This Monday, we’re highlighting a church planter in Tampa, FL. Pilgrim Benham is the pastor of Reality Church Tampa. God is doing a great work out there and Pilgrim’s story will inspire you…
1. In a nutshell, how did you find the city you planted in?
I was on staff at Calvary Chapel Sarasota for 8 years and essentially started sensing a desire to step out in faith to plant at a larger urban center that had to have three things: a large college (or several), a deep need for a Biblically-faithful Calvary Chapel-style church, and be a city on the “rise” meaning it would be on the cusp of developing into a much bigger city in the near future. I didn’t want to be “fishin for a mission” so we fasted, prayed, and started researching cities that fit this criteria. We identified Austin, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina as prospective cities but then realized God was on the move in Austin and Charleston didn’t align with my personality. So one of my mentors said “When I go fishing I don’t just launch out into the water and look for fish. I use a fish finder, and go where the fish are. Plus Jesus said we are to be fishers of men, right? So where are the nearest fish?” I realized we were overlooking the largest and nearest urban area in our vicinity so decided to check Tampa out, only being an hour north of us. When we pulled into the downtown area, the Lord spoke clearly that this was where we were to move and plant our family and lives for the next several years to see the Gospel and a faithful church planted.
2. What were some of the lessons you learned early on about church planting?
I would encourage planters to give people assignments and work but not titles.
3. If you did this again, what are a few things you’d do differently?
4. What are some of the most important things for a potential church planter to consider before they leave to go plant?
In church planting there’s no room for insecure guys who want to please man.