Multiplication-minded church plant reaches English and Spanish speakers
Executive pastor, Harvest Community Church
Church planting & multiplication
We planted Harvest Community Church on September 23, 2018, motivated by a vision for reaching southeast Orlando and the greater region of Central Florida to our south. For those expecting a tropical landscape, this lush Florida terrain looks surprisingly similar to other areas of the South. Towns and cities carved out from the densely wooded landscape pepper this central, inland portion of the Sunshine State. The multitude of lakes and ponds quickly impressed this native of the Arizona desert.
It’s common to find a gator or two in the numerous bodies of water that saturate the region. It is also beautifully common to find a diverse blend of people. Our region includes many Spanish speakers from places like Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Honduras, Colombia and Puerto Rico. Something uncommon, however, has fueled our vision for multiplication.
Uncommon are Bible-teaching, gospel-preaching, outsider-focused churches reaching this population. Don’t get me wrong; our region has great churches. And yet, we’ve discovered that we greatly need more of them.
From the beginning, we desired to be strategic about reaching Spanish speakers in our area. We were thrilled when God brought an amazing church planting couple to us in our first months. Ramon and Loida Garcia moved to Orlando to be near their college sons. They intended to take a break from years of pastoral ministry. Loida found a position in the Converge national office and then learned about the church plant that met on Sundays in the same building.
The Garcias quickly embraced Harvest’s mission and vision and began to sense that God may have brought them to Orlando for more than their family alone. “I still have that fire,” Ramon told us, realizing his passion for preaching the gospel and reaching others for Jesus did not leave with their move to Orlando. Before long, we started working together on plans to launch Harvest en Español as a congregation within a congregation.
We opened Harvest en Español’s doors on Sunday, April 7, 2019, with more than 60 people in attendance. In the months since, we have seen people become followers of Jesus and make their faith public through baptism.
Our Español congregation has been hardest hit by the pandemic economically. Like many local churches, we’ve had to adjust to the changing environment over the past 11 months. On February 7, six members of Harvest Español were baptized as part of our joint worship celebration.
We are still looking forward to multiplying more churches in Central Florida. We have identified our next church planting partners and community. Having just completed Converge’s Church Planting Assessment Center in February 2021, Trey and Lauren Warren will join our team as church planting residents in May. We want to partner with them to launch another Harvest congregation about 45 minutes away in an under-churched community to our south.
For this community, our church will continue to reach Spanish and English speakers as we fuse a mixture of both languages into worship while providing leadership and small group opportunities for both languages. We serve a big God, and we expect him to do great things in 2021.