All of Jesus for All of Life: FBC Jacksonville committed to community

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Amid cultural and financial challenges, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is committed to “reaching all of Jacksonville with all of Jesus for all of life.”

Pastor Heath Lambert
Pastor Heath Lambert

“The death of cultural Christianity and a general lack of church attendance have created new challenges in sharing Christ with the larger community,” said Senior Pastor Heath Lambert.

When Lambert first began serving as senior pastor in 2017, the church held $90 million in liability, coming largely in the form of property that had not been maintained. Through property sales, renovations and right-sizing of church staff and programs, the church has been able to erase most of that debt.

At its original downtown church location, First Baptist is looking to be a good neighbor by reviving multiple blocks of crumbling facilities and creating spaces for people to gather, grow and worship.  The church is focused on serving the business community, police and other first responders, healthcare workers, teachers and families, helping carry their burdens and showing them the love of Jesus, Lambert said.

The student ministry has taken to the streets to develop relationships with inner-city kids. The church is celebrating teacher appreciation week by providing lunch to more than 350 teachers. And, the church has opened its doors for police academy graduations, providing food and gifts to new recruits.

A “Stop Station” is currently under construction on campus for downtown police officers to use 24/7 as a break spot or a place to fill out paperwork and have a snack. Bibles and other literature will be provided at the Stop Station.

The church has launched a website with resources for police officers and also offers free biblical counseling to officers.

The addition of a new campus, Nocatee, opened doors to reaching more of the city with the gospel of Christ. The church, under the leadership of Campus Pastor Spencer Harmon, offers neighborhood Bible studies and has begun to equip members with relational evangelism strategies for challenging and changing times.

“We’ve had to retrain our congregation for faithfulness in this changing world,” said Pastor Lambert. “Our precious members have been on a journey of learning how to take an ancient message and use fresh methods of sharing in a new day of ministry.”

With all the challenges, changes and growth, the congregation has seen revival with a growing love for Jesus, a growing love for one another and an eagerness to worship and grow in faith, Lambert said.

Through special gifts and the sale of unused property, all new work has been fully funded. New families are attending the church weekly, and new member classes at both campuses are filled to capacity each month.

“It has been the hardest five years of my life, but I feel like blessing upon blessing and miracle upon miracle are happening,” Lambert said.

For the first time in five years, the church is living within its means with property it can afford; the congregation has renewed energy and joy, and the church is regularly adding new members, Lambert reported.

  1. June Grose says

    What an uplifting story for First Baptist Jacksonville. Taking a church that had been so
    Relevant for many years….that began to disintegrate and turn it around! Amazing when
    the focus is on What would JESUS do….get out of debt and use HIS eyes to see what
    the community needed spiritually! HALLELUJAH!

  2. Troy says

    Dr. Lambert reminds me of a young Homer Lindsey Jr. I hope he succeeds.

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