Bradenton church has a 'work where it's planted' strategy

By tutoring students and helping the school with painting, renovating or whatever’s needed, the people of Good Life Church are having a Gospel impact.“It’s like throwing a life preserver to someone who thinks they’re standing in a baby pool.”

That’s how Jason Smith, pastor of Good Life Church in Bradenton, described trying to reach the suburbs with the Gospel.

When you’re living and ministering to an urban area, the needs are easy to see. Examples of homelessness, hunger and addiction are right out in the open. You don’t have to convince the people that they need a Savior.

But in the suburbs, it can be hard to see past the shiny cars and pristine homes to the brokenness inside.

“It doesn’t look like what you think brokenness usually looks like,” he said. “Most people in our environment don’t sense they have a need.”

People in the suburbs don’t necessarily think they are missing anything. They have the house, the car, the kids and see no need to add anything else to the mix.

Smith said that while it may take them longer, some eventually discover that their stuff cannot bring them true happiness.

“These people have everything they think should make them happy; yet it’s not making them happy. They have it all, and they’re still empty,” he said.

Smith and his congregation have found ways to be relevant to their community by partnering with the elementary school where they hold worship services. By tutoring students and helping the school with painting, renovating or whatever’s needed, the people of Good Life Church are having a Gospel impact on the staff, students and their families.

“If we’re going to win at anything, it will be to accomplish our mission right where we’re planted.”

Nicole Kalil is the Jacksonville-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness, which is the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention.

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