Compton Community Church
When the pandemic began, churches faced uncharted waters: What would virtual church, member care, and outreach look like in this new environment?
As the Compton Community church navigated these challenges, they joined the online ministry sphere. Yet, they felt that wasn’t enough for their demographic— virtual church had to be part of a larger strategy.
“We had to choose which audience we wanted to have as our primary focus,” shared Gamal Alexander, senior pastor. “Our focus was impacting the community where we live and serve while staying safe. Working back from that, we asked, ‘How can we fulfill that statement? How can we take everything we do internally and flip it so we can do it external?’”
One expression of this mission was in-person, in-car outdoor services, with each attendee receiving a free pre-packaged meal. This set-up brought positive returns: increased tithe and attendance, deeper member involvement, and greater interest from visitors.
While in-car worship may seem isolating, member participation didn’t stop. Pre-COVID church culture “says when you are in church and there’s a portion of the sermon you agree with, say amen,” Alexander said. “In a Black church, you may clap your hands. All that changes when you’re in your car. You create new norms.” So they did—responding by honking their horns.
One big part of the story is the invaluable participation of volunteers. “We’ve discovered the true meaning of church as a community during the pandemic,” Alexander shared. From A/V to music, food prep, children’s ministry, parking, and more, all members get involved. “Everybody has a part to play.”
“Going outside has been about more than changing our location,” Alexander said. “It’s been changing our mindset to where we have been forced to become more community friendly and externally focused, and we’ve been forced to think of others first rather than looking for ways to continue doing what we’ve been doing or being preoccupied with getting back to normal.”
Many testimonies have emerged. One gentleman who hangs out at a local liquor store recently approached the pastor. “Are you a pastor?” he asked. “I want to thank you.” The pastor wasn’t sure to what he was referring. “He came to me with a bottle of beer in his hand and told me what he had gotten from the sermon last week and what he took away from the sermon this week,” Alexander recalled.
“We found a principle we want to continue to employ,” Alexander said. “Keep finding creative ways to effectively take the gospel beyond our walls.”
For a longer version of this story, visit https://scc.adventist.org/cocosda2022.
By Lauren Lacson