Two days ago I published a "Note" on my personal Facebook page that contained some important updates concerning the ministry of Baylight Counseling, and the possibility of our launching a church planting effort here in Pinellas County, Fl.
By God's design, that note was lost from Facebook, which forced me to re-write, and re-publish the material, only this time I've decided to share the details here on the Baylight blog in order to reach a larger audience.
I'm excited then to share with you that my family and I, along with some other key people, are in the early stages of praying about, and talking through a vision for what we hope will be a Spirit-led journey to the planting of a brand new church community. The road already traveled to arrive at this point has been a lengthy one. But, with five years of successfully co-leading another church plant in the area behind us, we feel as prepared as ever to step out in faith, and follow Jesus on his mission of making disciples.
In many ways, Baylight has provided a point of inspiration for this new endeavor. Through October 2014, we've provided nearly 300 counseling hours to couples and individuals, and parents and teenagers who are struggling with a wide variety of life-dominating issues. As a non-profit ministry, it is the faithful giving of counselees and outside partners who have made it possible to never turn someone away for financial concerns.
On a number of occasions, counselees have found their way to Baylight with no church home. While there are options available to them, my pastoral heartbeat is to provide a church community for them where they can be equipped, and sent on mission (Ephesians 4:11-12).
With estimates of 750,000 - 900,000 unchurched or de-churched persons living in an urban county of 1,000,000 people, there simply are not enough laborers for the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38). We must reach out into our culture, share the Good News of Jesus Christ in culturally relevant ways, make new disciples, gather them into church communities, equip them for mission, and then send them with an eye toward multiplying the advance of God's kingdom.
In some sense, what you could say is that we're much less focused on planting a church, and much more concerned about making disciples, because until you have the latter, you can only dream about the former. And so, at this time we're prayerfully seeking a core group of believers who feel the same Great Commission call upon their lives, as expressed by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, and Acts 1:8.
The current phase of planning involves more questions than answers. We don't even have a cool Greek name at this point. But, we do have a biblical mandate, and that's enough for us to join God in the work he's already doing. The current timeline has us opening our home up to the core, and perhaps some visitors in late January 2015 (subject to change). We can't think of a better place to launch a church than in our living room, and if the Lord so blesses, we may seek to flood Pinellas living rooms just like yours with other Jesus-loving, life-transforming, disciple-making communities (Acts 2:46).
Does any of this interest you? If it does, please read on.
At this time, we have a number of early projects, and ministry needs that we're praying over. Here's how you can help us further the ministry of Baylight, and lay the foundations for a new church in one of our nation's least religious population centers:
- Commit to regular, prayerful, financial support for Baylight Counseling. As I fully intend to serve the church as a bi-vocational pastor, support for Baylight not only provides counseling to members of our community who are of lesser economic means, but this translates into my ability to pastor within the church.
- Give to Baylight's drive to incorporate as a 501C3 organization: ($870.00). Currently, Baylight is a ministry project of Light for Life, NFP, also a Christian organization. Long term, it's best that Baylight incorporate. This will also provide the legal covering necessary for the church to operate, providing for insurance, etc. *Update: Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fl. has graciously committed $500.00 to this purpose. Would you consider finishing off the drive?*
- Give to Baylight's drive to establish a new website ($1,000.00). We have identified a developer that provides an excellent, fully functional product that will serve Baylight, and the church plant well. We will be able to provide counseling resources, articles, and video/audio recordings of sermons, teachings, seminars, etc. In today's economy, a professional website is a must.
- Pray with us. The late Adrian Rogers once said, "We can do more than pray after we've prayed, but we can do no more than pray until we've prayed." Pray that God will bring his team together for this effort. Pray that God would give us eyes to see his vision for the church and for Baylight. Pray that disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are made, and that they flourish in new life.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this post. I'm thrilled about the future of Baylight Counseling in Tampa Bay, and I'm so excited about the opportunity to plant a new church community. Your gifts to Baylight are, of course, tax deductible, but more importantly, they're Gospel-advancing as they will translate into real ministry work right here at home, and, eventually, internationally as the church seeks its place in the global missions effort.
If I can answer any questions for you, please don't hesitate to contact me. It would be my pleasure to speak with you by phone, or to meet with you over a cup of coffee.
For His glory,