Editor’s Note: Arthur Gonçalves is one of the featured church planters in 2023 Maguire State Mission Offering resources. The statewide 2023 offering goal of $820,000 is earmarked to help reach the 15.8 million Florida residents who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, with 100% of all receipts designated to help launch church plants in the state.
SANFORD—”We want to meet people, so that we can meet needs, with the hope that they will meet Jesus,” said Church Planter Arthur Gonçalves, who launched Restoration Church of Sanford in January 2022.
Meeting needs with the power of the gospel is exactly what the church plant is doing in the heart of downtown Sanford.
Originally, the seed for the church plant was sewn in Gonçalves’ heart as he was serving in downtown ministry at the Church at Heathrow in Sanford. Soon afterward, it became apparent to him and his wife, Jessica, that the Central Florida community required more attention than a part-time outreach ministry—it desperately needed a healthy local church.
“As the Lord breathed new life into this community, it became increasingly apparent that the historic downtown area had unmet needs that extended beyond the scope of an outreach ministry,” he said. “It became clear that the downtown historic district needed a healthy local church that could uniquely cater to the specific needs of the community.”
Desiring to meet the significant and growing needs of downtown Sanford—where many men and women are struggling emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually—Gonçalves and a handful of others began gathering in 2020 at the back of a local diner for weekly prayer.
Committed to permeating the darkness and brokenness with the power of the gospel, Restoration Church launched two years later at Hamilton Elementary School in the heart of the impoverished downtown area. Today the small gathering is a “thriving and growing gospel-centered, gospel-culture church,” said Gonçalves.
Utilizing a multifaceted approach, the church seeks to “guide individuals towards not only spiritual restoration but also mental, emotional, physical and relational healing and restoration,” said Gonçalves.
“Restoration Church of Sanford is a home for the broken,” he continued. “We recognize that every individual carries their own burdens and yearns for the healing touch of Jesus and the redemption offered in the gospel.”
The church planter shared how it is only through the partnership of other local churches coming “right beside” him that Restoration Church is able to champion its mission to “restore all people from all walks of life back to God through grace by faith in Jesus Christ.”
Gonçalves reiterated just how much it means to him to have the prayers and encouragement of thousands of other Florida Baptist churches in his corner, alongside the financial support through the Maguire State Mission Offering.
It is a wonderful source of strength and encouragement to me and the members of our church to know that brothers and sisters from around our state are fighting for us in prayer and partnering with us to reach the lost in Sanford through the Maguire State Mission Offering. You are partnering in the advancement of the gospel in propelling young churches just like mine.
“It is a wonderful source of strength and encouragement to me and the members of our church to know that brothers and sisters from around our state are fighting for us in prayer and partnering with us to reach the lost in Sanford through the Maguire State Mission Offering,” he said. “You are partnering in the advancement of the gospel in propelling young churches just like mine.”
Because of this overwhelming support, the Central Florida church has big plans for its future. Restoration Church is currently searching for a permanent church home, building a proprietary biblical counseling program and pastoral residency program, and continuing to grow its Freeway Sanford and Family Advocacy ministries in order to better serve the community.
“Our Freeway Sanford, along with our Family Advocacy ministry, helps us make a genuine and tangible impact in our community,” he said. “Not only can we advance the gospel, but we can also immerse ourselves in the complexities of people’s lives through these crucial ministries. Despite the constant challenge of insufficient funds to meet the demand, we are grateful for the Maguire State Mission Offering, which enables us to address the needs of our community through these ministry initiatives.”
The 20-month-old church is already laying the groundwork for launching its own church plants in the Sunshine State.
“We hope to plant one church every three years,” he said. “The first church we plant will be in 2025. We are well on our way!”
Gonçalves is enthusiastic about the future and praises God for His faithfulness over the past several years as the church has seen countless stories of restoration and salvation through this vital effort. The pastor remains convinced that God will continue to fuel the lifechanging ministry work and kingdom impact being done in downtown Sanford for years to come, as they rely on God to “carry out the mission of His church.”
“Christ builds His church, and the mission of God is fueled by God,” he said. “We believe and we pray with shameless boldness as if God really does have all that we need.”