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Church's Creativity During Pandemic Leads to Growth and Hundreds of Conversions

Choosing a creative approach to ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic led Crossroads Church to a time of unprecedented growth and nearly 1,000 salvation commitments in 2023.
Crossroads Church, an 87-year-old church in Belton, Texas, has experienced a mighty move of God over the past few years which has led to church growth and nearly 1,000 salvations this calendar year.

Crossroad Church’s senior leader, Matthew “Matt” G. Thrasher, 47, was raised in the church as a pastor’s kid. In 1996, he joined his parents, the senior pastors at the time, on staff. After marrying his wife, Holly, in 1998, the two served at Crossroads until 2003 as the youth pastors.

From 2003 to 2006, the Thrashers took a ministry sabbatical but returned to Crossroads in 2008 to serve as associate pastors. Then, in 2009, the Thrashers succeeded Matt’s parents as senior pastors and began their first church leadership assignment as co-pastors.

“When we took over in 2009, Crossroads was running about 200 in weekly attendance and had a healthy church culture,” says Thrasher, a Southwestern Assembly of God University graduate.

Things continued to stay stable for the church until 2020 when the country was brought to a halt by the global pandemic, COVID-19.

“Like everyone else, we were forced to stop our in-person services beginning in March, but we knew we had to keep meeting the needs of our community and giving people a sense of normalcy that they were so desperately missing,” says Thrasher.

The staff of Crossroads decided to immediately start redirecting large portions of their budget to local missions, sending out teams of people to serve however they could on Sundays.

“We picked up trash, we partnered with local food banks to feed people, and worked hard to just care for people during that time,” says Holly Thrasher, 46, co-pastor.

Crossroads also held a drive-thru Easter service which allowed people to drive through the church’s parking lot to receive supplies, Easter eggs, and get prayer and counseling from licensed professional counselors while in their cars. The drive-thru Easter was just what the community was craving; the event drew 2,000 cars with an estimated attendance of 5,000 individuals.

“It was different, of course, but it turned out to be one of the best Easters we have ever had,” says Thrasher.

Seeing how hungry people were to get back together, the Thrashers decided to get creative.

After obtaining permission from the mayor of Salado, Texas, Crossroads began hosting outdoor services at a local bar-b-que venue, commonly known for its country music concerts and generous outdoor seating capacity. It wasn’t long before these outdoor services were bringing in large crowds.

“People loved it,” recalls Kameron P. Kersey, 27, operations pastor at Crossroads.

“People just wanted that hour of normalcy. It turned out, we were part of only 3% of U.S. churches that actually grew during COVID,” Holly says.

When in-person services were permitted to resume in September 2020, there were 428 people in attendance. Then in the first part of 2021, following the holiday season, people started flooding through the doors of the church.

“Things were just crazy,” recalls Kersey, “and, within a year, Pew Research named Crossroads one of the fastest growing AG churches in February of 2022.”

Due to a steady increase in numbers for over two years, the staff of Crossroads found themselves planning for six Easter services in 2023, a task they knew would be burdensome for volunteers.

“That’s when we decided to hold one big Easter service at an event center,” says Thrasher.

As the Easter service kicked off, staff counted 3,400 people in attendance, a number that Thrasher says far exceeded what they could have imagined. The service also concluded with 300 of those people making a decision for Christ.

“Since Easter, we have had right at 2,000 people on our property every week,” reports Kersey, also a graduate of Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

Additionally, since the Easter 2023 service, Crossroads has seen 917 salvations, and Thrasher believes their goal of 1,000 salvations by Christmas Eve will be achieved.

“We decided to be the church outside of our building. We gave people the normalcy they were craving and a chance to meet Jesus. We took risks but weren’t reckless,” says Thrasher.

Seeing continued growth, Crossroads Church is on track to break ground next year for a new building on their 13-acre property which will host a new auditorium, office space, and an expanded kids’ ministry wing.

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.