SW Florida church creates new blueprint for ministry, worship

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CAPE CORAL–Excitement has been building from the ground-up as New Hope Church expands their kingdom impact by creating a missional culture among its people that offers a new dimension in worship.

Serving with the International Mission Board, SBC, for 24 years as church planters in Western Europe, pastor David Acton and his wife, Chanelle, know first-hand how important it is to reach their community and create a mission-minded ministry approach. To provide every opportunity for their neighbors to hear the gospel, the church created a blueprint for ministry that involved creating new community groups and jumped head-first into an outdoor building project.

“We want to position ourselves to better serve and reach our community,” said Acton, currently in his third year as pastor of New Hope Church in Cape Coral.

With the church growing rapidly and attempting to meet growing pandemic concerns, Acton sought to use the campus in a creative way by building an outdoor, covered structure positioned right outside their main building. What began as an open-air, safe way to worship during the Covid-19 pandemic, has now become a bustling service for those seeking a casual worship atmosphere. Members and guests alike can attend what is known as “Church on the Turf” every Saturday evening.

“Folks were concerned about entering the building during Covid,” Acton said. Now the Saturday night service “has become a fun option for our folks and many visitors looking for an open, laid-back worship experience” that takes advantage of the beautiful Southwest Florida climate.

With members encouraged to maintain a mission-minded approach to life, the church has adopted an “everyone brings one” emphasis. Determined to reach every lost person in Cape Coral, Lee County, and southwest Florida, the church has seen its attendance and Saturday evening “Church on the Turf” services gain momentum by adding almost 50 new members into the church family.

And that is not the only thing gaining momentum.

Priding themselves on being a church that is “becoming fully devoted followers of Christ by belonging together, believing in Christ alone, and blessing their world,” said Acton, the church is not slowing down anytime soon when it comes to kingdom impact throughout their community.

The church has cultivated a kingdom-driven mindset by hosting several annual outreach events and being heavily involved in local missions. Whether New Hope members are hosting concerts, car shows, family fairs, or partnering through food ministries, members have anchored themselves to acts of service.

New Hope realized that serving and meeting needs in their community meant offering what the community needs. The church has created new groups for grief, divorce, and cancer care. The church has also created a “One More Child Café” on their campus to support foster and adoptive parents and single moms every Sunday morning.

For Acton, creating a missional culture at New Hope is not just a catchy slogan or church growth strategy. The pastor dedicated years of study and doctoral work on this very subject. He often reminds his people to choose conversations with people over convenience, being intentional about reaching and engaging those around them.

“We are not here to check as many errands off of our to do list as possible,” Acton said. “We are here to engage as many people as God brings into our path. As we build relationships with these people, we naturally share our faith with them and those who have been prepared by God will respond in faith.”

New Hope is committed to continuing to build a legacy of mission-minded and kingdom-driven believers. Acton believes that by honoring the past traditions of the church, they can begin incorporating new ministries to better serve people.

“As we transition a legacy church to a missional church, I have been reminded of the potential found in many of the old traditions…it has been helpful to rediscover and renew some of the older traditions such as car shows, fifth Sunday hymn sings, and AWANA,” he said. “We have updated to reach new folks without leaving behind original members.”

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