Church Sparks Life Change in the Community
Wesley Chapel, Florida
“We are eternally grateful for the AGTrust Matching Funds, provided in partnership with The Church Multiplication Network (CMN), to jumpstart our church. But we are not the only ones! Every life that has been changed so far and the thousands that will be changed in years to come will also have you supporters to thank, so from all us at Spark Church and in Wesley Chapel, Florida — thank you for believing in us!"
Garrett and Katherine Hamblen launched Spark Church in March 2021 at the Grove Theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, with 100 people attending — a good response considering the COVID pandemic restrictions.
Spark Church launched in March 2021 at the Grove Theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, with 100 people attending.
Wesley Chapel is a suburb of Tampa in Pasco County. With an area population of 120,000, only 12 percent attend church, and that percentage is decreasing with many new people moving in. Over 6,000 homes were built in 2020, and 8,500 new homes are estimated for 2021. The Grove is a newly renovated shopping area showcasing nearly 100 new businesses. With huge events occurring there every weekend and lots of foot traffic, this area is a great location for Spark Church.
Due to residents’ above-average median income, Spark Church’s outreach strategy is focused more on developing relationships that lead to discipleship rather meeting physical needs.
Developing relationships that lead to discipleship is a major focus at Spark Church.
“Our focus to reach Pasco County extends from Wesley Chapel to Dade City to Zephyrhills,” Pastor Garrett says. “We have a lot of great churches in our area, but our vision is for Spark Church to reach out to new families moving in that are in desperate need of friends and a support system. Katherine and I are amazed at the way Christ has grown Spark Church in the last four months.”
The church’s worship leader, who had been living in Belize, came to visit relatives in Florida. After attending a Spark Church interest meeting, he and his family decided to move to Florida and help launch the church. A woman from the community, while in Brazil on a missions trip, had a dream of Pastor Garrett preaching and his wife standing next to him. After returning home, she received a church flyer in the mail with their pictures, recognized them from her dream, and began coming to Spark Church. A family in the community had been praying about going to church again when someone with a Spark Church shirt walked into their business minutes later.
Reaching out to new families moving into the rapidly growing community and offering support is a major outreach of Spark Church.
This 4-month-old church already offers Spark Kids and Youth programs. They have started interest-based groups and ministries and will soon launch life groups they hope will expand and become churches throughout Pasco County. Spark Church has already assisted two churches launching in the area in fall 2021 by providing funds and training. The Spark Ministry School, scheduled for a fall 2021 launch, will train people young and old for ministry, through an internship approach, by helping them identify/develop their gifts and return to their churches to serve.
Pastor Garrett Hamblen, with a master’s degree in business, had no intention of going into ministry. But after losing his father to suicide, he experienced the support of and gained a passion for the local church.
“When I was in college, I lost my father to suicide,” Pastor Garrett says. “I didn’t have a great relationship with Christ or a church family to surround me so I went through some dark times. Because of that experience I realized how important the local church is. I know that many hurting people in our community may be one major life tragedy away from disaster and possibly suicide. I hope to see our church so interwoven with the community that it will be a beacon of hope.
“When the Lord told us to plant Spark Church, Katherine and I were completely alone and broke, but we agreed to do whatever it took to see God’s vision for Wesley Chapel carried out. We went to a CMN conference hoping for some confirmation, and we left with much more — a partner. CMN and AGTrust have provided connections and financial support to see that vision become reality. We are grateful too for the support of our parent church, Lifehouse Church in Hagerstown, Maryland.”
Spark Kids and Spark Youth programs are already in place only four months after the church’s launch.
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