With 9,000 members divided among four Hillsborough County campuses, Grace Family Church continues to grow.
The church, its main location on Van Dyke Avenue in North Tampa, will celebrate the opening of a new South Tampa campus Sunday Oct. 2.
Services begin at 10:30 a.m. at 4479 W Gandy Blvd. Organizers expect 800 to 1,000 to attend the kickoff event.
Still, numbers will not dictate the atmosphere, said senior pastor Craig Altman. Grace Family operates unlike a typical megachurch.
"For us it's about, 'How do you make a big church feel small?' " Altman said.
In addition to Sunday services, Grace Family South Tampa will offer children's ministry, small groups and family centered worship.
Mike Ash, who came to Grace Family in January from Fort Myers, will serve as campus pastor. Each week, Altman's main message will broadcast on a high-definition big screen, as it does at the church's Waters, Temple Terrace and Ybor sites.
Church leaders spent more than a year seeking out the perfect South Tampa location.
The Gandy building offered enough square footage and parking to accommodate the big dream, Altman said.
"A lot of our families commute from South Tampa to our Van Dyke and Waters campuses, so we wanted to better serve them," he said about the expansion. "Also the way we do church is unique and we think it will appeal to the younger generation and families in the area."
High-energy youth programs make the church stand out, Altman said. Singing, games and age-appropriate activities keep the little ones engaged while parents worship.
"Kids drag parents to Grace Family Church," Altman said.
Grace Family South Tampa will open in conjunction with a new sermon series on fear. Altman will speak about common fears and how to overcome them. Grace newcomers can expect Sunday messages to reflect their daily lives, he said.
"We strive to be relevant and to be real, to offer real solutions to real life problems," Altman said. "Everyone has their preconceived ideas about what church is. I say try it once and if you don't like it, you don't have to come back."
For more information, visit gfconline.com or call (813) 265-4151.