By Tim K.
State and national leaders have urged social distancing and voluntary isolation to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Arizona Southern Baptists are asked to love well by following the directions of our nation’s leaders by suspending large gatherings for the next two weeks, by praying fervently and by proclaiming the gospel boldly with words and deeds. Pastors and congregational leadership across Arizona are making plans to respond to this challenging environment.
Pastor Chad Garrison urged the members of Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City, to report needs during the crisis to the church. He also urged members who want to help with needs to also report to the church. The idea is to match people willing to serve with needs as they arise.
Calvary Baptist Church has suspended all large group gatherings but will be broadcasting services through Facebook and the church web page — https://calvarylhc.com/. Many churches are doing some variation of this plan.
“This is a great idea,” said Elizabeth Young, AZSBC director of communications. “It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Any pastor with a smartphone can post a video on social media to minister to the scattered church family. Post it through your church’s social media channels and through your personal social media accounts.”
Ben Pate, pastor of Royal Palms Baptist Church, Phoenix, is leading the members of his church to do a group study on Psalm 23 from an online media provider called RightNow Media — https://www.rightnowmedia.org/. For a subscription fee based on the size of the church, members can access a full library of prepared online video Bible studies. With this subscription, RightNow Media encourages church members to share Bible study links with friends as an outreach.
“We did not have time to develop good content with such short notice, so RightNow Media was a good solution for us to help our members to continue to grow while we are unable to gather in large groups,” Pate said. He also noted that church leadership wanted to develop a more robust online presence, and this crisis is pushing them to take concrete steps to realize that vision.
First Baptist Church, Stanfield, has a food bank ministry that was featured in an issue of Portraits in 2017. This ministry will continue during the coronavirus crisis with modifications.
Instead of having people gather, they are being asked to remain in their cars. Volunteers will bring and load food into the cars. Volunteers will wear gloves and masks to minimize the risks of infection. This ministry is a good example of modifications that can allow certain ministries to the community to continue functioning.
Cross Church, Surprise, is posting various resources for children on their children’s ministry Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/kidsatcrosschurch/. The idea is to help parents to keep their children engaged and growing in the Lord during their extended time at home with school closures statewide until the end of March.
These are just a handful of the creative responses happening in our churches across Arizona. Keep up the good work! Please continue to share what your church is doing to minister during the coronavirus at the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/AZBaptists/. The Lord will show Himself faithful as we trust Him through these uncertain times.