First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach (West Palm Beach, FL)
A “Good Steward” Award recipient in the area of multi-site staff management, Florida’s First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach is recognized for starting new works, venues and sites — including five “neighborhood churches.” Among these five multi-site locations, one is specifically tailored for Haitian-Americans, and another is for Hispanic families.
Here, Lead Pastor Jimmy Scroggins tells us about the church’s expansion.
What does a “neighborhood church” look like?
Scroggins: We’re calling our campuses Family Church because we believe that the most important family we can be a part of is God’s family through adoption by faith in His Son, Jesus. Our vision is to plant at least 100 neighborhood churches throughout South Florida. Our SendSFL residency program is in place to train bi-vocational church planters and send them out to South Florida communities to reach the people who live
and work near them. We want to go and tell people the good news that Jesus died for them, was buried
and raised to life on the third day so they can believe in Him and be a part of God’s forever family. We’re
no longer asking people to come and see what one location has to offer; we believe that churches planting churches tailored to the local community, but supported by the larger body, is the most effective way to reach the 6.6 million people who currently don’t attend church across South Florida.
In your church’s case, what “neighborhood churches” exist?
Scroggins: We currently have five campuses. Our sending church is First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, and she has planted Family Church Español, Family Church Haitian American, Family Church Abacoa and Family Church West.
We are also in the process of forming another launch team under the leadership of one of our SendSFL residency men. We plan to launch Family Church Boynton Beach in fall 2014.
How did the church identify the need for multi-site locations specifically tailored for Haitian-Americans and Hispanic families?
Scroggins: Our Family Church Español (FCE) and Family Church Haitian American (FCHA) campuses actually share physical space with our “mother” church, First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach. They are both led by bi-vocational pastors, and they reach demographics that reflect our downtown community.
FCE is a Spanish-speaking service for the fastest-growing demographic in our downtown footprint (31 percent Hispanic in 2012; projected to be 35 percent in 2017). We want to provide a place where they can connect with Jesus and with each other in their heart language.
The Haitian American population is actually the largest immigrant group in Palm Beach County. FCHA provides an opportunity for those who speak creole and second-generational Haitian’s to worship Christ in English and their heart language.
What kinds of benefits has the church enjoyed as a result of setting up these new works, venues and sites (including rabbit churches)?
Scroggins: We get to enjoy the benefit of being obedient to the mission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:18-20. We get to go and make disciples of all the nations, and we get to do it in our own backyards. The diversity of South Florida culture allows us to do this and actually demands that we do it. We can literally touch the world from right here in West Palm Beach, Fla.
We also get to experience a little piece of heaven right here on earth as our family grows. We get to experience worship with all kinds of different people in all kinds of different languages. If people don’t like the diversity of our church family, they aren’t going to like the diversity of heaven.
For other pastors and church executives looking to expand their ministry reach with multi-site locations, what 2-3 key pieces of advice would you offer?
Scroggins: 1) This strategy must be embraced and spearheaded by the lead pastor and other key leaders of the planting church.
2) There has to be a clear theological and Biblical support for any church planting strategy (see the book of Acts). We believe the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the book of Acts was a city-by-city church planting strategy that glorifies God and sees people come to Jesus through faith and repentance.
3) The planting church leadership has to prioritize a farm system committed to identifying, training and educating Biblically qualified pastors and leaders for new church plants / campuses. A potential model for training is available online.
— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh