CHURCH OF GOD IS INTERNATIONAL
The Church of God was founded in 1886 upon the principles of Christ as they are revealed in the Bible, the Word of God. It has its foundation of faith and practice in the Scriptures and the vital experience of its constituents is scripturally oriented.
First and foremost, the Church of God is a determinedly Christian church. It is built upon the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The doctrines and practices of the church are based on His teachings.
The Church of God is founded upon the principles of Protestantism, although it is not a traditional follower of any specific leader of the Protestant Reformation. The denomination stands firmly for justification by faith, the priesthood of believers, the authority of the Bible, religious freedom, and the separation of church and state. It stands against abuses and extravagance of ecclesiastical ritualism and dogmatism.
The Church of God subscribes to the following five foundational Christian doctrines:
The inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.
The virgin birth and complete deity of Christ.
The atoning sacrifice of Christ's death for the sins of the world.
The literal resurrection of the body.
Christ's second coming in bodily form to earth.
Evangelical is the term used to describe those who affirm the primary doctrines revealed in the Scriptures. These doctrines include the inspiration and authority of the Word of God; the Trinity; the deity and virgin birth of Jesus Christ; salvation by faith in the atoning death of Christ; His bodily resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father; the ministry of the Holy Spirit; the second coming of Christ; and the spiritual unity of believers in Jesus Christ.
The Church of God has aligned itself with the basic statement of faith of NAE (National Association of Evangelicals) the largest association of Evangelicals in the USA. Members of NAE subscribe to a common statement of faith. The Church of God can be described as positioned in the mainstream of Evangelical Protestantism.
In 1896, many members of the Church of God experienced a spiritual outpouring they identified as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Because it was so similar to the experience of the early Christians on the day of Pentecost, it came to be called a Pentecostal experience, an enrichment of the Christian life through the power of the Holy Spirit that empowered believers to be effective witnesses of Christ. The principle distinctive of the Church of God as a Pentecostal organization is its belief in speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance and that this is the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The charismata (Gk.) or gifts of the Spirit appeared early in the life and ministry of the Church of God. The gifts can be divided into three categories: the gifts of revelation, the gifts of power and the gifts of utterance or inspiration. The gifts of revelation are the gifts of the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and the discerning of spirits. The gifts of power are faith, miracles, and gifts of healing. The gifts of utterance and inspiration are prophecy, tongues, and interpretation. The Holy Spirit bestows these gifts and those who accept the validity of these gifts are called charismatic.
From its inception, the Church of God has been a revival movement. Evangelism has been in the forefront of all its activities. The church has maintained an aggressive effort to take the message of Christ throughout the world by all means and methods. Every program of the church reflects an evangelistic attitude: revivalism, conferences, worship services, teaching, preaching and its missionary efforts.
The magnitude of the Great Commission requires a united effort. This united endeavor is efficiently served by guidance, support, resources and leadership from a common center. The Church of God is centrally organized. Centralized church government is administration from the international, state or territorial and local levels. It helps facilitate the fulfillment of the mission of the church.
The control of the Church of God rests with the laity and ministers, who jointly form a governing body called the General Assembly which meets biennially. Benefits of centralized government include the following: uniformity of doctrine and practice; principles that bind together local churches in the same manner; membership commitments in all churches; expansion and extension of fellowship; accountability; cooperative decision-making; and united efforts in evangelism and world outreach.
MINISTERS AND LAITY
Ministers in the Church of God are ranked as ordained bishops, ordained ministers, exhorters, ministers of music and ministers of Christian education. They achieve these levels of ministry through a profession of faith, commitment to the church, training, internship, and fulfillment of credential requirements. The Church of God emphasizes the doctrinal position of the priesthood of all believers and encourages the laity to assume a Biblical role in local church ministry.
Emphasis upon education and training is a priority of the Church of God. Educational opportunities are provided from local congregations through institutions of higher learning at the international level of the church.
UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGES, AND SCHOOLS
Lee University, located in Cleveland, Tennessee, is the Church of God's oldest and largest educational institution at over 3,500 students. Founded in 1918, it offers graduate and under-graduate degrees in more than 55 areas of study. Other institutions include Lee University Charlotte Center (Charlotte, North Carolina), European Bible Seminary (Rudersburg, Germany), Han Young Theological University (Seoul, Korea), International Bible College (Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada), Puerto Rico Bible College, School of Ministry (Cleveland, Tennessee) and Western School of Christian Ministry (Fresno, California). In addition, World Missions maintains 80 Bible Schools around the world. Founded in 1975 and one of only six Pentecostal seminaries in the U.S., the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, Tennessee) is the denomination's largest graduate institution. It offers masters and doctoral programs. Lee University and Han Young Theological University also offer graduate studies.
A CARING CHURCH
From its beginnings, the Church of God has felt its responsibility to benevolence ministries. The church operates a number of specialized programs and institutions.
Homes For Children
The Church of God operates three homes for children in the United States. These include the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home, Sevierville, Tennessee, North Carolina Home for Children, Kannapolis, N.C., and the South Carolina Home for Children, Mauldin, S.C. There are also many children's homes and mission works around the world.
Widows / Retired Ministerial Couples / Widowers
The Iris B. Vest Widows Center recently changed its name to The Iris B. Vest SpiritCare Center so that widows, widowers, and retired ministerial couples can have a place for retirement living. Please view the website for an application or call Shane Smith 865.365.0225 to receive an application. The Center is located on the campus of the Smoky Mountain Children's Home, Sevierville, Tennessee.
Youth and Unwed Mothers
Heart of Florida Youth Ranch, Citra, Florida, and New River Ranch, Fayetteville, West Virginia, offer help and counseling for troubled boys and teens.
Several benevolence ministries including Helping Hands (providing medical assistance), Children of the World (children's needs worldwide) and Caravan of Compassion (inner city ministry) operate under the umbrella of Church of God Operation Compassion.
Hundreds of Church of God chaplains serve a worldwide ministry in full-time and voluntary positions. They are chaplains and counselors in hospitals, jails, prisons and countless other agencies and institutions.
MINISTRY TO THE MILITARY
Due to the vast number of U.S. servicemen and women worldwide, the Church of God maintains ministry centers around the world. Listed below are the two areas that are involved in our ministry to the military.
There is more than two dozen Church of God sponsored servicemen's centers operating in twelve countries around the globe. These centers offer fellowship, counseling and worship opportunities for servicemen and women on the field.
The Chaplains Commission is vitally active in ministering to military personnel and their families. Ordained military Chaplains now serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard as well as the National Guard and Reserves. More than 100 Church of God ministers is active as military, reserve, institutional, correctional/law enforcement or specialized chaplains.
Through the Church of God Publishing House and Pathway Press located in Cleveland, Tennessee, individuals can have access to a variety of printed materials including Sunday School literature, music and a variety of inspirational and religious books. The Publishing House produces denominational publications, such as the Evangel magazine, and offers an avenue for churches and ministries to obtain resources.
Pathway Bookstore offers a full line of inspirational materials and resources for the local church.
The Church of God states its position on many issues of importance and global events through resolutions adopted at the biennial General Assembly.
The heart of World Missions ministry is the implementation of a global strategy of evangelism, church planting, and training. Its scriptural purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ; share Christ's love for the world; minister to the totality of human need; bring men and women to the knowledge of God and His redeeming grace, and obey Christ by confessing Him to the world. Today, Church of God missions is carried out in 157 countries organized in eight geographical regions.
World Missions provides missionary services through the following: teaching or administering in educational institutions and programs; serving in medical ministries; planting new churches; working in relief and development efforts; and many other areas. Men and Women of Action exist as a humanitarian program. It organizes relief efforts following natural disasters and assists in church building projects around the globe. Volunteers in Medical Missions (VIMM) provides medical care and supplies to needy areas around the world. The Church of God provides avenues of outreach for the organization and supplies are provided through private donations.
MISSION AND VISION
At the 2004 General Assembly, a set of seven commitments was adopted which reflects the Church of God's core values in regard to fulfilling its mission and vision.
COMMITMENTS TO OUR MISSION AND VISION
We commit ourselves to making prayer the highest priority of the church demonstrated by:
Every local church becoming a house of prayer for all nations.
Emphasizing communication with God as the highest privilege and greatest responsibility of every member.
Modeling by all church leadership of an active and effective prayer life.
Uniting with other believers in corporate and intercessory prayer.
(Isa. 56:7; Mark 11:17; Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:14, 15; I Thess. 5:17; I Tim. 2:1-4, 8; James 5:14, 15)
2. PENTECOSTAL WORSHIP
We commit ourselves to gather regularly as the local expression of the Body of Christ to participate in Pentecostal worship that exalts God, engages the heart, mind, and soul, and challenges to deeper commitment and discipleship. This commitment will be demonstrated by:
Assisting local churches in planning and preparing for meaningful, anointed worship.
Equipping pastors and other worship leaders to lead authentically expressed, spiritually alive worship.
Modeling varying styles and forms of worship that glorify God and encouraging outreach and service.
Emphasizing the importance of Biblical stewardship and the centrality of God’s Word as elements of worship.
(John 4:24; Psalm 29:2; Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Isa. 58; Mat. 25:31-46)
3. WORLD EVANGELIZATION
We commit ourselves to intentionally reaching the unconverted, baptizing them in water, and leading them to unite with the church. This commitment will be demonstrated by:
Viewing all the nations of the world as our mission field.
Encouraging our local churches to adopt and intercede for an unreached people group. Resource materials will be provided by the World Missions Department.
Asking all national churches of the Church of God international to adopt and implement measurable steps to evangelize and disciple unreached people groups inside and outside of their own regions (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 15:19-24; Revelation 5:9).
Encouraging every local church to increase a minimum of 10% per year through conversion growth.
Cultivating a genuine passion for the lost that will compel members to personally communicate the gospel of Jesus and demonstrate His love to those outside the faith.
Discipling new believers and passing on our faith to the next generation.
Practicing life-style evangelism.
(Mat. 9:37-38; Mat. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:13-15)
4. CHURCH PLANTING
We commit ourselves to identifying, training and resourcing God-called church planters and to intentionally planting new life-giving churches. This commitment will be demonstrated by:
Focusing designated resources of the local church, state/regional offices, and the international offices for planting new churches.
Starting the number of church plants equal to a minimum of 3% of the total number of churches in a state/region/nation annually.
Developing a certified training program in our Evangelism and Home Missions Department and educational institutions for church planters and home missions.
Emphasizing the health and viability of new church plants as well as the number of churches planted.
Affirming the different models of church planting for different situations.
Recognizing church planting as an apostolic ministry for our day.
(Mat. 16:18; John 4:35; Acts 2:47; 14:23; Eph. 5:25-28)
5. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
We commit ourselves to identifying and developing individuals whom God has called and given leadership gifts and challenging them to become servant-leaders. We will demonstrate our commitment by:
Creating an environment in which men and women with ministry gifts are developed to serve as servant-leaders.
Equipping, empowering and releasing lay leaders to serve as ministry partners both inside and outside the local church.
Providing relevant resources and training opportunities for both clergy and laity.
Encouraging pastors to lead through vision, to communicate the vision to the congregation and to organize the body and each of its ministry groups so the vision can be realized.
(Mark 3:13-15; 2 Tim. 2:2; 2:15; 3:14-17; Eph. 4:11-13)
We commit ourselves to the challenge of being a church that genuinely cares for one another and for those who are lost, hurting and needy. We will demonstrate our commitment by:
Building loving, caring relationships within families, between members, and within the communities we serve.
Obeying the Care Commission of Christ in Matthew 25.
Cultivating compassion and showing mercy to the unloved, the undesirable and the unreached of our society.
Establishing in each local church some type of outreach ministry that demonstrates our genuine concern and love for the disadvantaged or oppressed.
(Psa. 86:15; Mat. 25; Luke 6:36; Acts 20:28)
We commit ourselves to the principle of interdependence, acknowledging our interconnectedness and dependence on all the members of the Body of Christ. We will demonstrate our commitment by:
Reaching out to others in the Body of Christ for collaboration, resource sharing,and learning opportunities.
Encouraging local churches to build relationships with like-minded and like-hearted churches in their communities to work together to reach the lost.
Involving clergy in the processes of mentoring, coaching and consulting on the local, state, regional, national and international levels to increase the level of trust and support among ministers.
Engaging in dialogue and partnership with local, national and international organizations who seek to fulfill the Great Commission
(Col. 2:19; 1 Cor. 12:14-31; Gal. 6:1-6)
DECLARATION OF FAITH
The Church of God believes the whole Bible to be completely and equally inspired and that it is the written Word of God. The Church of God has adopted the following Declaration of Faith as its standard and official expression of its doctrine.
In the verbal inspiration of the Bible.
In one God eternally existing in three persons; namely, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
That Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary. That Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. That He ascended to heaven and is today at the right hand of the Father as the Intercessor.
That all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that repentance is commanded of God for all and necessary for forgiveness of sins.
That justification, regeneration, and the new birth are wrought by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
In sanctification subsequent to the new birth, through faith in the blood of Christ; through the Word, and by the Holy Ghost.
Holiness to be God's standard of living for His people.
In the baptism with the Holy Ghost subsequent to a clean heart.
In speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance and that it is the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
In water baptism by immersion, and all who repent should be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Divine healing is provided for all in the atonement.
In the Lord's Supper and washing of the saints' feet.
In the premillennial second coming of Jesus. First, to resurrect the righteous dead and to catch away the living saints to Him in the air. Second, to reign on the earth a thousand years.
In the bodily resurrection; eternal life for the righteous, and eternal punishment for the wicked.