Often, being obedient to God’s leading will cost something.
For Paul and Jill Scott, obedience has meant launching out from a ministry they love to start a new church plant in the inner city of Jacksonville, Florida.
Paul and Jill have been faithful members at Trinity Baptist Church for decades.
In fact, Paul has been at Trinity since he was born. Although he grew up in church, it wasn’t until his late teens that Paul gave his life to God and began to pursue a future in ministry.
Paul graduated from TBC in 1993, and Jill (Carney) graduated from TBC in 2000. Jill is the daughter of missionaries and was a transfer student from Word of Life in New York. Paul and Jill met while in college and were married in 1996.
At that time, Paul was on staff as the children’s pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. Some years later he transitioned into the role of Family Pastor; most recently, he held the title of Connections Pastor. As the Family Pastor he oversaw the young adult, children, and student departments at the church. As the Connections Pastor he oversaw outreach, adult groups, and discipleship. Jill has worn many hats over the years as well, filling roles such as a children’s group teacher, Children’s Ministry Curriculum Coordinator, Nursery Coordinator and Hospitality Leader.
It is not an over-statement to say that the Scotts have invested their lives into the Trinity campus.
They never imagined that leaving Trinity would be part of their story. Paul recalls vividly the moment he recognized God’s calling to plant a new church.
“It happened the first weekend of March – we were in church and God very clearly spoke to my heart in a similar way to when God called me to be saved and when He called me to preach. I was kind of shocked.”
It wasn’t that the idea of starting a church had never come up. In fact, it was a conversation they had multiple times over the years.
“People have often asked, ‘How come you’re not pastoring a church or going out to start a church?’ And I would always respond, ‘Because God has not called me to do that.’ In my mind the only reason for doing it or not doing it was God’s calling. [It is] not something you do because you’re bored… or you’re looking for another stepping-stone. To me that was the only stimulus that really mattered: did God want me to do it?”
Speaking about the physical location of the new church plant, Paul says that the call was not to a geographical area, but to a demographic of under-served individuals and families.
After some weeks of prayer and seeking counsel, Paul and Jill were drawn to the Springfield section of downtown Jacksonville. Paul says that this location has personal significance to him.
“Springfield… happens to be the area where my bus route was in college. My father also ran a bus route in that area before I was born. So… I don’t know that I would call it a generational thing, but the Lord really impressed it upon me. That was the burden and direction in which God led.”
The Scotts have been approved by Converge (the church planting network with which Trinity is affiliated) and are beginning training.
Their first session will be Converge’s Church Planting 101 event. Paul described this training as learning the “nuts and bolts” of starting a church. It will explain in detail the organizational and legal aspects of starting a church as a 501c3 non-profit, getting registered with the state, etc.
This church plant will use evangelism, discipleship and Bible study to grow a body of believers. The immediate goal will be to start 8-10 Bible studies with 8-10 people in each. 80-100 adults gathering faithfully will be the first step toward organizing a church service.
Hosting community-centered events will be one of the strategies used to make their presence known in Springfield.
Paul is working with individuals to brainstorm and organize these events, one of which is likely to be a sports clinic next Spring in coordination with the TBC Eagles. If you are interested in supporting the funding for this event, please click here.
The Scotts have three main objectives and matters of prayer at this early stage:
1. Raising support: unlike a missionary who needs indefinite long-term support, we are asking for a three-year commitment because we believe we will be self-supporting in that time period.
2. Identifying and training the core team: this team will be the foundation of our church plant. They will witness, share their faith, and be involved in one-on-one discipleship. We are praying that this will allow every new member and convert to assume the same DNA because they are watching everyone else in the church act that way.
3. Finding a meeting location: the target date for the first church service is Easter of 2022. The long-term vision is to start 8 small neighborhood churches. That will require training bi-vocational pastors to take over those church plants.
In the meantime, the Scotts will remain connected at Trinity. Even though Paul is no longer officially on staff at Trinity, they will continue to attend church there until Sunday Services begin in Springfield. Jill has a job on campus and their younger children will continue to attend the academy. Their oldest son, Ryan, recently graduated from TBC (’21) and is now teaching in Trinity Christian Academy. Ryan’s wife, Capri, also teaches at TCA.