What Do They Think? AZ Church Considers Neighbors in COVID-19 Response
By David Vogel
“These are the moments when the Church gets to shine.” Allan Fuller, lead pastor at Mountain Park Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was referring to times of hardship, especially during COVID-19. “When everything is going well, unchurched people often see no reason to explore the Church,” he said. “But when things are uncertain, many start to ask questions; questions to which the gospel has answers.”
During the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Pastor Fuller said Mountain Park made it a priority to be ready to engage with these searchers. While the church made big efforts to also care for its congregation—including a plethora of online ministries and notably an event called “MCP Drive Thru,” where members decorated their cars and paraded by the church—Fuller said special focus was placed on the community. Drop-off drives for school supplies and food were held throughout the summer, for example.
“God is not, has never been, and will never be limited to the four walls of a church building,” a letter on the Mountain Park’s website noted. And it worked to demonstrate that confidence. In doing so, the church very much tried to look at itself during this pandemic through the lens of the world—this view helped them better reach and minister to those outside its walls.
Though the church is called to not be of this world, as directed in Romans 12, Fuller said they took a unique approach in thinking about their locale. “I’m comfortable letting the public perception of our community drive us because we are primarily here to serve them, anyway,” he shared. Additionally, he wondered, “Would our community be offended that this church down the street opened its doors and put everyone at risk? Or would they be thankful that it boldly continued to love and serve?”
Fuller praised the members of his church for their innovation and dedication to reaching the community throughout the continuing pandemic. “We’ve had high school students create their own Bible studies that are thriving. Many have risen up to creatively serve their neighbors because they have more time on their hands. Small groups have increased their passion to connect with one another and pray for those in need around the city and the world!”
Fuller is reminded of author and pastor John Wimber’s observation of the church that it is often criticized for not doing enough. Referring to Wimber’s insights, he shared one of the author’s questions, “You are the Church. So, what are you going to do?”
“When things get difficult—whether it’s a world-wide pandemic or a local flood—the attentive and vibrant lay leaders rise up to realize their role in God’s story,” he shared with resolve. “The church shines brightest when people take ownership.”
David Vogel is the communication director for Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.