My family and I have big news! God is leading us to start a new church in Orlando, FL. This may come as a surprise to some and yet many of you saw it coming. Church Planting has been something certainly on my heart for sometime now, since my days in seminary. But now is the time. We are stepping out on faith and trusting God to start a new work that will be Jesus-centered and strategically focused on engaging those who don’t know Him! Here are ten reasons I sincerely believe God is calling our family to start a ministry in Orlando.
- God’s Glory – We are created for God’s Glory. It is the ultimate reason. There is no higher reason. Changed lives are great. Seeing a new ministry being birthed is awesome. But if it is not for God’s fame to be spread as the ultimate treasure then it is purposeless. In all honestly, I want this new church to be about God. Not me. Not preaching. Not innovation. Not vision. Those are all great components to have. Still, they are not ultimate. God is. God will not give His Glory to another; nor should he (Isaiah 48:9,11). I FEAR the day this new church becomes about anything other than God getting glory through everything. On the other hand, I am excited at the possibility this new church has to lift up all the attributes of God in the city of Orlando so he may be esteemed and treasured amongst his people.
- God’s People – God loves people. He loves them so much he gave his only Son to die for them so they may have a restored relationship with him (John 3:16). God cares about the souls of people who are lost. He raises up shepherds who have this desire and burden. God raises up shepherds who desire to leave the 99 to find the lost. In the book of Acts, Paul was comforted in the face of persecution because he knew God had people in that city who belonged to him. I believe that is true about Orlando.
- God’s Calling – God has given me an internal call to plant a church. I have a desire to see the Gospel go forth that is unshakeable. I’ve had many opportunities come my way besides church planting, that were all amazing ways to glorify God and serve his people. However, I could never shake church planting.
- My Gifts – Through my abilities, circumstances, and of course God’s providence I believe God has been preparing me for this task. God providentially prepared a young shepherd boy to become the shepherd of the nation named David. God providentially prepared Paul through culture and personality to play an essential part in the formation of the church. Through my experience at UCF as an religious studies major, studying at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, leading a young adult ministry at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, and doing youth ministry for three years has allowed me to refine my gifts and grow in Christ-like character.
- My Fears – Following God’s will is not always easy. There is a lot of fear that attempts to keep us on the boat instead of walking on water with laser focus on Jesus. I fear failing at this endeavor. I fear not raising enough funds. I fear attacks from Satan. But then I am reminded that God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear cannot be the primary deciding factor. Faith is. Therefore, I am moving forward to see faith work itself out in love in the Beautiful City.
- My Comforts – I have some good friends at the Image Church here in Jax. They use a phrase that is true. “Comfort is a killer.” You wouldn’t think so; but it is. Comfort is the reason we deflect and defend our sin instead of pursuing the uncomfortable joy in repentance. The root idol of compromising comfort is self. I am sinfully self-interested even in my most “spiritual” endeavors. Don’t believe me? Just tally up the times the Lord has “led” you to do something you really want to do. Biblically, that is not always the case. He called Jonah to Nineveh. He called Jeremiah in his youth. He called me to Orlando; away from family, my church, and my comfort. He called me to start from scratch once again. I’m ok with that. My identity and security in Jesus lets me face the loss of comfort.
- Orlando’s Harvest – Central Florida should be a strategic sending city for every denomination and network in America . It has a multinational community, multimillion population, and is largely unreached. The Greater Orlando Baptist Association has some striking statistics concerning Orlando:
- 66 million people visited Orlando in 2015
- Disney employs over 70,000 employees
- UCF is the second largest University in America with over 60,000 students
- Central Florida is home to over 4 million residents
- 86% are not connected to a local church
- Shiloh’s Support -I have been tremendously blessed to serve for more than three years at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church. Under the leadership of HB Charles Jr. I have grown as a pastor, preacher, and more importantly a man. There is a stereotype that black churches do not support church plants or missions. Perhaps there are some statistics to support it. Whatever the case, Shiloh cannot be counted. The support, prayer, and willingness to send me as a son of the church has been encouraging.
- Summit’s Training – Before we land in Orlando, my family and I will pause and prepare in North Carolina for 9 months. Why? One Word: Summit. Summit Church is one of the BEST residency programs led by JD Greear and his phenomenal Summit Network staff. We chose this residency for two major reasons. First, its Gospel-centered, sending DNA. There are few if any churches that take sending planters and missionaries more serious than Summit church. As I prepare to engage the urban context, building and sending leaders is essential. I hope to be one domino in a chain of church plants starting in Southeast urban centers. Second, the Summit residency is holistic. It covers systems but it also shepherds families. Within the context of a local church, I know my family and I will be cared for and sent with spiritual health as a priority.
- My wife – I saved the best for last. Really. I did. Without my wife none of this would be possible. God has used her as an ultimate helpmate. She supports me. She inspires me. She takes care of home. She contributes greatly to my ministry. With the Holy Spirit and her by my side, I am ready to storm the gates of hell with nothing but a Bible and a vision for people to see Jesus.
Will you join us? I have given you my reasons. What could be yours? I ask that you commit my family to prayer on this journey. Consider supporting by serving or giving. However you decide, it will be more than enough.
Our timeline is to leave in August 2016 to begin our residency with Summit Church. After 9 months there, we will land in Orlando ready to start the early phases of starting this new church. Subscribe to this blog to receive more updates!
For God’s Glory,