InJOY Church of God Leadership Study 20 Years Later

July 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Source: COG Leadership Development: The Consultant’s View
Dated: 7/12/2002

For the past two years, the Church of God has benefited from an association with INJOY denominational consultants Dr. Conrad Lowe and Dr. Ron McManus. Recently they presented a comprehensive report with the Church of God Executive Council, which is shared here with COG News readers. John Maxwell Denominational Partnerships wishes to thank God and the leaders of the Church of God for the privilege of working closely together in the leadership development initiative. This endeavor has been a highlight of our ministry.
During Phase I, we witnessed this great vision cast across the entire Church of God in North America. Visionary leadership was modeled by the Executive Committee and the Executive Council. State overseers have invested in extensive training. Approximately 2,000 pastors and lay leaders have been trained in various ministry skills. Mentoring groups have begun in most states. Many growing churches have begun to grow, and many declining churches have accelerated, many plateaud churches have begun to grow, and many declining churches have stabilized. Finances, conversions and membership have increased. Church health and “excellence” have also improved for many churches.
The future goal is that additional pastors and churches will be added as we move to more intensive leadership training. In addition, the leadership development initiative will add leadership “coaching” to the mentoring strategy.
One of our tasks as consultants is to bring awareness of potential barriers to the vision of the Church of God. At this juncture in the process, we suggest there are five areas that should be addressed by the Church of God.
Church of God DNA
From our observation, the Church of God has at least three prominent formative influences—holiness, Pentecostal experience and a predominant rural culture.
· The holiness lifestyle defines your character.
· The Pentecostal experience empowers you through the Holy Spirit.
· The rural culture gives you your mental model of ministry.
The dangers we envision are as follows: (1) the importance of holiness may not be passed to the next generation; (2) the Pentecostal experience may lead you to focus on the gifts and neglect the disciplines of ministry; (3) a rural model of ministry is not readily transferable to other cultures, including ethnically diverse, suburban and urban cultures.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. A plan of education in your heritage holiness must heavily influence your next generation. It may take place in institutions, distance learning, books, tapes, seminars, and so forth. At this point, we observe many Church of God pastors receiving their theology from external sources rather than their denomination.
2. Focus on you Pentecostal experience as your distinctive relationship with God, but add the disciplines of ministry to your gifts. For example, the training offered by the International Executive Committee during the spring and fall events focused primarily on ministry disciplines such as evangelism, assimilation and change management, along with others. Eventually, Church of God leaders will excel in the exercise of the gifts and the disciplines of ministry.
3. Learn how to plan and grow churches in diverse cultures.
Leadership Rotation
It appears that you believe you can “lead by taking turns.” The theory is based on the belief that every leader who is voted into offices next is as productive and skilled as the one being replaced. This organizational model works only if all leaders are equally capable. That theory is never true. This system always produces a roller-coaster effect of good and bad leadership. There is never time for the accomplishment of a vision; instead, each new leader is determined to leave his personal mark. The new leaders then feel free to change everything every time there is an election. If any group is lead by a great leader, they should do everything possible to keep the same leadership in place for sustained success. If not, the quality of leadership in the Church of God will always be “peaks and valleys” depending on whose “turn it is this year.”
Imagine any local Church of God. If they get a great leader and the church is prospering, they would do anything to keep that leader because they know one thing from experience—we have fine leader, but if he leaves, the next one may not be as good. We encourage the Church of God to rethink this underlying assumption about how your denomination is led. Major ministries are led by (1) great leaders and (2) those leaders stay long enough to build something that lasts. For great leaders, the longer they lead, the better the organization will become.
RECOMMENDATION
Focus on productivity instead of “taking turns leading.” As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” The local Church of God churches will “rise and fall” on the quality of the leadership in your pulpits, your state and regional offices, and the international offices. The future of your movement depends on your ability to attract and keep our most gifted and productive leaders in your positions of influence.
Leadership Skills
The present system of choosing leadership in the Church of God encourages “political skills” instead of “leadership skill.” The regular votes for leaders (state, national and international levels) express the will of the minority. This is true because the majority do not vote in most political systems.
RECOMMENDATION
Hold the elected leaders accountable for the improved ministry of the churches they serve instead of “popularity votes.” Choose the best leaders among you. Then give them the resources to do the job. Support them with prayer and cooperation. Finally, hold each leader accountable for the results of their leadership and measure how well the churches are doing under their leadership.
We encourage the Church of God to continue its dependence upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit in making decisions which improve the church. As consultants, we find few people who are purely political, but we raise a major warning that the present system encourages “patronage.”
Structure
The Church of God is historically structured as a “hierarchy.” It can be visualized as a pyramid with pastors and churches at the bottom, state overseers in the middle, and international executive leaders at the top. As one moves upward in the pyramid, renown, finances and power increase. Under the leadership of Dr. Lamar Vest, the pyramid is being inverted. The principle is Biblical “servant leadership.” The international executive leaders serve as a resource for the state overseers, while the state overseers serve as a resource for the local pastors and churches.
We encourage the Church of God to “stay the course” moving in the direction of servant leadership. Jesus said, “He who would be greatest among you, let him become the least among you.” In the body of Christ, we must focus attention and resources on those who labor in the fields of the Lord’s vineyard.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Focus on the right group. Every successful structure must align the members to achieve the ultimate goal. The goal of the Church of God is to reach the lost and to train fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. In most organizations, the structure evolves to benefit the people who make the policies. Improvement occurs when they focus on the right people, the lost and those being involved in ministry.
2. Make decisions at the level closest to the work. The correct consulting term for this is empowerment. The Church of God must organize the denomination to develop the potential in every church. Ephesians 4 clearly describes the congregation of the church as “ministers,” not “spectators.” The Bible then says those lay ministers should choose laypeople to lead their ministry. The task of the pastor and staff is to equip the people in the congregation to build a great ministry. Structure the future to develop strong lay ministries with everyone else serving as a resource for that local ministry.
3. Make the structure flexible enough to meet current challenges. The foundation of the Church of God is its holiness, Pentecostal experience and Biblical authority. They are the bedrock principles that should remain the same. Structure, however, is temporary and changes as the organization grows and faces new challenges. A denomination plateaus or declines when it treats structure as if it were a foundational principle. You cannot confuse structures with foundational principles. You improve the Church of God when the structures serve the people instead of the people being saddled with an outdated structure.
4. Form Follows Function in Structure. The Church of God must find what God is blessing and then structure itself to join Him. Most denominations begin to decline and decay when they retain their present forms even if they can no longer be successful within those forms. It is time to simplify structure, increase flexibility to encourage innovation, and form your structures to fit your functions.
State/Regional Overseer Productivity
After consulting with the Church of God for almost two years, it is our conclusion that the key to transformation for the future rests primarily in the leadership of the state/regional overseers. They are the denomination’s primary influence on the field of ministry. If the state/regional overseer provides resources; models visionary leadership; and implements the strategies of “mentoring, coaching, consulting, modeling and teaching churches,” that state or region will experience health and growth.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Choose only your best leaders in the Church of God as state/regional overseers. They should have sterling character, be holy in their reputation, and have a “track record” of successful leadership; and train them to move from “doing” to “coaching”
2. Evaluate state/regional overseers solely on their ability to move their churches to new levels of quality and quantity.
3. Increase the training for state/regional overseers with one goal: our most productive leaders are overseers.
4. Leave them in place long enough to make a major, positive difference in their state or region. Instead of inheriting a stronger state or region, require the state/regional overseer to build a better state or region.
Leadership Trust
It appears that some Church of God policies have been established as a reaction to leadership failures in the past. Large organizations are notoriously slow to personally address misbehavior. When they do, they often make a general policy that punishes everyone rather than addressing the specific leader involved. The result is “leadership suspicion.” Those within the organization begin to mistrust all leaders and make broad defensive policies. The result is tragic—leadership for the organization is diminished.
RECOMMENDATION
Elect and appoint leaders who meet Biblical standards and who are recognized as people of Christian integrity. Then take the risk to trust and honor them as Scripture requires.
CONCLUSION
We believe the Church of God must address these issues in order to move boldly into the leadership role God has offered you. We do not offer detailed solutions at this point. It is simply our duty to help you recognize some of the issues that will determine the future.
We believe that you must minister as if your dreams are bigger than your memories. Your past has been glorious, but it is no place to live now. Your leaders are being endowed with vision fro God for your denomination, every state or region, and every local church. We encourage you to grow into those visions and resist being defined by the past.
Most important, we believe the church is poised for an unprecedented time of spiritual harvest. The great news is the issues you must address are all issues of growth, not of decline. The difficult news is, you must give serious consideration to some strategies changes. We believe every denomination in America needs to see one leadership group experience miraculous reformation. The rest will gladly follow. We are praying that you—the Church of God—are the group willing to learn enough, work enough, receive enough and pray enough to respond to God’s great promise—that your ministry will multiply “like the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky.”

Our Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association celebrates 25 years of Military Ministry in Bulgaria

May 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaOur Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association celebrates 25 years of Military Ministry in Bulgaria since the first event co-hosted by the Bulgarian Armed Forces and government officials in 1997.

2018 The Road toward a Balkan Multi-Ministry Center and Legal Status

2017 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Legal Case Renewed

2015 Revisting the Integration Proposal with Local NATO Programs by Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

2014 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Vision and Resolution Reaffirmed

2012 First Class of the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program

2011 Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Continues

2010 Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program begins in Sofia, Bulgaria

2009 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association holds an introductory chaplaincy course in Yambol, Bulgaria

2008 The Case of a NATO Chaplaincy Model within the Bulgarian Army released

2007 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations Recognized by U.S. Department of State

2006 Registration for the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Rejected by Bulgarian Court

2005 The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association presented before the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance

2004 Three U.S. Bases in Bulgaria to be Built by 2010

2003 The Case of a NATO Chaplaincy Model within the Bulgarian Army

2002 First Balkan Chaplaincy Conference at the Central Church of God in Sofia, Bulgaria

2001 Church of God Chaplaincy Commission to visit Bulgaria

2000 Euro-seminar: Christian ethics in the military forces

1997 First Military Ministry Seminar in Veliko Tarnovo

With all this accomplished, in the beginning of the 21st century law and chaplaincy meet on the road to democracy as Bulgaria remains the only country in NATO without military force chaplaincy. But before chaplaincy could be legalized completely and endorsed by the state to its full functionality, several changes must be undergone. Some of them are:

  1. Legal provision allowing chaplains to work as staff in the army, which guarantees the equal presence of protestant chaplains as well.
  2. The approval, acceptance and implementation of a NATO based model for chaplaincy within the structures of the Bulgarian Army.
  3. Periodical and systematic educational strategy toward chaplaincy workers among Bulgarian evangelicals.
  4. A paradigm for cooperation of Bulgarian chaplains from various ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
  5. Further research publications to enhance the efficiency of chaplaincy within the Bulgarian national context.

Also important [click to read]:

More Publications on the Topic and History of Events:

Bulgarian Church of God Membership 20 Years Later

May 5, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Rewind 30 Years of Places where we’ve Preached

April 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Bulgarian Church of God Membership 20 Years Ago

March 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Rewind 20 Years: Services Held

March 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

1 01/02/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
2 01/06/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
3 01/08/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
4 01/09/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
5 01/13/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
6 01/15/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
7 01/16/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
8 01/17/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
9 01/20/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
10 01/20/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
11 01/23/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
12 01/24/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
13 01/25/2002 PM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
14 01/27/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
15 01/29/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
16 01/30/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
17 02/01/2002 PM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
18 02/03/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
19 02/03/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
20 02/05/2002 PM Buxton Suburb Home Group Sofia, BG
21 02/06/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
22 02/07/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
23 02/10/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
24 02/10/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
25 02/12/2002 PM Buxton Suburb Home Group Sofia, BG
26 02/13/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
27 02/16/2002 PM New Central Church of God Sofia, BG
28 02/17/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
29 02/20/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
30 02/21/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
31 02/24/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
32 02/24/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
33 02/25/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
34 02/25/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
35 02/25/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
36 02/26/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
37 02/26/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
38 02/26/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
39 02/27/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
40 02/27/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
41 02/27/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
42 02/28/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
43 02/28/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
44 02/28/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
45 02/28/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
46 03/01/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
47 03/01/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
48 03/01/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
49 03/02/2002 AM New Central Church of God Sofia, BG
50 03/03/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
51 03/04/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
52 03/04/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
53 03/05/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
54 03/05/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
55 03/05/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
56 03/06/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
57 03/06/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
58 03/06/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
59 03/06/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
60 03/07/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
61 03/07/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
62 03/07/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
63 03/07/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
64 03/08/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
65 03/08/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
66 03/08/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
67 03/09/2002 PM New Central Church of God Sofia, BG
68 03/10/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
69 03/12/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
70 03/12/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
71 03/12/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
72 03/13/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
73 03/13/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
74 03/13/2002 AM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
75 03/13/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
76 03/14/2002 АM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
77 03/14/2002 АM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
78 03/14/2002 АM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
79 03/14/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
80 03/15/2002 АM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
81 03/15/2002 АM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
82 03/15/2002 АM Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute Sofia, BG
83 03/16/2002 PM New Central Church of God Sofia, BG
84 03/17/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
85 03/18/2002 PM Sugar Factory Church of God Sofia, BG
86 03/20/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
87 03/24/2002 AM Central Church of God Sofia, BG
88 03/24/2002 PM Pravetz Church of God Pravetz, BG
89 03/27/2002 PM Central Church of God Sofia, BG

Rewind 30 Years of Missions

January 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

Mission Bulgaria Week 20

Mission Bulgaria Week 21

Mission Bulgaria Week 22

Mission Bulgaria Week 23

Exclusive Report: Pentecostal Primitivism Preserved

Mission Bulgaria Week 24

Mission Bulgaria Week 25

MISSION 2002 in Bulgaria

Mission Bulgaria Week 27

Mission Bulgaria Week 28

Mission Bulgaria Week 29

Mission Bulgaria Week 30

Mission Bulgaria Week 31

 

Bibliata.com celebrates 25 years in online ministry by reading through the whole New Testament in one day

September 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

One of our first ministry websites, Bibliata.com just celebrated 25 years of ministry online. It began in the fall of 1996 with the sole purpose to reach Bulgarians online with the Bible. We began the Bibliata.com anniversary celebration with an out loud reading through the whole Bulgarian Bible on September 16 involving many churches and Christian communities in Bulgaria and abroad.

After 25 years with several million annual views and visitors, it has become the standard for the Bulgarian Bible online. Through the years, virtually all Bulgarian Bible versions as well as many others in foreign and original tongues were published. Audio Bible, Video Bible, extensive Bible commentary, a national sermon archive, multiple device apps and Bible study platforms are only a few of the projects completed. Additionally, a new Bulgarian translation in the works since 2007 is close to its publication date for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. But this is not all…

The story of the Bulgarian Bible online is centered not only in products and projects, but in the very people we work with to create a community of believers, who pray, talk, grow and live together in the footsteps of the Savior. And this is worth much more than just 25 years of work and perseverance…

30 Years of Miracles: 2021

March 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

The NEW Pentecostal NORMAL

The NEW NORMAL hit Pentecostals in Bulgaria right for their first centennial anniversary. With COVID cases climbing, Bulgaria underwent over 200 days of total lock-down well into the summer of 2020. At the start of 2021, right at the national elections in Bulgaria, most EU countries renewed their quarantines measures as well. Regardless of hundreds of thousands of vaccines administered, in the first quarter of 2021, Bulgaria had most COVID cases in whole Europe and was the second country in the world with most COVID cases per capita.

Flying from the United States to Bulgaria is also becoming more difficult. Amsterdam, which used to be a good mid-way point has been among the most COVID-affected locations in the European Union making it risky for flight transfers. The route via Paris has virtually shut down with France in another long total lock-down. Flying via London was obstructed not only by their multiple lock-downs, but also the mandatory two-week long quarantine for all foreigners passing through the country, especially the ones from Eastern Europe and the United States.

Fortunately, after almost two decades of not having a direct flight to and from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, a new airline opened a non-transfer line from JFK and provided a much needed ease for missionary work in the country. Our ministry continued especially in the area of first respondents and chaplains we have been training with our nationally recognized program in Bulgaria since 2009. At the same time, we were blessed to present two research papers at SPS and EPTA, and move toward publishing our book on the 100th anniversary of Pentecostalism in Bulgaria.

All this did not come with multiple challenges for the ministry. The shaky political situation in the country with yet another national election (16 in count since 2005) did not help keep the pandemic numbers down. As COVID cases in Bulgaria were climbing, the government moved to establish a new “vaccine passport” agency. Travelling to and from Bulgaria is now virtually impossible without vaccination accompanied with the proper international certification of their validity.

This book should have been published seven years ago in 2013. Its original subtitle was going to read “7 Years in Bulgaria.” Instead, it took seven years to finish it with all documents, research archives and new cases. Now, it is finally here and it finally reads like a story – not just choppy interviews, deposition documented testimonies or court records, but a story of struggle, strength and solitude. A story of life and a story of us.

1995-96 The establishing of the first Bulgarian Church of God in Chicago and its first split

2000-01 The contracted building of the ministry center for the Central Church of God in Sofia

2002-03 The church split in Southaven and what followed next

2005-06 The post-communist split of the Bulgarian Church of God and consecutive sub-denominations

2010-13 The social media network that cost us millions (of souls)

2016 The vote that forced to kill a church

2019-20 The sale of the ministry center for the Central Church of God in Bulgaria

READ: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

To Mark Alan
We know not why good people have to die,
but we do know we must tell their story…

Chapter I: Beyond the Church and into God

Be without fear in the face of your enemies.
Be brave and upright that God may love thee.
Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.
Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.
That is your oath.
~Kingdom
of Heaven (2005)

 

Separation of church from politics of false religiosity

The phone rang heavy and long. It was 4 AM in Bulgaria, but I was already up. A friend on the other end of the line was calling from South Carolina with a warning of some bad situation. The following morning, I was going to be contacted by the Director questioning why we were ministering in churches outside of our denomination.

The truth was we had ministered in some 300 local churches across the Balkan country of Bulgaria crossing all denominational boundaries and gathering youth from just about every confession. God had used us not only to reach and minister and to lead, but to step into an untouched spiritual realm, to undertake an unfamiliar ministry paradigm and to approach a brand new dimension of reality where He was to be the center of it all. And we had obeyed without questions. Now it was time to pay the price!

* * *

Our denomination, the one to which I remain both critically loyal and loyally critical, spreads over some five generations. Through its century old existence, the struggles and tension between theology and praxis has been in the center. And there, in the very essence of Pentecostalism itself, while some are always celebrating and being celebrated in the office or temple, others are always pushed in the periphery of normal life, hidden from the world behind closed doors and seeking a much deeper experience with God.

These modern day mystics are not only forgotten, but often forbidden. For their riot for righteousness cannot be conceived, contained and controlled by the religious norms of organized officiality. They speak as prophets to a world they so fervently try to escape from, about a reality that does not exist in the normal believer’s mindset. A stage of spirituality that cannot be preached without being lived in the social existence. And a relationship of God that goes far beyond common relationism and into God himself. That God, Who does not abide in offices and temples, but on the cross outside of the city walls…

But I knew nothing of this until that cold winter morning when the phone rang through darkness of the night. Knowing what is coming, rarely changes what we have done to get here.

7 Years in Bulgaria: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher
by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.
Upcoming Releases for United States (October, 2020)

30 Years of Miracles: 2020

February 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

Our emergency team meeting at the end of 2019, set Bulgaria’s national holiday on March 3, 2020 as initiation date for the new-normal strategy for ministry. When the United States declared state of national emergency on March 13, 2020 and the Bulgarian government followed with the same shortly, we continued ministering in every possible alternative venue available to us. Small groups in churches as per the regulations, home gatherings, internet portals we’ve used since 1996 for the ministry and so on. Only with this timely ministry strategy in place, we were able to continue to minister and celebrate the:

  • 25th anniversary of the Bulgarian church in Chicago
  • 30th anniversary our own Cup & Cross Ministries International
  • 100th anniversary of the Pentecostal Movement in Bulgaria

This book should have been published seven years ago in 2013. Its original subtitle was going to read “7 Years in Bulgaria.” Instead, it took seven years to finish it with all documents, research archives and new cases. Now, it is finally here and it finally reads like a story – not just choppy interviews, deposition documented testimonies or court records, but a story of struggle, strength and solitude. A story of life and a story of us.

1995-96 The establishing of the first Bulgarian Church of God in Chicago and its first split

2000-01 The contracted building of the ministry center for the Central Church of God in Sofia

2002-03 The church split in Southaven and what followed next

2005-06 The post-communist split of the Bulgarian Church of God and consecutive sub-denominations

2010-13 The social media network that cost us millions (of souls)

2016 The vote that forced to kill a church

2019-20 The sale of the ministry center for the Central Church of God in Bulgaria

READ: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

To Mark Alan
We know not why good people have to die,
but we do know we must tell their story…

Chapter I: Beyond the Church and into God

Be without fear in the face of your enemies.
Be brave and upright that God may love thee.
Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.
Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.
That is your oath.
~Kingdom
of Heaven (2005)

 

Separation of church from politics of false religiosity

The phone rang heavy and long. It was 4 AM in Bulgaria, but I was already up. A friend on the other end of the line was calling from South Carolina with a warning of some bad situation. The following morning, I was going to be contacted by the Director questioning why we were ministering in churches outside of our denomination.

The truth was we had ministered in some 300 local churches across the Balkan country of Bulgaria crossing all denominational boundaries and gathering youth from just about every confession. God had used us not only to reach and minister and to lead, but to step into an untouched spiritual realm, to undertake an unfamiliar ministry paradigm and to approach a brand new dimension of reality where He was to be the center of it all. And we had obeyed without questions. Now it was time to pay the price!

* * *

Our denomination, the one to which I remain both critically loyal and loyally critical, spreads over some five generations. Through its century old existence, the struggles and tension between theology and praxis has been in the center. And there, in the very essence of Pentecostalism itself, while some are always celebrating and being celebrated in the office or temple, others are always pushed in the periphery of normal life, hidden from the world behind closed doors and seeking a much deeper experience with God.

These modern day mystics are not only forgotten, but often forbidden. For their riot for righteousness cannot be conceived, contained and controlled by the religious norms of organized officiality. They speak as prophets to a world they so fervently try to escape from, about a reality that does not exist in the normal believer’s mindset. A stage of spirituality that cannot be preached without being lived in the social existence. And a relationship of God that goes far beyond common relationism and into God himself. That God, Who does not abide in offices and temples, but on the cross outside of the city walls…

But I knew nothing of this until that cold winter morning when the phone rang through darkness of the night. Knowing what is coming, rarely changes what we have done to get here.

7 Years in Bulgaria: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher
by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.
Upcoming Releases for United States (October, 2020)

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