Mark and Trisha
ARC Church Plant #138
Tarpon Springs, FL
What motivated you to plant your church in Tarpon Springs?
We were drawn here because there were no churches nearby with our style of ministry. There were some great churches in Tarpon Springs, but, stylistically, the area needed something else.
What do you love about your church and community?
We love the interaction between our church and community. We believe a life-giving church should make its community look different, and our church is devoted to doing that. During this COVID-19 season, our people have been intentional about making a difference. From sewing masks, to feeding food-insecure families, to supporting single moms and foster families, we are serving people and meeting needs. We have a saying at our church: “theChapel is not just a place you go to, but a place you go from.”
What has been one of your greatest moments since planting your church?
Sometimes there are big moments, but seeing God continually work in the little moments is what keeps us going. Planting and leading can be a grind, but it’s when people take the next steps in their walks with Jesus—whether they are new believers or followers of Christ seeking to deepen their relationships with Him—that we are encouraged to press on. Watching God raise up young leaders through our summer leadership internship are proud moments. Seeing physical and spiritual needs met and lives changed because someone was served or is serving (because that’s just as life-changing!) are joyous moments.
What has been one of the toughest moments you have experienced in ministry?
As a church planter, I think transfer growth is tough. It is difficult dealing with people who are chasing a specific experience with God or bringing previous experiences and wanting to implement something they did at their last church.
The first time we had to let go of one of our staff was a very tough moment. My wife and I believe God brought us our staff and they are ours to lose, but it’s hard when you do lose one, whatever the reason.
What is the biggest change you have seen in yourself or your church since you planted?
The vision of theChapel has always been the same, but we’ve made some major changes to the methods we use to accomplish the vision. Increasingly, I have come to believe that the way that works is the right way. There really are no “sacred cows.” In the beginning I gravitated toward being a bit more comfortable. Now my focus is solely to reach people for the Kingdom. Who cares if it makes you or me feel uncomfortable?
What do you want to share with someone thinking about becoming a church planter?
First and always, spend time with God. Start the fight in the morning, declare and decide who you will be, and your church will follow you in DNA and methodology. Enter some healthy relationships with other pastors and leaders who are further along in the journey than you are. And never think you are the smartest person in the room.
How has being a part of ARC had an impact on your life and family?
The relationships we have built with other pastors, leaders, and churches in ARC have had a positive impact on my life and theChapel’s ministry. I always want to be learning, and ARC has provided opportunities for my staff and me to develop relationships with others who are traveling the same journey and can offer advice and guidance.
We’re better together, and we have been intentional about coaching other pastors and leaders so they don’t have to make the same mistakes we did (and there were plenty!).
What was the most significant change in your perspective during this COVID-19 pandemic?
What could have been an obstacle was an opportunity. Things looked very different during this season, but different isn’t bad; it’s just different. We have seen hundreds of people who would never have attended a live service because of location or circumstance give their lives to Christ through our church-at-home experience. God used the obstacle as an incredible opportunity for us to help move the Kingdom forward.
How do you want the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic to change your family or church? How do you think it will?
COVID-19 has made us declare who we want to be and decide how we will spend our time. We are always either being conformed to the image of the world or being transformed to look more like Christ. As we move through this season, we will grow in our ability to choose what we allow to shape and influence us.