Connect, grow, serve: mission of Southwest FL church

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BONITA SPRINGS – Helping families connect with God, grow in godliness, and serve the world is precisely what New Life Church is all about.

“Our church is genuine, loving, friendly, and inviting,” said James Julian, pastor of New Life Church in Bonita Springs. “I believe our people truly want God’s glory no matter what we do or how we grow. As long as we are faithful to Him, we know God will bless our church.”

From a young age, Julian has desired to serve local churches. As a high school student living in Ocala, he and a friend created a drama ministry to share the gospel with churches in central Florida.

After college and seminary, he led churches in North Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee, before returning to the Sunshine State to serve and reach those in southwest Florida. In August, he will celebrate three years as pastor of the church located 30 miles south of Fort Myers.

“I have learned that the best ministry happens in the local church when the pastor truly and deeply loves his congregation and, in return, they love him and his family,” he said. “That kind of commitment is able to open doors for so much ministry.”

A commitment to cultivating a family-friendly environment and offering ministries for every age is one of the ways New Life helps the church family connect, grow and serve.

Not only does New Life have bustling ministries within their four walls, but the church plays a vital role in serving alongside non-profit organizations, community leagues, and others in their community. With a desire to support the kingdom-work already taking place around them, New Life has allowed the Lord to use their building facilities as He sees fit.

“We have begun to move beyond our four walls and be the lighthouse that God has commanded us to be,” said Julian. “I have been preaching and teaching regularly that it is time to fulfill the Great Commission and ‘go.’”

Along with offering an array of traditional ministries and a bus ministry, the church offers flag football, cheerleading and basketball to the church family and community through their Upward sports ministry.

New Life hosts a local preschool and private Christian school during the school year to reach young children and families. Local volleyball teams use their gymnasium, and a Hispanic congregation gathers for worship in their sanctuary on Sunday afternoons.

The church ministers to the predominantly Hispanic community in Old Bonita, has come alongside their local crisis pregnancy center, and supports Better Together, a family-focused non-profit in the region.

The congregation is also hoping to develop creative ways to minister to the influx of people who make southwest Florida their home during the winter months and the thousands of visitors throughout the year.

“We hope that our outreach ministries are reaching people for the Kingdom,” said Julian.

Although Covid has slowed church attendance, New Life is not planning to slow down ministry in their community anytime soon. The church has big plans for this fall.

A series of worship nights is on the calendar for the first Friday of every month. As part of their First Friday’s worship, the church will host The McMillans Oct. 1 for a sing-along concert.

New Life is also looking forward to serving their community by hosting a neighborhood block party in September. Along with giveaways, food and inflatables, the church has partnered with the North American Mission Board to hand out more than 100 backpacks filled with school supplies.

NAMB’s SEND program provided with church with 72 free backpacks to supplement their contributions. “We are hoping for a great response at this September block party,” he said.

“We are just going to keep doing what we believe He has called us to,” said Julian. “We continue to pray for opportunities to open up for ministry and see what He does.”

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