When I was first approached about being the pastor of Family Church (then First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach), my wife and I had already been praying about God’s next move for us. He had put it on our hearts to be in a large city with a lot of lost people, near an educational institution to influence future leaders, and in a place that had the potential to impact the world with the gospel. I was coming from a multi-site church, and hoped to bring that model with me. Unfortunately our church had been through a lot – without a pastor for 5 years, multiple scandals, and severe financial distress. There seemed to be no real possibility of being a multi-site model because we simply didn’t have the resources.
Our First Partnership
Yet very soon after I arrived, Central Baptist Church in Jupiter, Florida, approached us about a partnership. They were struggling to stay afloat. We came alongside of them with a group of leaders who lived in the northern part of Palm Beach County to combine forces and launch Family Church Abacoa. We actually leased the old Central Baptist building to another church while we met on the campus of a local university. Family Church Abacoa launched in the fall of 2010 and grew from 100 to 350 members.
A Marriage of Two Churches
Recently, Family Church Abacoa partnered with Palm Beach Community Church (PBCC) to become Family Church Gardens. This partnership formed from a long-term friendship between PBCC Pastor, Dr. Ray Underwood, and me. Dr. Ray planted PBCC 29 years ago and had been effectively reaching north Palm Beach County for many, many years. His passion to reach more and more people motivated him to contemplate how we might be better together. We officially launched Family Church Gardens this past Easter.
Their First Baby is Due in October
This fall Family Church Gardens will give birth to Family Church Jupiter. With a launch team of over 100 leaders and a bi-vocational pastor raised up out of our Family Church Residency Program, the eighth Family Church campus will launch on October 18. They will be located on the former Central Baptist Church property. Their vision is to reach every household within a 2-mile radius of the church within 2 years. They are making it their mission to have gospel conversations with an estimated 12,000 households (30,000 people) over the next two years.
The Circle of Life
This story has come full circle. It’s a story that no man could orchestrate. It’s evidence that God is at work reconciling the world to Him. He is using men and women who are willing to set aside their own personal agendas to join His mission. This is just one of a number of church revitalization success stories. You can read another one here. All of this is honestly more that we could have ever asked for or imagined, and it motivates me to keep pressing forward. Our goal is more gospel conversations and more gospel congregations. We are determined to impact the world from West Palm Beach and we believe that church revitalization is a big part of how it will happen.