Tucked away in the flourishing Gulf Coast city of Sarasota is a church that has dedicated itself to “majoring on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Colonial Oaks Baptist Church is a multifaceted congregation that prides itself on being “sensitive to the needs of the community” and putting primacy on “proclaiming the Good News,” said Gary Roy, who has led the church as senior pastor for the past 21 years.
Beyond traditional ministries of the church, Colonials Oaks dedicates several services each year to recognize and celebrate veterans, law enforcement, firefighters and other civil servants.
On Sunday, Sept. 8, Colonial Oaks hosted a First Responders Sunday in remembrance of the 18th anniversary of 9/11, inviting law enforcement officers and firefighters in Sarasota County.
“We reach out and serve our community in whatever means we possibly can,” said Roy.
Colonial Oaks not only serves the community, they also take serious the responsibility to share their possessions with one another, embracing an Acts 2:45 commitment, Roy explained.
“There is a deep, family environment and bond” among the 220 members, said Roy. “No one goes without, within the walls of the church.”
Over the past year, Colonial Oaks has seen a significant increase in professions of faiths and baptisms. Many of these decisions come from large events they host each year including their Passion Easter performance and FCA Student Camp.
Most recently in June, Colonial Oaks hosted a Baptism Sunday when nine people made decisions to be baptized. Two of these were Roy’s grandchildren.
“Ministry always has its struggles,” Roy said, “but the rewards of ministry are tremendous. To see my children walk in truth is the greatest reward. It’s overflowing joy, that’s fulfillment.”
Roy attributes the increase in spiritual decisions to the focus Colonial Oaks places on preaching the gospel and consistently issuing calls for people to put their faith in Christ.
“We major on the Gospel. After every worship service, we close our time sharing the Romans Road and giving an invitation to come forward,” said Roy. “If it sounds like a broken record, then I praise the Lord.”
Every Sunday, Roy challenges his people to take what they have learned and share it as they enter their mission field–Sarasota. “We equip them every Sunday to share the gospel,” said the pastor.
Roy is convinced that God is blessing Colonial Oaks because they have committed to not focus on a vision statement or programs, but the name of Jesus.
“We lift up the name of Jesus Christ,” Roy said. “We have decided to dedicate the church to who owns it–Jesus.
He said too often churches “program the Holy Spirit right out of the door. If you look to Jesus above all for His direction, the church vision statement will change.”
Reminiscing on his 40 years in ministry, Roy quoted 2 Tim. 4:2 when Paul tells Timothy to “preach the Word.” Roy encourages those in ministry to “build your church on two things: preaching the Word and loving the people.
“If a man is faithful to the Word of God, He will bless.”
Pastor Gary Roy hosts a radio broadcast, Faith Answers, on WTBN 570am and 910am every Saturday from 12-1pm. To listen, go to letstalkfaith.com.