By land or by sea, church reaches people for Christ

0 1,179

Pictured Above: Boot Key Harbor—Location of the weekly Dockside Service 

MARATHON—Can you imagine completing church visitation by kayak to travel to individual boats docked in the beautiful, clear waters of Boot Key Harbor? That’s what ministry looks like for one Florida Baptist pastor.

When Monte Chitty and his wife were planning to retire from the mission field, they looked to the southeast region of the Sunshine State to anchor themselves. However, several weeks into attending a local church, Chitty found himself as lead pastor of First Baptist Church Marathon.

Before moving to Marathon, Chitty and his wife previously served 10 years in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and several years in Texas and Nevada. Now, Chitty is using his ministry experience of serving in church plants and church revitalizations to lead FBC Marathon to reach the lost in its primarily transient community. Having served in various ministry contexts and climates, he said one thing remains constant—people desperately need Christ.

“People need Christ,” he said. “Regardless of where you’re serving, people need Christ. I have served in the most northwest point of the United States to the most southeast point, and people need Christ.”

Reaching the community for Christ “doesn’t necessarily mean we will get them inside the door of the church, but the priority is to get them into the kingdom of God.”

Monte Chitty Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marathon

The church he now serves in Marathon “has a renewed vision for salvation and reaching our community,” Chitty said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean we will get them inside the door of the church, but the priority is to get them into the kingdom of God.”

Going where the people are

This vision led Chitty to launch a Sunday morning worship service where the people are—the water.

Seeking to serve a large population living on the water in Boot Key Harbor, Chitty leads a dockside service for boaters Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Because many of the locals live on their boats full-time, traveling to the main campus of FBC Marathon had become a weekly challenge. To meet the needs of the people, Chitty removed that challenge by allowing boaters to travel to the dockside service by kayak or dinghy.

Even with Marathon being known for its high turnover rate and transient challenges due to tourism, snowbirds and seasonal workers, the dockside church ministry already, at just a few months old, is averaging 20 people, doubling the church’s average attendance.

Taking a church service to people on the water is not the only place the church is willing to go.

Chitty said that over the next few months, the church plans to launch a Sunday afternoon worship service on the other side of the Florida Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge in an effort to reach the more than 2,000 people living in two recreational vehicle parks there.

“The command of the Great Commission—’Go ye therefore’—does not say, ‘Bring them here.’ We must go to them. We must think outside the box of saying, ‘We have the building; come to us,’ to reach the unsaved and the unchurched.”

As a result of being intentional about gospel outreach, the church has seen renewed re-engagement and revitalization, celebrating many baptisms for the first time in more than seven years.

“You have to think outside of the box in order to reach people who are unsaved and unchurched,” he said.

Even if that means grabbing a kayak.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.