Tag Archives: vision

Stories Merge with Greatest Ever Told at Texas Church Plant

Merge Church team members ready to invite you to “Join the Merge!”

By Carl Stagner

Two thousand five hundred people move to the greater Houston area each week. Efrain Cirilo, pastor-turned-church-planter now living in the metro area with seven million neighbors, says you could plant a megachurch every week and not keep up with the growth. Broad and diverse, such an influx represents the widest variety of stories—Where did they come from? What brought them here? What has their experience been with church? With God? Stories of those far from God tug especially on the heart of Efrain Cirilo. Such stories are but a part of the reason Pastor Efrain and his wife Megan were willing to leave their thriving congregation—and their comfort zones—behind in Kilgore, Texas. With the official launch of Merge Church only a couple months away, they’re rejoicing as stories, disconnected from Christ, begin to intersect with his. Continue reading

Callen Compiles General Assembly Comprehensive History, Reference Guide

By Carl Stagner

Anyone who has done even the most rudimentary research into the early days of the Church of God movement knows we have a fascinating history. We love to laud the honorable aspects of our past, but we acknowledge our missteps and failures, as well. Learning from yesterday—the good and the bad—helps us lean forward into the future God has planned for us together. In Barry Callen’s new book, Leaning Forward!, God’s unchanging involvement in the lives of his people is the thread that connects our heritage to who we are today. As a comprehensive history and reference guide to every resolution since the General Assembly’s humble beginnings in 1917, Leaning Forward! provides a panorama of the Church of God unlike we’ve ever seen. Continue reading

New Jersey Church Faithful in the Face of Adversity

Volunteers from Highland Park assist local community for veterans.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes, on the scale of size and influence, smaller churches can feel insignificant. The truth is that the impact of the smaller churches among us cannot be overstated. The Church of God in Gloucester City, New Jersey, for example, has a rich history of impact for the kingdom. Highland Park Church of God also has benefited from pastoral longevity; as senior pastor Bill Dilks prepares for retirement later this year after twenty years, associate pastor Debra Conner surveys the faithfulness of Highland Park, encouraging the congregation to press on in ministry during this time of transition. Through community partnership, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the New Jersey church believes God will do many more amazing things in their midst. But they’re not waiting for some elusive big breakthrough to live out their purpose—Highland Park carries on the work of the gospel, even in the face of adversity. 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

Unstuck and Unleashed: Small Indiana Church Thinks Big

As First Church grows, they don’t forget to have fun together!

In the summer of 2016, First Church of God in Marion, Indiana, found themselves without a pastor. With only forty folks on average in attendance on Sunday mornings, they weren’t sure how to move forward. Determined not to give up on the mission they believed God was calling them to in their community, they sought a bi-vocational minister who could lead them in a restart. By September, they found just the pastor God had intended for them. Continue reading

At the Crossroads: Indiana Churches Initiate Plan to Multiply

The crowded entryway of County Line’s new campus church.

By Carl Stagner

Nate Tatman had no idea how pivotal that moment would be. He’d been in the office of Indiana Ministries when something caught his attention. The map of the state on the wall wasn’t anything new; he remembered seeing it before. But what he hadn’t noticed was the distribution of push pins on the map, which indicated counties that did not have a Church of God congregation. In particular, he noticed this time that there were thirty-seven counties in total with no Church of God congregation. And that’s when things began to get interesting. Continue reading

Oklahoma Church Bursting at Seams Sees 2020 Vision Clearly

By Carl Stagner

When there’s not enough room for everyone in the Sunday school rooms and sanctuary, you’ve got a problem. But it’s a good problem to have when your church’s growth is also spiritual and healthy. The 107-year history of First Church of God in Pryor, Oklahoma, is one of vision, revision, stepping out on faith, and stepping out on faith again. Sure, there have been challenges and the congregation has faced its fair share of mountains. But God has proven himself true time and time again, revealing himself especially clear in recent years. Today, First Church of God is bursting at the seams as it celebrates steady growth from 248 to 409 over the last decade, and 27 souls won to Christ last year alone. This year, they’re seeing God’s vision clearly for all he will complete by the close of 2020. Continue reading

Church of God in Honduras Sets Sights on Societal Transformation

Church of God in Honduras engaging their culture.

By Carl Stagner

Much of the Church of God in Honduras is in the midst of a season of growth and health. In such seasons, it can be tempting to get comfortable and enjoy the ride. But instead of complacency, the Church of God is actively searching for ways to engage and support their communities. Believing God to expand their outreach, they’ve pursued plans to establish a school, train entrepreneurs while funding ministry, and build a retreat center. Donnie Allen, national representative for the Church of God in Honduras, offers the Church of God in the U.S. and Canada a glimpse of their efforts to bring hope and help to the population. Continue reading

From the Archives: God’s Moment

By Benjamin F. Reid

The pastor must not be a person who simply presides as a benevolent, kindly referee over a multitude of squabbling children.

The pastor must lead! He or she must develop firmness with love but must sense where the Spirit is leading and then call upon the saints to follow. The pastor must be both prophet to proclaim the will of God and overseer to coordinate all aspects of the church’s life and to channel its varied energies toward the accomplishment of God’s purposes. Continue reading

Côte d’Ivoire: Missing Miracles in Our Midst

Abigail and her friend who had been blind.

By LeAnn Sellers

We get busy with so many things in our lives, that we sometimes miss important things in the lives of our family or friends. Do we not also get so busy that we miss something amazing that God is doing right in our midst? Continue reading

Rejuvenating the Church of God in New England

Peace Dale Church of God (Rhode Island) elders in fellowship.

By Angela Sagesse

The Church of God in New England consists of ten congregations dispersed between Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. All six states that comprise “New England” consistently are ranked within the top ten of the nation for having the lowest church attendance, thus making this the least-churched area of the country. Yet, the New England Church of God is wanting to turn that around! Continue reading

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