SARASOTA – A passion and eagerness to engage people with the gospel has been poured into members of Sarasota Baptist Church, creating a culture of evangelism that has rippled through their community and beyond.
“Evangelism is not a ministry of our church,” said Mike Landry, lead pastor at the church for more than 24 years. “It’s a lifestyle that has developed within the life of the church.”
As a result, the congregation is frequently stirring the baptismal waters and discovering new streams as a mission-minded church.
Planted in 1984, the church is committed to the mission priorities of “engaging people with the gospel, growing together in connect groups, and mobilizing people to serve,” said Landry.
“This isn’t just a phrase,” said Landry. “We wanted something that our people could adopt as their own missional statement.”
Just prior to coming to Sarasota, Landry served for ten years as director of evangelism and church growth of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. It was during his time serving in this position, coupled with his dramatic conversion from atheism while a student at Georgia Tech, that has given Landry a deep desire to introduce and connect people to Jesus.
“Our number one priority is to mobilize the church to evangelize and connect people to Jesus,” said Landry. The staff has equipped members to “communicate effectively with skeptics and transition everyday conversations towards the gospel.”
The church constantly engages people with the gospel by mobilizing people to serve in various capacities in the community to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Just recently, the church provided over 250 lunches for teachers at two local schools near them, Lakeview Elementary School and Oak Park School.
The church has provided meals for local election officers for over 20 years.
The church also hosts “I Love Sarasota” day where hundreds of members are unleashed throughout their city to participate in organized mission projects with the Salvation Army, Sarasota National Cemetery, community beautification projects, and more.
“We want to be involved in people’s lives and intentional in everything that we do,” said the pastor.
Assisting in their weighty mission to engage people with the gospel and mobilize people to serve, Sarasota Baptist relies heavily on their connect groups to accomplish this task.
“It is in connect groups that we challenge people to share their faith and equip them on how to do so,” said Landry.
Acting as a special operations training center, members are encouraged to prioritize their connect group time to draw people into a deeper understanding of God’s Word, train and equip them to share the gospel and engage with others, and apply what they are learning through these relationships.
“Discipleship and mentoring are at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Landry.
It is safe to say that the coming years at Sarasota Baptist Church will be as bright as their former years. By involving as many people as possible in the work of ministry, cultivating a spirit of prayer, remaining anchored to the teaching of God’s Word, engaging and sharing the gospel with the lost, and having intentional discipleship conversations, the church finds themselves in an upward trajectory of gospel-centered ministry.
“Our mission is in total sync with His Word,” said Landry. “We have been faithful, and though we don’t deserve it, He loves His church.”