In the Interim: Florida Church Maintains Mission Between Pastors
By Carl Stagner
Last year, Friends Community Church of God in Orlando, Florida, found themselves without a pastor. Just because they didn’t have a lead visionary and shepherd in their midst did not mean they were left without a clue of what to do. Being between pastors did not signify a break from ministry for the church. In the interim, there was still work to be done. There was still a community to serve. Thankfully, Friends Community Church has a strong sense of who they are and why they exist; after all, the body of Christ has many parts, and the mission was not given to the pastor alone. So, even after a year of worshiping in the waiting, this Florida church is maintaining the mission.
At the end of the summer, Friends Community Church demonstrated their love for the Lord in a very visible way. While a lot of churches have held rummage sales to raise funds for youth groups or mission trips, they opted to offer items to the public without cost. Indeed, a “free” yard sale would surely capture the attention of the community, but not for notoriety. These believers want to serve their neighbors and found they could meet a need for low-income families.
“We had talked about what we could do,” Greg Snyder explains.
Greg heads up the governing board and the search committee for their next pastor. He’s all about God’s people not sitting on the premises when they could be standing on the promises, and living victoriously when they could otherwise feel defeated and directionless.
“You don’t need a senior pastor to know you need to serve,” he continues. “It’s in the DNA of any church—I would hope. In this time of disruption, we can rally our church family and instill in them the mission. After COVID, especially, it was also hard to get people back out. We knew that serving our community was one way we could do that, too.”
When the church is on mission—when there’s something everyone can get behind—you’d be surprised how people pull together.
“People donated clothes, household items, small appliances, and much more,” Greg explains. “We put up tents and turned it into a back-to-school bash and free rummage sale for the community. It warms my heart to see the church rally behind a joint cause.”
Additionally, the church found the exercise a chance to partner with another church. That’s because a Spanish congregation that meets in their facility on Sunday afternoons agreed to participate alongside Friends Community Church of God. So, as they gave away various resources and supplies, as well as hot dogs and popcorn, the two churches of different ethnic background and predominant language use came together in fellowship and unity. For Greg, it was a beautiful thing to behold. And, it helped shift the church’s focus, from their search for a pastor, to what ultimately matters most.
“Sure, the process is taking longer than we had hoped,” he reflects. “But I would say it has given the church body the opportunity to encourage each other and look outside the walls. It’s really easy to focus inward at a time like this. Between COVID and losing a pastor, and sometimes having only a third to half of your people show up, it can be hard. But I have found it reinvigorates the church to get out and serve!”
Additionally, the church has discovered the power of partnership beyond their local church. During this interim period, the church has continued to support missions and missionaries locally and globally. They have an active Faith Promise program and continue to be amazed at how their “little church can make such an impact” through eight ministry partners around the world.
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.