Southwest Florida church ‘prayed up and ready to grow’

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ENGLEWOOD—The simple, coastal town of Englewood, located about 35 miles south of Sarasota, is mostly known for its Fishermen’s Village and being a family-friendly escape. And, for New Hope Baptist Church, keeping things “straightforward” and simple is exactly what they’re going for.

Referencing the work of “Experiencing God” author Henry Blackaby, Dave Hockney, pastor of the southwest Florida church since January, said that he leans toward a “straightforward,” no-fluff strategy desiring to merely join God wherever He is moving.

“My responsibility is to not get ahead of God,” he said. “My responsibility is to see where God is working and join Him in the work He has called me to. I want to lead our people to be led by the Spirit.”

The church seeks to operate on a kingdom-sized mindset, taking faith-sized strides to support the mission of the church to “show a genuine concern and love for people,” said Hockney.

“We do not have fancy programs or follow any specific strategies. Instead, we just serve faithfully and read and teach the Bible,” he said. “We’re focused on reading Scripture, paying attention to where God has placed us, and responding accordingly to where He is leading.”

With 37 years of pastoral experience—serving churches in Kentucky, Ohio, Hawaii, Virginia and Tennessee—Hockney said that this simple vision for the church and merely joining God wherever He leads has never let him down and it is stirring something within the people of New Hope.

Despite the seasonal fluctuation of annual snowbirds, the church has been trending upward in both Sunday School and Sunday worship attendance over the past six months. Hockney attributes their recent doubling in size and the renewed excitement of the members not only to a simple and straightforward ministry approach, but also to the intentional prayers of the pastoral search committee and the freedom of allowing him to hit the ground running.

“When a church is prayed up and ready to grow, God will bring the people to the church.”

Dave Hockney pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Englewood

“When a church is prayed up and ready to grow, God will bring the people to the church,” he shared. “This church is ready to grow and ready to reach people.”

When asked what the future of New Hope looks like, Hockney immediately shifted the conversation to missions. The new Florida Baptist pastor seeks to cultivate a heart for missions, long-term evangelistic relationships and engagement, senior adult mission trips, and feeding the “hunger” that his members already have expressed, he said.

“In my 37 years of ministry, this has been my best experience at a new church,” said Hockney. “The people are loving, sweet, and we immediately felt part of the church family.”

“God doesn’t waste your experience,” he reflected. “Everything in my 37 years of ministry has primed me for this moment, with these people.” Referencing 2 Corinthians 1, Hockney noted that everything in his life has framed the ministry that he now does in southwest Florida.

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