Broken Chains Biker Church (BCBC) in Taunton, Massachusetts, is far from what one might consider “normal” — and they like it that way. “Our demographic is typically someone who is not a church goer,” says Pastor Tom “Flathead” Iddings. “So, when they show up and get saved, this becomes their church — to the point where they tattoo BCBC on their knuckles.”
In light of this reality, when COVID-19 hit American shores, BCBC knew their response would look different. “We often would gather on Zoom with our staff and say, ‘All right, guys, we have to get out of the box,’” says Pastor Tom’s wife, Deb “Chopper” Iddings. “Well… how are we going to get further out of the box.”
Quickly, the Iddings began shifting their services and weekly classes online — then they upped the ante. On Mondays, BCBC began hosting an eight-week course called “Advanced Holy Spirit Training” for newly baptized members. On Tuesdays, two of their pastors discussed current events and how they relate to Scripture in a lecture called “End Times Intel.” Eventually, almost every evening had an opportunity for church members and guests to engage online. “Some of our people who couldn’t come to classes, because they have special needs children or other circumstances, started attending online,” says Pastor Tom. “And then, people from all over started attending!”
As Pastors Tom and Deb watched old and new church members filter in, they recognized more and more their community’s need for interaction and relationship amid the pandemic. So, they began equipping staff and congregants with the names and numbers of former guests to call and offer conversation and support. “Some needed toilet paper, but many just needed prayer,” says Pastor Deb. “We’d been trying to do that for years, and I could never pull people together to do it — but this finally did it.”
Circumstances surrounding the pandemic have also provided the Iddings, and several volunteers, with time to complete various construction projects at their 150-year-old chapel. “All the walls and lower ceilings are 100% painted, as well as some of the outdoor windows, trim, and doors. There is also a brand-new street, sidewalk and curbing, and base of the driveway. It’s quite a facelift,” says Deb. Many BCBC members have volunteered to meet needs outside the church as well, delivering donated food to seniors in the community as well as children who were out of school. “The growth within our community has been insane,” says Pastor Tom. “I am blown away by the leaps and bounds these people are making and how they’re sharing their faith with the world.” In response to this growth, BCBC wrapped up their busy summer with an ocean baptism, where several members publicly displayed and proclaimed their growing faith.
While the year has been far from what they expected, Pastors Tom and Deb have treated the challenges presented by the pandemic as opportunities to refresh their ministry. “No matter what, we must lead our congregations through these times. If we can’t do it the way we normally would, we have to find a new way to give them the comfort that the Lord would have them walk in or challenge them spiritually,” says Pastor Tom. The year and the struggles within it are not yet finished, but the leadership and congregation at BCBC are prepared to fight for continued growth in their church and the Kingdom. “While the rules of the game seem to have changed, the call has not,” Pastor Tom adds. “This is a great new opportunity for pastors to take a look at completely changing their approach to ministry, in order to reach the lost.”