, in particular, is doing it right. The pastors of First Church of God in Nowata have unleashed their laypeople to reclaim what hell has stolen in their community. Continue reading

Fridays in Fort Wayne: Church’s Outreach Bears Fruit (and Bread, Too!)

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Photo: The Bread and More ministry of Tillman Road.

By Carl Stagner

They’d say they’re just ordinary people doing some extraordinary things because of the grace of God. In fact, the pastor says there’s really no reason they should be doing it, especially considering the size of the church, the average age of many of the volunteers, and the budget (or lack thereof). But God said, “If you’ll trust me, I’ll use you.” And he is certainly using Tillman Road Church of God to accomplish things beyond their own abilities. The Fort Wayne, Indiana, congregation, with an average attendance of fewer than sixty, is touching the lives of nearly three hundred neighbors every single Friday. Continue reading