By JOHN QUICK
It’s the biggest church, in the biggest city of the biggest state in America, and Pastor Ron Hoffman has one big goal for it: to reach everyone in the entire 425.8-million-acre state with the message of the love of Jesus.
I was recently given the opportunity to record a series of vlog-style (video) profiles of Pastor Ron of Anchorage Baptist Temple and his team. What an incredible experience it was to spend the day with the ABT team.
Pastor Ron is motivated by the desire to see Alaskans succeed, no matter what they are going through. He is dedicated to spreading the loving message of Jesus and helping people embrace their destiny. He has also become a proponent of Christians getting involved in the political process.
Reaching every Alaskan with God’s Word is daunting; Pastor Ron is using technology to help him and his team fulfill ABT’s mission i”s “to make a BIG deal about following Jesus.”
With a Bible and a copy of Lead Like it Matters by Craig Groeschel, Ron facilitated a discussion with his team to begin envisioning the church in 10 to 20 years. He spoke to the importance of being able to move with the times as various tools become more widely available than ministries ever dreamed they would have centuries ago.
With the rise of online streaming from churches as a response to the Covid pandemic of 2020, the church expanded its reach to a wider audience extending beyond the bounds of the physical church. Anchorage Baptist Temple now offers its services under its Sermons page, where the sermons are live every Sunday at 11 am, and Wednesdays at 7 pm.
The church has also recently partnered with ABC Alaska to broadcast services on Sundays.
Pastor Ron recognized the need to expand services online for those who may not have the ability to physically get to the church, which is on Northern Lights Blvd. in Anchorage. Yet, with the growth of online communities, there are opportunities to reach more Alaskans through social media groups.
While some things may change with how the church interacts with its members and future members, Pastor Ron reminded his colleagues that some things may never change. No matter how technology advances in a church, Jesus is steadfast, and there will always be the need for courageous and encouraging pastors, and people joined in fellowship through Christ. That has always been the core of the church that he would never want to lose.
With Alaska being the biggest state in the nation, Pastor Ron intends to use every instrument he has available to help those in Alaska who are starving for a relationship with Jesus because he believes that is what will strengthen the state and the people.
What does Jesus say about fear? Pastor Ron Hoffman explains in 10 seconds.
I asked Pastor Ron about his intentions for the church in the near future; his answer was to unite the state through the spirit of the Gospel. Once Alaskans embrace God’s purpose, they can create a great state that helps everyone.
I listened to him describe helping lost souls find their way back to Christ, and he reminded his team of their vital role in Alaskans’ everyday lives. One of ABT’s members was able to help a young man simply find the church. He met with him to hear his story and helped him join the church the very same day. Another focus of the ministry is with couples who seek help for their troubled marriages. During these meetings, while the husbands and wives would come in and sit on opposite sides of the room, many couples received the support through the staff at ABT to heal their broken relationships, and they would leave together, at each other’s side.
Witnessing the church members’ happiness by helping broken families brought a glow into the room as Pastor Ron began to prepare his closing prayer for their team meeting.
I asked Pastor Ron why he loves Alaska so much. “I’ve always felt a burden and a passion for Alaska, I’ve never thought that I would ever leave nor would I take another job anywhere else in the states,” he said. “So it’s truly just a love for the people, I really engage and love what we do here.”
His next project with ABT leader Kevin Whitley is to reach a larger audience through the church’s music program. In a recent Must Read Alaska video story, Whitley said his love of music was heavily influenced by his family, which was full of musicians and singers, the church, and his school. Continuing his passion for music as he became an adult, he believed that his ability to express himself through music was something to be shared with others and what God has given him to help make Alaska a better place.
When I approached him with the question about why he loves Alaska so much, Whitley said that it is having such a close-knit community in a big city like Anchorage, knowing that he can always call on someone and doesn’t have to feel alone.
“The gift that I have is not mine to keep to myself or to hold for myself but it’s something that you give back whatever way that the Lord kind of leads you to,” Whitley said.
Whitley gave Must Read Alaska viewers a preview of a song from the upcoming album, “Elevation,” which you can listen to at this link:
The Anchorage Baptist Temple opened its doors in 1956. What started as a small church of only 200 members has turned into over 2,000.
It also opened elementary and secondary schools emphasizing spiritual development. Due to its rapid growth, the church has expanded its services beyond its doors.
The ABT kids programs host fun, activity-filled Sundays where youngsters can play games and learn about the Word of God. The church also has a dedicated room for mothers and their newborn infants. ABT understands that it may be difficult for some to get to the church due to the spread out nature of Anchorage, and so it offers a bus service that can come straight to a person’s doorstep. The AWANA program for young children is the church’s after-school club that runs throughout the school year.
For older groups ranging from high school to older adults, ABT utilizes their school and community groups to help build connections among their followers.
For adolescents, the church has been able to offer after-school and Sunday groups for those wishing to develop their relationship with God and make new friends.
For those in adulthood, the church offers a variety of programs. From Spanish classes for those interested in learning the Bible in Spanish, to the “Transformation” support group that helps those who are on the wrong path or suffering from marital problems, to the marriage preparation group named “Forward,” and even several programs for the elderly to be active in the church, ABT knows that a church needs to be more than just a place that meets on Sundays. It has to be a place where people can feel at home and have fun.
Pastor Ron is the leader who helps light the way for Anchorage Baptist Temple. His own life journey is what has led him here, losing his own family at a young age, which forced him to move to Anchorage. In Anchorage, he was able to attend ABT’s Christian School, which helped keep him on the right path and eventually find his future wife, Crystal. The couple moved to Virginia, where he studied at Liberty University.
But Alaska called him home. Upon their return, Pastor Ron began working at the Anchorage Christian Schools and taught for about 25 years before moving on to work in the youth ministry. He is the founder of Frontline, which still runs to this day and is a community group for adults. Knowing the ins and outs of both the school and the church, he eventually became the lead pastor in May of 2019 and has been able to help grow the church’s programs and strengthen the community.
John Quick is vice president of Must Read Alaska, and is living his best life in Nikiski.