In his five and a half years as pastor of Mountain Shadows Baptist Church in Pueblo West, Colorado, Ryan Lundquist has made connecting with people one of the cornerstones of his ministry. Like most pastors across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has made that emphasis much more challenging. Still, he and his wife Joy are finding unique ways to stay connected to their congregation.

“We have transitioned much of what we do to an online format,” explained Ryan. “It is scaled down to the basics, but we spend time together in the Word on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.  Our weekly Connect groups are up and running again online, allowing a place for smaller groups to fellowship.”

One of the biggest lessons the Lundquists have learned over their years of ministry is the importance of staying connected to people, which is why they place such an emphasis on it.

“Ministry is about the people,” said Ryan. “It seems almost cliché, but it is too easy to forget.  Sometimes the demands of maintaining programs and overseeing details become distracting from the people we should be focusing on. The people of your church and the people you’re trying to reach can’t be seen as a detail among many, but as the focus of your energies.”

Even through the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak, Pastor Lundquist says he tries to make contact at least once a week with people in his congregation, and he says his deacon group is also reaching out frequently. He has maintained office hours through Zoom meeting opportunities three days per week, and has challenged his congregation to perform “one another” commands from Scripture.

The Lundquists both grew up in the Midwest (Ryan is from Minnesota; Joy is from Ohio), so the move to Pueblo West, Colorado, was a change in culture.

Pueblo West is a metropolitan district of approximately 30,000 people, located 43 miles straight south of Colorado Springs. Their church’s demographics include a lot of military personnel and individuals who work in the correctional industry.

One of the ways the Lundquists have developed deeper relationships in a culture that is different from what they are used to is through discipleship.

“Over the last few years, we have been focusing on developing leaders, and it has been so encouraging to see God working in the lives of people who want to be faithful,” said Ryan. “I’m working with my second group of men going through a 30-week long Intentional Discipleship program. We are seeing a lot of fruit!”

Both Ryan and Joy are grateful for the ministry training they received while they were students at Faith Baptist Bible College. For Ryan, his time at Faith was a time of strong spiritual growth and redirecting.

“During my time at college, I finally surrendered my life to the Lord. Through a conversation with a faithful friend, I was challenged about the way I was living and the need to live for Christ. I finally decided to stop running from what God wanted for me and to spend my life in service to him.”

Joy recalls the deep relationships she was able to build, as well as all of the ministry opportunities she had, which prepared her for full-time ministry.

“I worked as a secretary in a secular position right after graduation,” said Joy. “I felt very prepared and confident in that role because of my training at Faith. The classes I took also prepared me well for the ‘administrative duties’ as a pastor’s wife. There is no secretary employed at our current ministry, and I am able to help my husband with different administrative jobs.”

Joy and Ryan met as classmates at Faith.  Ryan was friends with Joy’s brothers, and they worked together and went to church together. They were married on June 23, 2007, and now have four children, ages one through eight.

The Lundquists acknowledge that working with people in a full-time ministry is both rewarding and also exhausting. They encourage young people to take time to rest, and not get discouraged when the love you show to others is not always returned in the same manner.

“Some of the people you serve will become rich sources of encouragement and love, and some will not,” said Joy. “Do not lose heart; your work is unto the Lord!”