An Arizona church plant provided food for hundreds in their community nearly a year before ever hosting a service. Pastor Jason Flowers moved to Surprise, AZ, in June of 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pastor Jason, his wife Renee and his launch team worked to become acquainted with the community, listening to the concerns of their neighbors and talking with civic leaders about how Surprise was responding to the impact of the pandemic.

“We did lots of community service along the way,” reflected Pastor Jason. “And from a spiritual side, we found lots of people in Surprise needed prayer. But from a physical standpoint, because of COVID, lots of people reached a time when they didn’t have enough food resources.”

Those two needs — food and prayer — animated Pastor Jason and his team as they served around Surprise. Rather than beginning their own organization to alleviate food scarcity, Pastor Jason’s launch team reached out to other organizations in the community, asking how they might help their work in food distribution. The organizations welcomed the help, and the team jumped in to work. 

As the launch team distributed food in neighborhoods, people were open about their need for prayer. “As we provided food for people, we also prayed for them. We want to be a church that loves God by loving others,” Pastor Jason said.

In the process, others have begun to know God, as well. One family came to receive food, mentioning their uncertainty about where their next meal might otherwise have come from. As they received food, Pastor Jason’s team prayed for them, and they opened up about the spiritual needs their family was facing.  “They gave their lives to Christ on that day, and they’re now regular attenders of our church,” Pastor Jason said. Presence in the community offers “a ministry by which you can transform. …by giving encouragement and a word into people’s life,” he continued.

Since serving in the community, Pastor Jason and his team have launched their church plant — and Transformation Community Church (TCC) continues to operate a food ministry that faithfully serves their community. 

Going forward, Pastor Jason and his team know their ministry in Surprise will be shaped by their early connections with the community. When his team reflects on God’s work in their congregation’s infancy, three principles come to their minds: 

“First, listen to the Holy Spirit — whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do (or not to do), listen. 

Second, trust the Holy Spirit — believe that what the Spirit is telling you is going to allow you to line up to the will of God. 

Third, obey the Holy Spirit. Go do it. Obeying is faith in action. You just have to go do it. If the Lord sent you to do it, his hand is upon it.” 

For more information about how TCC is engaged in their community, click here.

Rev. Ethan Linder is the hospitality, college and young adult pastor at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.