Identity 2022: Multiethnic Church Planter, Revitalizer Eager to Encourage
By Carl Stagner
Brian Bennett hasn’t been part of the Church of God movement for long, but it doesn’t take long for someone to realize they’ve got something good. Actually, his connections to the Church of God movement stretch back several years, though he’s only been the pastor of the influential Church of God in Vero Beach known as Pathway Church since 2020. The successful planter of a multiethnic church in southwest Michigan, presently leading his Florida congregation into a season of renewal and revitalization, doesn’t take the chance to address the Church of God at the first two 2022 Regional Conferences lightly. Eyeing tremendous potential in both his own church and the movement he’s learned to love, Brian Bennett is genuinely eager to encourage Church of God pastors and congregations to embrace their individual and shared identity in Jesus.
“I prayed quite a bit about this opportunity,” Brian explains, “and sensed a peace and prompting from the Lord to encourage the Church of God in this unique moment it is in. I am doing this not as someone with a deep history in the movement, but with a deep appreciation for its historic heart and an awareness of its incredible potential in our current cultural context.”
Harnessing the potential of the people of God in light of the cultural context is one of Pastor Brian’s strengths, proven across the years of his ministry at the local church level. Though his ministry began in the Wesleyan Church in 2003, Brian’s own identity, character, creativity, and stick-to-itiveness was surely tested starting a few years later with the planting of a multiethnic church and, ultimately, a Christian community development nonprofit. The lessons God taught him during this period were so rich, he chronicled them in a book titled Be the Church.
“I would say the top two lessons would be that God is faithful and good in every season,” Brian explains. “[Therefore] trust, obey, and enjoy. People are God’s special treasure, so encourage equip, and empower them at every turn. Enjoy this process, and don’t get caught up in comparisons or competition. We are all on the same Kingdom team and the results are God’s.”
Soon after arriving in southwestern Michigan, Brian became acquainted with the lead pastor of First Church of God in St. Joseph, David Colp. The two established a close friendship which continues to this day. After a while, what Brian describes as a “kingdom partnership” was forged between First Church of God and Brian’s church—Overflow—that resulted in the founding of Mosaic CCDA (First Church of God would also form their own Christian Community Development Association called New Heights). When Brian was exploring God’s call on his life to relocate to Vero Beach and become part of the Church of God movement, David Colp’s number was one of the first he dialed.
Now in the midst of local church rejuvenation, Pastor Brian is widening his perspective of God’s work in every season of congregational life. His insights gained from both multiethnic church planting and church revitalization are worth considering for any Church of God pastor and lay leader. But one of the best parts about pastoring at Pathway, Brian explains, is shepherding a flock willing to be flexible for the cause of Christ.
“I am really excited about being part of church that has prepared itself for a rebirth and a new season,” he reflects. “Pathway has a storied history (some good and some not so good), and it’s beautiful to see a people emerging that are believing for the future God has for them. They are such a deeply loving, friendly people, passionate about being the church God has called them to be in Vero and beyond. It is exciting to see the renewal happening here and the desire to ‘love God and love all people in our pathway.’”
Inspired by the theme of “Identity,” Brian Bennett expresses his heart’s desire to motivate the Church of God movement to embrace who we are in Jesus.
“My hope,” Brian concludes, “is to encourage those listening to let God carve out their identity in Christ, as individuals and churches, as well as embrace our shared identity, which has so much redemptive potential. I see a movement that has been marked, shaped, and even scarred (at times) by its heart for Jesus, unity, the Holy Spirit, and holiness, the Great Commandment, and the supremacy Scripture. While the Church of God hasn’t always lived these out perfectly, the movement is positioned perfectly to see a renewal of its shared identity and provide something the kingdom of God desperately needs right now—a unified, mission-shaped, Spirit- and Scripture-infused movement focused on Jesus and extending his love to a generation often looking beyond the church for unity, community, and purpose.”
“Identity—because of the I Am, we are.” That’s the theme of the 2022 Regional Conferences, and that’s precisely what Brian Bennett and several other guest speakers and panelists will explore with us. Register today at www.chogconvention.org. In-person and virtual options available!