Church planter brings ‘Redemption’ to Lakeland

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by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention

November 5, 2015


After planting a church in Austin, Texas, during the past eight years, Brannen and Heather Padgett sensed God leading them back to their hometown of Lakeland to plant a church there.

“We had a burden for the 82 percent of the 300,000 residents in Greater Lakeland who have no connection to a church,” Brannen Padgett said. “It broke our hearts. We have many loved ones who have no connection to a church.”

So in June, the young couple returned to the Central Florida community to begin the process of planting Redemption Church.

They prayed for a worship leader and a team to help them in the effort. God graciously gave them both, he said. Robert Beckman, an experienced church planter, also joined the team as co-pastor.

The target area for their new church is downtown Lakeland, a location easily accessible for family, friends and newcomers from any part of the city. Meeting at first in an office building, the church will launch officially next Jan. 31 in the Lakeland Convention Center.

According to Beckman, who formerly served as a church planting strategist with the Florida Baptist Convention, church leaders are “tapping into their existing relationships” to develop a core group to reach non-Christian believers.

“We are not parachuting into this community and starting from the ground floor to build relationships. Those already exist.”

The Lakeland born-and-bred Padgett attended Kathleen High School and taught and coached track at Lake Gibson High School, where his wife also taught and coached soccer, so they are well connected to multiple generations in the community. Many family members and friends also reside in the Central Florida city.

“They have such a heart attachment to the city of Lakeland and the people of Lakeland,” said Beckman, who has lived in that community for nearly a decade.

Redemption held a preview launch service Sept. 27 that drew more than 100 persons to the worship center at Fuel Church, its sending church.

And while the service was attended by all ages, Beckman believes Redemption Church will draw many young families, who like the Padgetts are in their 30s and have small children. “You tend to catch who you are,” he explained.

When reaching young families, it is critical to staff children and preschool areas, Beckman explained. The sending congregation is providing many of its child care volunteers to help in the Redemption Church children’s areas.

To help with start-up costs, the church received—through its sending church–a church planting assistance grant of $8,000 from the Florida Baptist Convention.

Padgett called the gift “incredible” and said they would apply for more in the upcoming year.

As part of their DNA, Redemption church leaders are committed to planting additional churches in the region as significant growth is projected along the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. Lakeland is expected to grow by 20,000 residents or nearly 10 percent in the next four years, Padgett explained.

“We truly desire to see every man, woman and child in Lakeland have repeated opportunities to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.



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