Tag Archives: vision

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

Church Pastored by CHOG Ministries’ Handel Smith Celebrates Urban Ministry Renewal

Handel Smith with Paul, sub-contractor for the church’s affordable homes ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God Ministries staff are known for their roles they play in the collective work of the Movement. But among those who report to “base camp” day after day are individuals who are very active in their local churches. Some are Sunday school teachers, board members, worship leaders, associate pastors, and senior pastors. Others are laypeople who volunteer and get involved in numerous initiatives and projects at the local church level. When Handel Smith accepted the call to fill an executive leadership position at Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, he accepted a massive portfolio—oversight of the Movement’s influence and impact in the United States and Canada. His ministry Monday through Saturday—and countless Sundays, too—is extensive and expansive. Though a faithful attender of one of the Anderson-area churches when at home, it soon became apparent that he’d received a special leadership assignment that would both bring God glory and give life to a life-giving soul. Continue reading

God Breathes New Life into Host Church Ahead of Florida Regional

When renovation was underway in the sanctuary.

By Carl Stagner

It’s been noisy, a bit dusty, and very busy in the halls, offices, classrooms, and sanctuary at Bayside Community Church. The Safety Harbor congregation is experiencing a season of expansion and growth, not due to, but rather evidenced by, the upgrades happening throughout their facility. Not exhibiting an “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” mentality, the congregation is intentionally seeking debt reduction and giving a portion to missions, all the while improving the appearance and functionality of the space God’s entrusted to them. So, while they’re certainly making final preparations to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their home (September 25–26), the enhanced worship and meeting environment is a byproduct of the new life God is breathing in their midst. Continue reading

AU’s President Pistole Provides Vision for School’s Second Century

Anderson University President John Pistole

By Kylie Osborne

Distinctive. Compelling. Relevant. When President John Pistole stepped onto campus as head of Anderson University in 2015, those three values were his compass for what he would strive for the university to be. “In everything we do, how can we be a distinctive, compelling, and relevant institution?” In his first three years with AU, Pistole and his staff have found a multitude of answers. Continue reading

From the Archives: Christmas—A Divine Mission Statement

By Arlo Newell

Christians too often view the Christmas celebration as excessive commercialism. Deluged by advertising and pressured by promotion, we find it extremely difficult to discover the true meaning of the season.

It was while crying over this commercialization of the Christmas season that I was convicted to look for the good and the positive rather than to criticize. I began by giving thanks for the beauty of the season. I began by giving thanks for the beauty of the season. Lights become more meaningful in the dark, depressive days of December. The contrast makes them more distinct and the cold, crisp winter air allows the sound of silver bells to be heard more clearly. And who can fail to experience the joy of children as they anticipate this most magical of all holidays; laughter fills the air as they live in a world of expectancy. Even in the ringing of the Salvation Army bell and the iron kettle help to accentuate the carols sung by choral groups along the street. 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, Staff Chart New Course for Alabama Congregation

Children and youth at a South River Park VBS.

By Carl Stagner

Don’t assume a declining church is destined to die. God is in the reclamation business, after all. South River Park Church of God in Fairhope, Alabama, was experiencing decline, but God had a plan. Four years later, the congregation that dipped into the thirties is now averaging over one hundred. Approximately thirty individuals have been baptized, and the church is making an observable impact on the community. What was their secret to such a turnaround? A word that excites some, and terrifies others: change. Continue reading

Southern CA Church Restarts as Oasis in the Desert

The church’s worship team went from a pianist only, to a full band!

By Carl Stagner

Drought was setting at the church which had once been home to several high-caliber leaders, such as Herschel Rice and Dean Schield. Numbers had dwindled to thirty on a good Sunday, and a clear vision for the future didn’t exist. New direction was needed to make Oak Park Community Church of Claremont, California (formerly First Church, Pomona) the beacon of hope it once was. Under the pastoral leadership of Jeff Combs, could the congregation again become a wellspring of Living Water? Signs of life in the desert suggest an Oasis is on the horizon. 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

Kentucky Pastor Embraces Movement, Celebrates Church Turnaround

Photo: Pastor Jason smiles during a baptism.

By Carl Stagner

Jason Johnson was not the only one. Whether an e-mail from Church of God Ministries about the latest movement-wide emphasis, a letter from “Anderson,” asking the local church to take up a special offering, or a phone call from the “national offices” asking for a donation, if it originated from central Indiana, it was met with skepticism. After all, the landscape of the Church of God resembled less and less the reformation movement of its earliest days, and it seemed that “Anderson” was largely responsible. This was once the sentiment of Jason Johnson of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Fast forward a few years. Pastor Jason and Prestonsburg Church of God are some of the loudest champions of the movement today. What happened? Continue reading

Georgia Church Lives Out its New Name ‘Legacy’

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Photo: Worship at Legacy Church-Canton.

By Carl Stagner

Town Center Community Church in Marietta, Georgia, has been an influential church in its community for many years, but its new name reflects God’s vision for the congregation today. Not only are they intentionally targeting the family unit as the primary conduit of faith to the next generation, they’re also making investments beyond their own neighborhood to reach even more people for Christ. The seeds Legacy Church-Marietta is planting twenty-six miles to the north of their original location have already begun to blossom and bear fruit. Legacy Church-Canton now exists as a satellite location which, after just one-and-a-half years, has exploded in growth from 66 to 140 in attendance. Continue reading

From the Archives: The Church That Never Fails

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By Henry G. Johnson

In Acts 12 we read of some discouraging circumstances that faced the early church. Herod had killed James with the sword and put Peter in prison, intending to kill him after Easter. If the early church had been inclined to become easily discouraged, it would have failed at this time. But instead of letting these discouraging circumstances drive them to despair, they drove them to their knees in prayer. A praying church is one that will never fail, for when a crisis comes it knows what to do; it is acquainted with the One who knows all things and can work all things out for good to those who love God. Continue reading

From the Archives: Looking Across the Years

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By Earl L. Martin

Fact Number One: We are all going to live all the rest of our lives in the future. Fact Number Two: There will be changes in that future. I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, nor do I want to speculate. But I have here state two simple facts which no one can successfully contradict. Continue reading

Let Me See Jesus Only: A Blind Pastor’s Journey of Joy

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Photo: Pastor John Clegg

By Carl Stagner

John Clegg’s life was unraveling all around him. Years of drug addiction, promiscuity, and worsening eyesight was taking its toll. One fateful day he found himself sitting in his recliner, gun under his chin, ready to end it all right then and there. But that was the old John. That was before Jesus Christ changed his life. Though he cannot see his hand in front of his face today, he looks back and sees God’s fingerprints everywhere. For eighteen years, John has served as pastor of Southside Church of God in Muncie, Indiana. In spite of his blindness, this pastor says he sees farther now than he could ever see before. Continue reading

Colorado Welcomes New Church to the Movement

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Photo: Baptism on Launch Sunday!

By Carl Stagner

The vision and mission of the Church of God is on the move! Excitement is spreading for what God is doing among us. One recent example takes us to Denver, Colorado, where a church plant has just joined the Church of God in Colorado. After forming a new partnership with the Church of God Colorado Conference, and after months of hard work and years of planning, Cross Culture Church just celebrated its official launch. A crowd of 376 gathered to celebrate the launch, five people were saved, and one followed Jesus’ example in baptism. Continue reading