When the stay-at-home orders went into place last March, Gateway student, Brian Simms, thought his church, CrossPointe Fontana, would have to “fight and scratch to stay alive.” CrossPointe, however, is no stranger to adversity.

The church has a unique history. CrossPointe is the product of a merger between two churches eleven years ago – First Baptist Church Fontana and Northwinds Church. It has a broad age demographic and has made many adjustments to blend established traditions with new and innovative ideas.

“One of the things that my church knows about me is that I don’t have a whole lot of ties to tradition, and I am not afraid to make the necessary changes,” he said.

Simms is the senior pastor of CrossPointe and a native of Fontana, California. At the age of 20, he started his relationship with Christ. He has served in ministry at the same church for ten years. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic, CrossPointe attendance was typically just under 100 on a Sunday morning. Though some members were initially reluctant about the transition to a remote service, against all odds, Simms says the church has “begun to thrive online.”

“We have a sizable senior adult group so I didn’t know how things would translate over for them. But the shutdown kind of made us get our act together online.” 

“We now have about 140 households viewing online from all over California, the United States, and even overseas,” he said.

Furthermore, that isn’t the only way Crosspointe has been growing. “We’ve experienced a miracle of God—our giving has also increased during the pandemic,” Simms said.

In fact, the church has seen a 15% growth in tithes over the past several months. This is an impressive statistic considering the stark difficulties many churches are currently facing. Some experts predicted churches would see a decline in giving during the pandemic. Bill Wilson, director of The Center for Healthy Churches, anticipated churches would suffer a 33% decline in giving in 2020.

Simms attributed their recent growth to the grace of God. The church has been abundantly blessed during this time, and they have adapted to new challenges presented by an ever-changing world in crisis. Now they are reinvesting their resources into the people in their community.

“We are looking for ways to be a blessing to others during these difficult times,” Simms said.  One action CrossPointe took in direct response to COVID-19 was offering practical support to frontline healthcare workers. The church provided lunch, cards of encouragement, and prayed over the workers at both a COVID-19 testing facility and a dental office in Fontana.

In addition to physical needs, CrossPointe has been working to meet the great spiritual need in their community as well. Before the pandemic began, Simms was working to personally reach the people around him. Although he had a passion to share the gospel, his efforts were relatively unstructured. “I didn’t really have a consistent evangelism strategy until I took Basic Evangelism with Dr. Pate,” he said.

During the eight-week course, Simms was able to have eight intentional gospel conversations and was able to help lead five people to the Lord. After the pandemic began, Simms found that his evangelism strategy worked well online using Zoom software.

Despite the challenges the world is currently facing, the Holy Spirit is still at work. Transitioning to online ministry has been challenging for many congregations. But as Crosspointe and Simms have demonstrated, it is still possible to share the good news of the gospel.

“We’re gearing up to go through [at least] the end of the year online,” Simms said.

“We are going to stay on this track and will hopefully continue to thrive.” 


1 faithandleadership.com/will-church-financially-survive-covid-19-pandemic


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Personal Timeline Lessons of Ministry Leaders

Kristen Ferguson
Director of Online Education | Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
Dr. Kristen Ferguson serves as the Director of Online Education and associate professor of educational leadership at Gateway Seminary. Her doctoral research at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary investigated evangelical faculty perceptions on online theological education. Her continued research focuses on online course design, blended learning, and online teaching best practices.

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