ARTICLE – An Example of a Missionary Parish:  Phoenix First Assembly of God 

Tommy Barnett was the senior pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God in Arizona. His church was referred to as “The Church with a Heart” because of its more than 260 outreach ministries. Over the years and through its missionary efforts, it has experienced remarkable growth. 

Barnett says the growth of his church really began the day he preached about prayer. In a homily, he invited the members of his congregation to hold prayer meetings in their homes. He also set up an intercession meeting in the church every Monday at six o’clock in the morning. Many people began to fast, pray and seek God earnestly. “When we started to pray,” he says, “things started to happen, many people came to Christ.”

But Tommy Barnett is also convinced that the key to building the Kingdom of God is bringing non-Christians to Sunday services: “Revival will stop as soon as we stop bringing the lost to church. Prayer alone is not enough. Prayer without works is dead (…). We are sometimes tempted to be either a praying church or an acting church, but we should be both…”. 

Members of his church even go out into the streets to witness to the Gospel and a pastor is available twenty-four hours a day so that the faithful can bring him, at any hour, those who feel the need to come to Christ. 

The role of pastors, he says, is to train the faithful for ministry and for evangelization. Everything a pastor need is in the pews. One day he asked the members of his congregation, “Why don’t you start a service for people in wheelchairs?” And one woman did. Now she brings ten people in wheelchairs to worship every week. Someone else started a ministry toward people with AIDS. Another started a group for bikers. Train people, the pastor explains,  and ask them to get involved in a ministry towards others: “Tell them: Find out where God has called you and meet these people, then bring them to church every Sunday morning.”

Pierre-Alain Giffard

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