SPRING HILL — With its move to a new location last month, Journey Christian Center has taken the next step along its path.
After beginning in 2005 as a small group, meeting first in a coffee shop and then for nearly six years at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill, the church now meets in the former St. Petersburg Times office in Times Square at 3233 Commercial Way, Spring Hill.
"Moving into the new facility is indeed part of the church's journey," said the Rev. Dan Bierworth, lead pastor. "The first phase was building the foundation. The second phase, we believe, is really making an impact in our community and having a place from which we can operate 24/7, 365 (days a year) that will allow us to do things in the community that we weren't able to do before."
According to its website, the mission of the nondenominational church is to "love God intensely, love others unconditionally and make God famous."
Its vision is "to help each other become fully developed followers of Jesus Christ."
The church offers two contemporary services at 9 and 10:45 a.m. Sunday, small group studies throughout the week, children and youth ministries and men's and women's ministries. It also offers Bible college classes through its Journey School of Ministry.
"Our small groups are open to everyone in the community, and they are a great place to learn more about God's plan for your life — to learn helpful life skills," Bierworth said, "and they are also a great place to make new friends."
Bierworth said the new facility allows the church to spread its wings.
"One of our people wants to do a clothes drive once a month, where we give away clothes to the homeless," he said. "There is also talk about possibly doing food once a month for people who are needy. One of our pastors on staff has a real heart for biblical counseling, and we want to open that to the community. By being in a new facility, we now have the office area to expand in many ways."
There are plans to add a Saturday evening service, beginning on Easter weekend, that will be geared for people in their 20s and 30s.
Upon entering the church, a visitor walks into a large room that serves as a hospitality center, with coffee and refreshments.
"You get a sense that you're home with family when you come in," the pastor said. "People are friendly, inviting and welcoming — not overdoing it, but enough to let people know that you care they're there."
The sanctuary holds about 90 cushioned, extra-wide chairs, to accommodate the 120 regular attendees and visitors that are split between the two services. The front of the church has sound equipment and special lighting for the praise and worship portion of the service.
"We're contemporary Christian, so it's more of a band-type effect than pianos and organs," Bierworth said. "It's more guitars and that type of thing."
The church has an area set up for the children's ministry that has been painted with grass, trees and jungle animals.
"There is plenty of bathroom space," Bierworth said.
Bierworth said the church is named Journey Christian Center because the goal is to teach people how to find purpose on the path of life.
"We believe God put us here for a very specific purpose," he said. "He has a plan for each individual's life. We're about raising up people to help them discover God's plan and give them opportunities to use their gifts, talents, abilities and the special things God has given them to make them who they are and to minister to their fellow man and to the community. In doing so, they can experience a special presence of God."
The current topics of the small group studies reflect the church leadership's efforts to teach people the "how to's" of the Christian life: "Discovering God's Way of Handling Money," "Life and Respect: Discovering the Secrets to a Successful Marriage," "Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World," "Demolishing Strongholds" and "Discovering the Voice of God."
Bierworth has experience in leading people. Before coming to Hernando County, he and his wife, Robin, ministered at Calvary Chapel Worship Center in New Port Richey, where he was one of the pastors. During the couple's time there, that church, with whom the new one is affiliated, developed numerous outreach ministries and went from 150 members to a membership 3,000 to 4,000.
But Bierworth said the church here is not about numbers.
"It's not that it has to be a big church with thousands of people," he said. "But I believe with a group of committed people you can really make a large impact in a community."