"How do we reach the people the church isn't reaching?"
This was the question Isaac and Vanessa Petit Frère began asking almost ten years ago. It was the question that prompted them to form a rapidly-growing young adults ministry in South Florida a few years ago. And now, it is the question driving their desire to plant a new church for the people of Tampa.
Prior to serving as a pastor, Isaac’s background as a hip hop producer, and then an economics professor, sharpened his awareness of the sentiments of people outside of the church. Isaac observes, “If we want to reach the lost, we will do something different. To reach people that churches aren’t currently reaching, we will have to do things churches aren’t currently doing.”
The young adults ministry that the Petit Frères sparked began as an online ministry and grew into a community of de-churched (those who left the church) and un-churched (those who had never participated in church) people. This community created small groups that gathered together around the Bible, and that began to live out new faith in their schools, relationships, and workplaces. Vanessa shares, “Soon, it became apparent that God was just getting started. This online expression was beginning to impact our city.”
Vanessa and Isaac are passionate about cities where people are skeptical or even hostile toward Jesus and His church. Their enthusiasm is infectious: “If only we could show them something they haven't seen before, something different. If only we could go to a city that is beautifully broken and fill it with the love, beauty, and justice of Jesus. If only we could rally those awakened in Christ to bring faith, hope, and love where they work, live, and play!”
Now, after a season of prayer and preparation, Isaac and Vanessa are taking the things they learned from the young adults ministry and applying it to a new church plant in Tampa.
Tampa is rapidly changing. New people are attracted to its pleasant weather, beautiful bay, growing industries, holiday attractions, and rapid development. All of these things have made Tampa one of the fastest-growing large cities in America, ranking among the top for demographic changes and population growth.
Isaac shares, “Our city is reeling as a new identity is taking shape. Tampa natives are desperately trying to preserve what was. Tampa migrants look to be a part of a new story as they make the city their home. Meanwhile, loneliness, homelessness, anxiety, and addiction are rising. What a perfect place for a new church to step in, form community, and show Jesus as the Author of life!”