COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise for Rock Point Church in Queen Creek, Arizona.
In 2019, Rock Point had maxed out its building with five services, so it partnered with the Converge Cornerstone Fund to triple its campus space. Construction was completed the week the Arizona governor shut down the state under quarantine. As a result, on its first Sunday in its new building, Rock Point was only able to record the service for online streaming.
Rock Point tried to do a grand opening in June, but COVID-19 spiked again — worse than before. They had to go back online. But God used their new facility to catalyze community connections despite the shutdown.
The highlight of Rock Point’s new campus became its major connection to the community: its open-air coffeehouse. With tables and sitting areas across a large covered patio, the coffeehouse operates all week, welcoming the community. Because it is outside, it remains one of the few places to connect for coffee while safely socially distancing.
Li Qiang, a man from China, randomly chose to visit the coffee shop one day. He had Googled “open coffee shops,” and Rock Point turned up.
The coffee shop manager befriended the Chinese visitor over coffee. Li Qiang confided to the manager he had arrived in the U.S. only two weeks earlier and was lonely. He also shared that, being Chinese, he had experienced harassment because of the virus. Li Qiang was surprised to discover the coffee shop is also a church and wanted to know more. While in China, he had never attended a church.
The manager invited Li Qiang to watch Rock Point’s online service the following Sunday. Curious, he did so and left a positive comment on the chat bar. When the church resumed live services in the fall, he began visiting Rock Point in person.
Li Qiang is just one of many people from Queen Creek who learned of Rock Point through the coffee shop. They came for coffee during the shutdown period, only to take steps later to connect with Rock Point spiritually in some way.
One of Rock Point’s keys has been online community. During the period of online-only church, 700 new people connected with them. Some made a new spiritual commitment. Others joined an online class or small group. Rock Point has more people in classes now than ever before.
Live services resumed in September, and in the first two weeks, 250 people who first met Rock Point online during COVID actually showed up at church for the first time.
Lead pastor Bill Bush says that, even during an epidemic, “We have grown.” Over 80 people have signed up for the church’s upcoming baptism. Most churches are running under 40% of their previous size in their reopened services. But Rock Point attendance is 86% of pre-pandemic levels.
Reflecting on Rock Point’s Cornerstone Fund construction loan and the Converge investors who made the coffee shop and other expansions possible, Bush says, “Cornerstone investors have a part in every changed life we see. I cannot thank them enough because we could not be doing the ministry we are without them.”
Today, based on their safe distancing plan, space in Rock Point’s new sanctuary is already nearly maxed out. Bush says he is having to tell his people, “If you love Jesus, you need to go to Saturdays!”
Incredibly, though COVID-19 threatened to stunt Rock Point’s growth, God used it as a blessing in disguise to help more people meet, know and follow Jesus.