THE CALLING It all started with a handful of people that decided that they wanted their church to make an impact in an area of Lakeland, Florida that most other churches wanted to avoid. It wasn’t enough just to volunteer with a local charity a few times a year, these folks felt a calling by God to live among those that needed help the most. So they shut down their portable church services at a suburban elementary school and rented a run down old building in the heart of the city’s homeless population. The first Sunday service saw a small room packed with people from all walks of life - alcoholics, middle class families, drug addicts, the homeless, wealthy business owners, college students, prostitutes and blue collar workers barely making ends meet. Some that attended were looking for hand out. Some just wanted to get out of the weather. Still others were looking for hope and a place to belong. That day all of them heard the Gospel and quite a few came to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Thus began the journey we call Impact! Church.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD In the 6-block radius around Impact! Church the number of families living in poverty is 3 times higher than the national average. Every Lakeland homeless shelter - along with a majority of the rehab facilities - are located a block or less from the church. 72% of our neighbors live below the federal poverty line, with 92% of the children eligible for the Free Lunch Program at school. Over 50% are unemployed and only 19% got an education beyond a high school diploma. With an average yearly household income of around $20,000, over 70% have to rent because they cannot afford to buy a home. Couples who get married in the area are 75% more likely to get a divorce than what is normal in the US and there are more than twice as many single-parent homes in this community than the US average. The Parker Street community is 77% non-white, 53% are single-parent homes and hundreds sleep in the streets or shelters at night. It is one of the most economically depressed areas in Central Florida.
Data Sources: Lakeland Police Department, U.S. Census 2010, Claritas, Percept, AEP Enrollment Forms, Door-to-Door Community Survey
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Sister Teresa
THE MISSION Impact! Church exists to love God, love people and make an impact! We believe that everyone needs hope in a broken world and a place to belong. As a urban, multi-cultural, multi-socioeconomic church, we believe that all of those we serve are important to God - no matter their background or place in life. Each week we partner with other neighborhood ministries to:
Give out food, water, bedding and toiletry supplies to the homeless.
Provide transportation to the elderly and physically-challenged.
Give away free, quality clothing to impoverished single-mothers.
Provide on-going vocational training for the unemployed.
Facilitate one-day sports camps for inner-city children.
Conduct life skills training for developmentally disabled adults.
Revitalize the community by mowing lawns and removing trash.
Assist local law enforcement in providing a safe haven for victims of crime
Help people experience freedom from drug and alcohol addiction.
However the main mission of Impact! Church is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. Our Sunday services and weekly Bible studies are filled with people from all walks of life - whether they live in a gated community or in a homeless shelter. Within our congregation are multiple cultures that worship together, pray together, minister together and do life together. Social, racial and economic barriers have been broken down. Our goal is that our neighborhood, our city and our county will be forever changed by the love of Christ.
THE SUPPORT Several times a week we are contacted by folks outside of Impact! Church wanting to to know how they can partner with us to love God, love people and make an impact!. As it was written in Luke 10:2 Jesus said, “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” We always welcome folks with a heart to see God change lives and restore the broken. Below are five ways in which you can help the mission and vision of Impact! Church: