Tag Archives: youth ministry

Renewed into the New Year: NIYC Gives Believers Wintertime Boost

Worship at the NIYC.

By Carl Stagner

In the Church of God, the summer months are known for conventions and camp meetings. A variety of retreats and conferences often take place in the spring and the fall. But as the chill of winter sets in across much of the country, few spiritual retreats and getaways are available. In the wake of the commonly exhausting Christmas season, in view of the blues caused by all the grays outside, and in response to cabin fever, perhaps winter is when retreat is most vital! Thankfully, the Church of God has an answer—the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). Between Christmas and the end of the year, believers spanning generations and racial lines come together for an annual experience of worship, community, and renewal as the New Year dawns. Continue reading

IYC2018 Puts Students On Track for Life

Zealand leading students in worship at IYC2018.

By Carl Stagner

For the first time since 1980, Indianapolis, Indiana, was home to the International Youth Convention of the Church of God. Reflecting the local racing culture, the 51st pinnacle of youth ministry experiences capitalized on its proximity to the iconic motor speedway, with four days designed to put students on track for the race of a lifetime. Inspiring worship, top-notch speakers, dozens of breakout sessions, a 5K to support the fight against trafficking, and a day devoted to community service combined to create moments of lasting life change. Those moments may have passed, but eternity—brighter than ever before—lies ahead. The life change continues as four thousand students and youth leaders, who embraced life at IYC2018, return home to give life to their families, schools, churches, and across their communities. Continue reading

Jesus, Stewardship, and KFC: Minnesota Church Seizes Local, Global Opportunities

Children’s ministry at New Life Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

In a town of fewer than 500 people, 100 to 110 children and youth can be found hanging out at one local hot spot in Bertha, Minnesota: New Life Church of God. A hub of community activity and a beacon of hope, the church is uniquely positioned to reach the next generation for Christ. Seizing the opportunity God’s given them, they’ve placed special emphasis on their youth ministry and their children’s ministry, which is called Kids For Christ (KFC). While New Life Church of God nears their final mortgage payment this year, they’re definitely not waiting to walk through every open door for the kingdom locally, nationally, and globally. Continue reading

Changing Gears: Pastor Takes Wheel of Bus Ministry

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Photo: Pastor Jonathan Secrest at the wheel of a bus.

By Carl Stagner

God doesn’t call everybody to drive a forty-five-foot-long double-decker bus. That’s probably a good thing. But Jonathan Secrest was not just called to drive a bus. He was also called out of a career in youth ministry to steer a bus ministry toward a brighter future as its director. Unconventional? Perhaps. But not at all unqualified. Jonathan’s journey of experiences has prepared him for this moment, and opportunities to reach the lost and strengthen the believer abound around every curve. 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

Choosing Jesus Over Porn: A North Carolina Pastor’s Victory

By Carl Stagner

No one wants to talk about it. It’s silently eating away at the souls of our teens, our men (and women), and even our younger children. Our Sunday school teachers aren’t immune. Our board members and elders aren’t immune. Our pastors aren’t immune. Why aren’t we talking about it? The world is. Lately, so is Aaron Holman, pastor of youth and young adults at New River Community Church of God in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. Ordained in July, this Christ-centered leader is boldly sharing his own struggle with pornography so others may find freedom. Continue reading