We know that structures, programs and methods often change, but the foundation of God’s church is a rock that never changes. The Pentecostals of Titusville, a 21st century Apostolic church, see the church as a shining city of refuge, offering hope to a lost and hurting world.
“Our passion is to experience, live, and share the power, truth, and love of Jesus Christ every day,” said Pastor Jody Wells of Titusville, Florida. “We are committed to the belief that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God, and that Christ’s church is commissioned to spread and demonstrate that Word with power, truth, and love to whomever receives it.”
Raised with an intense focus on the Acts 2:38 message and wanting nothing else than to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, Bro. Wells was baptized in the name of Jesus at nine years of age, and received the Holy Ghost at the age of 12.
While he loves to study, teach and preach the word of God, and greatly appreciates a well-crafted and delivered sermon, Bro. Well’s upbringing has inclined him to love souls more than the pulpit. “My father and mother were not preachers or pastors,” explains Bro. Wells, “but they were avid soul winners. My younger sister and I joined them on bus ministry every Saturday for many years as children. I also joined my father in home Bible studies from the time I was 12, and I won my first soul at 16 while in high school. From there, personal evangelism became a lifestyle.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida, with a major in Communications and a minor in Business Administration, Bro. Wells was hired by NASA in 1991. After 16 years with the agency during which time he also spent four years as NASA’s liaison to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the State Legislature, Bro. Wells left to pursue full-time ministry and assume the pastorate of his home church in Titusville.
Bro. Wells is a husband first, father second, and pastor third. He has an abiding belief that marriage and parenthood are God’s metaphors for love and authority on Earth, and are the building blocks of His church. “My wife, Christie, is an integral part of the church leadership structure as Women’s Ministry Director,” said Bro. Wells, “but she continues to serve in countless ministry roles throughout the body. She is a phenomenal mother to our two sons, Jace and Judah, and a shining example of humility, power and holiness. Our family endeavors to exemplify the church’s vision on a very personal level. Our passion is to experience, live and share the power, truth and love of Jesus Christ every day.”
Principles of Growth & Revival
Realizing that a church must grow in development as well as size, Bro. Wells believes that a strategic, day-to-day, and year-round soul winning approach is essential; however, a systematic discipleship program is what retains and matures converts. When he became assistant pastor in 2004, the church was running between 50 and 60 in attendance on Sunday morning. Today, they have between 200 and 230 on any given Sunday.
“I love the fact that our congregation has more than tripled in attendance over the past eight years,” said Bro. Wells, “but that’s the byproduct not the objective. When we focus on attendance, we fall prey to event-driven gimmicks that rarely produce a harvest. We take a layered approach to evangelism in which each layer feeds into a steady but progressive system (avoiding the rollercoaster of annual events and Easter drives). Of course, our altars must be an active ‘labor and delivery room’ with continual new births. Focused and unified congregational prayer is the only fuel that powers this Apostolic engine.”
According to Bro. Wells, evangelism is applied in three layers: personal, preaching and community. For personal evangelism, he uses a simple process called “The 7.” He explains, “Each month our Share Pastor (Evangelism Pastor) chooses seven different members to be ‘The 7.’ They have a 7-minute tag-up after Sunday service. They each get a ‘7 Card’ with seven blanks on it for names of their friends and family. In the tag-up, they pray and share reports on how that week went connecting to their seven names. It’s an excellent reminder and accountability tool for year-round personal evangelism. The leader assures that each meeting remains positive by obtaining testimonies prior. By the end of the year, you have the potential to make at least 588 new contacts.”
For preaching evangelism, Bro. Wells challenged his called preachers at the beginning of 2011 to each secure one unconventional pulpit in the community in which to share the gospel. He provided leads, and they did the rest. “I use them to preach and teach to our church regularly, but instead of competing for pulpit time with the saved, they have created seven new weekly pulpits in the community,” said Bro. Wells. “They report their progress in a monthly meeting. I might add our preachers must be soul winners first. I only endorse licensing for those preaching to the lost. After all, that was the great commission.”
For community evangelism, The Pentecostals of Titusville conduct what they call “Block Party Revivals” every quarter. The locations are prayerfully and strategically selected. Public parks surrounded by densely populated residential areas are the focus. “These gatherings look, sound and smell like a neighborhood cook-out with games and live music, until the Holy Ghost shows up,” said Bro. Wells. “At the close of the event we preach a simple gospel message, give an invitation and watch the Holy Ghost move. In the heat of June, we just had seven baptized in a metal tub and three receive the Holy Ghost! Of course, we have follow-up tables staffed for Life in Focus, children’s ministry, and Bible studies. There are two major keys to this event’s success: preparation and follow-up. Our outreach team is in this neighborhood every week before the Block Party Revival for four weeks praying, visiting and promoting. In addition, we come back in the weeks and months after. Our goal is to hit every major area of our city and then move to the surrounding towns.”
Organization & Management
The Pentecostals of Titusville have a variety of departments and ministries working together to help them fulfill their vision for their church. They have an Experience Pastor (overseeing and implementing a ministry plan for experiential ministries like prayer, music, media and drama). They have a Live Pastor (overseeing and implementing a ministry plan for lifestyle teaching and discipleship ministries like children, youth, adult discipleship and ministry training). They have a Share Pastor (overseeing and implementing in-reach, outreach, charity, Bible studies). They have a Spanish Pastor who has begun to duplicate this process with a Spanish congregation. Finally, they have an Executive Pastor who integrates these ministries, coordinates resources, and executes church administration as directed by the Senior Pastor. Each of these pastors leads and mobilizes a team of directors and team members.
“Our job descriptions are specific enough to give boundaries, but broad enough to allow flexibility,” said Bro. Wells. “We keep them very simple. Each pastor brings a simple report to my monthly meeting. The Executive Pastor also holds a monthly goals meeting for accountability and coordination purposes.”
Bro. Wells makes sure to keep that personal touch by meeting with his leaders and pastoral staff on a regular basis. “I meet face-to-face with the Executive Pastor at least once per week and am in daily contact with him. I also meet face-to-face with each ministry pastor once per month, and I meet with the complete pastoral team for status and prayer before church every Sunday morning. Once a month, we rotate a very casual Sunday lunch at each pastor’s home in which our kids play together, our wives meet on Ladies’ Ministry, and we meet on Men’s Ministry, and discuss our community pulpits. We close with powerful prayer over our children and the host house. Our Executive Pastor conducts a brisk weekly conference call as well that statuses last week and looks ahead to next week. In addition, we have a Leadership Summit in November to unveil the Ministry Plan for the next year and to inspire our teams. Finally, every pastor meets with his directors together once per month, and I do not attend.”
Bro. Wells works closely with his pastors to plan for their calendar year so that each department can accomplish their respective goals. “Each pastor brings me a draft ministry plan for the next year in September,” explained Bro. Wells. “By October I have reviewed it against our vision, and we fine tune it into a final draft. Our Executive Pastor then collates them into one master plan and reviews for calendar and resource commitments. Any overlaps or redundancies are eliminated in time for our 2-day Leadership Summit in November. Only the pastors convene on day one to finalize the plan and calendar. The church elders join us that night for a vision-centered sermon and prayer. On day two, all team directors join us for lunch, team building and the official Ministry Plan presentation. Each pastor presents his portion of the plan, then convenes his team for breakout sessions to put skin on the bones.”
Charles Abernathy founded the church in 1968, under a canopy of trees on a wooded lot between Cocoa, Florida and Titusville. He returned to Akron, Ohio to raise more funds for the work, and when he returned the church moved into a storefront in downtown Titusville. “The Abernathy’s were the stabilizing force in our young family when my parents came in 1972,” he said. “When Bro. and Sis. Abernathy and their sons — Gary, Mark and Brian — left to become missionaries to Africa, Bro. Kennedy was installed as pastor. He continued to buy surrounding lots until enough property was owned to build a new building in 1996. This existing church is located at 1010 Norwood Avenue.”
The Pentecostals of Titusville facility is a 100 ft. x 100 ft. steel building with a subtle modern design. The first floor seats 350, with a recent addition of 115 seats to the balcony. It is a fan-shaped sanctuary with a 2 ft. drop from the back pew to the altar and an extra-large platform. “Unfortunately, our main building is primarily a sanctuary with precious little space for anything else,” said Bro. Wells. “We have three moderate to small offices, a nursery and ample storage. Our old church building and two adjacent buildings have been renovated to accommodate seven classrooms, three meeting rooms and three additional offices.”
Bro. Wells is quick to give honor to his pastor, Bro. Hal Kennedy, for the work he accomplished in Titusville. “Were it not for the ministry of our Pastor Emeritus Hal Kennedy and his wife, Sis. Voncile, the Pentecostals of Titusville would not be the church we are today. Bro. Kennedy was discipled by the late, great D. L. Welch and therefore engrained in our congregation an irreversible, Apostolic DNA. He promoted unity through fellowship. He was a tireless shepherd of this flock and wise steward of God’s blessings. His reward on Earth will never match his crown in Heaven!”
Completely debt-free and staffed for growth with preachers and leaders, Bro. Wells is not inclined to follow the common wisdom of buying new property and building a larger church because this one is full. “I believe we should fill this building at least two times on Sunday morning before we even think about building a new building,” said Bro. Wells. “Sometimes we spend far too much on overhead, brick and mortar trying to get the lost to come to us. I wonder what would happen if we spent more on going to them?
“There must be an attractive, well-equipped base camp where converts are discipled, leaders are trained, pastors unite, and families experience Apostolic worship and preaching. We are laying plans for a few upgrades to our existing campus, but from there we must invest in launching out. No one is better equipped or positioned than us to reach the 40,000 people in our city and the added 30,000 in our surrounding area. We will accomplish our commission by going to them!”
Joel L. Wells Jr
The Pentecostals of Titusville
1010 Norwood Ave.
Transcribed by: Gregg Stone