Pictured Above: Connect Church is a four-year-old church plant gathering in a Oakridge Middle School in east Naples. Photo shown is pre-COVID-19.
NAPLES–Gathering in the lavish, rapidly growing city of Naples is a four-year-old church plant dedicated to remaining faithful in the small tasks and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Connect Church prides itself on being a place where people can “connect with God, cultivate faith, and serve their community,” according to founding pastor Kevin Fletcher. Gathering at Oakridge Middle School in east Naples, the mobile church environment has allowed the congregation to use homes and Connect Groups throughout the city as their mission field and places of ministry.
Characterizing its mission and vision statement as “The ‘Three C’s’,” Fletcher said it “truly encapsulates what we are trying to do as a church. We want to help people that would not normally go to church connect with God. Then we encourage them to own their faith and to cultivate and grow it. Finally, we try to show by example that our faith needs to be shared and used. We do this by reaching the community through service and mission projects.”
God is continuing to bless Connect Church, Fletcher said, as they refect consistency and faithfulness in the small tasks. “I would like to think it is because we are faithful with the little things,” Fletcher said. “We are not a very big church, but we do what we can when it is put before us.
”With an emphasis on being “a safe place, for real people with real needs,” Connect Church meets needs of its community by hosting an annual backpack drive, angel tree and an adopt-a-family campaign to help those in their church and community during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
“We are small and realize that comes with some limitations, but we can care for people and meet the needs of our members and their circle of influence,” said Fletcher.
Connect Church is also faithful in the big, weighty task of sharing the gospel and reaching their community. In November 2019, the church launched the “Who’s Your One?” campaign that set them on an upward trajectory of gospel shares and nurturing intentional, gospel-centered relationships.
“I would consider the “Who’s Your One” campaign successful as the sermon series and small groups helped our church understand the need and how to share the gospel,” Fletcher said. “We emphasized prayer, intentional relationships, and conversations…we were very encouraged by the willingness of our members to step out of there comfort zone.”
Fletcher is convinced that through everyday faithfulness the kingdom of God is growing and being impacted. “Little by little and step by step is the kingdom impact by our church,” he said. “We have baptized over 15 people and have dramatically changed the lives of families toward the kingdom mindsets and kingdom growth.”
Wayne Briant, Florida Baptist Convention’s catalyst for the southwest region, said Connect Church is committed to God’s vision. “Kevin Fletcher and his people have been faithful to the task of church planting,” Briant said. “Florida Baptists are happy to partner with him in the task.”
“The Florida Baptist Convention has been a tremendous help for Connect Church. I can honestly say that we would not be where we are today without the help of the convention,” Fletcher said.
After years of serving in ministry and church planting, Fletcher has learned that God is faithful in working all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). “What people often have planned for evil; God takes and uses it for good,” he said. “He is a faithful God that often shows his faithfulness in different ways then I could imagine.”
Fletcher urges other pastors and staff to be faithful where God has them placed. “Do not worry about what you could have done or what others are doing. Walk and work in your ministry, bring people with you, and let God worry about the rest.”