A Talk With a Pastor Excited to Serve During This Pandemic
In the midst of this global crisis, Tom Mullins' Christ Fellowship Church in South Florida is shining brightly.
My very close friend Tom Mullins is the founding pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Florida. His son Todd has now served as senior pastor for 10 years, while Tom remains on the teaching team. Together, they’ve seen CFC grow to 13 physical campuses. Now, the 14th campus — the online campus — is the largest. And during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s reaching people like never before.
When I called Tom to see how how he was faring with the pandemic, he could not be more enthused about how his church has stepped up to serve South Florida in its time of need. Just as the family of God is supposed to.
The Church is Made for Times of Crisis
James Robison: Tom, when I called you this week in reference to the current pandemic, you were so excited you could hardly talk. You made it clear that you were watching God reveal Himself more clearly than ever through the church. Please share some of the things God is doing in the state of Florida through Christ Fellowship.
Tom Mullins: James, I really believe the church is made for these times of crisis. That’s when we shine the best. The early church grew the fastest during great times of persecution and need.
The church has the answers — the true Source of peace. When others are caught up in so much anxiety, praise God, we have the Prince of Peace at our side. We have the people ready to respond in these times of need. So I see this whole pandemic as an opportunity for a supernatural movement of God in our world and in our nation.
Many pastors are sensing the same thing. We realize we have unique opportunities that we can seize to really minister to people.
As an example, we started reaching out to every elderly person in our own church — we literally called tens of thousands of people. What’s interesting is that some of these people no longer attend Christ Fellowship. They said, “We no longer come to Christ Fellowship.” We said, “That doesn’t matter. We’re here to serve you.” God has put an open door before us to demonstrate His love.
In our area, the communities are open to us like never before. We approached all of the city mayors — from Boca Raton north to Vero Beach out to Belle Glade, Boynton Beach, Royal Palm and all over this region where we are. Every one of them was open to us coming in and saying, “How can we serve you?”
We went to all of the police departments, sheriff departments and fire stations. We already have relationships with many of them because of the hurricane relief we bring … but we were able to take it up a notch.
Christ Fellowship Church
In Riviera Beach, the mayor compiled a list of all the homes that had people over the age of 65. We reached out to all of these homes personally and ministered to them. We took everything from paper towels to toilet paper, food, supplies and water to all of these homes. We asked what they needed. “Can we get medicine for you? What can we do?”
James: We have seen the same thing happen all over the world through the outreaches of LIFE, which is one of the reasons you and I became close. You wanted to encourage people to help us reach out to “the least of these,” recognizing that when they saw the love of God, they receive the source of that love and were won to Christ by the millions.
An Online Explosion
Tom, you are indeed reaching people for Christ. In fact, you commented to me about what happened when you recently took your services online.
Tom: On our campuses, we have approximately 30,000 physically join us on weekends. Then on a typical weekend, we have between 80,000 to 100,000 join us online.
For Easter, we had well over 600,000 join us online, with thousands receiving Christ. On average, we are now ministering to 300,000-400,000 people online each weekend. We’ve recruited an army of our dream team, our volunteers who typically serve on all of our campuses. Now they are serving online.
We’ve been forced to be innovative with the virtual connection that we have online. It’s opening new dimensions of ministry, and it’s also forcing us to think about how we better connect and share the message of Christ with those on the other side of that camera.
You’ve been doing that for years because you and Betty have had this vision — connecting with an audience that’s on the other side of the camera. But most of us in our churches have focused on the audience that is present before us. Now we’re realizing we have such a vast audience on the other side of the camera and in the virtual world, and are asking ourselves how we can best connect with them. How do we even design our services so that they connect better? How do we communicate the gospel so it is presented better?
Also, every week we have multiple talks with pastors across America discussing best practices — what they are facing, how we can be more innovative and connect better with people. It’s amazing how it is bringing us together. I think it is a unifying factor for the body.
I know this has been your prayer, James, and we share this common vision that we want to create such a bond of love among our church leaders that God’s kingdom is what we think about. We are kingdom leaders who are not letting the things of the past keep us divided, but we work together in unified love because of His kingdom purpose. That’s why I believe a movement has been started here.
It is forcing all of us to get outside the four walls of our church and into the marketplace. We’re in people’s homes in this virtual world, and it’s giving us unique and wonderful new opportunities. We’re endeavoring to seize those opportunities to the best of our ability.
The Church Unifying
James: Tom, starting 10 years ago I began asking very diverse church leaders from different “camps or tribes” to come together, and we watched a miracle occur. These leaders realized we all have the same Father and are in that family. I believe you and I witnessed the greatest manifestation of unity and love in recent years between these church leaders. As a result of it, I think we have seen many positive things take place in our nation to impact church, business and national leadership. The supernatural unity Jesus prayed for is necessary to overcome the adverse effects of this pandemic.
Tom: Yes, you and I are of the age that we have some reference points from many years ago when there was such distinct barriers between churches and movements and denominations. Praise God, I’m witnessing, especially out of our emerging leaders, the hunger for this supernatural unity and clear understanding of kingdom purpose. It is truly answered prayer.
James, I was raised by my grandfather, who was a wonderful man of God. He was a big guy — about 6’4” — a great outdoorsman. Boy, did he love God and love people. He instilled in my heart a vision for the kingdom of God. He crossed all kinds of denominational barriers, racial barriers and everything in his day — I’m talking about the ‘50s and ‘60s. He really gave me a glimpse of what it means to think kingdom, and he built this anticipation in me that there was going to be this great move of God before the return of Christ that would unite the church.
I really do believe we’re in the beginning stages of seeing this movement of God. It has gotten me so excited in these times. God is opening doors for us to love people and share the message of life and hope, and to allow His light to shine brightly.
Christ Fellowship Church
This week we will be hosting a major feeding program right here on our mothership campus in Palm Beach Gardens, where everything started for us. We are expecting thousands of people, and we’re going to love and encourage them, feed them and give them practical things they need. In every care package, we have a scripture of hope for them and contact information for a prayer line.
Also, the school board has allowed us to become one of the noon feeding programs at many of our schools where parents are coming to pick up food for their children. We’re passing out backpacks along with the food, and in those backpacks are some games and fun things for kids to do. But also, there are some Bible lessons for parents to do with their children, and there are words of encouragement.
James: From the time you and I became really close friends, I knew I had met a man who was a kingdom servant. You wanted God’s best for us and our ministry, and you wanted that for everybody. I think you saw that’s what we wanted. We joined together with others who realized we can be an answer to the prayer of Jesus and become “the city on the hill that could not be hidden.”
We’re watching this happen, and it is beautiful to see. It is the power of God, through His body — the church — that can prevent the “gates of hell” from prevailing in national life on our watch.
Tom, thank you so much for being a blessing to me and Betty, LIFE Outreach and all the people we help all over the world. We rejoice with you over every victory at Christ Fellowship and on your campuses.
Tom: You set the standard for us, James, in reaching our communities for Christ. We at Christ Fellowship are honored to be a small part of the ministries supporting you and God’s kingdom purpose.