North Pointe Church, which has seen much change since forming more than a dozen years ago, finally is getting a permanent home.
The church, which most recently has been meeting at Sunlake High School, plans a soft opening for its new location in early May. It plans a free community getting-to-know-you barbecue on May 20, followed by its official grand opening services on May 21.
The church had its formal groundbreaking on April 10 of last year, in hopes of completing the project in plenty of time for services on Easter.
But, as often happens, construction didn’t go quite as quickly as planned, said Senior Pastor Steve Wells. The requirement to install a 30,000-gallon water tank to provide fire protection for the property caused most of the delay, he said.
The church’s new home, at 19862 Amanda Park Drive, is on a 33-acre site off County Line Road in Lutz.
“We’re finally putting down roots. That’s a big deal for a church that’s been portable for 12 years,” Wells said. “We believe that God is planting us here.”
The church began meeting in 2004, in the auditorium at Wharton High School, as a church planted by Belmont Church of Temple Terrace. It became its own church the following year.
It moved from Wharton to a warehouse space in Land O’ Lakes in 2008, then moved again in 2015 to Sunlake High in Land O’ Lakes, where it is meeting now.
Its membership grew from 40 when it started to 300 now. It draws worshippers from as far west as Odessa, as far east as Zephyrhills, as far north as San Antonio, and as far south as Thonotosassa.
The 12,000-square-foot worship center which is approaching completion doesn’t look like a church — and that’s intentional, Wells said.
The pastor foresees the building being used for all sorts of gatherings, including live performances, corporate recognition parties, team building exercises and so on.
He wants to give people many reasons to enter through the church’s doors.
North Pointe currently has two services on Sundays, which Wells expects to continue. When the time is right, he expects a Saturday service to be added.
All of the services are contemporary, with music provided by highly skilled musicians, the pastor said.
The worship center is able to accommodate 450 people, but there is plenty of room to grow, Wells said.
The church aims to be a place where people can find help with life’s practical challenges, as well as to grow spiritually, Wells said.
In addition to having facilities for private events, the church also plans to offer foster care training, adoption services and adoption counseling, Wells said.
The pastor believes the church’s new location represents a physical manifestation of God’s word in action.
Here’s how the location came about.
In 2008, church members prayed over an 11-acre site, hoping that a door would open for the land to become the location for the church’s first permanent home.
That didn’t happen.
And, while it desired a larger piece of property, the church decided to search for a 3-acre piece because that was in keeping with its finances, Wells said.
As it turns out, another property — directly next to the original piece that they had prayed over — became available.
Although the church was looking to buy a 3-acre piece, the owner said: “Well, I’ll sell you 3 acres for the same price as 33 acres. Decide what you want to do,” Wells said.
That decision was easy, he said.
As Wells surveys the property, he sees enormous possibilities.
He is delighted that the members of North Pointe Church finally will have a home where couples can be married and children can be baptized. The property also provides a place for church picnics and other activities, and will be available for rentals for all sorts of events, Wells said.
Visiting the church property is like taking a step back in time.
Much of the property features Old Florida’s unspoiled beauty, with its ancient oaks and paths shaded by tree canopies.
“You don’t have to go far away to feel like you went far away,” Wells said.
The church plans to take advantage of that natural beauty.
It also intends to provide a trail to encourage both physical and spiritual fitness.
As people walk the trail, they’ll be able to make periodic stops to do fitness — or spiritual — exercises, Wells said.
It’s been a big project, which has benefited from the help of church staff, church members and church supporters, Wells said.
Creating the church’s permanent home has been both daunting and thrilling at the same time, Wells said.
“It’s the most exciting, humbling, overwhelming, intimidating thing I’ve ever been a part of,” the pastor said.
Published April 26, 2017