Life Pointe Church – Homestead Campus GRAND OPENING
July 1, 2012 marked a new era for Life Pointe Church as we opened our new permanent campus leaving 6.5 years of being portable behind for a permanent space.
I’m pretty sure you’ll never see a “How-To-Open-A-New-Church-Campus Manual” using what we did as an example. It was absolutely insane. Aside from our basic trades (MEP), we did the work with volunteers. And, when it came to advertising, we spent about $99 to print maps for our people. Everything else was word-of-mouth…mostly facebook.
Honestly, I quit talking about it…and didn’t even send out an email reminder to our database the last two weeks before the move because of the total insanity going on. It was the most insane era of my life. But, people were having fun with it on Facebook, creating images that were going viral…it was out of my hands.
Some of the best advice I got from a great friend was, “Travis, don’t try to control the chaos. Just get it pointed in the right direction.” Right on! I can vibe with that.
Anyway, it has been my privilege since April 27, 2003 to lead Life Pointe Church, a seemingly young church. To nearly all of us, it seems brand new. But, in reality, it has an old Gospel-faithful, compassionate, and resilient history. We have history. And, yet, we’re brand new.
The church actually started in Louise Cannington’s House five blocks from our current Homestead location in 1946. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit and devastated South Miami-Dade. Half the churches closed. And, many good pastors left and understandably so. Through heaping doses of dedication and countless untold stories and miracles, Life Pointe Church (then Homestead Church of God) survived.
While a number of churches were rebuilding, the pastor (my dad, J.T Johnson) and our church people who were left were cutting up the pews and turning them into warehouse shelves to store water and food for our community. For months, the church was feeding our neighbors 5,000 hot meals per day, providing building supplies and canned goods and water. That spirit and resilience is in our church DNA today.
Since 2003, we’ve really downplayed our history so we could tell a new story. On July 1, 2012, all that changed. Like our new building, our good past has been redeemed and we’ve completed this part of the journey. We aren’t resting. We just have a good staging ground to reach more aggressively into the heart of our community.
I’ve had very few privileges in life as rewarding as handing the scissors to my dad to cut the ribbon on our new space. This would have never happened without him, without my mom, Anne, and those who journeyed with them during the most difficult times our community has ever seen. My mom and dad chose sacrificial service over personal advancement because of Gospel commitment. Words lack. I don’t know anyone that rivals their character and commitment to a community.
Sharing a great moment with my father, J.T. No one will know the kind of sacrifice made by he and my mom so that Life Pointe would have this moment…truly heroic people.
Only heroic people and people who believe in God’s work here could position us to do what we did this week. This is the culmination of the work of a lot of people starting with Louise Cannington (one special lady, whom I miss greatly) to former pastors like Wesley Baker and Marvin Johnson, my pastor J. David Stephens, a council of brothers from around Florida who believe in our story, my mom and dad, and a host of others along the way.
The past 6.5 years in the theater were capped off by seriously extravagant personal service: weeks of dozens and dozens of volunteers working it hard from early am to early am…some people even putting in 20 hour days…and people like Andrew Gill, an Everglades Fire Fighter who worked all day for Park Services and all night at LPC (literally until 4 am sometimes). There were dozens of people like Andrew…coordinated by Ricardo Torres, our project manager. I baptized Ric, married he and his wife, and have watched God work on him a little at the time. Wow!….so many heroes in this story!
So, outside under a tent, we cut ribbon and rededicated ourselves to the mission of Jesus in our community. We don’t have a great count of exactly who all joined us. But, we did it twice under a packed out tent with 400 chairs plus our volunteers and people in the building.
We were joined by some special leaders in our community. Lynda Bell, our county commissioner and Vice President of National Right to Life prayed for us. She prayed like she knew Jesus first hand. I smiled big because she came prepped for church (Bible, umbrella, and tambourine in hand). She was ready to boogie down. And, we were glad for it.
We were honored with a number of great friends who joined us. Other community leaders and special guest that celebrated with us were:
- Lynda Bell, our county commissioner and Vice President of National Right to Life
- Brian & Kristen Hunter, lead pastor of Genesis Church in Tallahassee & Atlanta
- Phil Underwood, CRM & Future Travellers
- Carrie Slough, Team World Vision
- Rick Lee, pastor of Homestead Mennonite Church
- Russell and Kerry Black, pastor of New Thing Fellowship
- Lewis Wilkerson and Melissa Barclay
- Robert Ellis Nelson, architect – REN & Associates
- Dr. Raul Molina, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church
- Tonya & Elijah Brinkley
- my friend, Elvis Maldonado, Homestead City Councilman,
- my friend, Kionne McGhee, state congressional candidate,
- Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact and Diversity of the United States Department of Energy & US Congressional candidate Joe Garcia,
- State Representative Dwight Bullard from District 118,
- Ivonne Cuesta, judge candidate
- Judge Fleur Lobree
- Jesse and Reina Santoyo, Nashville, TN
- Joseph and Michelle Bulger, Atlanta, GA
- Johnny Farias, Electric Masters, Miami, FL
The stories behind many of our friendships are beautiful. And, many of them came a long ways to be with us. Briefly:
Phil Underwoodcaught a flight from Atlanta at the last minute and was in and out in no time
flat…just to be here (the Underwoods were a special part of this church for many years). My close friend, Brian and Kristen Hunter took Sunday off from their church to be here. Pastor Rick Lee and the Homestead Mennonite Church offered to cancel their service in the event that we couldn’t have our space ready (that isn’t normal…forever grateful to a ridiculously beautiful body of brothers and sisters and a great friend in Rick). Dr. Raul Molina has blessed my family more than I could even begin to share…his being here was beyond beautiful.
So, here we were cheering for a new day. We entered into the new space for a tour (about 40 people at a time), which culminated in the Venue where the band was melting our faces off with music that pointed towards Jesus and called us into mission.
I soaked it in. Dr. Molina shared with me ealier: “Travis, it took Moses 40 years to get to the Promised Land. LPC did it in 6.5!” :) No doubt. But, it sure seemed like a long time. Maybe that’s why we were so ecstatic and enjoyed one another and thanked God all over this industrial space.
So, our new building isn’t perfect and is in process…and will always be in process. In fact, we revel in it’s history, baggage, and scars. We identify with it’s flaws and past. It mirrors our own lives.
Flawed. But, chosen.
Scarred but made sacred.
Broken. But, not beyond repair.
Like us, it is repurposed for God’s good pleasure.
On that Grand Opening Day, we gladly chose to do nothing new. Instead, we continue to pursue the same mission as we had in 1946 when we were officially started in Louise Cannington’s home behind Winn Dixie only about 5 blocks from here. And, we honor the same mission given to the Church 2,000 years ago by the hammer swinging, backwoods, Jewish revolutionary, Jesus of Nazareth.
-travis johnson, lead pastor