Limited No Longer: Pastors Leverage Tech, Empower Ministry to the Small Church

 In All Church of God, CHOG

By Carl Stagner

There’s a church in the wildwood, wringing hands without a pastor, struggling to survive. Across the country, there’s a pastor in the plains, unable to travel or relocate, but not at all ready to retire. What if the disconnect between churches seeking pastors and pastors seeking churches were only a click away? An undeniably divine series of circumstances recently led two Church of God pastors to forge a friendship and begin establishing a model of ministry mutually valuable to pastor and parishioner. Through technology, Pastor Robert Crupper and Bishop Richard Prim are leveraging technology and empowering critical ministry to the small church.

Robert Crupper was ordained in 1968 and ended up serving churches across much of the Midwest. After retiring from full-time ministry in Indiana, he began feeling a nudge to provide pastoral ministry to churches having trouble securing such leadership. As God would have it, a conversation over the phone with Church of God Ministries sparked the idea.

“I was in the process of registering for the 2023 Yearbook,” Pastor Robert recalls. “Upon finishing my registration, the lady asked me if I would be willing to donate to help struggling churches pay their registration. After I hung up the phone, I felt a calling from God to become a pastor to a small, struggling church.”

Crupper (top) and Prim (bottom) talk via Zoom.

Small, struggling churches are often struggling for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the financial means to provide for the appropriate candidate to fulfil the traditional pastor role. And, like Robert, many retired pastors not really wanting to be retired also don’t have the financial or physical means to provide consistent, hands-on ministry. That’s when Handel Smith, of US and Canada Strategy, introduced Pastor Robert Crupper to Bishop Richard Prim.

“Brother Prim has since been teaching me how to use technology to conduct church services online using Zoom,” Pastor Robert explains. “…We are putting together a Zoom model to make the ministry work best, and in a way that will be cost-efficient.”

Prim served the Kansas City Community Church (formerly Freeman Avenue Church of God) in Kansas City for thirty years. Previous settings included Great Commission Church of God in Indianapolis (then Devonridge Church of God) and First Church of God in Lenoir, North Carolina, not to mention several churches in Texas. But outside vocational ministry, Bishop Prim accumulated notable experience at IBM and other tech companies. His technological savviness came in handy when he was recruited to install computers in numerous churches from Ohio to Kansas to California. With such experience, he remains committed to walking through the doors of opportunity God opens. This new partnership with Pastor Robert Crupper is but one example.

“I use Zoom to share the message of Jesus with my family and friends,” Pastor Robert continues. “We pray together, read and discuss scriptures, and sing along with songs that we find on the internet. We call it ‘Church by way of Zoom.’ Due to being home-bound, I believe that Jesus is using this ministry to encourage and grow his church. Technology has opened advanced ways for us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our ministry aims to stay up to date with the latest methods to make our message more effective. We will utilize various platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, blogging, and other online forums to achieve this goal.”

Bishop Prim’s role in coming alongside Pastor Robert has been invaluable. Now Robert’s ready to provide pastoral services remotely to the struggling, small church—whether a few miles or a few thousand miles away—and Prim continues to offer his insights to equip and empower pastors.

Click to for a closer look at Pastor Crupper’s flyer, a model for other ministers in a similar situation.

Bishop Prim expounds: “I offer Zoom sessions to explore using technology in ministry. My courses equip participants with the knowledge and skills to select appropriate technological tools and processes to meet their ministry needs. Whether you’re a pastor, teacher, layperson, or an aspiring individual, you’ll discover how technology can be harnessed to advance your ministry and spread the gospel message.”

Pastor Robert Crupper readily acknowledges Jesus as the head of the church. He simply insists technology can play an important role in building the church. He’s tremendously grateful for Bishop Prim’s role in preparing him to do the work.

“We want to create a model that would enable any church, no matter how small, to have a pastor,” Pastor Robert concludes. “Other retired ministers and churches could also benefit from this model and use it as a guiding principle to establish their own virtual ministry. Even if there are only one or two in the congregations, the presence of Jesus among them through the Holy Spirit can make it a church. As Matthew 18:20 records Jesus saying, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Contact Pastor Robert Crupper at crupperrobert@gmail.com. Reach Bishop Richard Prim at bishopprim@gmail.com.

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

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