This weekend I visited Jason & Anna Filbert who have been planting a Bible Fellowship Church (BFC) in Naples, Florida for the last 3 years. It all began in January 2016 as a Bible study as Jason began to investigate what the Lord desired for his life. In the providence of God, Jason’s dad, Ron Filbert remembered his long-ago friendship with Dave Gundrum, the current director of Church Extension for the BFC. Jason connected with Dave and now is a part of the BFC work of extending the Kingdom of God in Naples Florida.
Planting a church is exciting, but it is also very hard work. Progress is often slow and tedious. Hours are consumed by the church planter preparing messages, praying about locations, continually meeting new people, raising up leaders, raising money, encouraging those who have come to catch the vision, and so much more. The work in Naples is no different. In a city on the Gulf Coast of Florida with roughly 375,000 people, there is definitely a need for a new church. Covenant Bible Fellowship Church is making an impact spreading the “Good News” for the glory of God, and providing a solid Bible believing church with sound doctrine.
Covenant BFC is blessed to have a beautiful location in a strip mall. The space is about 1150 square feet and is able to accommodate about 50-60 chairs. It is a great location and is very visible on a major roadway. Since Jason has moved to this location about a year ago, he has seen a heightened interested and many newcomers. The church location is quickly becoming too small. Jason already has a lead on a new location that sounds promising.
This is the third trip I have made to Naples alongside Tim Zuck, church planter in Forks township. We go every year to provide encouragement, mentorship and fellowship with this young work and to assess the progress of the work so that we know how to assist and pray. This year we focused on a couple of tasks: physical labor, outreach, fellowship and coaching.
Physical Work: Tim Zuck and I were able to help Jason clean up a storage area and get rid of loose items that were simply being an annoyance. We were able to spend time moving important items into a storage unit, and clean up the space where the church meets weekly. Of course the whole time we were working we were talking and encouraging Jason in the ministry giving him helpful ideas for how to reach new people.
Outreach: On Saturday afternoon, several from the church gathered to canvas two parks. It was a beautiful day and many people were out playing. We were able to hand out approximately 200-300 leaflets inviting people to come visit Covenant BFC. Several conversations were very encouraging.
Fellowship: Being a small church plant, Jason is able to have gatherings where everyone comes together for fellowship. Sunday night approximately 25 people gathered together at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant. For two hours the “little flock” had wonderful fellowship together.
Coaching: Tim Zuck & I were able to coach Jason on many different topics. We were able to discuss his preaching, logistics of the service, raising up new leaders, administration
and so much more. This is the most valuable part of our trip. Having never planted a church, Jason is grateful not only for our mentorship, but prayer and encouragement.
Covenant BFC meets at 10:00 every Sunday morning. Attendance has peaked up to 53 but is averaging around 35 each week. A year ago, Jason had only 15 people coming on a regular basis. To date, Jason has over 35 committed participants and over 60 people who are attending on an irregular basis.
Of course, the foundation of the ministry is the Bible. Jason is committed to expository preaching and is currently preaching through the book of Hebrews. He also teaches a Bible study on Thursday nights which is well attended. Jason preached an excellent message from Hebrews 3:7-19 exhorting the church not to have a hard heart toward the Gospel of Christ.
Jason has a couple of wonderful additions to his team. Tom Chmura is a retired pastor from Ohio who has committed to help Jason. He has been at Covenant just over a year. He brings many years of ministry experience to the table. Tom also serves by preaching for Jason periodically. Another wonderful addition to the team is Clay Bickford who came about a year ago. He is using his musical gifts to help lead worship at Covenant each week. Both of these men have made significant improvements to the team and to the Church.
- Please pray that continued growth would occur at Covenant BFC. In a sense, committed new people will solve many problems. There can be no church without people.
- Please pray that continued funds would be provided. Our Father in heaven has provided many financial blessings in the past, but more are needed. It takes a lot of money to plant a church. If you would like to donate to this cause let me know and I can direct you.
- Please pray for continued strength for Jason and his wife and all the volunteers that serve. It is exciting to plant a church, but it also can be overwhelming. It takes a whole lot of planning and energy. Discouragement arises at every turn. Please pray that the Lord will sustain Jason and that the people who are committed to the work will be encouraged to persevere.
If you would like to write an encouraging note to Jason and Anna here is their address:
Jason & Anna Filbert, 7345 Davis Blvd Suite # 3, Naples, Fl 34104.