Texting for Transformation: Focus 40, Next Step Discipleship
By Carl Stagner
Church of God Ministries wants you to have the tools you need to grow in your faith and effectively share the love of Christ. Through the Transformation Team, Church of God Ministries offers you the opportunity to receive daily text messages: to encourage new believers, and challenge all Christians to be agents of God’s extreme love.
Are you and your church ready to move out of your comfort zones and engage the world with God’s extreme love? “Extreme Love” is the theme of this year’s Focus 40, February 20–March 31. You can begin receiving daily text messages that will challenge you to love God and neighbor in ways you perhaps had not ever considered. Some of these challenges won’t be easy, but the experience and lessons they teach will cause your love to grow. Mark Richardson, Transformation Team liaison to Church of God Ministries, explains that the Extreme Love texts will “help people live a life of love and service in themselves, their families, churches, and communities.” Just text EXTREMELOVE to 95577 (note EXTREMELOVE should be entered as all one word).
Pastors and leaders should take advantage of the Next Step Discipleship text messages, which are sent out when you text NEXT to 95577. Next Step Discipleship was created to help new believers kick-start their spiritual growth by receiving daily text messages of Scripture and other spiritual growth material. Originally developed as a follow-up to Focus 40 2012, this collection of discipleship material for the new believer can be found at www.chog.org/next-resources.
In addition to these text messages, plan to download audio podcasts of the daily devotionals during Focus 40 2013—coming soon to www.chog.org/Focus40!
Whether signing up via text message or QR code, you will begin receiving a daily text message for thirty days. In the near future, Church of God Ministries anticipates offering downloadable apps. So why are we offering these new options for discipleship and transformation?
“We are utilizing all of these new technologies,” Richardson explains, “because most of the young people in our culture, and a growing number of adults, spend a great deal of time using their smart phones to do a variety of things during the day. It is an opportunity to reach them in a way that they are very comfortable using every day. It’s also a way to encourage them to spread the word to their friends, furthering the efforts of evangelism and discipleship.”
The Transformation Team continues to equip the Church of God for transforming culture. As we love, reach, connect, grow, and live, we carry out the Great Commandments and the Great Commission; we celebrate unity; we become more like Christ as we use our spiritual gifts; and we practice whole-life stewardship. “These spiritual gifts,” Richardson explains, “are values that every Christian should not only embrace, but live out. We are committed, as the Transformation Team, to help the church do just that, both as individuals and as the church body.”
The Transformation Team has developed a variety of useful resources for you and your church. The Uniquely You assessment and training resources help believers learn where they best fit in the body of Christ. The devotionals of Focus 40 resources continue to inspire the Church of God to holiness. The Next Step Discipleship resources have aided pastors and leaders as they disciple those who have made new commitments to Christ, and now these resources being translated into Spanish.
Be on the lookout for more information about the Church-wide initiative called Global Service Day, coming October 5, 2013. On this day, Church of God congregations from across North America will put “extreme love” into practice as they unite to perform acts of loving service in their local communities.